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“Moses prayed to God...” (Yunus 10:88)

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Sūrah Yūnus (Jonah)

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وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ آتَيْتَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلَأَهُ زِينَةً وَأَمْوَالًا فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا رَبَّنَا لِيُضِلُّوا عَن سَبِيلِكَ ۖ رَبَّنَا اطْمِسْ عَلَىٰ أَمْوَالِهِمْ وَاشْدُدْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ فَلَا يُؤْمِنُوا حَتَّىٰ يَرَوُا الْعَذَابَ الْأَلِيمَ
Moses prayed to God: “Our Lord! Surely You have granted the Pharaoh and his chiefs splendor and riches in the life of this world, and so, our Lord, they lead people astray from Your way. Our Lord! Destroy their riches, and press upon their hearts, for they do not believe until they see the painful punishment.” (Yūnus 10:88)

Some interpret the expression, “and so, our Lord, they lead people astray from Your way” in the following way: “Our Lord! You have granted the Pharaoh and his chiefs splendor and riches in this world. Have You, our Lord, granted them so that they may lead people astray from Your way?” It is difficult to accept this meaning as accurate. The letter ل (lām) in the expression, “liyudillū ‘an-sabīlik” is the lām al-‘āqibah (the lām indicating the consequence), and the verse therefore means, “You have granted the Pharaoh and his chiefs splendor and riches in the life of this world, and so, our Lord, they lead people astray from Your way.” Knowing well why God had granted the Pharaoh and his chiefs splendor and riches and to what end they would lead them, Moses could not have asked God, “Have You, our Lord, granted them so that they may lead people astray from Your way?” Furthermore, God never likes and approves of unbelief and disobedience to Him, and therefore He wills misguidance for no one, nor does He give people riches to lead them astray. If He gives people riches to lead them astray and people go astray, then they have obeyed Him. Therefore, God did not give Pharaoh and his chiefs splendor and riches so that they might go astray. There are similar verses in the Qur’ān in which the letter ل (lām) is used and some have misinterpreted it as lām at-ta‘lil (the lām which indicates reason) although it is lām al-‘āqibah (the lām indicating consequence). The following verse is one of them: “Then the family of Pharaoh picked him (Moses) up only to be an adversary and a source of grief for them (as a consequence)” (Al-Qasas 28:8). In this verse, when the “lām” in the expression of “liyakūn” is taken as the lām indicating reason, as some do so, an absurd meaning appears: the family of Pharaoh picked him up so that he might be an adversary and a source of grief for them. Whereas the verse means, the family of Pharaoh picked him up only to be an adversary and a source of grief for them.

Secondly, Destiny considers or relates to cause and effect together. That is, it is evident in the view of Destiny that this cause will engender that effect. There are no different “Destinies”—one for the cause and the other for the effect. The verse under discussion mentions God’s judgment, and this judgment is the result of the errors and misguidance of Pharaoh and his chiefs. That is, although they could gain Paradise with God’s bounties on them and were expected to do so, they made their children and riches as the cause of their unbelief and barred others from God’s way. Instead of asking for right guidance in return for God’s bounties on them, they misused them in the sense of asking for misguidance, and this was why God led them astray. Moses’ poverty and belonging to the Children of Israel, whom the wealthy ruler of Egypt, the Pharaoh, and his chiefs had enslaved for a long period, increased the latter in arrogance, insolence, wrongdoing, and deviation. Thus, such arrogance, presumptuousness, and deviation impeded them from believing in one Creator and made the path of heresy the forced, compulsory way for them. Thus, by praying to God, “Our Lord! Surely You have granted the Pharaoh and his chiefs splendor and riches in the life of this world, and so, our Lord, they lead people astray from Your way. Our Lord! Destroy their riches, and press upon their hearts, for they do not believe until they see the painful punishment,” Moses meant that riches, splendor, and children will cause such people’s misguidance unless God favors them with guidance through His special compassion and treatment.

Moses’ prayer was accepted, and the Pharaoh and his chiefs were subjected to consecutive disasters, and their wealth proved useless to them. Finally, they were destroyed utterly in the sea.