Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Story of Moses #11

The Death of Moses
By Jeremy Boulter

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, May Allah blessings and peace be upon His Messenger.

The story of Moses’ death shows his strength and tenacity, even in the face of the inevitable. It also shows his ultimate submission to God and his keenness for God’s ultimate reward.

When the angel of death came to Moses to take his soul, he resisted. Instead of submitting to death, Moses beat the angel, knocking his eye out. The angel of death went back to his Lord and complained about the man, a slave of God, who refused to die. God does not like to refuse His slaves’ wishes, and Moses, being a Prophet, was one of His most beloved. Thus He told the angel to go back to Moses and inform him that God would grant him one more year of life for every hair he could cover by placing his hand on the back of an ox.

Now Moses had expected to carry out many more tasks before his death, including finally settling the Israelites in the Holy Land after the punishment God had ordained for them had run its course. But the visit from the angel of death had clearly signaled that God’s decree was other than that. So when the angel of death came back with God’s offer, he asked:

‘Oh Lord! Then what will happen?’

He was told, ‘You will die.’

So Moses knew death was inevitable; he said, ‘Then why not now.’

Still, in choosing to die immediately instead of uselessly hanging on, he had one last request to make. He said, ‘O Lord! Bring me nearer to the Holy Land, as near as a stone’s throw away.’

And so he died, in sight of the land he had led his people to and admonished them to enter. The Bible says that nobody knows where the grave of Moses is, [7] but Muhammad, may God praise them both, told us he would be able to show his companions the site of the grave below a red sand hill on the side of the road if he happened to be there with them. [8] He said:

“When I was taken on the Night Journey, I passed by Moses, and he was standing, praying in his grave, beside the sand hill.” (Muslim)

One of the Characteristics of Moses was his strong will and tenacity to complete whatever he started. But coupled to this was his obedience and submission to the Will of God. Whenever he was confronted with a choice, he would always choose to obey God rather than pander to his own wishes. He provides for us a human model of rectitude and fortitude, a trait echoed by the prophets down the ages, and culminating in Muhammad, the Messenger of God who brought Islam to the world.


[7] Deuteronomy 34:6.
[8] Ibn Kathir, in Stories of the Prophet; English translation by R. A Azimi; pub. Darusallam 2003; p. 453: the Death of Moses.


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