A Preparation For Leadership

By Shaykh Ali Hammuda18/05/2022

There is a particular prophet to whom the Qur’an has given a noticeable amount of attention. His name is repeated more than any other prophet: around 183 times across 25 different contexts. Not only is his adulthood expounded upon, but so too is his birth, the events that led up to it, his years as a baby, his youth, and onto manhood. In fact, we are even told about his mother, sister, his marriage, and many of the details connected to it such as the dowry that he paid. He is none other than Prophet Mūsā (ʿalayhī al-Salām). 

Allah ﷻ said three things about Mūsā (ʿalayhī al-Salām) that were not said about any other prophet:

The first: 

وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِنِّي

“I cast the garment of love over you”[1] Thus everyone who saw Mūsā loved him. 

The second:  

وَلِتُصْنَعَ عَلَى عَيْنِي

“…in order that you may be brought up under My Eye.”

The third:

 وَاصْطَنَعْتُكَ لِنَفْسِي

“And I have prepared you for Myself.”

Indeed, there is a category of human beings, the allies of Allah, whom Allah selects, nurtures, guides, defends and prepares for Himself, and Mūsā was one of them. No aspect of Mūsā was for the dunyā (this world). His heart, soul, hopes and aspirations, his very essence were all entirely for Allah. 

Speaking about the verse “and I have prepared you for Myself”, Shaykh al-Saʿdī said:

وإذا كان الحبيب إذا أراد اصطناع حبيبه من المخلوقين، وأراد أن يبلغ من الكمال المطلوب له ما يبلغ، يبذل غاية جهده، ويسعى نهاية ما يمكنه في إيصاله لذلك، فما ظنك بصنائع الرب القادر الكريم، وما تحسبه يفعل بمن أراده لنفسه، واصطفاه من خلقه؟

“When a person wishes to nurture his beloved one from human mortals, wanting to raise him to the levels of perfection, he exerts every effort to help him attain it. So, what then of Allah’s doings – The Most Able, The Most Generous – for a person whom He wants for Himself and has selected from all of creation?”[2]

Prophet Mūsā; by Allah and for Allah

“And I have prepared you for myself” – These words fell onto the ears of Prophet Mūsā when he needed them the most. With hardly any provisions, he and his wife fled Egypt, when during the journey a glimmer of light in the distance caught their attention. He said to her: 

امْكُثُوا إِنِّي آنَسْتُ نَارًا لَعَلِّي آتِيكُمْ مِنْهَا بِقَبَسٍ أَوْ أَجِدُ عَلَى النَّارِ هُدًى

“Stay here; I have perceived a fire; perhaps I can bring you a torch or find at the fire some guidance.” [3]

Unbeknown to him, Mūsā was in fact making his way towards an appointment with Allah. No sooner did he arrive than he heard his name being announced; “O Mūsā, Indeed I am Allah”. The Prophet Mūsā was tasked with prophethood, hearing the words of his Lord directly. During that perfect night and magnificent hour, answers were finally revealed to Mūsā relating to his life-long suffering.

The Prophet Mūsā was born with a death warrant to his name, for in the law of Egypt, every new-born baby boy was to be executed. This left his mother with no option but to place him in a cot, with him in it, on to the river Nile. Nevertheless, it found its way to the doorstep of  Pharaoh’s palace, whose wife fell in love with the baby Mūsā, and so Mūsā grew up within the Pharaoh’s quarters and at his expense. Years later, Prophet Mūsā accidently claimed the life of an Egyptian, forcing him to flee Egypt to escape  yet another death warrant. During his travels, Mūsā faced starvation and was pushed to his physical limits. Eventually, he found refuge and even marriage, though at the price of 10 years’ worth of labour, to then set off to another unknown future. 

Up until this conversation with Allah, Mūsā had no idea why he had endured all this hardship. Now, however, it all made sense. None of it was accidental and none of it was in vain. There, in the sacred valley of Ṭuwa, as Mūsā stared into the heavens, absorbed by the majestic voice of Allah, the puzzle of his life was finally solved, as he was told: “And I have prepared you for myself”

During this glorious conversation, Prophet Mūsā’s ordeals were recounted to him, to make manifest how each and every phase of His life was divinely planned, even the ones which he was far too young to remember, to bring him to this predestined moment. He heard:

