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A Quranic Overview about Aaron

 

A Quranic Overview about Aaron

 

Published in January 3, 2019

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

 

 

Introduction:

 Within the Quranic story of Moses, Aaron, Pharaoh, and the Israelites, there is more focus on Moses than the one on Aaron. We trace in the points below some Quranic verses which inform us of some facts about Aaron within the context of the Quranic story of Moses.

 

Firstly: the life of Aaron and Moses before being made prophets/messengers of the Lord God:

1- We perceive that within details about the birth of Moses and his immigration and marriage in Madian (in the Quranic Chapter 28), women play the major, leading roles: the mother of Moses, his sister, Pharaoh's wife, the wet-nurses rejected by the baby Moses, the two young women of Madian who were sisters, and the marriage of Moses to one of them and his return to Egypt along with his wife years later, when he passed through Mount Al-Tur in Sinai, Egypt, and received the revelation of the Lord God Who spoke to him directly at the burning bush. The second roles in this part of the story of Moses are assigned for men: Pharaoh, the Israelite man who quarreled with an Egyptian man and sought the help of Moses, the man who warned Moses and urged him to flee, and the man who became the father-in-law of Moses in Madian.

2- Within the Quranic story of Moses, his father is never mentioned; this means that he played no role (or a marginal one) in the life of Moses. We infer from the Quranic context that the father of Moses was alive when Moses was born; yet, the heroines of the events during the childhood of Moses were his mother and his sister; the father was absent. Despite the fact that people's names are ascribed to the fathers in general, it seems that the relation between Moses and his mother was stronger; Aaron beseeched the furious Moses to let go of him by invoking the mother and not the father: "...Son of my mother, do not seize me by my beard or my head..." (20:94).  

3- Within the divine revelation descended on Moses in Sinai, Aaron is not mentioned; his role at this stage was somehow marginal. We infer from the Quranic context that Aaron was born before Moses (i.e., he is the elder brother of Moses); Aaron was born before the decree of Pharaoh to kill off all of the male babies of the Israelites.  

4- While being raised inside the palace of Pharaoh, Moses knew that his people are the Israelites and he held close relations with his family, especially his brother Aaron. The memory of Aaron was alive in his memory during his stay as a stranger in Madian and his journey back to Egypt. Proof: when the Lord God spoke to him in Sinai, he requested from Him to make Aaron his helper in the mission of being a messenger sent to Pharaoh: "Aaron, my brother. Strengthen me with him. And have him share in my mission." (20:30-32). 

5- The details of this request of Moses show that he knew his brother Aaron very well.

5/1: Maybe because of the years spent in Madian, Moses had problems pronouncing the Egyptian, Pharaonic tongue; he remembered that Aaron was more eloquent than he was: "And untie the knot from my tongue. So they can understand my speech." (20:27-28); "And my brother Aaron, he is more eloquent than me, so send him with me, to help me, and to confirm my words, for I fear they will reject me."" (28:34).

5/2: Moses knew all about his brother Aaron when Moses was in Egypt before fleeing to Madian; he knew that Aaron did not get angry or infuriated easily (unlike Moses), and we infer this from these Quranic verses: "He said, "My Lord, I fear they will reject me. And I become too stressed, and my tongue is not fluent, so send Aaron too." (26:12-13).

 

Secondly: the position of Aaron in relation to Moses: as prophets/messengers:

1- The Lord God says the following about Moses: "And We granted him, out of Our mercy, his brother Aaron, a prophet." (19:53); this means that He agreed to the request of Moses by making Aaron a prophet/messenger with him: "He said, "We will strengthen your arm with your brother, and We will give you authority, so they will not touch you. By virtue of Our signs, you and those who follow you will be the triumphant."" (28:35); both Moses and Aaron were sent to Pharaoh: "Go, you and your brother, with My signs, and do not neglect My remembrance. Go to Pharaoh. He has tyrannized. But speak to him gently. Perhaps he will remember, or have some fear within piety."" (20:42-44).

2- This means that Aaron and Moses shared the following items.

2/1: Both shared the responsibility of the message and the Scripture granted to them by the Lord God: "We gave Moses and Aaron the Criterion, and illumination, and a reminder for the righteous ones." (21:48).

