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Musa AS in the River Nile – Part 2

Aug 02, 2022

Having given birth, Umme Musa attempted to conceal his birth, racked by the fear of seeing her little one subjected to the same fate that hundreds of innocent baby boys had already witnessed. But how could she conceal the birth of her son when Firoun’s regime and his henchmen were mobilized in force to spot the arrival of all male births amongst the people of Israel? This induced a terrible strain on Umme Musa’s poor heart! Whilst sunk in this state of anguish and terror at the thought of losing her child, and unable to devise a way to save him from Firoun’s clutches, Umme Musa received a divine revelation, Allah commanded her to place her son in a “chest” (tabut) and to release it into the waters from the banks of the Nile:

إِذْ أَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَىٰٓ أُمِّكَ مَا يُوحَىٰٓ
“We inspired your mother, saying:
أَنِ ٱقْذِفِيهِ فِى ٱلتَّابُوتِ فَٱقْذِفِيهِ فِى ٱلْيَمِّ فَلْيُلْقِهِ ٱلْيَمُّ بِٱلسَّاحِلِ يَأْخُذْهُ عَدُوٌّ لِّى وَعَدُوٌّ لَّهُۥ ۚ وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِّنِّى وَلِتُصْنَعَ عَلَىٰ عَيْنِىٓ
‘Put your child into the chest and throw the chest into the river. The river will cast him on to the bank and he will be picked up by one who is an enemy to Me and an enemy to him’. I made you an object of love and so arranged things that you may be brought up under My supervision. [TaHa 20: 38, 39]

Umm Musa, without flinching, submitted to this divine revelation. She breastfed her child, created a small basket in which she placed the baby and gently left it at the river’s edge. One can imagine her state of mind as she abandoned her son on this fragile ark. She may have saved him from the hand of Firoun, but she was now entrusting him to the river’s unpredictable fate. She admittedly had no choice, yet through this courageous act it is not difficult to gauge the strength of her faith. In spite of this distressing separation she somehow must have drawn confidence; confidence, because it was Allah who had instructed her. Could there have been any greater comfort than to be called upon by her Lord?

The Qur’an itself subtly recounts her sadness and her emotional state and we read how, through words of simplicity and beauty, Allah found a way to soothe the troubled heart of this mother:
وَأَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَىٰٓ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰٓ أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ ۖ فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِى ٱلْيَمِّ وَلَا تَخَافِى وَلَا تَحْزَنِىٓ ۖ إِنَّا رَآدُّوهُ إِلَيْكِ وَجَاعِلُوهُ مِنَ ٱلْمُرْسَلِينَ
“We inspired Musa’s mother, saying, ‘Suckle him, and then, when you fear for his safety, put him in the river: do not be afraid, and do not grieve, for We shall return him to you and make him a messenger.’” [Al Qasas 28: 7]

It is a consoling and soothing message that Allah sent to this woman so that she arms herself with patience and demonstrates stamina and firmness before the torment to which she was confronted. Allah Himself, in His incommensurable gentleness, asks her not to be afraid, or sad, but to have faith in Him and His kindness.

Through these verses He transmitted two messages: firstly, He relieves her heart by promising the certain return of her child: “We shall return him to you”. He then predicts to her the future of her son who appears destined by the Creator to become one of His greatest prophets. So the divine revelation gave her two reasons not to be downhearted. Despite the love for her child, she was able to master her fear and appease her maternal heart, thanks to this wonderful and blissful divine consolation. Whilst conceiving her deep grief, Allah inspired her to endure, to hope, to wait again and again… The Qur’anic description of Umm Musa’s emotional experience is of sublime beauty and the words of the Creator towards her are of an infinite tenderness.

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