From Islamic history emerges a figure who transcends time and captures the hearts of believers across generations. Also referred to as Moses, Prophet Musa (AS) stands as a beacon of unwavering faith, resilience, and strength.
Prophet Musa (AS) was born during the reign of Firaun (Pharaoh) in a world plagued by oppression and tyranny, with a mission to free the children of Israel from enslavement and preach the message of Allah SWT.
Keep reading to learn about the life and miracles of Prophet Musa (AS).
Who Was Prophet Musa (AS) in Islam?
Allah SWT has sent messengers to deliver His message to the people of this world. Among them was Prophet Musa (AS), who was specifically tasked to show the people of Bani Israel the true light and guide them to worship Allah Almighty.
Prophet Musa (AS) was also bestowed with the Torah, a sacred scripture intended to guide the people of Egypt.
Moses was born in the year when the Firaun ordered the killing of every male child to protect his throne. Keeping her pregnancy a secret, the mother of Prophet Musa (AS) cradled him in her arms, placed the baby into a basket, and the divine currents of the Nile took him to the shore where Firaun’s wife Asiya bint Muzahim waited.
Desperate for a baby boy, Asiya took Prophet Musa (AS) in her arms and went straight to her husband to convince him to keep the child.
Thus, Prophet Musa (AS) grew under the protection of the Queen in the castle of the Pharaoh.
“And We inspired the mother of Musa, (saying): “Suckle him [Musa], but when you fear for him, then cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve. Verily! We shall bring him back to you and make him one of (Our) Messengers.” [Holy Quran, 28:7]
“Then the household of Pharaoh picked him up, that he might become for them an enemy and a (cause of) grief. Verily! Pharaoh, Haman, and their hosts were sinners. And the wife of Pharaoh said: “A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he may be of benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceive not (the result of that).” [Holy Quran, 28:8-9]
As Prophet Musa (AS) grew, the truth of his mission and heritage revealed itself, for he was the Messenger of Allah SWT, the Prophet of Egypt, and was chosen to guide the people towards the path of the Almighty.
Why Was Prophet Musa (AS) Important in Islam?
Prophet Musa (AS) is a revered figure in the religion of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. He is one of the most important Prophets, and his name is mentioned in the Holy Quran over 100 times.
Allah SWT in the Holy Quran tells us the story of Prophet Musa (AS). Allah SWT directly spoke to Prophet Musa (AS) and gave him the Ten Commandments.
“Verily, We did send down the Torah to Moses therein was guidance and light, by which the Prophets, who submitted themselves to God’s Will, judged the Jews. And the rabbis and the priests too judged the Jews by the Torah for to them was entrusted the protection of God’s Book, and they were witnesses thereto.” [Holy Quran, 5:44]
Firawn, the Pharaoh in English, means the king of ancient Egypt. Named Musab Bin Walid, Firawn was one of the most powerful rulers of Egypt.
He considered himself God and was a merciless and cruel tyrant who persecuted and enslaved the children of Israel.
In fact, people say that the Firawn had created his own heaven and hell and decided the fate of the people according to his own wishes.
Who Was Firawn in Islam?
Firawn was unlike any ruler in the history of Islam. He was arrogant, incompetent, selfish, and cruel, bringing destruction wherever he went.
Upon hearing from his fortune tellers that a child is going to dethrone him, Firawn ordered his army to kill every boy that was to be born from that day onwards.
He enjoyed showing off his power and oppressing people based on religion, ethnicity, and race.
He refused to release the children of Israel despite witnessing several warnings from Allah SWT.
As a consequence of his transgression and disbelief, Firaun and his army were drowned in the sea, and his body is still kept as a sign for future generations.
