Marriage Proposal of Prophet Musa

A marriage proposal recorded in history packed with lessons til the rest of time. An indirect, yet subtly direct marriage proposal from the Quran itself. I really enjoyed reviewing and rewriting this piece. Anyhow, before we get to the crux of it, some background is required to truly appreciate it.

In the Arabic language, there are three categories of words, one category is called an “Ism”. What we call a ‘noun’ in English, falls under the category of an Ism. The Ism (nouns) are of two types. 1. Definite (Proper) e.g. “The Chair” 2. Indefinite (Common) e.g. “A Chair”

In other words, when you use the word “The . . . (Something)”, that particular thing becomes something specific.

Saying “A . . . (something)” makes it general and non specific.

The rule in Arabic is that a word is considered common/indefinite, unless we can prove that it is Proper/definite.

Of the 7 ways in Arabic of knowing if a word is proper, one of those ways is to put the prefix “ال” on it, which means “The”.

Now here is an example from Surah Qasas when the word “ال” – “The” was used, when the reader would not have expected it,

“A . . . ” was expected instead, but Allah used “The”. This is when it gets interesting, and it intrigues the reader. It raises an eye-brow and makes you think; What is Allah saying here? Why is there something here that i didn’t expect . . . ?

This particular awesome example comes from the life of Musa a.s in Surah Qasas Aayah no. 26.

A brief back story, Musa a.s had run away and escaped from Egypt looking for a place of refuge, he had accidentally killed the Pharaoh’s soldier after just one punch, as he defended a slave who he saw was being harassed by the soldier. Musa escapes, and he eventually finds a place under a tree in the middle of nowhere where he found a water well nearby. Some time later in the day, as he rests under a tree, he sees a community of people gathering around the well. He notices a couple of helpless women waiting on the side for all the men to finish feeding their animals. Musa a.s felt disturbed that the men of the society didn’t pay any notice or courtesy to the two sisters and allow them to go first, rather they pushed and shoved one another in having turns drawing water. Musa a.s sees all this and decides to help the two sisters, taking their animals to get their feed. Musa a.s was extremely strong and powerful, so he managed to get though the herd of people and get the job done. In no time, Musa returns with the animals, takes them back to the sisters and he goes back to where he was sat. The two sisters return home earlier than usual, their father Shuaib a.s who had become very old and physically weak is surprised and asks them how they got home so early. So they explain to him what had happened. Shuaib a.s tells his daughters to invite Musa to their home, so he can pay him for his services. Musa a.s didn’t expect or request any payment, as he voluntarily helped them. Yet the daughter insisted that their father was eager to meet with Musa.

Musa a.s reaches the house and sits with the father, what he sees is a wise old man, a fatherly figure who he felt he could open up to.

Musa a.s has got a lot off stuff pent-up inside of him, so he basically pours his heart out and tells him his entire story.

What has happened with him, how he punched a soldier and the guy died.

Now he’s wanted for murder and they’re thirsty for his blood. He’s homeless, he’s escaped, and he’s a fugitive and all of it.

Musa tells the entire story. From behind a curtain, the daughter overhears the problems Musa a.s was under, and her heart softens and starts melting for him.

Later on, when the daughter is alone with her father, she wants to basically tell her dad that, we’re living in this miserable town where most men don’t respect women, (as was highlighted at the water-well) She goes on and she basically indirectly implies that she’s at the age to get married, and her father should consider that at this point in time.

But, she couldn’t just spell it out like that.

She had to speak in ‘code’ with her father, and her father’s supposed to understand when she speaks in code.

So what does she do? She plays smart.

She says to her father, ” يَـٰٓأَبَتِ ٱسۡتَـٔۡجِرۡهُ‌ۖ” “Dad, hire him”

Which is really clever because, if he does hire Musa, he’s going to work at the house.

If he’s going to work at the house, and there’s these two young unmarried girls there, the only thing that makes sense is to get one of them married to Musa.

To make the relationship legitimate so that Musa could comfortably work there and the family can be secure.

She says, “Hire him”, which is actually a code for her dad, to say, “Marry me to him”, but she’s too shy to just say it like that.

So then she tries to make a stronger case. (Here’s where the remarkable grammar comes into play, and gives an insight to the words of the daughter of Shuaib a.s, and what she was thinking)

I’ll say it in English first. This is what we would have expected her to have said to her father. ‘Well . . . If you’re going to hire somebody for work, then the best type of person that you could hire dad, is someone who is a strong person, and someone who is an honest person’

I translated that carefully, *’A strong person’ and *’An honest person’ However, this is not what she said, what she actually said was, “إِنَّ خَيۡرَ مَنِ ٱسۡتَـٔۡجَرۡتَ ٱلۡقَوِىُّ ٱلۡأَمِينُ”

“No doubt about it, the best kind of person you could hire is, THE strong, THE honest (person)”

“THE strong person”, “THE honest person”.

The expected language here was, ‘anybody who is strong and honest’ we should hire him.

But, she’s not just talking about anybody, she’s talking about Musa! She’s actually being very particular, but in an indirect sort of way. It’s very particular in fact.

She’s like implying “Dad, i don’t want you to understand and think “A strong person, . . . An honest person . . . Who might that be?” No no no . . . Rather it’s like, ‘Let me be clear father, Musa right there! That man! That’s who I’m referring to! Please get the hint!’

So that’s why she says; “ٱلۡقَوِىُّ” “The strong one”, “ٱلۡأَمِينُ” “The honest one”

Meaning, ‘That one right there! I’m being very specific really!’ [Remember, the prefix “ال” – Definite/Proper is when you’re being really specific.]

The daughter knows what she wants. She knows who she’s referring to. Even though she’s not going to spell out his name, she’s going to use “ال”, to let her dad know, that she’s very serious about Musa a.s.

And that’s basically what happens next, the father, Shuaib a.s goes back in and says, “I’d like to marry my daughter to you.”

Subtlest of nuances, an understanding of even the very basics of Arabic grammar opens up so much. So much of the context is captured.

In this case, just the word “ال” gives so much.

It’s amazing! {Subscribe to our mailing list to receive Quranic Insights directly to your email}

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