In Light of the Arab Uprising

Abu Unsure February 2, 2011 0

In light of recent events, we cannot ignore what is happening with the Muslims globally. Rather our approach should be analysing these events around us in light of the Qu’raan and Sunnah, learning from the Seerah.

There are many possible scenarios and outcomes with the current situation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and his regime, which also affects Gaza and Muslims in general as it undoubtedly concerns the west and Israel.

We ask Allaah to free our lands from Taghut, Aameen.

We hope Shaykh Haitham does another talk enlightening us on Egypt InshaAllaah (see Tunisia video here), but what follows is some tafseer on a few ayaat from Surah An-Naziat, relevant to what is affecting us today.


“..Next we have an account of what took place between Moses and Pharaoh, and the end which Pharaoh met after he had tyrannized and transgressed all bounds:

“Have you heard the story of Moses? His Lord called out to him in the sacred valley of Tuwwa, saying: ‘Goto Pharaoh: he has transgressed all bounds, and say to him: “Would you like to reform yourself? I will guide you to your Lord, so that you may be in awe of Him.” ‘ He showed Pharaoh the mightiest miracle, but Pharaoh cried lies and rebelled. He then turned away hastily. He summoned all his men and made a proclamation to them: “I am your supreme Lord”, he said. God smote him with the scourge of both the life to come and this life. Surely in this there is a lesson for the God-fearing.” [An-Naziat 79:15-26]

The story of Moses is the most frequent and detailed of Qur’aanic historical accounts. It is mentioned in many other surahs, in different ways and with varying emphasis. At times, certain episodes are given greater prominence than others. This variation of style and emphasis aims at striking harmony between the historical account and the surah in which it occurs. Thus, the story helps to make the message of the surah clearer. This method is characteristic of the Qur’aan. Here the historical account is given in quick successive scenes which open with the call Moses receives in the sacred valley and end with the destruction of Pharaoh in this life and perdition in the life to come. Thus, it fits very well with the main theme of the surah, namely the hereafter. The part given here of Moses’s history spans a long period, yet it is conveyed by only a few short verses that fit in well with the rhythm and message of the surah as whole. They start with an introductory question addressed to the Prophet:

“Have you heard the story of Moses?” [An-Naziat 79:15]

The question serves to prepare us to listen to the history and contemplate its lessons. Moses’s story is described here as history to emphasize that it actually happened. It starts with Moses being called by God:

“His Lord called out to him in the sacred valley of Tuwwa.” [An-Naziat 79:16]

Tuwwa is probably the name of the valley which lies to the right of Mount Tur in Sinai, as one comes up from Madyan in North Hijaaz. The moment this call was made was an awesome one. The call from God to one of His servants is beyond description, yet it embodies a secret of divinity, and a secret of how God has made man susceptible to His call. No one can comprehend what is involved here without inspiration from God Himself. The communication between God and Moses is discussed in more detail elsewhere in the Qur’aan. However, with the brevity and rapid rhythm that characterize this surah, it is touched upon here only very briefly, before God’scommand to Moses is stated:

“Go to Pharaoh: he has transgressed all bounds, and say to him: ‘Would you like to reform yourself I will guide you to your Lord, so that you may be inawe of Him’.” [An-Naziat 79:17-19]

“Go to Pharaoh: he has transgressed all bounds.” The Arabic term for ‘transgress’, which is taghaa, also suggests tyranny. Neither tyranny nor transgression should be allowed to take place or be left unchecked. They lead to corruption and to what displeases God. So God [limitless is He in His glory] selects one of His noble servants and charges him with the task of trying to put an end to them. The instructions given to this noble servant require him to go to a tyrant in an attempt to turn him away from his erring ways, so that he has no excuse should God decide to exact His retribution.“Go to Pharaoh: he has transgressed all bounds.” God teaches Moses how to address this tyrant in the most persuasive manner:

“Say to him: ‘Would you like to reform yourself?” [An-Naziat 79:18]