Firaun Mentioned in the Quran
Did you know the word “Firaun” is mentioned 74 times in the Holy Quran? Some verses are mentioned below:
“And [recall] when We saved your forefathers from the people of Firaun, who afflicted you with the worst torment, slaughtering your [newborn] sons and keeping your females alive. And in that was a great trial from your Lord. And [recall] when We parted the sea for you and saved you and drowned the people of Firaun while you were looking on.” [Holy Quran, 2:49-50]
“Then We sent after them Mosses with Our signs to Firaun and his establishment, but they were unjust toward them. So see how was the end of the corrupters.” [Holy Quran, 7:104]
“[There is] like the custom of the people of Firaun and of those before them. They denied the signs of their Lord, so We destroyed them for their sins, and We drowned the people of Firaun. And all [of them] were wrongdoers.” [Holy Quran, 10:75]
“To Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they followed the command of Pharaoh, and Pharaoh’s command was not well guided. He will be before his people on the Day of Judgment and will lead them into the Fire. What an evil place to be led into!” [Holy Quran, 11:97-98]
“Today, we will preserve your body to set you up as a lesson for future generations.” [Holy Quran, Surah al Yunus, 10:92]
The Firawn’s Vision
Years passed, and Firaun heard about a dream according to which one of the children of Israel would dethrone him.
It is possible that the vision was nothing more than a daydream held within the hearts of the children of Israel or a prophetic glimpse foretold within their sacred books.
Ibn Abbas (AS) narrates another tradition: “Pharaoh saw in his vision a fire which came from Jerusalem and burned the houses of the Egyptians, and all Copts, and did not do harm to the children of Israel. When he woke up, he was horrified.
He then gathered his priests and magicians and asked them about this vision. They said: ‘This means a boy will be born of them, and the Egyptian people will perish at his hands.’ That is why Pharaoh commanded that all male children of the children of Israel be killed.”
In either case, from the day Firaun learned about the vision, the fear of being dethroned took his mind and soul and issued an order to slay all male children that would be born in Israel.
Murdering the Children of Israel
The Firawn summoned his army and told them to slaughter all male newborns. The incident is mentioned in the Holy Quran as follows:
“Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters.” [Holy Quran, 28:4]
After hearing about Firaun’s command, the economic advisors of the state came to the Pharaoh and said, “The aged of the children of Israel die, and the young are slaughtered. This will lead to their annihilation.
As a result, Pharaoh will lose the manpower of those who work for him, those whom he enslaves, and the women whom he exploits.
It is better to regulate this procedure by initiating the following policy: males should be slaughtered in one year and spared to live the next year.”
Firaun, however, became fanatical and had assigned security agents and spies the duty to seek out pregnant women and kill them on the spot if they gave birth to a boy.
Prophet Aaron (AS)
Descended of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), Prophet Aaron (AS) (Harun AS) was born in the year when children were destined to be spared.
Thus, the mother of Prophet Musa (AS) gave birth to Prophet Harun (AS) safely and freely.
While Prophet Musa (AS) was away, Prophet Aaron (AS) led the Bani Israel for 40 days until the golden calf incident.
He stood by his brother’s side in all circumstances and helped Prophet Musa (AS) spread the message of Allah SWT.
Preaching the religion of Allah SWT to the disbelievers of Israel wasn’t easy. Prophet Musa (AS) asked Allah SWT for a partner, a helper, and so the Almighty bestowed him with a brother, Prophet Aaron (AS).
“And grant me a helper from my family, Aaron, my brother. Strengthen me through him, and let him share my task, so that we may glorify You much and remember You much, for truly You have always been overseeing us.” Allah responded, “All you requested has been granted, O Moses!” [Holy Quran, 20: 29-30]
“Then We sent after them Moses and Aaron to Firaun and his establishment with Our signs, but they behaved arrogantly and were criminal people.” [Holy Quran 10:79]
Allah’s Punishment Upon Egypt
Allah SWT told Prophet Musa (AS) to tell Firaun that the Egyptians would suffer a severe punishment if he wouldn’t release the children of Israel. The Pharaoh responded by stating that he didn’t care and that he was all-powerful and no strength could destroy him. To put an end to the harassment, oppression, and torture, Allah SWT afflicted a severe drought upon the Egyptians. The fertile valleys of the Nile began to dry, and no crops grew. The ministers and people came to Prophet Musa (AS) and appealed, “O Moses! Invoke your Lord for us because of His Promise to you. If you will remove the punishment from us, we indeed shall believe in you, and we shall let the children of Israel go with you.” [Holy Quran 7:134]
Everything turned to normal; the crops started to grow, however, the minorities were still enslaved. Allah SWT then sent a plague of locusts, swallowing everything that came in its way.
