The Staff of Moses

There are many lessons to be gained from the amazing story of how Musa (عليه السلام) was led to, and had a conversation with Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).

I’m just going to share a part of the story here.

Musa (عليه السلام) was initially freaked out, but by now he’s realised he is in a conversation with Allah (سبحانه و تعالى). To make him feel calm Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) asks Musa (عليه السلام) about something he is very familiar with

And what is that in your right hand, O Moses?” {Qur’an 20:17}

Musa (عليه السلام) replies

He said, “It is my staff; I lean upon it, and I bring down leaves for my sheep and I have therein other uses.” {Qur’an 20:17}

After answering the question (it is his staff) he goes on to say what it’s for and its benefits, but then stops himself as he realises he’s saying more than Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) asked. He doesn’t want this special (understatement) conversation with the Lord to end, so that’s why he’s adding irrelevant details to his answer, but then he doesn’t want to ruin the conversation either, so he stops himself. Pretty cute 🙂

[ Allah ] said, “Throw it down, O Moses.” {Qur’an 20:18)

Musa (عليه السلام) has just explained how useful and great his staff is yet Allah is telling him to throw it on the ground. In terms of what the staff means to Musa (عليه السلام), Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda likens the staff to our smart phones – a very important possession used both for personal and work purposes. You handle such possessions with the utmost care. Asking Musa (عليه السلام) to drop the staff was akin to asking us to willingly drop our phones despite the likelihood of it smashing.

So he threw it down, and thereupon it was a snake, moving swiftly. {Qur’an 20:19}

Musa (عليه السلام) obeyed.

Then Musa (عليه السلام) saw the staff that belonged to him, something he was comfortable with, something he thought he knew, something he thought was of great benefit to him turn into a snake.  A very frightening and dangerous snake.

[ Allah ] said, “Seize it and fear not; We will return it to its former condition. {Qur’an 20:20}

I.e. pick it up and it will turn back into the staff. Others Surahs have mentioned the fear that Musa (عليه السلام) felt when he saw it though it’s not really mentioned here. But you can just imagine how frightening it would be to first have this very personal object be transformed into something harmful, and then to be told everything will be fine.

Of course, Musa (عليه السلام) trusted Allah and did pick it up and it did turn back into a staff.

This was Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) showing just one of His signs to Musa (عليه السلام).

The explanations are based on the tafseer of Surah Taha by Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda. He said we should recognise that like Musa (عليه السلام) had his staff, which he thought he knew well, we have the Qur’an. We think we know the Qur’an is our guidance and how beneficial it is, but in reality we don’t know it. We don’t know it well enough to have internalised it, and we need to make use of it to fully recognise it.

Besides that, I was thinking about the story, from Musa’s (عليه السلام) description of his staff to Allah’s command for it to become a snake, to Musa (عليه السلام) being scared to then trusting when Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) said he will be fine when it is picked up.

It made me think that we can be in a certain place in our life and we think we know our situations very well. We think we know what’s good and what’s bad about our situation and our life. Then something happens – there’s a twist to the story, some turmoil and we’re left thinking, questioning. We think it shouldn’t have happened. We think it was bad, wrong, an injustice. We’re left confused, sad, hurt or angry.

We don’t realise the command of Allah has changed our situation. Just like the command changed the staff into the snake.

And therefore the situation has changed. It is no longer the same situation that we were dealing with. We no longer know it. So, we cannot be sure of what is right or wrong, good or bad.

Instead of being stuck in the thought of “I was better off before”, we have to look at this new situation, understand it, re-evaluate our thoughts and act accordingly. We have to ask ourselves what does Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) want us to do in this situation and what guidance does the Qur’an and Sunnah have for this situation, because continuing to act as if we’re still in the old situation is pointless and of no benefit. That situation no longer exists and this situation is the one Allah says is best for you. It may be a sign, like the snake, reminding you of Allah; your Lord, Creator, Provider, The Exceedingly Merciful, All-knowing, All-seeing, All-Hearing, All-Loving, All-wise, The Just, The Guider to the Right Path, The Grateful (…),  or it may be a test.

It is natural to feel those negative emotions when we’re thrown out of our comfort zone or when our lives completely change but we do not need to continue having those feelings, nor do we necessarily need to remain in those situations.

Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. { Qur’an 13:11}

So, like Musa (عليه السلام) picked up his staff, we can pick up our Qur’an. We can choose to not be afraid of the snakes in our lives and change our situations. If we trust in Allah; The guide, The Light, the Forgiving, The One Who Rewards Bounteously, The Giver of life, The Giver of Death.


By: Yellow_Lellow (MW Contributor)


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