As we expedite the unknown with Josh Gates on the Discovery Channel, we come across the real and rare stories of great beings some of which are very much pleasant to live through in all phases of time. One such is Moses, the leader of Israelites and a highly revered prophet in all the three Abrahamic faiths. He is also the most frequently mentioned prophet in the glorious Quran and his life is narrated and recounted more than that of any other prophet.
One-third of Quran is addressed to his people, the Israelites alone. The life of Moses is generally seen as a spiritual parallel to the life of Muhammad, peace be upon both of them. The reality TV show, ‘expedite unknown,’ has dedicated a series of episodes entitled ‘Mysteries of Moses’ to answer enduring questions around Moses such as the existence and the story of Exodus.
In his epic adventure, Josh starts with opening an ancient Egyptian tomb and ends with trekking what could be the true Mount Sinai. Of course, the first question to answer was if Moses was a myth but he eventually turns out to be a veracious account of reality stretching over vast times of remote history. Moses was a man of few words, bottled up and brave, sincere than showy, ready to act than evade, to help than escape, to aid than avoid, to settle than speak and as a last resort to punch than preach, quite well deserved for the prophethood that he was later bestowed with. Though his elder brother Aaron was more eloquent, conversant and polished, nonetheless it was Moses who was chosen for the lead role by the divine.
He can be glorified by more than one reality TV shows, such is the content of his biography. He was born at a time when his people were an enslaved minority and after going through a series of hardships, he led their Exodus out of Egypt. Moses is said to have had an impediment in speech and the pharaohs would taunt him for his lesser skills of oratory but he nailed them down anyway. It is so well said by J. S. Kieffer that “the chief constituents of what we call manhood, are moral rather than intellectual.” And Moses best fits in this quote. There is one more couplet of Iqbal which one feels like attributing to Moses.
Zamana aql ko samjha hua hai mishal-e-rah
Kise Khabar ki junun bhi hai sahib-e-idrak
To a multitude of men, reason is the guide,
They know not that frenzy has a wisdom of its own.
The scores of desk writers and self-styled motivational speakers surfacing from different platforms are unable to streamline our jumbled affairs of life. They take a lot of our time without returning us with anything practically meaningful. Let us stop chasing them and check with people like Moses for the problems of our life. Moses was an action hero, rather than a silly skinny show boy which we have all around us nowadays, dying for a short-term name and fame, capitalizing every moment on camera while practicing hollow honesty and dramatized dignity. Real heroes are not here and there. They are rarely somewhere but with an eternal manifestation. They are to be discovered, sought and searched. They are not viral but medicinal. They end the disease and don’t set the flu. They provide the solutions and don’t merely pass the suggestions.
The sermonisers from both Jewish and Muslim faith have many direct demonstrations for us from the life of Moses but some lessons are subtle in expression and require great sensibility and degree of attention to appreciate and understand. I am particularly moved by the scheme of marriage of Moses. In fact, it is the only description of any marriage proposal in Quran. It needs to be heard both for its uniqueness and ubiquitous applicability. One, it is cross-cultural; two, it is a woman yearning for a man of strength and honesty; three, it is about rendering certain services to the fathers whose children are daughters only. Notwithstanding any social, cultural or legal provisions for women, the fathers with daughters only are deficient, desperate and vulnerable in many situations of life. Daughters may be serene and supporting, loving and caring but owing to their biological limitations, they may not consistently fit in the masculine roles.
This is essentially what Saphoora, the would-be wife of Moses, points out to him in their very first meeting by chance. She narrates that their father is old and they don’t have a male sibling which is why the two sisters are out to water their flocks amidst the pool of men. Moses offered the necessary help even before they would seek it from him. This generosity brings him reward from the father of the two damsels, who offered Moses an 8-to-10-year business deal to settle well in life. As Elisabeth Elliott says “stand true to your calling to be a man, real women will always be relieved and grateful when men are willing to be men” and this is precisely why Saphoora falls for Moses and requests her father to hire him for work.
Moses began to live in the city of Midian far from the domain and influence of his parent country, Egypt. This story tends to break three stereotypes which are still rigidly prevalent in our societies. One is that marrying in same region and culture may not always be a promising practice. The mixture of different bloods may stand a better chance of good progeny and progress. Second is that it is no shame for a man to work for the uplift of his in-laws if they are less fortunate in certain matters, the third is that the fathers may try to sense if their daughters want to marry men of specific traits and do them the necessary favour.
Moses was a stranger in a foreign land but some people may be disowned and disdained in their own land by virtue of certain circumstances. In that case a stranger can be like a native to meet. In Moses one can merge with peace, with Moses one can surge from siege. In Muharram we commemorate and celebrate the mighty and miraculous victory of Moses over the tyrannical pharaoic regime. A reason to cherish and a cause to sustain for the current and upcoming times.
Dr. Qudsia Gani, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physics, Govt. College for Women, Srinagar