MUSA (AS) FLEES FROM EGYPT
The Qur'an relates the following event in Musa's life:
He (Musa) entered the city at a time when its inhabitants
were unaware and found two men fighting there-one from his party and the
other from his enemy. The one from his party asked for his support against
the other from his enemy. So Musa hit him, dealing him a fatal blow. He
said, "This is part of Satan's handiwork. He truly is an outright and
misleading enemy." (Qur'an, 28: 15)
The above mentioned event reveals to us a situation in which Musa witnessed a fight involving a man from his own party, whereupon, without considering who was right, he sided with, smiting the other. Though he did not intend to kill him, the man died from the blow. The Prophet Musa realized he erred. The moral of this account is that, when a person is in the wrong, it is unjust to support him simply because he is from one's own party. Musa referred to his wrongful action, that is, his assumption of the superiority of the man from his own party, as "the Satan's handiwork."
Indeed, the matter criticized here is one that has brought hatred and wars to mankind throughout history, and continues to do so till this day. Man's patriotic obsession towards his own family, tribe, comrades or race, and his rejection of what is just and right for that sake, have been the major cause of most of the conflicts and cruelty perpetrated in history.
Alerted by his conscience, Musa promptly grasped that this sentiment was an evil from the influence of Satan, and, accordingly, sought refuge from it in God and repented. In the following verses, we read of the exemplary and conscientious approach adopted by Musa:
He said, "My Lord, I have wronged myself. Forgive me."
So He (God) forgave him. He is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
He said, "My Lord, because of Your blessing to me, I will never be a supporter
of evildoers." (Qur'an, 28: 16-17)
Musa acknowledged his error; that of protecting a man, contrary to justice, purely because he was from his own tribe. However, this sort of prejudicial attitude was common among the people of Egypt. Upon becoming aware of Musa's unintentional murder, the people of the other party, moved by racist sentiments, might well have sought revenge by killing Musa. It was fear of this possibility that disturbed Musa:
Morning found him in the city, fearful and on his guard.
Then suddenly the man who had sought his help the day before, shouted
for help from him again. Musa said to him, "You are clearly a misguided
man." (Qur'an, 28: 18)
Thus, Musa could no longer maintain his place in Pharaoh's society. Concerned for his safety, Musa spent the night on guard against any possible harm from Pharaoh and his people. The next day, the event related in the above verse took place; the man who asked Musa's help the previous day came to him with a similar demand, this time against another man. As the verse informs, the man hoped to receive Musa's help yet another time, based on the fact that he was from his own people. However, Musa avoided repeating the same error. Aware that his companion was not in the right, he refused to help him. The companion of Musa then immediately turned against him and started to criticize him. Against Musa he referred to the unintentional murder Musa had committed the previous day:
But when he was about to grab the man who was their common
enemy, he said, "Musa! Do you want to kill me just as you killed a person
yesterday? You only want to be a tyrant in the land; you do not want to
be a reformer." (Qur'an, 28: 19)
In any case, though committed unintentionally, Musa was considered a person who killed an Egyptian. Meanwhile, Pharaoh and the leading followers discussed Musa's punishment, even the possibility of executing him. Someone who overheard the discussion came to warn Musa. Concerned over the plot against him, Musa fled from Egypt:
A man came running from the furthest part of the city,
saying, "Musa, the Council are conspiring to kill you, so leave! I am
someone who brings you good advice." So he left there fearful and on his
guard, saying, "My Lord, rescue me from the people of the wrongdoers!"
(Qur'an, 28: 20-21)
These facts about the life of Musa give us some insight into Musa's personality as well. It appears that he was rather an excitable man. When in a fight, he immediately took sides with a man from his party, then smote and unintentionally killed the opponent. Finally, fearing his life was in danger, he fled from Egypt. One can presume that Musa would have always been excitable throughout the course of these events. Nevertheless, after God's discourse with him, Musa learned to fear only from God, and to seek refuge only in Him. This is a very good example of how God strengthens one's character.