The pagan Egyptians once again rushed to Prophet Musa (AS) and asked for help. The Messenger prayed to Allah SWT, and the locusts departed, but things were still the same for slaves.
After a while came the plague of lice that spread deadly diseases, and then came the plague of frogs that harassed people until they shut themselves inside. Every time Allah SWT inflicted punishment upon Bani Israel, they begged Prophet Musa (AS) for forgiveness and mercy.
The final chastisement was when the Almighty turned the water of the Nile into thick red blood. Despite the punishments of Allah SWT, the enslavement of the children of Israel continued.
Allah SWT in the Holy Quran says, “And indeed, We punished the people of Pharaoh with years of drought and shortness of fruits (crops, etc.), that they might remember and take heed. But whenever good came to them, they said, “Ours is this.” And if evil afflicted them, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Moses and those with him. Be informed! Verily, their evil omens are with God, but most of them know not.
They said to Moses, “Whatever signs you may bring to us, and to work therewith your sorcery on us, we shall never believe in you.” So We sent on them: the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs, and the blood, as a succession of signs, yet they remained arrogant, and they were of those people who were criminals, polytheists, and sinners.
And when the punishment fell on them, they said, “O Moses! Invoke your Lord for us because of His Promise to you. If you will remove the punishment from us, we indeed shall believe in you, and we shall let the Children of Israel go with you.” But when We removed the punishment from them to a fixed term, which they had to reach, behold! They broke their word! So We took retribution from them. We drowned them in the sea because they belied Our signs and were heedless about them.” [Holy Quran 7: 130-136]
The Death of Firawn
Despite the punishments, Firaun and the majority of the Bani Israelites refused to accept the message of Prophet Musa (AS). Only fake promises were made to cool down the storm so the disbelievers could return to their extravagant and dishonest lifestyles the next day.
After giving Bani Israel years of chances, Allah SWT asked Prophet Musa (AS) to lead his people (the righteous ones) out of Egypt.
Sensing that something wasn’t right, Firaun gathered his army and marched with them to stop the enslaved people from fleeing.
It wasn’t long before the Prophet Musa (AS) and the children of Israel could see the vicious army moving forward, leaving them no option but to run until they reached a dead end – the Red Sea.
With the Red Sea in the front and the avenging army at the back, Prophet Musa (AS) and his companions had no way out. Fear and stress started to spread when Allah SWT instructed Prophet Musa (AS) to strike the sea with his staff.
Prophet Musa (AS) did as He commanded. A fierce wind began blowing, dividing the sea into two paths, revealing a pathway dry enough for the Prophet Musa (AS) and the Children of Israel to walk across.
“And We took the children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh with his hosts followed them in oppression and enmity, till when drowning overtook him, he said, “None has the right to be worshipped but He, in whom the children of Israel believe, and I am one of the Muslims (those who submit to God’s Will). Now you believe while you refused to believe before, and you were one of the evildoers! So this day, We shall deliver your dead body out from the sea that you may be a sign to those who come after you! And verily, many among humankind are heedless of our Signs.” [Holy Quran, 10:90-92]
Recounting the death of Firawn, Ibn Kathir said, “The curtain fell on Pharaoh’s tyranny, and the waves threw his corpse up to the western seashore. The Egyptians saw him and knew that the God whom they worshipped and obeyed was a mere man who could not keep death away from his own neck.”
