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Hadrat Musa ( - Peace Be Upon Him) in the Wilderness

When Musa and his people fled from the Egyptians, their trials were far from over. After they had safely crossed the sea, they came upon some people who were worshiping idols. The children of Israel asked Musa to make an idol for them, and he had to remind them of all that Allah had done for them. How could he make another god for them when their Allah was the only true god?

Musa was summoned by Allah to Mount Sinai and he put his brother Harun in charge while he was gone. When he arrived at the appointed site, he asked to see Allah. Allah said He could not show Himself directly to Musa , but Musa should look towards the mountain, and if the mountain remained in one piece, then Musa would see Allah. When Allah showed His glory on the mountain, it became like dust, and Musa fell down in a faint. When he had recovered his senses, he asked Allah's forgiveness and declared his unquestioning belief in Allah. Then Allah spoke with Musa and gave Musa tablets containing His commands and explaining all things. Musa was to carry the tablets back to his people and convey to them the words of Allah. He spent forty days on the mount, communing with his Lord.

Meanwhile, the people of Musa gathered together all their jewelry and gold which they had carried from Egypt. They melted it down and made it into the form of a calf, which they wished to worship. When Musa returned from the mountain with his tablets, he was angry and grieved to see the golden calf. Thinking that Harun had approved the actions of the Israelites, an angry Musa grabbed his brother by the hair and dragged Harun towards him. Harun hastily explained that the people had not listened to him and had even threatened to kill him when he opposed their activities. At this Musa prayed to Allah for forgiveness for both himself and his brother. He also prayed for mercy for those who repented of their evil deed in making the golden idol.

The ultimate destination of the people of Israel was the land of Canaan. Continuously they rebelled against Allah, and continuously Allah forgave them. When they were thirsty, Allah commanded Musa to strike a rock and from it sprang twelve springs of water, one for each of the tribes of Israel. When they were hot, Allah provided clouds to cover the sun. When they were hungry, Allah provided manna and salwa. Yet they were never grateful. They even complained about the sameness of the diet and asked for more variety.

At last they came to the land of Canaan. But because the people of Canaan were very strong-looking, the Israelites were afraid to invade their land. There were only two men who were willing to join Musa and Harun in an attempt to drive the Canaanites out. They counseled that if the proper gates were attacked, they could easily gain entrance. And once they were inside, they would easily be victorious if only they would put their trust in Allah. But the people of Israel would not budge. They told Musa and Harun to go with their Lord and fight, while they, the people, would sit and watch. At this Musa gave up trying to persuade his rebellious people. And Allah decreed that because of their behavior, the children of Israel would be condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty more years, before they would be allowed to enter the land of Canaan.

You can read about the story of Musa and his people in the wilderness in al-Quran 2: 51-61; 5: 23-29; 7: 138-162; and 20: 80-98.


Published: November 1992

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Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756