“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!”
The first time I heard this Shakespearean quote was from my professor for comparative religions class, and it immediately resonated with me. So a true a quote! Anyone can read their own ideas into scripture and then subsequently appeal to scripture based on their biased and selective readings. Akin to this in the Qur’an is Allah’s saying:
أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَابِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ
So do you believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part?
By selectively reading and accepting a part of the divine guidance, in essence the person has rejected the other part – even if he doesn’t say so or believe so. And one who accepts part of the scripture and rejects another, hasn’t actually accepted the scripture by its virtue as scripture – otherwise he wouldn’t have differentiated between the parts – but rather he has accepted it since it is inline with his own preconceived notions and agendas. Thus, simply appealing to scripture doesn’t make one guided, nor does it validate an opinion.
On the same note, a video of the Madkhali ideologue Muhammad Sa’id Raslan made it to my Twitter feed. As is the case with ideologues, Raslan attempted to show – through his very selective reading of Islamic texts – that people should be patient in the face of oppression instead of protesting, etc. He did this by attempting to draw a parallel between such a scenario and Musa (AS) advising Bani Isra’il to have patience.
In the Qur’an, Allah quotes Musa (AS) as saying,
قَالَ مُوسَى لِقَوْمِهِ اسْتَعِينُوا بِاللَّهِ وَاصْبِرُوا إِنَّ الأَرْضَ لِلَّهِ يُورِثُهَا مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
Said Moses to his people, “Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah. He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.”
The Madkhali thinks he has found what he needs! Musa (AS) is ordering his people to be patient in light of the transgression and oppression of the Pharaoh. Raslan’s attempts to draw parallels with Musa (AS) ultimately fails, since the advice of Musa (AS) was not given in a vacuum. Rather, it was part of a greater scheme and plan. Patience against oppression wasn’t the only aspect of Musa’s story.
Lets take a look at three other parts of the Mosaic story that don’t fall in line with the Madkhali way of thinking.
To begin, Allah ordered Musa (AS) to speak with the Pharaoh earnestly and explicitly, yet gently, as the contents of the message would likely anger the Pharaoh greatly. In the process, Musa (AS) presented his demands to the Pharaoh (release of Bani Isra’il) and warned him of a divine punishment that would overtake him if he disobeyed. Allah says:
اذْهَبَا إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَىٰ ﴿٤٣﴾ فَقُولَا لَهُ قَوْلًا لَّيِّنًا لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ ﴿٤٤﴾ قَالَا رَبَّنَا إِنَّنَا نَخَافُ أَن يَفْرُطَ عَلَيْنَا أَوْ أَن يَطْغَىٰ ﴿٤٥﴾ قَالَ لَا تَخَافَا ۖ إِنَّنِي مَعَكُمَا أَسْمَعُ وَأَرَىٰ ﴿٤٦﴾ فَأْتِيَاهُ فَقُولَا إِنَّا رَسُولَا رَبِّكَ فَأَرْسِلْ مَعَنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَلَا تُعَذِّبْهُمْ ۖ قَدْ جِئْنَاكَ بِآيَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكَ ۖ وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَىٰ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ الْهُدَىٰ﴿٤٧﴾ إِنَّا قَدْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيْنَا أَنَّ الْعَذَابَ عَلَىٰ مَن كَذَّبَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ
Go, both of you, to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed. And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah]. They said, “Our Lord, indeed we are afraid that he will hasten [punishment] against us or that he will transgress.” [Allah] said, “Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see. So go to him and say, ‘Indeed, we are messengers of your Lord, so send with us the Children of Israel and do not torment them. We have come to you with a sign from your Lord. And peace will be upon he who follows the guidance. Indeed, it has been revealed to us that the punishment will be upon whoever denies and turns away.”
In the political framework of the Madkhalis, are they willing to speak truth to power, make demands and threaten them with a divine punishment that shall afflict them if they don’t obey? Even in a private setting, I am not sure that the Madkhali framework provides for this!
Secondly, when it became clear that the Pharaoh would not accept the demands and his animosity for Musa (AS) became clear, Musa (AS) accepted their challenge to him and set the time and place in the most public manner, where the the most people would witness the Pharaoh’s humiliation. Once again, Musa (AS) ended the dialogue by threatening them with divine punishment, and warning them of the consequences of their disbelief. Allah says:
قَالَ أَجِئْتَنَا لِتُخْرِجَنَا مِنْ أَرْضِنَا بِسِحْرِكَ يَا مُوسَىٰ ﴿٥٧﴾ فَلَنَأْتِيَنَّكَ بِسِحْرٍ مِّثْلِهِ فَاجْعَلْ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكَ مَوْعِدًا لَّا نُخْلِفُهُ نَحْنُ وَلَا أَنتَ مَكَانًا سُوًى ﴿٥٨﴾قَالَ مَوْعِدُكُمْ يَوْمُ الزِّينَةِ وَأَن يُحْشَرَ النَّاسُ ضُحًى ﴿٥٩﴾ فَتَوَلَّىٰ فِرْعَوْنُ فَجَمَعَ كَيْدَهُ ثُمَّ أَتَىٰ ﴿٦٠﴾ قَالَ لَهُم مُّوسَىٰ وَيْلَكُمْ لَا تَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ كَذِبًا فَيُسْحِتَكُم بِعَذَابٍ ۖ وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنِ افْتَرَىٰ
He said, “Have you come to us to drive us out of our land with your magic, O Moses? Then we will surely bring you magic like it, so make between us and you an appointment, which we will not fail to keep and neither will you, in a place assigned.” [Moses] said, “Your appointment is on the day of the festival when the people assemble at mid-morning.” So Pharaoh went away, put together his plan, and then came [to Moses]. Moses said to the magicians summoned by Pharaoh, “Woe to you! Do not invent a lie against Allah or He will exterminate you with a punishment; and he has failed who invents [such falsehood].”
Does the Madkhali framework allow for such a public humiliation of authority?
In the end, Musa (AS) fled with Bani Isra’il, in direct opposition to the Pharaoh. It must be noted that going on the run with Bani Isra’il must have been a hard hit against the Pharaoh and the economy, after all, they were slaves (free labor)! At the very least, this act is akin to civil disobedience. Allah says:
وَلَقَدْ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰ أَنْ أَسْرِ بِعِبَادِي فَاضْرِبْ لَهُمْ طَرِيقًا فِي الْبَحْرِ يَبَسًا لَّا تَخَافُ دَرَكًا وَلَا تَخْشَىٰ ﴿٧٧﴾ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ بِجُنُودِهِ فَغَشِيَهُم مِّنَ الْيَمِّ مَا غَشِيَهُمْ
And We had inspired to Moses, “Travel by night with My servants and strike for them a dry path through the sea; you will not fear being overtaken [by Pharaoh] nor be afraid [of drowning].” So Pharaoh pursued them with his soldiers, and there covered them from the sea that which covered them.
Does the Madkhali framework allow for such a direct act of disobedience to authority that would have shaken up the Pharaoh’s power and hold on Egypt?
In conclusion, if you want to appeal to Musa’s (AS) story, you must appeal to the full story within its greater context. Patience in the face of an oppression is a temporary stage in a greater scheme or plan and never makes up the solution as a whole. Viva la Musa!