2/2: Both shared the deliverance, victory, the Straight Path, and good traits: "And We blessed Moses and Aaron. And We delivered them and their people from the terrible disaster. And We supported them, and so they were the victors. And We gave them the Clarifying Scripture. And We guided them upon the Straight Path. And We left with them for later generations. Peace be upon Moses and Aaron. Thus We reward the righteous ones. They were of Our believing servants." (37:114-122).

 

Thirdly: the position of Aaron in relation to Moses: though older than Moses, Aaron was the assistant of Moses:

1- This is inferred from what the Lord God told Moses as per this Quranic verse: "He said, "We will strengthen your arm with your brother, and We will give you authority, so they will not touch you. By virtue of Our signs, you and those who follow you will be the triumphant."" (28:35).

2- Aaron was the assistant of Moses despite their sharing the responsibility of conveying the same message: "We gave Moses the Scripture, and appointed his brother Aaron as his assistant. We said, "Go to the people who rejected Our signs," and We destroyed them completely." (25:35-36).

3- Consequently, we infer the following two points from certain Quranic verses.

3/1: Thus, Moses was the imam/leader and Aaron followed him; when Moses invoked the Lord God's wrath so that Pharaoh is destroyed, Aaron followed Moses in the same invocation and the Lord God answered their prayers and took revenge against Pharaoh: "Moses said, "Our Lord, you have given Pharaoh and his chiefs splendor and wealth in the worldly life. Our Lord, for them to lead away from Your path. Our Lord, obliterate their wealth, and harden their hearts, they will not believe until they see the painful torment." He said, "The prayers of both of you have been answered, so go straight, and do not follow the path of those who do not know."" (10:88-89).

3/2: Moses issued commands to his brother Aaron, as we infer from the following Quranic context: "He said, "O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray. Are you not following me? Did you disobey my command?"" (20:92-93).

 

Fourthly: the position of Aaron in relation to Moses: Aaron was the deputy of Moses during the absence of the latter:

1- This is manifested when Moses made Aaron as his deputy during his absence at Mount Al-Tur, in Sinai, Egypt, within the appointment of Moses with the Lord God to receive the Tablets of the Scripture: "And We appointed to Moses thirty nights, and completed them with ten; and thus the time appointed by his Lord was forty nights. And Moses said to his brother Aaron: "Take my place among my people, and be upright, and do not follow the way of the corrupters." (7:142).

2- Of course, Aaron failed in leading the Israelites during the absence of Moses; most of them were misguided/misled by a man known as Al-Samiri who made them worship a golden calf he made which was similar to the Pharaonic god Apis.

2/1: Aaron advised the Israelites but to no avail: "Aaron had said to them before, "O my people, you are being tested by this. And your God is the Dominant Lord, so follow me, and obey my command." They said, "We will not give up our devotion to it, until Moses returns to us."" (20:90-91).

2/2: Upon the return of Moses, he vented his fury on the Israelites and on his brother Aaron.

2/2/1: "And when Moses returned to his people, angry and disappointed, he said, "What an awful thing you did in my absence. Did you forsake the commandments of your Lord so hastily?" And he threw down the tablets; and he took hold of his brother's head, dragging him towards himself. He said, "Son of my mother, the people have overpowered me, and were about to kill me; so do not allow the enemies to gloat over me, and do not count me among the unjust people."" (7:150).

2/2/2: "He said, "O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray.Are you not following me? Did you disobey my command?" He said, "Son of my mother, do not seize me by my beard or my head. I feared you would say, "You have caused division among the Israelites, and did not regard my word.""" (20:92-94).

 

Fifthly: the position of Aaron between Moses and the Israelites:

 Unlike Moses who lived most of his life as a distant stranger who remained mostly away from his people, Aaron lived among the Israelites all his life; they were not afraid of Aaron; in fact, he was afraid of them; the Israelites feared Moses very much. The following points prove our view.

1- When Aaron advised the Israelites to stop worshiping the golden calf, they rejected his piece of advice: "They said, "We will not give up our devotion to it, until Moses returns to us."" (20:91). The wicked, sinful ones among the Israelites felt that Aaron was weak and were about to murder him; the furious Moses calmed down as he knew Aaron was helpless: "...And he threw down the tablets; and he took hold of his brother's head, dragging him towards himself. He said, "Son of my mother, the people have overpowered me, and were about to kill me; so do not allow the enemies to gloat over me, and do not count me among the unjust people." He said, "My Lord, forgive me and my brother, and admit us into Your mercy; for you are the Most Merciful of the merciful."" (7:150-151). 

