Was Torah given for the guidance of Egyptians?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعين

This article analyzes the anti-Islamic claim that as per the Qur’an, Torah was revealed for the Pharaoh and his people and that Prophet Moosa (Moses) (عليه السلام) and his people inherited it after Pharaoh and his people were destroyed.

The verses in question relating to this claim are as follows:

ثم ارسلنا موسى واخاه هارون باياتنا وسلطان مبين الى فرعون وملئه فاستكبروا وكانوا قوما عالين فقالوا انؤمن لبشرين مثلنا وقومهما لنا عابدون فكذبوهما فكانوا من المهلكين ولقد اتينا موسى الكتاب لعلهم يهتدون

Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron with Our signs and a clear authority. To Pharaoh and his establishment, but they were arrogant and were a haughty people. They said, “Should we believe two men like ourselves while their people are for us in servitude?” So they denied them and were of those destroyed. And We certainly gave Moses the Scripture that perhaps they would be guided.[1]

Based on these verses, it appears that Prophet Moosa (Moses) (عليه السلام) was sent to the Egyptians and Torah was revealed for the guidance of the Egyptians whereas elsewhere the Qur’an states that the Torah was revealed for the guidance of children of Israel:

ولقد اتينا موسى الكتاب فلا تكن في مرية من لقائه وجعلناه هدى لبني اسرائيل

And We certainly gave Moses the Scripture, so do not be in doubt over his meeting. And we made the Torah guidance for the Children of Israel[2].

Clarification

Upon initial reading, the conclusion deduced may appear to be valid if it is read by ignoring the context. For the verses from the 23rd chapter quoted above, if we go back one verse, we find the answer:

ثم ارسلنا رسلنا تترا كلما جاء امة رسولها كذبوه فاتبعنا بعضهم بعضا وجعلناهم احاديث فبعدا لقوم لايؤمنون

Then We sent Our messengers in succession. Every time there came to a nation its messengerthey denied him, so We made them follow one another [to destruction], and We made them narrations. So away with a people who do not believe[3].

The underlined part above about Messenger being sent to his nation is very important to the argument here. Prophet Moosa (Moses) (عليه السلام) was from the children of Israel and therefore as per the verse he was sent to the children of Israel. The sending of messengers in succession part also confirms the understanding that the children of Israel are being referred to in this verse as the Prophet has explained in Saheeh Bukhari:

“The Israelis used to be ruled and guided by prophets: Whenever a prophet died, another would take over his place. There will be no prophet after me, but there will be Caliphs who will increase in number.”

We can safely conclude here that in Qur’an 23:44, the children of Israel are being addressed and discussed which is also confirmed by the very next verse where after discussing Prophet Moosa (Moses) (عليه السلام) the Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (عليه السلام) is mentioned who was also sent to the people of Israel.

وجعلنا ابن مريم وامه اية واويناهما الى ربوة ذات قرار ومعين

And We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign and sheltered them within a high ground having level [areas] and flowing water[4].

Then when Qur’an 23:45 mentions that Prophet Moosa (Moses) (عليه السلام) and his brother Haroon (Aaron) (عليه السلام) were sent to the Pharaoh, we must understand not just the context behind it but as well as the purpose. To say that they were sent to teach Torah to the Egyptians is incorrect as the Torah was revealed much later which we shall discuss below.

Here is the summary of the above findings: Verses 44 and 45 of the 23rd chapter speak of the nation of Israel and their prophets. Verse 45 mentions that both the prophets Moosa (عليه السلام) and Haroon (عليه السلام) were sent with signs:

ثم ارسلنا موسى واخاه هارون باياتنا وسلطان مبين

Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron with Our signs and a clear authority.

Then the verses to come after these are explanation of the signs and are not to be taken as revelation for the Pharaoh and his nation. After these signs have been explained, the story goes back to the nation of Israel as Prophet Eisa (عليه السلام) is mentioned right afterwards:

وجعلنا ابن مريم وامه اية واويناهما الى ربوة ذات قرار ومعين

And We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign and sheltered them within a high ground having level [areas] and flowing water[5].

If Torah was not for Egyptians, then why were prophets sent to Pharaoh?

The Pharaoh considered himself a god and had enslaved the children of Israel. Prophet Moosa (Moses) (عليه السلام) was sent to the Pharaoh to free the children of Israel from captivity. Since Prophet Moosa (Moses) (عليه السلام) was sent only for his nation, he went for that purpose. However, since the Pharaoh was a disbeliever of a very high level, this does not suit the character of a prophet to let such a disbeliever go without providing him Da’wah (invitation to the true faith). Even Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (عليه السلام) had done Da’wah activities to non-Israelis even though he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel[6].

In the verse 49 of the 23rd chapter, when Allah says And We certainly gave Moses the Scripture that perhaps they would be guided, Allah refers to the children of Israel. The context before (verse 44) and after (verse 50) prove this. Verses 45 to 48 speak of the signs and clear authority given to prophets Moosa (عليه السلام) and Haroon (عليه السلام) and explains these signs. As soon as the signs have been explained, Allah addresses back the original story i.e. of the children of Israel. This is confirmed by the fact that the Torah was revealed much later after the drowning of Pharaoh as explained below.

