‘Then you came here as I ordained’

Surah Taha (chapter 20 of the Quran) has a strong focus on Moses, one of the central figures of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The wisdom found in Surah Taha thus has tremendous reach, sweeping across the Abrahamic frontier.

The kernel of wisdom that I found in Surah Taha’s telling of Moses’ origins and confrontation with the Pharaoh is essentially this; no matter how tumultuous life may be, no matter how unpredictable, unfair and treacherous it may seem, we never exit God’s watchful and protective eye, and so what we experience from life’s flamboyant tempo is but God developing us, augmenting us with a vanguard of godliness, that we may stand up to chaos and evil.

This is conveyed is verse 40, where God says ‘…then you came here as I ordained’. God says this to Moses after telling him about how Moses was always under God’s watchful eye, from infancy to where he stands now. Moses’ life story is indeed a collection of seemingly chaotic events; being sloshed around the unforgiving torrents of the Nile, only to be raised in the household of a tyrant, and then to face exile after killing a man, accompanied by a crushing burden of guilt. And then, to find a spouse because she happened to take her livestock for watering at the same time as he. And then, finally, to behold the burning bush and converse with the Everlasting.

But no, God says, this is no assembly of accidents, nor a mangle of misfortunes; this is God’s precise planning, shaping and crafting Moses’ every faculty, every whim and instinct, to stand in the face of humanity’s worst. It is no accident that Moses went through what he did.

And so, when life hurls betrayal, death, war, poverty and hardship at us, it too is God’s plan at work, melding the perennial wisdom of His signs into our being. And this ranges from the mundane, not passing a job interview for example, to the hurtful, losing a friend to betrayal, to the depths of despair, death and world-suffering.

We need only to hold fast to righteousness to enrol in God’s curriculum, a pedagogy of upright tenacity and fervent goodness to stand upright in the maelstrom of evil which threatens to engulf us in nihilism, impotency and disbelief.

 

“He said, ‘Do not be afraid, I am with you both, hearing and seeing everything.”

20:46

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