The Qur’an not only goes into great details about the life story of Moses but also about the history of the Jewish people. However, the historical content is not so much stating history chronologically as emphasising again and again to mankind that Allah favours only those who do not deviate from the guidance given by Allah, through His prophets. There is no such thing as a favoured nation, as the Israelis think of themselves even to this day. To gain Allah’s favour it is absolutely essential to follow His guidance and live accordingly.
The real history of the Jewish people starts with Isaac, but it is from the time of arrival of Joseph and his family in Egypt that we begin to see things more clearly. The Qur’an is characteristically not concerned with dates but rather with the moral side of the story of Joseph (Yusuf) which is beautifully illustrated and occupies the whole of Sura 12.
At the time of Moses the Jewish people were obviously well established in Egypt, and were certainly being persecuted, but the Qur’an does not elaborate on the period that elapses between the time of Joseph and the arrival of Moses. Instead, it goes into great detail about the sort of persecution the Jewish people were undergoing and how Allah – through the Prophet Moses – saved the Jewish people by taking them out of Egypt, destroying Pharaoh and his people at the same time. The story of Moses is a beautiful example of the way the Almighty carries out His plan in the face of overwhelming odds. This story has great similarity with the Biblical story of Exodus with one fundamental difference: that the body of the drowning Pharaoh was saved by the Will of Allah from destruction to become a sign for humanity. As stated clearly in the Qur’an:
(10:90, 91) And we brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh with his hosts pursued them in rebellion and transgression till, when the (fate of) drowning overtook him, he exclaimed: I believe that there is no God save Him in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of those who surrender (unto Him). What! Now! When hitherto thou hast rebelled and been of the wrong-doers? But this day We save thee in thy body that thou mayest be a sign for those after thee. Lo! most mankind are heedless of Our signs.
I quote further from Dr. Maurice Bucaille: ‘It is always desirable for man to apply himself to the preservation of relics of his history, but here we have something which goes beyond that: it is the material presence of the mummified body (discovered in 1898) of the man who knew Moses, resisted his pleas, pursued him as he took flight, and lost his life in the process. His earthly remains were saved by the Will of God from destruction to become a sign for man, as it is written in the Qur’an. Those who seek among modern data for the proof of the veracity of the Holy Scriptures will find a magnificent illustration of verses of the Qur’an dealing with the Pharaoh’s body by visiting the Royal Mummies Room of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo!’5
According to the Qur’an Moses received the Message from Allah directly. The major part of Sura 20 is an exchange between him and Allah. The Qur’an also mentions that the Jews were originally the chosen people of Allah, but they broke their Covenant with Allah several times and were eventually cursed. A good example of this is when Moses was called to the mountains for 40 days to receive the Tablets inscribed with commandments from Allah. While Moses was away his people became bored, making a golden calf by melting their jewellery, which they then began to worship. They did this while ignoring all pleas from Aron (Harun), the brother of Moses. When Moses returned and found that his people had resorted to idolatry he became very angry. He chastised them for their lapse, but eventually asked for forgiveness from Allah on their behalf. This time, as well as on many other occasions, Allah forgave them.
(7:148-150) And of the folk of Moses, after (he had left them), chose a calf (for worship), (made) out of their ornaments, of saffron hue, which gave a lowing sound. Saw they not that it spake not unto them nor guided them to any way? They chose it, and became wrong-doers. And when they feared the consequences thereof and saw that they had gone astray, they said: Unless our Sustainer have mercy on us, we verily are the lost. And when Moses returned unto his people, angry and grieved, he said: Evil is that (course) which ye took after I had left you. Would ye hasten on the judgement of your Sustainer? And he cast down the tablets, and seized his brother by the head, dragging him toward him. He said: Son of my mother! the folk did judge me weak and almost killed me. Oh, make not mine enemies to triumph over me and place not me among the evil doers!
(7:152-156) Lo, those who chose the calf (for worship), terror and humiliation from their Sustainer will come upon them in the life of the world. Thus do we requite those who invent a lie. But those who do ill deeds and afterward repent and believe — lo! for them, afterward, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Then, when the anger of Moses abated, he took up the tablets, and in their inscription there was guidance and mercy for all those who fear their Sustainer. And Moses chose of his people seventy men for Our appointed meeting place and, when the trembling came on them, he said: O my Sustainer! If You had willed, You could have destroyed them long before, and me with them. Will You destroy us for that which the ignorant among us did? It is but Your trial (of us). You send astray whom You will and guide whom You will. You are our Protecting Friend, therefore, forgive us and have mercy on us, You are the Best of all who show forgiveness. And ordain for us in this world that which is good, and in the Hereafter (that which is good). We have repented to you. Allah said: My retribution befalls whomsoever I will and, and My mercy embraces all things, therefore I shall ordain it for those who ward offÂ (evil) and invest in Zakat, and those who believe in Our revelations.
Eventually Allah withdrew all favours from the Israelis because of the constant breaking of their Covenant with Allah. The following verses which are typical of the many similar verses, give the reasons for withdrawal of Allah’s favour from the Jewish people.
(5:12,13) Allah made a Covenant of old with the Children of Israel and We raised among them twelve chieftains, and Allah said: Lo! I am with you. If ye establish worship and invest in Zakat, and believe in My messengers and support them, and lend unto Allah a goodly loan, surely I shall remit your sins, and surely I shall bring you into gardens underneath which rivers flow. Whoso among you disbelieveth after this will go astray from a plain road. And because of their breaking their covenant, We have cursed them and made hard their hearts, they change words from their context and forget a part of that whereof they were admonished. Thou wilt not cease to discover treachery from all save a few of them. But bear with them and pardon them. Lo! Allah loveth the kindly.
(4:161) And of their taking usury when they were forbidden it, and of their devouring people’s wealth by false pretences. We have prepared for those of them who disbelieve a painful doom.
(5:66) If they had observed the Torah and the Gospel (Injil) and that which was revealed unto them from their Sustainer, they would surely have been nourished from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them are people who are moderate, but many of them are of evil conduct.
It was during the time of Solomon that the Jewish people attained their greatest prosperity after which they disintegrated, and to this day they would have remained so but for the creation of Israel with the tacit backing of the UK and the USA. The present conflict in Palestine is unlikely to be resolved unless there is some compromise from the Israeli side. This is unlikely to happen if one looks at some of the Mosaic laws (see section 18.5 iii). By taking advantage of its strong position (see also chapter 12, section 12.2.i , 4th paragraph), Israel, with U.S. backing, is driving the Palestinians into virtual slavery. In the long run this will bring the Israelis down, for simply going against the laws of Allah.