He said, remorsefully, ‘My Lord, I have indeed wronged myself, by killing him, so forgive me!’ So He forgave him. Truly He is the Forgiving, the Merciful, that is to say, the One Who has always possessed, and will always possess, these two attributes.
Having described Musa's beginnings, Allah then tells us that when he reached maturity, and was complete in stature, Allah gave him Hukm and religious knowledge. Mujahid said that this means prophethood.
وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِى الْمُحْسِنِينَ
(And thus do We reward the doers of good.) Then Allah describes how Musa reached the status that was decreed for him, that of Prophethood and speaking to Allah, as a direct consequence of killing the Coptic, which was the reason why he left Egypt and went to Madyan. Allah says:
(And he entered the city when its people were unaware.) Ibn Jurayj narrated from `Ata' Al-Khurasani, from Ibn `Abbas, "That was between Maghrib and `Isha'.'' Ibn Al-Munkadir narrated from `Ata' bin Yasar from Ibn `Abbas, "That was in the middle of the day.'' This was also the view of Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, As-Suddi and Qatadah.
فَوَجَدَ فِيهَا رَجُلَيْنِ يَقْتَتِلاَنِ
(and he found there two men fighting,) meaning, hitting one another and struggling with one another.
هَـذَا مِن شِيعَتِهِ
(one of his party, ) meaning, an Israelite,
وَهَـذَا مِنْ عَدُوِّهِ
(and the other of his foes.) meaning, a Coptic. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Muhammad bin Ishaq. The Israelite man asked Musa, peace be upon him, for help, and Musa took advantage of the fact that people were not paying attention, so he went to the Coptic man and
فَوَكَزَهُ مُوسَى فَقَضَى عَلَيْهِ
(so Musa struck him with his fist and he died.) Mujahid said, "This means he punched him with his fist.'' And then he died.
("This is of Shaytan's doing, verily, he is a plain misleading enemy.'' He said: "My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.'' Then He forgave him. Verily, He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. He said: "My Lord! For that with which You have favored me,) meaning, `what You have given me of prestige, power and blessings -- '
فَلَنْ أَكُونَ ظَهِيراً
(I will nevermore be a helper of the criminals!) `those who disbelieve in You and go against Your commands.'
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, when he had attained his full mental and physical development. In this connection, different ages of the Prophet Moses have been mentioned in the Jewish traditions. Some say he was 18, others have mentioned 20 years and still others 40 years. According to the New Testament, he was 40 years old. (Acts, 7: 23). But the Qur'an does not mention any age. For the purpose of the incident being mentioned in the following verses, it is enough to know that he had attained his full maturity at that time.
Hukum implies wisdom, understanding and power of judgment, and 'llm is both religious and worldly knowledge. The Prophet Moses became familiar with the teachings of his forefathers the Prophets Joseph. Jacob, Isaac and Abraham (peace be upon all of them) through his contact with his parents, and with the sciences prevalent in Egypt by virtue of his training as a prince in the king's palace. Here the gift of Hukm (wisdom) and `Ilm (knowledge) does nor refer to the gift of Prophethood, because Prophethood was bestowed on Moses several years afterwards, as is mentioned below, and has already been mentioned in Ash-Shu`araa: 21 above.
Regarding his education and training while as a prince the New Testament says: "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and' in deeds." (Acts, 7: 22). The Talmud says: Moses grew up, a handsome lad, in the palace of the king: he dressed royally, was honored by the people, and seemed in all things of royal lineage. He visited the land of Goshen daily, observing the rigor with which his brethren were treated.... Moses urged the king of Egypt to grant the men of Goshen one day of rest from the labor, in each week, and the king acceded to his request. Moses said, "If you compel them to labor steadily their strength will fail them; for your benefit and profit allow them at least one day in the week for rest and renewal of strength", And the Lord was with Moses, and his fame extended through all the land. " (H. Polano: The Talmud Selection pp. 128-29).
It might be the early morning, or midday in summer, or night in winter, when the roads were deserted and there was all quiet in the city. The words "entered the city" indicate that the royal palaces were situated outside the capital, away from the common population. The words used are "entered the city" and not "came out in the city", because the Prophet Moses lived in the royal palace.
The word wakaza in the original means both giving a slap and giving a blow. We have adopted "Moses gave a blow" for the reason that a blow can cause death but not so a slap.