Another question

Then we are asked the question whether the Torah was meant to be for Egyptians but later inherited by the children of Israel?

ولقد اتينا موسى الهدى واورثنا بني اسرائيل الكتاب

And We had certainly given Moses guidance, and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit the Scripture[7].

It is asked whether the children of Israel inherited the Torah along with the land of Egypt they had also inherited from the Egyptians:

واوحينا الى موسى ان اسر بعبادي انكم متبعون فارسل فرعون في المدائن حاشرين ان هؤلاء لشرذمة قليلون وانهم لنا لغائظون وانا لجميع حاذرون فاخرجناهم من جنات وعيون وكنوز ومقام كريم كذلك اورثناها بني اسرائيل

And We inspired to Moses, “Travel by night with My servants; indeed, you will be pursued.” Then Pharaoh sent among the cities gatherers [And said], “Indeed, those are but a small band, And indeed, they are enraging us, And indeed, we are a cautious society…” So We removed them from gardens and springs And treasures and honorable station – Thus. And We caused to inherit it the Children of Israel[8].

نتلو عليك من نبا موسى وفرعون بالحق لقوم يؤمنون ان فرعون علا في الارض وجعل اهلها شيعا يستضعف طائفة منهم يذبح ابناءهم ويستحيي نساءهم انه كان من المفسدين ونريد ان نمن على الذين استضعفوا في الارض ونجعلهم ائمة ونجعلهم الوارثين ونمكن لهم في الارض ونري فرعون وهامان وجنودهما منهم ماكانوا يحذرون

We recite to you from the news of Moses and Pharaoh in truth for a people who believe. Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters. And We wanted to confer favor upon those who were oppressed in the land and make them leaders and make them inheritors. And establish them in the land and show Pharaoh and [his minister] Haman and their soldiers through them that which they had feared[9].

Linking of Qur’an 40:53 to the inheritance of Egypt is not a wise thing to do. These isolated verses may seem to indicate that they are related but linking of similar words in totally unrelated verses does not do justice to the rules of context. If the story had been repeated elsewhere, then linking them would have been the correct thing to do but this is not the case here.

قالوا اولم تك تاتيكم رسلكم بالبينات قالوا بلى قالوا فادعوا ومادعاء الكافرين الا في ضلال

They will say, “Did there not come to you your messengers with clear proofs?”[10].

The context here speaks of previous messengers whose nations had been punished for rejecting the truth and then right after is mentioned Prophet Moosa (عليه السلام) thereby indicating the sequence and flow of messengers. Since the previous messengers and nations were also given revelation while the nations were destroyed, Allah had raised up the nation of Israel who had inherited the Scripture.

Please note that the word used for Scripture is Kitab (Book) and not Torah.

A practical example

The said explanation can be made clearer with a practical example. Consider the following events in their sequence:

  1. Abdullah woke up for Fajr (pre-dawn) prayer
  2. He made ablution
  3. He left for the Masjid (Mosque)
  4. He stood up for the morning prayer behind the Imam (prayer leader)
  5. Morning prayer has a huge significance in Islam
  6. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) told us that if the people knew the importance and great reward of Fajr prayer, they would come to the Masjid crawling on their knees.
  7. Abdullah then performed his prayer
  8. He then went back to his home

The points one to four (in red) are a sequence of events whereas points five and six (in green) pause for a while and explain the first four points i.e. the importance of morning prayer. The events then continue back in their sequence; seven and eight (in red).

Torah was revealed after the destruction of Pharaoh

After the Pharaoh and his people were destroyed and Prophet Moosa (عليه السلام) and his people had settled in the desert for a while, Allah called him to the mountain to reveal the Scripture to him.

وواعدنا موسى ثلاثين ليلة واتممناها بعشر فتم ميقات ربه اربعين ليلة

And We made an appointment with Moses for thirty nights and perfected them by [the addition of] ten; so the term of his Lord was completed as forty nights[11]

وكتبنا له في الالواح من كل شئ موعظة وتفصيلا لكل شئ فخذها بقوة وامر قومك ياخذوا باحسنها ساوريكم دار الفاسقين

And We wrote for him on the tablets [something] of all things – instruction and explanation for all things, [saying], “Take them with determination and order your people to take the best of it. I will show you the home of the defiantly disobedient.”[12]

The Qur’an is clear that the Torah was revealed much later than the destruction of Pharaoh and considering this with the overall explanation provided here, we reach to the conclusion that the Torah was for the children of Israel and it had not been transferred to them from the Egyptians.

Indeed, Allah knows best.


[1] Qur’an 23:45-49

[2] Qur’an 32:23

[3] Qur’an 23:44

[4] Qur’an 23:50

[5] Qur’an 23:50

[7] Qur’an 40:53

[8] Qur’an 26:52-59

[9] Qur’an 28:3-6

[10] Qur’an 40:50

[11] Qur’an 7:142

[12] Qur’an 7:145

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s