The first question then is whether or not the tyrant would like to purify himself of the stains of tyranny and abominable disobedience to God. Would he like to know the path of the pious, the blessed?:

“I will guide you to your Lord, so that you may be in awe of Him.” [An-Naziat 79:19]

The offer here is for Pharaoh to be shown the way acceptable to God. Once he knows it, he will feel the fear of God in his heart. Man does not transgress and tyrannize unless he loses his way and finds himself taking a road which does not lead to God. His heart hardens as a result, and he rebels and resorts to tyranny. Moses was told all this when God called to him. He of course puts these questions to Pharaoh when he encounters him. The surah, however, does not repeat them when it describes the encounter. It skips over what happens after God’s call to Moses and deletes what Moses says when he conveys his message. It is as if the curtain falls after the call to repentance. When it is lifted again, we are presented with the end of the encounter:

“He showed Pharaoh the mightiest miracle, but Pharaoh cried lies andrebelled.” [An-Naziat 79:20-21]

Thus, Moses conveys the message with which he has been entrusted in the manner God has taught him. This warm, friendly attitude, however, cannot win over a heart that has been hardened by tyranny and ignorance of the Lord of the universe. So Moses shows him the great miracles of the stick turning into a snake and Moses’s own hand becoming a brilliant white, as they are described in other surahs, “but he cried lies and rebelled.” The scene ends with Pharaoh’s rejection and rebellion against God. Pharaoh then turns away to mobilize his forces and brings forward his sorcerers for an encounter between magic and the truth. Essentially, Pharaoh was determined notto accept the truth or submit to right.

“He then turned away hastily. He summoned all his men and made a proclamation to them: ‘I am your supreme Lord’, he said.” [An-Naziat 79:22-24]

The surah does not give any details of Pharaoh’s efforts to muster his magicians, sorcerers and men. It simply says that he went away to do so, and then uttered his impertinent proclamation: “I am your supreme Lord”. Pharaoh’s declaration betrays the fact that he was deceived by his people’s ignorance and their submission to his authority. Nothing deceives tyrants more than the ignorance and abject submission of the masses. A tyrant is in fact an individual who has no real power or authority. The ignorant and the submissive simply bend their backs for him to ride, stretch out their necks for him to harness with reins, hang down their heads to give him a chance to show his conceit, and forego their rights to be respected and honoured. In this way they allow themselves to be tyrannized. The masses do all this because they are deceived and afraid at the same time. Their fear has no real basis except in their imagination. The tyrant, an individual, can never be stronger than thousands or millions, should they attach proper value to their humanity, dignity, self-respect and freedom. Every individual in the nation is a match for the tyrant in terms of power. No one can tyrannize a nation which is sane,or knows its true Lord, believes in Him and refuses to submit to any creature who has no power over its destiny. Pharaoh, however, found his people so ignorant, submissive and devoid of faith that he was able to make his insolent, blasphemous declaration, “I am your supreme Lord!” He would never have dared to make it had his nation possessed thequalities of general awareness, self-respect and faith in God. Against such intolerable insolence, the Supreme Power moved in:

“God smote him with the scourge of both the life to come and this life.” [An-Naziat 79:25]

The scourge of the life to come is mentioned first because it is much more severe and perpetual. It is indeed the real punishment for tyrants and transgressors. It is also appropriate to give it prominence since the life to come is the main theme of the surah. Besides, it fits in perfectly with the general rhythm of the surah. Nevertheless, the scourge that engulfed Pharaoh in this life was fearful and severe, but that of the life to come will be much more so. Pharaoh had power, authority and glory, yet none of this will be of any use to him. One can only imagine what the fate that will be faced by unbelievers who do not have similar power, authority or glory but who still resist God’s message and try to suppress it.

“Surely in this there is a lesson for the God-fearing.” [An-Naziat 79:26]

Only those who know their true Lord and fear Him will benefit from the lessons of Pharaoh’s history. Those who do not fear God will continue in their erring ways until they reach their appointed end, when they shall suffer the scourge of both this life and the life to come.”

Sayyed Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’aan

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