One can imagine the state of utter remorse and confusion in which the Prophet Moses uttered these words when he saw the Egyptian fall down after receiving the blow and breathe his last. He had no intention to murder, nor is a blow struck to kill, nor can one expect that a healthy person would die on receiving a blow. That is why the Prophet Moses exclaimed: "This is the work of Satan! He has made me do this in order to work some great mischief, so that I am accused of killing an Egyptian while defending an Israelite, and a violent storm of 'anger and indignation is aroused in the whole of Egypt not only against me but the whole Israelite community." In this connection, the Bible gives a different version from the Qur'an. It declares the Prophet Moses to be guilty of willful murder. It says that when Moses saw an Egyptian and an Israelite fighting, "He ( Moses) looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, He slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand." (Exodus 2: 12). The same is the version of the Talmud also. Now anybody can see how the Israelites brand the characters of their elders with infamy and how the Qur'an exonerates them. The verdict of common sense also is that a wise and discreet person, who was to become a great Prophet in the future, and who had to give man a great code of law and justice, could not be such a blind nationalist that seeing a member of his own community fighting with a man of the other community he would be so infuriated that he would kill the other person willfully. Evidently, it could not be lawful to kill the Egyptian only for the sake of rescuing an Israelite from his tyranny.
What the Prophet Moses meant by this prayer was: "O my Lord, forgive this sin of mine, which you know I have not committed willfully, and also cover and conceal it from the people."
This has two meanings and both are implied here: Allah pardoned Moses' error as well as concealed his sin from the people so that neither any Egyptian nor any official of the Egyptian government passed that way at that time that he might witness the incident. So, the Prophet Moses got an opportunity to escape undetected from the place of the occurrence of murder.
That is, "The favor of concealing my `act' from my enemies and enabling me to escape unharmed from Egypt."
This pledge of the Prophet Moses is in very comprehensive words. What he meant by this was that he would neither become a helper of an individual nor of those who perpetrated cruelty and tyranny in the world. Ibn Jarir and several other commentators have rightly understood this to mean that on that very day the Prophet Moses pledged to sever his relations with Pharaoh and his government, for it was a tyrannical government, which had set up a wicked system on God's earth. He realized that it was not for any honest person to continue as a functionary of a tyrannical kingdom and become an instrument of increasing its power and grandeur.
The Muslim scholars in general have deduced from this pledge of the Prophet Moses that a believer should completely refrain from helping a tyrant, whether the tyrant is an individual, or a group, or a government or kingdom. Somebody asked Hadrat `Ata' bin Abi Rabah the well-known follower of the Companions, "My brother is secretary to the governor of Kufah, under the Umayyids. Though he does not decide the disputes of the people, the decisions, however, ate issued through his pen. He has to continue in this service because this is his only source of income." Hadrat 'Ata` recited this verse, and said, "Your brother should throw away his pen: the Providence is Allah.
Another secretary asked `Amir Sha`bi, "O Abu `Amr, I am only responsible for writing down and issuing the judgments: I have nothing to do with passing them. Is it lawful provision for me ?" He replied, "It is just possible that a sentence of murder is passed against an innocent person and it is issued under your pen; or a person's property is confiscated unjustly; or somebody's house is ordered to be pulled down, and the orders are issued under your pen." Then the said Imam recited this verse, hearing which the secretary said, "After this day my pen will not be used for issuing judgments of the Umayyids." The Imam said, "Then Allah also will not deprive you of your daily bread."
'Abdur Rehman bin Muslim had only asked Dahhak to go to Bukhara and distribute the salaries of the officials there, but he declined even this. When his friends said there was nothing wrong in it, he replied, "I do not want to be a helper of the unjust in any way." (Ruh al-Ma`ani, Vol. XX. p. 49)
All of Imam Abu Hanifah's authentic biographers including Al-Muwaffaq al-Makki, lbn al-Bazzaz al-Karvari, Mulla `AIi Qari, etc.. have related that Hasan bin Qahtubah, the commander-in-chief of Mansur, had tendered his resignation only on his instruction, saying, "Whatever I have done to support your kingdom until today, is enough for me if it was in the cause of Allah, but if it was for injustice and tyranny, then I do not want to add to my crimes in my conduct-book.