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Quran Chapter 28 [part 1] - The Narration - Prophet Moses and Pharaoh, Return to Egypt

A Meccan sura on the story of Moses. Its main theme is the bad end that comes to those who are arrogant and spread corruption, like Pharaoh and Qarun––polytheism is denounced at various points throughout the sura––and a link is made between these and the disbelievers of Mecca. The Prophet is reminded that he cannot make everyone believe (verse 56) and should remain steadfast (verse 87).

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

Prophet Moses and Pharaoh

1 Ta Sin Mim

2 These are the verses of the Scripture that makes things clear: 3 We recount to you [Prophet] part of the story of Moses and Pharaoh, setting out the truth for people who believe. 4 Pharaoh made himself high and mighty in the land and divided the people into different groups: one group he oppressed, slaughtering their sons and sparing their women––he was one of those who spread corruption–– 5 but We wished to favor those who were oppressed in that land, to make them leaders, the ones to survive, 6 to establish them in the land, and through them show Pharaoh, Haman, and their armies the very thing they feared.

7 We inspired Moses’ mother, saying, ‘Suckle him, and then, when you fear for his safety, put him in the river: do not be afraid, and do not grieve, for We shall return him to you and make him a messenger.’ 8 Pharaoh’s household picked him up––later to [a] become an enemy and a source of grief for them: Pharaoh, Haman, and their armies were wrongdoers–– 9 and Pharaoh’s wife said, ‘Here is a joy to behold for me and for you! Do not kill him: he may be of use to us, or we may adopt him as a son.’ They did not realize what they were doing. 10 The next day, Moses’ mother felt a void in her heart––if We had not strengthened it to make her one of those who believe, she would have revealed everything about him–– 11 and she said to his sister, ‘Follow him.’ So she watched him from a distance, without them knowing. 12 We had ordained that he would refuse to feed from wet nurses. His sister approached them and said, ‘Shall I tell you about a household which could bring him up for you and take good care of him?’ 13 We restored him to his mother in this way, so that she might be comforted, not grieve, and know that God’s promise is true, though most of them do not know

14 When Moses reached full maturity and manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge: this is how We reward those who do good. 15 He entered the city, unnoticed by its people, and found two men fighting: one from his own people, the other an enemy. The one from his own people cried out to him for help against the enemy. Moses struck him with his fist and killed him. He said, ‘This must be Satan’s work: clearly he is a misleading enemy.’ 16 He said, ‘Lord, I have wronged myself. Forgive me,’ so He forgave him; He is truly the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful. 17 He said, ‘My Lord, because of the blessings You have bestowed upon me, I shall never support those who do evil.’

18 Next morning, he was walking in the city, fearful and vigilant, when suddenly the man he had helped the day before cried out to him for help. Moses said, ‘You are clearly a troublemaker.’ 19 As he was about to attack the man who was an enemy to both of them, the man said, ‘Moses, are you going to kill me as you killed that person yesterday? You clearly want to be a tyrant in the land; you do not intend to put things right.’ 20 Then a man came running from the furthest part of the city and said, ‘Moses, the authorities are talking about killing you, so leave– this is my sincere advice.’ 21 So Moses left the city, fearful and wary, and prayed, ‘My Lord, save me from people who do wrong.’

Return to Egypt

22 As he made his way towards Midian, he was saying, ‘May my Lord guide me to the right way.’ 23 When he arrived at Midian’s waters, he found a group of men watering [their flocks], and beside them two women keeping their flocks back, so he said, ‘What is the matter with you two?’ They said, ‘We cannot water [our flocks] until the shepherds take their sheep away: our father is a very old man.’ 24 He watered their flocks for them, withdrew into the shade, and prayed, ‘My Lord, I am in dire need of whatever good thing You may send me,’ 25 and then one of the two women approached him, walking shyly, and said, ‘My father is asking for you: he wants to reward you for watering our flocks for us.’

When Moses came to him and told him his story, the old man said, ‘Do not be afraid, you are safe now from people who do wrong.’ 26 One of the women said, ‘Father, hire him: a strong, trustworthy man is the best to hire.’ 27 The father said, ‘I would like to marry you to one of these daughters of mine, on condition that you serve me for eight years: if you complete ten, it will be of your own free will. I do not intend to make things difficult for you: God willing, you will find I am a fair man.’ 28 Moses said, ‘Let that be the agreement between us– whichever of the two terms I fulfil, let there be no injustice to me– God is witness to what we say.’

29 Once Moses had fulfilled the term and was travelling with his family, he caught sight of a fire on the side of the mountain and said to his family, ‘Wait! I have seen a fire. I will bring you news from there, or a burning stick for you to warm yourselves.’ 30 But when he reached it, a voice called out to him from the right-hand side of the valley, from a tree on the blessed ground: ‘Moses, I am God, the Lord of the Worlds. 31 Throw down your staff.’ When he saw his staff moving like a snake, he fled in fear and would not return. Again [he was called]: ‘Moses! Draw near! Do not be afraid, for you are one of those who are safe. 32 Put your hand inside your shirt and it will come out white but unharmed– hold your arm close to your side, free from all fear. These shall be two signs from your Lord to Pharaoh and his chiefs; they are truly wicked people.’ 33 Moses said, ‘My Lord, I killed one of their men, and I fear that they may kill me. 34 My brother Aaron is more eloquent than I: send him with me to help me and confirm my words– I fear they may call me a liar.’ 35 God said, ‘We shall strengthen you through your brother; We shall give you both power so that they cannot touch you. With Our signs you, and those who follow you, will triumph.’

36 But when Moses came to them with Our clear signs, they said, ‘These are mere conjuring tricks; we never heard this from our forefathers.’ 37 Moses said, ‘My Lord knows best who comes with guidance from Him and who will have the final Home: wrongdoers will never succeed.’ 38 Pharaoh said, ‘Counsellors, you have no other god that I know of except me. Haman, light me a fire to bake clay bricks, then build me a tall building so that I may climb up to Moses’ God: I am convinced that he is lying.’

39 Pharaoh and his armies behaved arrogantly in the land with no right– they thought they would not be brought back to Us– 40 so We seized him and his armies and threw them into the sea. See what became of the wrongdoers! 41 We made them leaders calling [others] only to the Fire: on the Day of Resurrection they will not be helped. 42 We made Our rejection pursue them in this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be among the despised. 43 After We had destroyed the earlier generations, We gave Moses the Scripture to provide insight, guidance, and mercy for people, so that they might take heed.


a. Li here indicates consequence rather than purpose.

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)

The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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