So, call me crazy, but who knew Ta Ha was going to be a rather interesting sura with much of the story of Moses in it. At least a condensed form of Moses' story. Unlike the Bible which - as I remember - tells the story from birth and progresses towards later years, this sura starts with Moses seeing some suspicious fire and wandering over to it with hopes of getting an ember or finding direction from it. Did he have an inkling it might be a supernatural fire that could offer guidance for life? I didn't see mention of a bush that was burning yet not consumed. So anyway, the story begins with fire and God's calling out to Moses to take off his shoes because Moses was on holy ground.
Then there is the dialog between God and Moses with most similarities to the Bible though a few details are mixed up. For instance in the Bible Moses initially refused (well, he hemmed and hawed if not outright refused) to go to Pharoah because of his speech problem so God suggested Aaron to be sent with him. In the Quran Moses made the plea for Aaron to accompany him.
The Quran and Bible both have the rod turning to a snake story. Additionally the Bible has the miracle where Moses' hand becomes leprous when placed within his cloak. Then it becomes clean again when the same thing is done. These were signs God told Moses to use when Moses went to demand that the people of Israel be freed. This wasn't mentioned in the Quran from what I could tell, but I thought it worth sharing from Exodus 3.
5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6 Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7 The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."
Isn't this wonderful? God heard the people crying out to Him and was "concerned about their suffering." So He sent Moses as His spokesman and deliverer.
Moses rightly wondered if he were up to the task. Sure he'd been well educated in Egypt as part of the royal household -- the "adopted" son of Pharoah's daughter -- however, he'd spent the last few decades tending sheep. Quite a chance that Moses had lost his polish after spending time rounding up and caring for the flock. Wondering is one thing, but Moses decided to question God about this task.
11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
12 And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."
13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"
14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "
This is where the biblical "I am" statement concerning God came from. New Testament author John also quoted Jesus as using this: 58"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" (see context in the latter part of John 8) . Ever notice how God uses ordinary people and sometimes those with not much self-confidence or people who think they are unable to speak well? I think God uses willing people and HE makes them usable. It doesn't matter so much if you aren't the most brilliant, best looking, most well spoken or whatever, it matters that you are willing to let God work through you. When this happens, He is glorified through your life! All glory belongs to God, right?
Back to sura Ta Ha... so God reminds Moses that His favor has been on him for a long time. God recalls the story of Moses' birth and how God instructed his mom to save him in such a clever way then had Moses nurtured by his own mother. (Like Joseph, Moses is another of those favorite Bible stories that all Sunday School-attending children learn.) God also reminds Moses of the circumstances of Moses' fleeing Egypt -- he killed another man!
In verse 55 there is talk of a Magic Rod Duel with Moses and Pharoah's magicians setting up a show-down time to see whose rod will be superior. This isn't exactly how the biblical version goes so it was interesting to note. It's almost like the story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel when he has a show down of sorts with the prophets of Baal. (Another favorite Sunday School story which I love!) So the Quran's version is - to me - a mixture of the Moses and Elijah stories. (Kind of fitting since these two prophets are the same ones who visited Jesus. See this from Matthew 17...
1After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.)
So the rod duel happens, Moses' rod and the magicians' rods turn into snakes. They were able to copy God's miracle!! Whoa ho, but not so fast. Lookee here. Moses' rod snake ate the others' rod snakes! The magicians were convinced and bowed to the God of Moses! Even when threatened with persecution - limbs cut off and crucifixion [which I didn't realize existed back then]- they still didn't turn their backs on what they were convinced of -- the God of Israel was supreme!
The discussion between Pharoah and Moses definitely needs to be read from the Bible as the Quran skimps so much on details that it's like reading the cliff notes when you really need to read the full story to appreciate everything. In its defense, the Quran admits it is a reminder, therefore, you are supposed to refer back to the Torah for the details. The Quranic version of the ten plagues, the hardening of Pharoah's heart, the preparation for the exodus - the meal, the instructions, the importance of the blood in saving lives - is told (or not) in a matter of a handful of verses. Definitely read the full story if all the details you know are from the Quran. (Unless the full version is somewhere that I've just not read yet.) By reading the story in full, you will know more about the Passover as well.
The Quran then moves to Pharoah's army pursuing, getting drowned and then Moses going somewhere fast (vs. 83) and leaving his people behind. This was when the Israelites were encouraged by the Sameri (who are they?) to make a golden calf. The Sameri told them that this was their God. In the Bible something similar happens with a bit more detail provided there. Moses went up to Mt. Sinai where God revealed His laws to him concerning many issues. Moses was gone so long the people got restless. Here is the first part of Exodus 32.
1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him."
2 Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt."
You'll have to read the rest of the chapter to see God's and Moses' reaction to this blatant idolatry. Also note how Moses pleads for the Israelites even though they have sinned.
From the Quran I saw that Moses pulled Aaron's hair (vs. 93-94). Is this some custom to show frustration or anger or a bit of temper on Moses' part?
92. But (Moses) said: "O Aaron, when you saw that they had gone astray, what hindered you 93. From coming after me? Did you not disobey my command?" (And Moses pulled him by the hair). 94. "O son of my mother," (Aaron cried), do not pull me by my beard or my hair! I was really afraid you may say that I had created a rift among the children of Israel, and did not pay heed to your command."
This sura also mentions Adam and Eve. Here is a passage I marked "curious" as I wanted your take on what it means in order to make better sense of it.
113. That is why We have sent it down as an eloquent Qur'an, and explained in different ways the intimidations through it that they may haply take heed, or perhaps it may lead them to contemplate. 114. Exalted then be God, the real King; and do not try to anticipate the Qur'an before the completion of its revelation, but pray: "O Lord, give me greater knowledge." 115. We had commanded Adam before, but he disregarded it: We found him lacking in resolution.
I'm specifically interested in trying not to anticipate the Quran (were people trying to figure out what God would say next?) and the charge against Adam in the last verse. I guess it has to do with his sinning in the Garden of Eden.
Overall a nice sura with some interesting parts about Moses, Adam and Eve and a lovely beginning with praise for God.