FLEEING INTO THE COUNTRY OF MIDIAN
HIS SETTLEMENT THERE
Musa left behind Pharaoh, the person who had raised him, as well as the Pharaoh's people, and set off to Midian. (Midian is a region beyond the Sinai desert to the east of Egypt, corresponding to the southern end of Jordan today.)
At the water of Midian, Musa encountered two women who could not water their flocks out of wanting to avoid other shepherds. But, as the verses of the Qur'an relate, outwardly, Musa appeared as a highly decent and trustworthy person. Thus, the women did not hesitate to approach him. They explained that they were holding back to guard their chastity, but that they had to graze their father's flocks for him since he was an old man. Then, Musa helped the women by leading their flock to the water:
When he arrived at the water of Midian, he found a crowd
of people drawing water there. Standing apart from them, he found two
women, holding back their sheep. He said, "What are you two doing here?"
They said, "We cannot draw water until the shepherds have driven off their
sheep. You see our father is a very old man." So he drew water for them...
(Qur'an, 28: 23-24)
The verses provide an example of the courteous and benevolent character of Musa; he approaches two strangers, helped them, and earned their respect. On the other hand, it is to be understood that the men, mentioned as "shepherds," effected an attitude entirely opposite to the manners of Musa. This is evident from the fact that the women apparently avoided them though they chose to talk to Musa. From these above verses we can well suppose that these men would have been frightful in appearance, and rude and brutish in behaviour. (God knows best.)
We may continue to conclude that a Muslim must carefully avoid the manners peculiar to the people mentioned here as "shepherds." Muslims should look to role models like Musa, who conducted himself kindly, decently and forthrightly. As the example of Musa suggests, a Muslim must develop highly cultivated manners, and be trustworthy, qualities that should be immediately discernible in him.
We need also make note of the fact that Musa is always of a temperament that exemplifies that wholehearted submission to God. Leaving everything dear to him in the land of Egypt where he had grown up, he had no idea whatsoever of what the future would hold for him. The only thing that was certain was that nothing in his life would be the same again. However, though it was not known to him, God already predestined certain events for him. Musa prayed the following:
…and then withdrew into the shade and said, "My Lord,
I am truly in need of any good You have in store for me." (Qur'an, 28:
One's sincerity in one's prayer is evidence in one's grasp of the fact that God has the power to do anything, that all blessings and adversities come only from Him, and that one has no other helper or protector other than God. Musa's prayer quoted in the above verse is the kind made in complete submission to God, by someone who has a full comprehension of this truth. Indeed, God answered Musa's sincere prayer and opened His mercy to him.
The kindness Musa had shown to the two women resulted in the start of a completely new life for him. While Musa was resting, one of the women approached him to convey her father's invitation in appreciation for his help:
Then there came unto him one of the two women, walking
shyly and said, "My father invites you so that he can reward you with
a payment for drawing water for us." When he came to him and told him
the whole story he said, "Have no fear, you have escaped from wrongdoing
people." (Qur'an, 28: 25)
Musa prayed to his Lord sincerely, pleading for any good He would bestow on him. God answered his prayer and, following a threat against his life, guided him to the people who would help him and offer him security. Musa was of a strong character, and person who was trusted because of his manners. Indeed, the women, despite being cautious against the shepherds, trusted Musa and spoke to him. Furthermore one of the women asked her father to hire Musa seeing as he was strong and trustworthy:
One of them said, "Hire him, father. The best person
to hire is someone strong and trustworthy." (Qur'an, 28: 26)
With these words, the woman explicitly expressed to her father that she found Musa to be a reliable person. Convinced of his trustworthiness, the old man decided to wed his daughter to Musa. The recognizable decency of Musa was a major factor in his decision, with the old man making the following proposal to him:
He said, "I would like to marry you to one of these two
daughters of mine on condition that you work for me for eight full years.
If you complete ten, that is up to you. I do not want to be hard on you.
You will find me, God willing, to be one of the righteous." He (Musa)
said, "That is agreed between me and you. Whichever of the two terms I
fulfill, there will be no injustice done to me. God is Guardian over what
we say." (Qur'an, 28: 27-28)
Musa accepted the proposal of this old man, who we should understand from the Qur'an to have been a true believer, and began leading the rest of his life in Midian. Hence, God first delivered Musa to safety, making the waters of the Nile carry him to the Palace of Pharaoh without drowning. Then, while his life was in danger in Egypt, He saved him a second time and led him to a peaceful life in Midian.
Those who perform good actions will receive better than
them and will be safe that Day from fear. (Qur'an, 27: 89)