Yesterday we stopped where Musa AS had displayed his kindness to the two women and helped them water their animals.
Now, when the two women came back so quickly with the sheep watered, their father was surprised because he knew the men near the well, that his girls would have generally taken more time. When he asked them what had happened, they told him what Musa AS had done. So he sent one of the daughters to call the stranger to meet her father.
فَجَآءَتْهُ إِحْدَىٰهُمَا تَمْشِى عَلَى ٱسْتِحْيَآءٍ
Soon after that, one of the two women came to him walking bashfully….” [Al Qasas 28: 25]
In explaining “walking shyly,” ʿAmr ibn Maymûn R said: “Umar RA said: ‘She came walking shyly, putting her garment over her face. She was not one of those audacious women who come and go as they please.’”
The verse goes on:
قَالَتْ إِنَّ أَبِى يَدْعُوكَ لِيَجْزِيَكَ أَجْرَ مَا سَقَيْتَ لَنَا
she said: “My father is calling you. He wishes to reward you for watering our flocks for us.” [Al Qasas 28: 25]
This is an example of good manners: she did not invite him directly lest he have some suspicious thoughts about her. Rather she said: My father is inviting you so that he may reward you for watering our sheep.
Musa AS accepted the invitation, and when he got up he asked her to walk behind him and guide him to her house by throwing pebbles at the required directions instead of her walking in front, with him at the back. This was an example of Musa AS’s exemplary modesty.
Imagine the scenario: he was a prince who must have had women throwing themselves at him, but we see him here ‘lowering his gaze,’ which is what all Muslim men should do. Unfortunately, many of us have different “heroes” to emulate nowadays. Musa AS asks the woman to walk behind him, knowing very well that he doesn’t know the way but that she does. It wasn’t a matter of ego or superiority, he was rather concerned about her honour as she was alone, without her sister; this was his way of protecting her.
So when he came to him and narrated the story, the father learned why Musa AS had had to leave his country.
And one of them said:
قَالَتْ إِحْدَىٰهُمَا يَـٰٓأَبَتِ ٱسْتَـْٔجِرْهُ ۖ إِنَّ خَيْرَ مَنِ ٱسْتَـْٔجَرْتَ ٱلْقَوِىُّ ٱلْأَمِينُ
“Father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.” [Al Qasas 28: 26]
ʿUmar, Ibn ʿAbbâs, Qatâdah, Muḥammad ibn Isḥâq and others RA said: “When she said: ‘Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy,’ her father said to her: `What do you know about that?’ She said in answer: `He lifted a rock which could only be lifted by ten men, and when I came back with him, I walked ahead of him, but he said to me, walk behind me, and if I get confused about the route, throw a pebble so that I will know which way to go.”’ ʿAbdullah Ibn Masʿûd RA said: “The people who had the most discernment were three: Abû Bakr’s intuition about ʿUmar [ibn Al-Khaṭṭâb]; prophet Yûsuf’s master when he said [to his wife]: `Make his stay comfortable;’ and the daughter of prophet Mûsa’s host when she said: ‘Oh my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.’”
The father made Musa AS an offer: take care of my flocks for eight years and I will give you one of my two daughters in marriage. Then the man added: But if you complete ten years, it will be (a favour) from you.
Indeed, a variety of lessons are learnt from this incident. Two particular lessons that looms large among these lessons is:
• There was no flirting between Musa AS and the two girls in any way. They maintained their dignity and Musa AS kept his honour.
• The father gave his daughter in marriage to Musa AS only after making sure that he was religiously righteous; and this is the basis upon which a marriage in Islam should be founded, not a fancy car and a 4 or 5 figure monthly job salary! This is the basis which conforms to what the last of all prophets, Muhammad ﷺ came with:
If a man of good religious character and conduct proposes to one’s daughter, then let one marry his daughter to him. If one does not, there will be mischief and great corruption on Earth.