Date, Context and Theme
This is a late Meccan surah through some scholars say that vv. 52-55 are Medinan. The theme is similar to show that Muhammad is a prophet like Moses.
vv. 1-2, The mystery letters are present. The Qur’an is described as a scripture that makes plain the truth of the situation
vv. 3- 43 The story of Moses
* vv. 3-13, Beginning with Pharaoh and Haman killing the baby boys.
* vv. 14-21 Moses kills the man who is oppressing another.
* vv. 22-28 Moses flees to Midan and gets a wife.
* vv. 29-35 Moses and the burning bush.
* vv. 36-38 Moses before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asks Haman to build a tower to see Moses’ god.
* vv. 39-42 Pharaoh and Haman killed as a sign
* v . 43 Moses given the scriptures.
Vv. 44-51 Muhammad and Moses. Muhammad was not in the time of Moses but is now for the Meccans. God raises up a prophet for every nation.
vv. 52-56 The Christians and Jews accept Muhammad.
vv. 57-59 If we (Meccans) accept you we will lose our town and power. No you wont.
Vv. 60-75 The comfort of this world (Mecca) is nothing at the resurrection and judgement.
* vv. 76-82 The example of Korah and comfort.
Vv. 83-88 Do good works. Stay with the Qur’an and you will return to Allah.
What I found interesting.
1. The sura has a simple structure and its main point is to compare Muhammad to Moses. Just as Moses was rejected, but in the end triumphant, so to will Muhammad be. Many objections and concerns of the Meccans are addressed and given assurances. There is also much teaching on the role of prophets and the judgement of nations. I found it easy to remember the main points of the sura.
2. The story of Moses is told fairly well, though, again surprising details are left out. For instance we are never told that it is the Israelites who are being delivered; they are just be a “tribe”.
Lo! Pharaoh exalted himself in the earth and made its people castes. A tribe among them he oppressed, killing their sons and sparing their women. Lo! he was of those who work corruption. 28:4
3. Moses and Muhammad. One of the problems of comparing Moses to Muhammad is that Muhammad did not do any mircles (according to the Qur’an). Therefore when this comparison is made it raises this obvious question. The answer is given in this verse.
But when there came unto them the Truth from Our presence, they said: Why is he not given the like of what was given unto Moses? Did they not disbelieve in that which was given unto Moses of old? They say: Two magics that support each other; and they say: Lo! in both we are disbelievers. 28:48
I found it very strange to read about Haman (from the book of Esther) working with Pharaoh to persecute the Israelites. Haman seems to build the tower of Babel (Genesis 11).
And Pharaoh said: O chiefs! I know not that ye have a god other than me, so kindle for me (a fire), O Haman, to bake the mud; and set up for me a lofty tower in order that I may survey the God of Moses; and lo! I deem him of the liars. 28:38
And Haman seems to have died in the red sea exodus event.
Therefor We seized him and his hosts, and abandoned them unto the sea. Behold the nature of the consequence for evil-doers! 28:40
We have seen this type of confusion before with Mary (Mariam) the mother of Jesus being the sister of Aaron (19:28) and the daughter of Imran (3:35ff) and with the Samaritan being present at Mt Sinai with Moses (20:85).
The are many Muslim leaders who say there is evidence for Haman in Egypt at the time of Pharaoh that this has been exposed as a hoax.
Korah was from the time of Moses. In the Law of Moses, Korah leads a rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16). But in the Qur’an is a rich man who loves the wealth of this world and is filled with pride and oppresses others.
Now Korah was of Moses' folk, but he oppressed them; and We gave him so much treasure that the stores thereof would verily have been a burden for a troop of mighty men. When his own folk said unto him: Exult not; lo! Allah loveth not the exultant; 28:76
Then went he forth before his people in his pomp. Those who were desirous of the life of the world said: Ah, would that we had the like of what hath been given unto Korah! Lo! he is lord of rare good fortune. 28:79
6. Produce a sura like it - the challenge. There is a challenge that Muslims often put to others. It is to produce something like the Qur’an. This is meant to be proof that the Qur’an is from God (2:23-24, 10:38, 11:13, 17:88, 52:33-34). However as sura 28 is a comparison to Moses it seems that this challenge is also issued to the Torah of Moses.
Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Then bring a scripture from the presence of Allah that giveth clearer guidance than these two (that) I may follow it, if ye are truthful. 28:49
I will need to remember this the next time the challenge is presented.
7. Part of the proof that the Qur’an is from God is that Christians have accepted it.
Those unto whom We gave the Scripture before it, they believe in it, 28:52
I am sure that Muslims would see these as the true Christians.
8. There was a very interesting discussion about how each nation has there own prophet and that God will not judge a nation until it has had a chance to hear.
And We shall take out from every nation a witness and We shall say: Bring your proof. Then they will know that Allah hath the Truth, and all that they invented will have failed them. 28:75
9. The doctrine of tawheed as usual was prominent. I thought that this verse was a good example of its significance to Islam.
And He is Allah; there is no God save Him. His is all praise in the former and the latter (state), and His is the command, and unto Him ye will be brought back. 28:70
10. Allah’s Judgement. Again we see that Allah will show a favourable judgement to those who worship him alone.
Whoso bringeth a good deed, he will have better than the same; while as for him who bringeth an ill-deed, those who do ill-deeds will be requited only what they did. 28:84