2- Aaron was afraid lest Moses would misunderstand his stance and the whole situation: "He said, "O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray. Are you not following me? Did you disobey my command?" He said, "Son of my mother, do not seize me by my beard or my head. I feared you would say, "You have caused division among the Israelites, and did not regard my word.""" (20:92-94).

3- Ye, the Israelites' love for Aaron remains alive within the Israelite memory and culture for centuries; this is inferred from the reproach of some of the Israelites to Mary (held by them in high esteem) when she came to them carrying her baby Jesus, as we see in this Quranic context: "Then she came to her people, carrying him. They said, "O Mary, you have done something terrible. O sister of Aaron, your father was not an evil man, and your mother was not a whore."" (19:27-28).

 

Sixthly: Moses and Aaron within the viewpoint of Pharaoh and his affluent retinue members:

 Of course, Pharaoh and his affluent retinue members focused on Moses, despite the fact that Aaron lived in Egypt more than the years spent by Moses there. This is expected because Moses showed them the signs/miracles; he was the leader who talked to them. We infer this from the following Quranic verses.

1- Pharaoh addressed Moses in particular here: "He said, "Did we not raise you among us as a child, and you stayed among us for many of your years?" (26:18).

2- Surprised by the miracles/signs granted to Moses, the affluent retinue members referred to Aaron as merely the brother of Moses and they did not mention his name: "They said, "Put him off, and his brother, and send heralds to the cities."" (7:111); "He said to the dignitaries around him, "This is a skilled magician. He intends to drive you out of your land with his magic, so what do you recommend?" They said, "Delay him and his brother, and send recruiters to the cities. To bring you every experienced magician."" (26:34-37).

3- The Egyptian magicians focused their attention on Moses more than on Aaron, and this is because Moses was the one granted the signs/miracles from the Lord God; Pharaoh hated their belief in the message of Moses and he did not mention Aaron: "And the magicians fell down prostrating. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of the Worlds. The Lord of Moses and Aaron." He said, "Did you believe with him before I have given you permission? He must be your chief, who taught you magic. You will soon know. I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you all."" (26:46-49).

 

Seventhly: the mention of the names of Moses and Aaron in the Quranic verses:

 In most cases, the name of Moses is mentioned before the name of Aaron; in few cases, the name of Aaron is mentioned before the name of Moses. We provide examples in the points below.

Moses and then Aaron:

1- "Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron, with Our signs and a clear authority. To Pharaoh and his nobles, but they turned arrogant. They were oppressive people." (23:45-46); "Then, after them, We sent Moses and Aaron with Our proofs to Pharaoh..." (10:75).

2- "And their prophet said to them, "The proof of his kingship is that the Ark will be restored to you, bringing tranquility from your Lord, and relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron. It will be carried by the angels..." (2:248).

3- "And We gave him Isaac and Jacob-each of them We guided. And We guided Noah previously; and from his descendants David, and Solomon, and Job, and Joseph, and Moses, and Aaron..." (6:84).

Aaron and then Moses:

1-  "We have inspired you, as We had inspired Noah and the prophets after him. And We inspired Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Patriarchs, and Jesus, and Job, and Jonah, and Aaron, and Solomon. And We gave David Zabur. Some messengers We have already told you about, while some messengers We have not told you about. And God spoke to Moses directly." (4:163-164); we see here that Aaron is mentioned among other messengers/prophets in 4:163 before Moses, but Moses is mentioned alone in a distinguished manner in 4:164.

2- Aaron is mentioned before Moses for the sake of rhyme and eloquent style in this Quranic context: "Now throw down what is in your right hand - it will swallow what they have crafted. What they have crafted is only a magician's trickery. But the magician will not succeed, no matter what he does." And the magicians fell down prostrate. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses." He said, "Did you believe with him before I have given you permission? He must be your chief, who has taught you magic. I will cut off your hands and your feet on alternate sides, and I will crucify you on the trunks of the palm-trees. Then you will know which of us is more severe in punishment, and more lasting."" (20:69-71). Yet, Moses is mentioned before Aaron here, within the story of the Egyptian magicians, also for the sake of rhyme and eloquent style: "They said, "We have believed in the Lord of the Worlds. The Lord of Moses and Aaron."" (7:121-122).

 As always, the Lord God says nothing but the Absolute Truth.   


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