قَدْ أُوتِيتَ سُؤْلَكَ يَا مُوسَى (36) وَلَقَدْ مَنَنَّا عَلَيْكَ مَرَّةً أُخْرَىٰ (37) إِذْ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ أُمِّكَ مَا يُوحَىٰ (38) أَنِ اقْذِفِيهِ فِي التَّابُوتِ فَاقْذِفِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ فَلْيُلْقِهِ الْيَمُّ بِالسَّاحِلِ يَأْخُذْهُ عَدُوٌّ لِّي وَعَدُوٌّ لَّهُ ۚ وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِّنِّي وَلِتُصْنَعَ عَلَىٰ عَيْنِي (39) إِذْ تَمْشِي أُخْتُكَ فَتَقُولُ هَلْ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ مَن يَكْفُلُهُ ۖ فَرَجَعْنَاكَ إِلَىٰ أُمِّكَ كَيْ تَقَرَّ عَيْنُهَا وَلَا تَحْزَنَ ۚ وَقَتَلْتَ نَفْسًا فَنَجَّيْنَاكَ مِنَ الْغَمِّ وَفَتَنَّاكَ فُتُونًا ۚ فَلَبِثْتَ سِنِينَ فِي أَهْلِ مَدْيَنَ ثُمَّ جِئْتَ عَلَىٰ قَدَرٍ يَا مُوسَىٰ (40) وَاصْطَنَعْتُكَ لِنَفْسِي

“Your request has been granted O Mūsā. And we have shown our favour upon you yet another time. When we inspired your mother with what we inspired, saying ‘Put him inside the casket and place it onto the river and the river will throw it on the bank, and there, an enemy to Me and an enemy to him will take him.’ And I cast the garment of love over you in order that you may be brought up under My eye. When your sister went and said, ‘Shall I direct you to someone who can nurse him?’ So, We restored you to your mother so that her eye may cool and not grieve. And you killed someone, but We saved you from retaliation and we tested you with a severe test. And you remained for some years among the people of Madyan. Then you came here at the decreed time, O Moses. And I have prepared you for Myself.”[4]

It turns out that Mūsā was being prepared all along by Allah to be for Allah. As a result, Allah was aided him, navigating him through every hardship, guided his every decision, supported him against his enemies, and will – on the Day of Reckoning – give him security, before granting him entry into the uppermost stations in paradise. 

What about us? 

Naturally, a Muslim who reads this will ask: Can I, too, receive a portion of this? Can I, too, become amongst those who are prepared by Allah to be exclusively for Him, and thus guided in the confusing times of today, and given security and Jannah tomorrow? This is a perfectly valid question to ask, as those who suffer in Allah’s cause want assurances that their suffering is not in vain. Such signs do exist, and what better way to discover them than to peruse  some of the features of Prophet Mūsā that qualified Him for this station of “I have prepared you for Myself.”

1: An unquenchable thirst for knowledge

So intense was Mūsā’s yearning for knowledge that when he came to learn of a righteous man who was based at “the junction of the two seas” who has new knowledge, he wasted no time, packed his bags and set out on a quest to find him, saying: 

لَا أَبْرَحُ حَتَّى أَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ أَوْ أَمْضِيَ حُقُبًا

“I will not give up travelling until I reach the junction of the two seas, even if it takes me years.”[5]

After tracking him down following an arduous journey, Mūsā asked the wise man:

هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَى أَنْ تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا

“May I follow you so that you can teach me some of the right guidance you have been taught?’[6]

So, a person who is being prepared by Allah to be for Allah searches for this sign within himself; the levels of eagerness to learn, as Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: 

مَنْ يُرِدِ اللهُ بِهِ خَيْرًا يُفَقِّهْهُ في الدِّينِ

“When Allah wants good for a person, He gives him understanding of the religion.”[7]

2: A commitment to worship (ʿibādah) in all circumstances and it all of its forms 

The very first instruction given by Allah to Prophet Mūsā was: 

فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي 

“…so worship me and establish the prayer for my remembrance.”[8]

That he did, never forgetting this instruction even during the darkest moments in his life. In fact, on the eve of their escape from the Pharaoh, Mūsā and Hārūn were instructed by Allah to:

 تَبَوَّأَا لِقَوْمِكُمَا بِمِصْرَ بُيُوتًا وَاجْعَلُوا بُيُوتَكُمْ قِبْلَةً وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“Provide homes for your people in Egypt, and make your homes into places of worship, and establish the prayer, and give good news to the believers.”[9]

So, one who is being prepared by Allah to be for Allah is an exemplary worshipper, remembering Allah when others forget, fasting when people feast, and praying when others are asleep. 

3: A fearless acknowledgement of personal error 

Never did Mūsā shy away from confessing his faults nor did he ever delay making amends. Having underestimated his own strength, Mūsā accidently killed an Egyptian in his attempt to break up a fight. At once he said: 

هَذَا مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ عَدُوٌّ مُضِلٌّ مُبِينٌ (15) قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَغَفَرَ لَهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

“This is from the work of shayṭān; surely he is an enemy, openly leading astray. He said, ‘My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me’ and He forgave him. Indeed, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [10]

Similarly, when Mūsā returned to his community from a short journey and saw that they had fallen to idolatry in his absence, he erupted in rage, threw down the scrolls of revelation, and gripped his older brother, Hārūn, by his hair and beard for not preventing this. Hārūn, however, explained that they had oppressed him and were on the verge of killing him. At once, Mūsā settled, picked up the scrolls, acknowledged his fault and made amends by saying: 

رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِأَخِي وَأَدْخِلْنَا فِي رَحْمَتِكَ وَأَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

“My Lord, forgive me and my brother and admit us into Your mercy, for You are the Most merciful of those who show mercy.”[11]

So, a sign to look out for within yourself is your reaction upon learning of an Islamic ruling that clashes with your comforts, or upon receiving advice. Those who are being prepared by Allah to be for Allah willingly submit to Islam’s guidelines, accept advice gratefully, and amend their conduct whatever the cost.   