During his reign, the Firaun possessed strength, good health, wealth, and power, yet he stubbornly refused to accept the religion and believed in Allah SWT. However, when confronted with the approach of death, the Firawn cried out to Allah SWT in horror and fear.
This serves as a reminder that if humanity remembers God during times of abundance and ease, Allah SWT will, in turn, remember us even in the most sinful humans in times of distress.
People of Bani Israel and Their Transgressions
The children of Israel bore the deep scars of oppression. After enduring years of unrelenting fear and humiliation, they became ignorant and obstinate.
Many among them had been deprived of luxuries and comforts for the rest of their lives, leaving them yearning for signs of materialism and wealth.
Despite witnessing undeniable signs and amazing miracles of Allah SWT, some among the children of Israel succumbed to coveting an idol that they had encountered while escaping from Egypt.
How Old Was Prophet Musa (AS) When He Died?
According to narrations, Prophet Musa (AS) died at the age of 120, three years after the death of his brother Harun (AS). (Tarikh al-Yaqoubi, Vol. 1, Pg. 62; Tarikh Tabari, Pg. 347; Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 12, Pg. 368; al-Tahzib, Vol. 1, Pg. 32)
Abu Huraira (RA) reported, “The angel of death was sent to Musa, and when he went to him, Musa slapped him severely, spoiling one of his eyes. The angel went back to his Lord and said, “You sent me to a slave who does not want to die.” Allah restored his eye and said, “Go back and tell him (i.e., Musa) to place his hand over the back of an ox, for he will be allowed to live for several years equal to the number of hairs coming under his hand.” (So the angel came to him and told him the same). Then Musa asked, “O my Lord! What will be then?” He said, “Death will be then.” He (Musa) said, “(Let it be) now.” He asked Allah that He bring him near the Sacred Land at a distance of a stone’s throw. Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “Were I there, I would show you the grave of Musa by the way near the red sand hill.” (Sahih Al Bukhari)
Miracles Prophet Musa (AS)
The Holy Quran tells us that Allah SWT bestowed Prophet Musa (AS) with nine miracles to help him face the pagan people of Bani Israel and the Pharaoh.
Perfectly timed, each miracle proved that we must worship Allah SWT, the whole soul creator, and Prophet Musa (AS) is the Messenger of the Almighty.
“And Moses had certainly brought you clear proofs. Then you took the calf [in worship] after that while you were wrongdoers.” [Holy Quran, 2:92]
Listed below are the three greatest miracles awarded to Prophet Musa (AS) to restore the Iman of Bani Israel and revert to Allah SWT:
Miracle 1: Turning the Stick into a Snake
Prophet Musa (AS) went to the Firaun’s (Pharaoh’s) castle to invite him to Islam and stop the enslavement of the people of Bani Israel. However, as expected, Firawn rejected the invite and called the miracles of Prophet Musa (AS) magic.
To prove himself right, the Firawn invited the greatest magicians of his land and asked them to compete against Prophet Musa (AS).
The stage was set, the people of Bani Israel were gathered in the courtyard, the Pharaoh sat on his throne, the magicians stood on one side, and Prophet Musa (AS) faced them bravely on the other.
The Messenger of Allah SWT humbly gave the magicians the first chance to show their tricks. The great magicians of Egypt threw some ropes on the ground. murmured a spell, and the ropes bewitchingly started to move like snakes.
To counter their trick, Prophet Musa (AS) threw his staff (stick) on the ground, and it magically turned into a huge snake that crawled forward and ate all the little snakes made by the magicians.
Upon witnessing the extraordinary spectacle, the magicians immediately knew that this transcended the realm of magic; it was indeed a divine miracle.
In a resounding declaration, the magicians wholeheartedly announced their faith in the Almighty and embraced the religion that Prophet Musa (AS) revealed.
