Chapter 20: Ta Ha


SECTION 1: Moses is Called


In the name of God,
Most Gracious, Most Merciful.


1. Ṭā Hā. 2. We have not sent down the Qur’ān to you to be (an occasion) for your distress, 3. But only as an admonition to those who fear (God), — 4. A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high. 5. (God) Most Gracious is firmly established on the throne (of authority). 6. To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on earth, and all between them, and all beneath the soil. 7. If you pronounce the word aloud, (it is no matter): for verily He knows what is secret and what is yet more hidden. 8. God! there is no god but He! To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names.


9. Has the story of Moses reached you? 10. Behold, he saw a fire: so he said to his family, “Tarry you; I perceive a fire; perhaps I can bring you some burning brand therefrom, or find some guidance at the fire.” 11. But when he came to the fire, a voice was heard: “O Moses! 12. Verily I am your Lord! Therefore (in My presence) put off your shoes: you are in the sacred valley Ṭuwā. 13. I have chosen you: listen, then, to the inspiration (sent to you). 14. Verily, I am God: there is no god but I: so serve you Me (only), and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise. 15. Verily the Hour is coming—My design is to keep it hidden—for every soul to receive its reward by the measure of its Endeavour. 16. Therefore let not such as believe not therein but follow their own lusts, divert you therefrom, lest you perish!”


17. “And what is that in your right hand, O Moses?” 18. He said, “It is my rod: on it I lean; with it I beat down fodder for my flocks; and in it I find other uses.” 19. (God) said, “Throw it, O Moses!” 20. He threw it, and behold! it was a snake, active in motion. 21. (God) said, “Seize it, and fear not: We shall return it at once to its former condition.”


22. “Now draw your hand close to your side: it shall come forth white (and shining), without harm (or stain), — as another Sign, — 23. In order that We may show you (two) of Our greater Signs. 24. Go you to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds.”


God! there is no god but He! To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. (20:8)


SECTION 2: Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh


25. (Moses) said: “O my Lord! Expand me my breast; 26. Ease my task for me; 27. And remove the impediment from my speech, 28. So they may understand what I say: 29. And give me a Minister from my family, 30. Aaron, my brother; 31. Add to my strength through him, 32. And make him share my task: 33. That we may celebrate Your praise without stint, 34. And remember You without stint: 35. For You are He that (ever) regards us.” 36. (God) said: “Granted is your prayer, O Moses!”


37. “And indeed We conferred a favor on you another time (before). 38. Behold! We sent to your mother, by inspiration, the message: 39. ‘Throw (the child) into the chest, and throw (the chest) into the river: the river will cast him up on the bank, and he will be taken up by one who is an enemy to Me and an enemy to him’: but I cast (the garment of) love over you from Me: and (this) in order that you may be reared under Mine eye.” 40. “Behold! your sister goes forth and says, ‘Shall I show you one who will nurse and rear the (child)?’ So We brought you back to your mother, that her eye might be cooled and she should not grieve. Then you did slay a man, but We saved you from trouble, and We tried you in various ways. Then did you tarry a number of years with the people of Midian. Then did you come hither as ordained, O Moses! 41. And I have prepared you for Myself (for service)”…


42. “Go, you and your brother, with My Signs, and slacken not, either of you, in keeping Me in remembrance. 43. Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; 44. But speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear (God).” 45. They (Moses and Aaron) said: “Our Lord! We fear lest he hastens with insolence against us, or lest he transgresses all bounds.” 46. He said: “Fear not: for I am with you: I hear and see (everything). 47. So go you both to him, and say, ‘Verily we are messengers sent by your Lord: send forth, therefore, the Children of Israel with us, and afflict them not: with a Sign, indeed, have we come from your Lord! And peace to all who follow guidance! 48. ‘Verily it has been revealed to us that the Penalty (awaits) those who reject and turn away.’”


49. (When this message was delivered), (Pharaoh) said: “Who, then, O Moses, is the Lord of you two?” 50. He said: “Our Lord is He Who gave to each (created) thing its form and nature, and further, gave (it) guidance.” 51. (Pharaoh) said: “What then is the condition of previous generations?” 52. He replied: “The knowledge of that is with my Lord, duly recorded: my Lord never errs, nor forgets,—53. He Who has made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky.” With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others. 54. Eat (for yourselves) and pasture your cattle: verily, in this are Signs for men endued with understanding.


So go you both to him, and say, ‘Verily we are messengers sent by your Lord: send forth, therefore, the Children of Israel with us, and afflict them not: with a Sign, indeed, have we come from your Lord! And peace to all who follow guidance! (20:47)


SECTION 3: Moses and the Enchanters


55. From the (earth) did We create you, and into it shall We return you, and from it shall We bring you out once again.


56. And We showed Pharaoh all Our Signs, but he did reject and refuse. 57. He said: “Have you come to drive us out of our land with your magic, O Moses? 58. But we can surely produce magic to match yours! So make a tryst between us and you, which we shall not fail to keep—neither we nor you—in a place where both shall have even chances.” 59. Moses said: “Your tryst is the Day of the Festival, and let the people be assembled when the sun is well up.” 60. So Pharaoh withdrew: he concerted his plan, and then came (back). 61. Moses said to him: “Woe to you! Forge not you a lie against God, lest He destroy you (at once) utterly by chastisement: the forger must suffer frustration!” 62. So they disputed, one with another, over their affair, but they kept their talk secret. 63. They said: “These two are certainly (expert) magicians: their object is to drive you out from your land with their magic, and to do away with your most cherished institutions. 64. Therefore concert your plan, and then assemble in (serried) ranks: he wins (all along) today who gains the upper hand.”