4: An unbreakable ethic of patience 

Both before and after his exit from Egypt, Mūsā faced harm at every level but was only every seen behaving patiently. In fact, so exemplary was it that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, in the face of harm, often remembered Mūsā’s patience, saying:

رحِمَ الله موسى، قد أوذي بأكثر من هذا فصبر

“May Allah have mercy on Mūsā. He was harmed more than this but was patient.”[12]

5: A longing to be of service to others

Mūsā saw a fight and immediately endeavoured to settle it. He saw two women amongst a crowd who wanted to water their flock, and so he fought the crowds and watered their flock on their behalf. In fact, even during his quest for knowledge, he witnessed behaviour from his mentor which he perceived to be unjust, and so he vocalised his objection. 

If you are in the process of being prepared by Allah to be exclusively for Allah, you will find yourself committed to an ethic of excellence and of service to others, just as Allah said about Mūsā:

وَلَمَّا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَاسْتَوَى آتَيْنَاهُ حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“And when he reached full strength and maturity, We gave him wisdom and knowledge. This is how We reward those who do good.”[13]

A paradigm shift in perspective 

The Prophet ﷺ said:

أَنْتُمْ مُوفُونَ سَبْعِينَ أُمَّةً أَنْتُمْ خَيْرُهَا وَأَكْرَمُهَا عَلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

“You are the last of 70 nations. You are however, in Allah’s sight, the greatest and most honourable of them all.”[14]

Nevertheless, this favoured nation finds itself bleeding profusely from every one of its limbs; the ethnic cleansing of Uyghur Muslims in China; the on-going plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar; a seemingly impending genocide of Muslims in India; abandoned scholars within the dungeons of Saudi Arabia; Yemen’s existential famine crisis; the decade long war on Syria’s people; the occupation of Palestine with the siege on Gaza; and al-Masjid al-Aqsa that is being desecrated before the eyes of the world. Above this all, however, is a Wise and Able Lord who controls the affairs of life and allows events to unfold the way they do. As for those who ask why, the response is the same as that which was given to Mūsā: “And I have prepared you for Myself”.

The God who said to Mūsā “I cast the garment of love over you” is the same God who said to him “and we tested you with a severe test”. So, Allah’s love and tests are twins; one calls for the other, for “if Allah loves a people, he tests them.”[15]

Just as Mūsā’s suffering was not due to hatred or abandonment, but preparation to lead the children of Israel, this Ummah is to see its trials in the exact same light; preparatory events for our leadership of humanity. That process of preparation will be no different to that of Mūsā who was separated from his mother and loved ones for a period of time, and likewise we, too, will be separated from people we love, whether scholars or their likes, and places we love, whether al-Aqsa or its likes. Mūsā, however, was reunited with his loved ones, and we, too, will be reunited with our loved ones and loved places. The peril of the Nile that baby Mūsā floated away on is no less than the perils we face from the Islamophobia today. However, the shores of the Nile were nearby for Mūsā, and our shores, as promised by Allah, are also nearby.

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يُحَآدُّونَ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥٓ أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ فِى ٱلْأَذَلِّينَ 

“Those who oppose Allah and His Messenger will be among the most humiliated.”[16]

كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا۠ وَرُسُلِىٓ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَوِىٌّ عَزِيزٌۭ

“Allah has decreed, ‘I and My messengers will certainly prevail.’ Surely Allah is All-Powerful, Almighty.”[17]


[1] Al-Qur’an, 20:39

[2] Tafsīr al-Saʿdī

[3] Al-Qur’an, 20:10

[4] Al-Qur’an, 20:41

[5] Al-Qur’an, 18:60

[6] Al-Qur’an, 18:66

[7] Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Muʿāwiyah

[8] Al-Qur’an, 20:14

[9] Al-Qur’an, 10:87

[10] Al-Qur’an, 28:15-16

[11] Al-Qur’an, 7:151

[12] Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Ibn Masʿūd

[13] Al-Qur’an, 28:14

[14] Ibn Mājah, on the authority of Muʿāwiyah 

[15] Al-Tirmidhī, on the authority of Anas

[16] Al-Qur’an, 58:20

[17] Al-Qur’an, 58:21

Shaykh Ali Hammuda

Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is Islam21c’s Tarbiya Editor. A UK national of Palestinian origin, he gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari’ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Shaykh Ali is the author of several books including ‘The Daily Revivals’, ‘The Ten Lanterns’ and ‘The Friday Reminder’. He delivers sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.