SURA 28. Qasas, or Narration
1. Ta. Sin. Mim. 2. These are Verses of the Book that makes [things] clear.
3. We rehearse to thee some of the story of Moses and Pharaoh in Truth, for people who believe.
4. Truly Pharaoh elated himself in the land and broke up its people into sections, depressing a small group among them: their sons he slew, but he kept alive their females: for he was indeed a maker of mischief.
5. And We wished to be Gracious to those who were being depressed in the land, to make them leaders [in Faith] and make them heirs,
6. To establish a firm place for them in the land, and to show Pharaoh, Haman, and their hosts, at their hands, the very things against which they were taking precautions.
7. So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: “Suckle [thy child], but when thou hast fears about him, cast him into the river, but fear not nor grieve: for We shall restore him to thee, and We shall make him one of Our messengers.”
8. Then the people of Pharaoh picked him up [from the river]: [It was intended] that [Moses] should be to them an adversary and a cause of sorrow: for Pharaoh and Haman and [all] their hosts were men of sin.
9. The wife of Pharaoh said: “[Here is] joy of the eye, for me and for thee: slay him not. It may be that he will be use to us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceived not [what they were doing]!
10. But there came to be a void in the heart of the mother of Moses: She was going almost to disclose his [case], had We not strengthened her heart [with faith], so that she might remain a [firm] believer.
11. And she said to the sister of [Moses], “Follow him” so she [the sister] watched him in the character of a stranger. And they knew not.
12. And we ordained that he refused suck at first, until [His sister came up and] said: “Shall I point out to you the people of a house that will nourish and bring him up for you and be sincerely attached to him?”…
13. Thus did We restore him to his mother, that her eye might be comforted, that she might not grieve, and that she might know that the promise of Allah is true: but most of them do not understand.
14. When he reached full age, and was firmly established [in life], We bestowed on him wisdom and knowledge: for thus do We reward those who do good.
1. The main topic of surat Al-Qasas is the story of Musa (AS) focusing on certain aspects of his story: His birth, being thrown in the river, being raised in Pharaoh’s palace, leaving Egypt to Madyan, his marriage to Shu ‘aib’s (Jethro) (AS) daughter, his return to his homeland after ten years, his victory over Pharaoh. The whole surah is a comment on all those stories and another story which is that of Qaroon(Korah).
2. It is noteworthy that surat Al-Qasas, unlike the other surahs, is the only one in the Qur’an which focuses on Musa’s (AS) life away from the Children of Israel. Thus, what is the aim of the surah? And what is the link between the events of Musa’s (AS) story and Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWS) hijra?
3. This sūrah was revealed in Makkah, at a time when the Muslims were a small minority without power, while the idolaters were in full control of power, wealth, position and authority. In this context, the sūrah establishes the true standard of values and power: it clearly states that there is only one true power in the universe, God’s, and only one true value, faith. Whoever enjoys God’s support need have no fear, even though he may be bereft of material power, and whomever God opposes can enjoy neither peace nor security even though he may be in possession of all types of material power. A person who enshrines the value of faith enjoys every good thing, whilst the one who lacks it will not reap any benefit whatsoever.
4. The corpus of the sūrah deals with aspects pertaining to Moses and Pharaoh, and concludes with details about Qārūn [or Korah] and his treatment of Moses’ people. The first of these two stories tackles power and authority, showing Pharaoh, a ruthless tyrant, alert to any source of danger. Then, there is Moses, a suckling baby with neither power nor shelter. Pharaoh had exalted himself, ruling over and dividing people into sections and classes, persecuting the Children of Israel, slaying their men and sparing their women, watching carefully lest they should do anything that might constitute a usurpation of his control. Yet all his might and precautions were of little avail against a little child who was cared for by the only real power that protects from all evil. Indeed this power challenges Pharaoh openly, throwing the child into his own lap, placing him in Pharaoh’s own palace so as to be doted upon by his own wife, while he stands by, unable to do anything against Moses. On the contrary, he does with his own hands what brings about his downfall.
5. The second story demonstrates the value of wealth, as also the value of knowledge. Wealth occupied everyone’s attention as they watched Qārūn strutting about in his various adornments. He possessed such enormous treasures that just to carry the keys of these treasures required a whole group of strong men, who would find the task very tiring. What is more, Qārūn also had knowledge which he thought to have brought him all this wealth. Yet those endowed with true knowledge among his people were not bewitched by such wealth. They looked to God’s reward, knowing that this is infinitely better and more lasting. Then God’s power intervened sinking him and his household into the earth, showing beholders that neither wealth nor knowledge were of any avail to Qārūn. The intervention here is direct just as it is with Pharaoh when he and his troops were drowned in the sea.
6. Both Pharaoh and Qārūn exalted themselves, tyrannizing the Children of Israel: one with the brute force of authority, the other with financial might. The end was the same in both instances: one was swallowed by the earth, the other was drowned in the sea. In neither case do we see any opposing force capable of resisting God’s direct power that intervened to put an end to tyranny and injustice. The two stories clearly show that when evil and corruption are manifest, while those who are good and righteous appear powerless, God Almighty intervenes directly and openly to put an end to it all.9