The Way of Moses or the Way of Pharaoh (Lesson 3)

Ramadhan Ruminations Lesson 3: The Way of Moses or the Way of Pharoh, by Syaikh Hamza Yusuf

(Transcript begins)

Alhamdulillah, we have been looking at the concept of taqwa which is again one of the most reiterated ideas in the Qur’an. The Qur’an actually begins with, after al-fatihah, “Alif-Lam-Mim. This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah.” (QS Al-Baqoroh: 1-2). This is a guidance for the people of taqwa. So taqwa is absolutely the core of the Qur’anic message. As I reiterated before, the very first commandment in the Qur’an is the commandment to taqwa.

Now in QS Thoha: 132, Rasul SAW was being addressed by Allah SWT. Allah SWT tells him, “And enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you, and the [best] outcome is for [those of] righteousness.” Command your family to prayer and be deeply patient in this. Wasthabir ‘alaiha. One of the things about the Arabic language, Allah SWT could have said, washbir ‘alaiha: be patient with it. When you add something, it intensifies the meaning. Here the letter that was added to the verb shabara was tho, it’s an emphatic letter. It’s one the emphatic letters in Arabic. So it’s a very strong. Wasthabir ‘alaiha means to really be deeply patient with it. Seek help from patience and prayer. And then Allah reminds us, la nas aluka rizqa. We do not ask for provision. We are not asking you for provision. What we are asking you for is devotion. We will provide for you. We have to do those things that get the provisions, but the provision is there. We will provide for you. Nahnu narzuquka. We will provide for you. Wal ‘aqibatu littaqwa. The phrase comes in this verse is about prayer. That is, with prayer you are preparing yourself for the inevitability of victory. The victory of the soul over the ego; the victory of the mosaic reality over the pharonic reality; the victory of truth over falsehood; the victory of justice over oppression. This is the essence of prayer, it’s in order for you to constantly go back to God, no matter how difficult things get, that you go back to Allah SWT with prayer. Take isti’anah from God. Take your solace, your help from Allah SWT. This is what Allah is telling us.

Now in another verse in QS Al-Qasas: 83, Allah SWT said, “That home of the Hereafter We assign to those who do not desire exaltedness upon the earth or corruption. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.”. This abode of afterlife that we have made, is for people that don’t want to be exalted in the earth nor they want corruption in the earth, and the end affair is for the people of taqwa. Again, it’s a reminder that these are people, the akhirah has been set aside for them, i.e. they get great victory. There are times when the Muslims have seen victory in this world, i.e. when they become the people of truth. When it was Bani Israil time, when the Israelite were on the truth, God gave them victory over Pharaoh. Pharaoh was drown; he was drown in the ocean. And God gives them entrance in to the promised land because they were the people of truth. They were adhering to the principle and being guided by them. Rasul SAW said, the victory was also given to the people of Jesus over his enemies at that time. So in that case, it was the opposite. Now the people of Israel oppose Jesus at the time. This is part of the problem with human being, i.e. we oscillate. There are times when we are powerless and there are times when we are in power, depending on how we respond to that power; depending on who we are with. Are we with God or are we with Pharaoh. These are the two choices: you are either with God or with Pharaoh. There is really no in between in this.

So this idea that the darul akhirah being in place for those who don’t want to be exalted in the earth like Pharaoh. Pharaoh elevated himself in the earth. Whereas the people of the mosaic people, the Jesuit people, the Mohammedan people, peace be upon all of our prophets, these are the people that humble themselves. “And the slaves of the Most Beneficent (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness.” (QS Al-Furqon: 63). Insyaallah we are going to look at 12 attributes that define the servant of merciful. The servant of the merciful who thread lightly on the earth. They walk lightly on the earth. It’s interesting that now we talk about carbon footprint. People that have heavy carbon footprint, that pollute a lot. The people of Allah SWT are the people that thread lightly in earth. They don’t want to be exalted in the earth. So this idea that the akhirah is made of those that do not want either to be exalted or sow corruption. These two tend to go together. This is a really important thing to remember. When people become arrogant, they tend then to be oppressive, they tend to sow corruption in the earth. This is the nature of Pharaoh as opposed to the nature of the prophetic tradition which is the way of Moses, the way of Jesus, the way of our Prophet Muhammad SAW. All of them are our Prophets, but we are from the ummah of sayyidina Muhammad SAW. Alhamdulillah, jazakumullahu khoiran.

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