Allah SWT in the Holy Quran says, “And [he was told], “Throw down your staff.” But when he saw it writhing as if it were a snake, he turned in flight and did not return. [Allah said], “O Moses, fear not. Indeed, in My presence, the messengers do not fear.” [Holy Quran, 27:10]
Miracle 2: The Radiant Hand
Allah SWT asked Prophet Musa (AS) to place his hand into his cloak under his arm. When Prophet Musa (AS) pulled out his hand, it shone white and bright, like the moon.
The event is described in Surah Taha in the Holy Quran, “And put your hand under your armpit, it will come out ˹shining˺ white, unblemished, as another sign, so that We may show you some of Our greatest signs. Go to Pharaoh, for he has truly transgressed ˹all bounds.˺ [Holy Quran, 20:22-24]
The incident is also mentioned in Surah An-Naml, “Now put your hand through ˹the opening of˺ your collar, it will come out ˹shining˺ white, unblemished.1 ˹These are two˺ of nine signs for Pharaoh and his people. They have truly been a rebellious people.” [Holy Quran, 27:12]
Did you know that Prophet Musa (AS) had a speech impediment that caused him to speak with a stammer? He prayed to Allah SWT, asking Ar-Rahman to heal him so he could preach properly. Allah SWT answered his prayers and gave him the support of Aaron (Haroon (AS)).
“Moses prayed, “My Lord! Uplift my heart for me, make my task easy, and remove the impediment from my tongue so people may understand my speech.”
Miracle 3: Mann O Salwa
Mann O Salwa was a gift from Allah SWT to the righteous people of Bani Israel. According to narrations, the Bani Israelites requested the Prophet to ask Allah SWT to send them a special meal to satisfy their hunger.
Send from Jannah, “Mann” was a dew drop-shaped sweet that was whiter than snow and tasted like honey. Whereas “Salwa” (Quail) was a bird that people used to roast and eat. Mann O Salwa was indeed a blessing and a treat for the believers.
“O children of Israel, we delivered you from your enemy, summoned you to the right side of Mount Sinai, and sent you down to Mann and Salwa.” [Holy Quran, 20:80]
“And recall when you said: “O Moses, surely we cannot put up with one sort of food, so pray to your Lord to bring out for us what the earth produces – its herbs and its cucumbers and its corn and its lentils and its garlic and its onions.” Then Moses said: “Will you take a meaner thing in exchange for what is better?” [Holy Quran, 2:61]
Summary – The Story of Prophet Musa (AS)
The story of Prophet Musa (AS) isn’t a bedtime story or a tale that we must tell for amusement but is actually a lesson; a reminder that Allah SWT is the Creator, the ruler of the seven skies; He reigns over all things, He has no father nor a son, and there is nothing comparable to Him.
Allah SWT is Al-Baasit (the One who enlarges, releases, gives in abundance, extends, and outspreads), and He is Al-Qaabid (the One who clutches, suppresses, seizes, and withholds).
So, you never really know if Allah SWT is giving you for the ultimate take or taking everything from you for ultimate gain; because it is only Him who knows what’s best for us.
Almighty intervened and separated Prophet Musa (AS) from his mother, but He ensured that the child was returned safely.
He relocated Prophet Musa (AS) from Egypt only to appoint him as His Messenger. Allah SWT empowered Prophet Musa (AS) with miracles that amazed the people of Bani Israel.
Allah SWT has sent Mann O Salwa to satiate the hunger of the righteous, transformed the staff of Prophet Musa (AS) into a vicious snake, made the Messenger’s hand glow as bright as the moon, and orchestrated a situation where the Bani Israel found themselves trapped between Firaun’s army and the sea.
Yet, the ocean miraculously split open, providing the believers a safe way to the other side and eradicating the enemies.
Thus, no matter how hard life gets, always have faith in Allah SWT and have hope as a greater future is yet to unfold.