Fatwa: Story of Moses


Asalaamu alaikum

When i read the story of Musa un Surah 20 and Surah 28, somethings to my mind don’t match up. Let me explain.

When Musa said “stay here indeed i have seen a fire”, after this both phrses in each surah are different, one says that “perhaps i will bring you from there [some] information or burning wood from the fire that you may warn yourselves.”

The other says

“perhaps i can bring you a torch or find at the fire some guidance.”

Then moving on

When it come to the staff

in surah 28 it says “throw down your staff”, but in surah 20 it says “throw it down oh moses.”

then in surah 28 Allah says

“seize it and fear not: we will return it to it’s former condition.”

then this also occurs with the part of putting his hand in his pocket.

I am confused as to this. It’s causing big doubts. Can you refute it.

It’s basically why in two stories of the same situation are narrated differently in terms of Allah saying his said two different things and musa (as) said two different things each time. Please please pelase refute and reply.



Asalaamu alaikum

With reference to your email dated 07/04/2015, please note the following:

  1. The variance of the narration is not only found in the Prophet Musa (AS)’s story but also in other stories as well. See for example the story of Adam and Iblis which has been mentioned in different Surahs with variety of narrations. It is because the Quran is not a chronicle which goes by the date of each event. It is a book of admonition and guidance. In each reference, it adds something new to give a particular meaning. Please refer to Lesson 1 of the study of Al-Quran, which is one of our publications.
  2. The narration about the Prophet Musa’s own words is an Arabic rendering of the Hebrew language spoken by Musa and Bani Israil. The Arabic is famous for its wide and rich vocabulary. For example there are many expressions of the dates according to its different stages through which they pass to grow and ripe. For wine and lion, Arabs have coined a great number of names. Hence the word Qabas (a flame of fire) in Surah 20, Shihab Qabas (inflamed fire) in Surah 27, Jadhwa Min Nar (burning coal of fire) in Surah 28, all of the expressions convey the same meaning for a single Hebrew word which must have been spoken by the Prophet Musa (AS).
  3. In these Surahs there is a variation concerning: “let me bring you a flame of fire” then “or find at the fire some guidance” (Surah 20). In other two Surahs: “stay here, I have seen a fire, perhaps I bring you from there some news”, then: “or I bring a burning coal, so that you may warm yourself” (surah 27 & 28).

The message is the same but there is variation in the order of the two things mentioned one after the other.

In Surah Taha (No.20). Huda (Guidance) comes later because:

  1. Rhyme with the last word of each verse like Taha, Tashqa, Yakhsha, Al-Ula, Istawa, Al-Thara, Akfa and so on and so forth.
  2. In Surah Taha, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is addressed, right from the beginning. The Quran is declared as an admonition, not a source of any misery for him. So it was quite appropriate to emphasise on the element of “Guidance” by narrating the story of Musa (AS) and how he had been guided even through his travelling. It was a cold night. Musa (AS) had lost his way and when he saw the fire from a distance, he asked his family to stay where there were and let him go. Because there was a fire, there might have been some people around it as well. So he could ask them for guidance or at least bring some of the fire wood to warm them.
  • In the other two Surahs (Al-Naml, A-Qasas), the rhyming word is (nun) like Yuqinun, Akhsarun and it matches the word Ysatalun (to warm up). So it goes into the order other than that in Surah Taha.
  1. “Throw it down O Moses!”(Surah Taha). “Throw your staff” (Surah An-Naml), “O Moses! I am Allah, the creator of the worlds, And throw your staff” (Surah Al-Qasas)

I do not see even any variation. In all three places the word “Alqi” Throw is used.

In Surah Taha, the verse is preceded by a discussion of the staff which was in the hand of Musa. So there was no need to mention it again. It simply said “Throw it down”. Whereas in the other two Surahs, there had been no discussion about the staff, so it was mentioned specifically. As we said earlier, this is a narration of an event in past history and it could be described with variation in the wording.

  1. “(Allah) said, “Throw it, O Moses!” He threw it, and behold! It was a snake, active in motion. (Allah) said, “Seize it, and fear not: We shall return it at once to its former condition”. (20:19-21).

The narration in Surah Taha of this particular event is very short. Just “Grasp it and fear not” but then adds: “we shall return it to its former condition”.

The second part is not mentioned in the other two Surahs: Surah Al-Naml (No 27) simply says: “O Moses!” (it was said), “Fear not..” (27:10)

Surah Al Qasas “Draw near, and fear not..” (28:31)

So by combining all the verses, you can have the complete picture i.e. He was asked to throw his staff, it turned into a snake which was moving, it looked like a Jinn(demon). At this sight Musa was so frightened that he turned his back and fled. He did not even look back. So he was asked to come forward, “do not have any fear as Allah was going to bring it to its former shape”. And that is how the Quran gives in each Surah, an additional expression for various reasons. For example, in Surah Al-Naml (No 27) it has been added “..Fear not: truly, in My presence, those called as messengers have no fear,” “But if any have done wrong and have thereafter substituted good to take the place of evil..” (27:10-11)

  1. “Now draw thy hand close to thy side: It shall come forth white (and shining), without harm (or stain),- as another Sign,” (20:22)

“Now put thy hand into thy bosom, and it will come forth white without stain (or harm): (these are) among the nine Signs (thou wilt take) to Pharaoh and his people: for they are a people rebellious in transgression.” (27:12)

There are three different words that occur in these three narrations:

  1. Wadmum yadaka ila janahika..” –“Now draw thy hand close to thy side..”
  2. Waadkhil yadaka fee jaybika..” –”Now put thy hand into thy bosom..’’
  • Osluk yadaka fee jaybika..”- “”Move thy hand into thy bosom..”

Last two are the same. In the view of the first expression, the meaning would be like this: Draw your hand close to thy side in a way that it reaches your bosom. And once you withdraw it you will find it white (i.e. shining) without a stain. Once again we have to say that the Arabic version of the Hebrew expression can take different forms. The message given in all these passages is the same but it has been conveyed through different words in accordance with the style of the Quran as mentioned earlier.

I hope that you will be satisfied with this explanation.


Suhaib Hasan