65. They said: “O Moses! Whether will you that you throw (first) or that we be the first to throw?” 66. He said, “No, throw you first!” Then behold their ropes and their rods—so it seemed to him on account of their magic—began to be in lively motion! 67. So Moses conceived in his mind a (sort of) fear. 68. We said: “Fear not! for you have indeed the upper hand: 69. Throw that which is in your right hand: quickly will it swallow up that which they have faked; what they have faked is but a magician’s trick: and the magician thrives not, (no matter) where he goes.”

70. So the magicians were thrown down to prostration: they said, “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses”. 71. (Pharaoh) said: “Believe you in Him before I give you permission? Surely this must be your leader, who has taught you magic! Be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm-trees: so shall you know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment!” 72. They said: “Never shall we regard you as more than the clear Signs that have come to us, or than Him Who created us! So decree whatever you desire to decree: for you can only decree (touching) the life of this world. 73. For us, we have believed in our Lord: may He forgive us our faults, and the magic to which you did compel us: for God is Best and Most Abiding.” 74. Verily he who comes to his Lord as a sinner (at Judgement),—for him is Hell: therein shall he neither die nor live. 75. But such as come to Him as Believers who have worked righteous deeds,—for them are ranks exalted,—76. Gardens of Eternity, beneath which flow rivers: they will dwell therein for ever: such is the reward of those who purify themselves (from evil).


From the (earth) did We create you, and into it shall We return you, and from it shall We bring you out once again. (20:55)



SECTION 4: The Israelites Worship the Calf

77. We sent an inspiration to Moses: “Travel by night with My servants, and strike a dry path for them through the sea, without fear of being overtaken (by Pharaoh) and without (any other) fear.” 78. Then Pharaoh pursued them with his forces, but the waters completely overwhelmed them and covered them up. 79. Pharaoh led his people astray instead of leading them aright.


80. O you Children of Israel! We delivered you from your enemy, and We made a Covenant with you on the right side of Mount (Sinai), and We sent down to you Manna and quails: 81. (Saying): “Eat of the good things We have provided for your sustenance, but commit no excess therein, lest My Wrath should justly descend on you: and those on whom descends My Wrath do perish indeed! 82. But, without doubt, I am (also) He that forgives again and again, to those who repent, believe, and do right, who,—in fine, are ready to receive true guidance.”


83. (When Moses was up on the Mount, God said:) “What made you hasten in advance of your people, O Moses?” 84. He replied: “Behold, they are close on my footsteps: I hastened to You, O my Lord, to please You.” 85. (God) said: “We have tested your people in your absence: the Sāmirī has led them astray.” 86. So Moses returned to his people in a state of indignation and sorrow. He said: “O my people! Did not your Lord make a handsome promise to you? Did then the promise seem to you long (in coming)? Or did you desire that Wrath should descend from your Lord on you, and so you broke your promise to me?” 87. They said: “We broke not the promise to you, as far as lay in our power: but we were made to carry the weight of the ornaments of the (whole) people, and we threw them (into the fire), and that was what the Sāmirī suggested. 88. Then he brought out (of the fire) before the (people) the image of a calf: it seemed to low: so they said: ‘This is your god, and the god of Moses, but (Moses) has forgotten!’” 89. Could they not see that it could not return them a word (for answer), and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good?


SECTION 5: The End of Calf-worship


90. Aaron had already, before this said to them: “O my people! You are being tested in this: for verily your Lord is (God) Most Gracious; so follow me and obey my command.” 91. They had said: “We will not abandon this cult, but we will devote ourselves to it until Moses returns to us.” 92. (Moses) said: “O Aaron! What kept you back, when you saw them going wrong, 93. From following me? Did you then disobey my order?” 94. (Aaron) replied: “O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard nor by (the hair of) my head! Truly I feared lest you should say, ‘You have caused a division among the Children of Israel, and you did not respect my word!”’ 95. (Moses) said: “What then is your case, O Sāmirī?” 96. He replied: “I saw what they saw not: so I took a handful (of dust) from the footprint of the Messenger, and threw it (into the calf): thus did my soul suggest to me.” 97. (Moses) said: “Get you gone! But your (punishment) in this life will be that you will say, ‘touch me not’; and moreover (for a future penalty) you have a promise that will not fail: now look at your god, of whom you have become a devoted worshipper: we will certainly (melt) it in a blazing fire and scatter it broadcast in the sea!” 98. But the god of you all is the One God: there is no god but He: all things He comprehends in His knowledge.


99. Thus do We relate to you some stories of what happened before: for We have sent you a Message from Our own Presence. 100. If any do turn away therefrom, verily they will bear a burden on the Day of Judgement; 101. They will abide in this (state): and grievous will the burden be to them on that Day, — 102. The Day when the Trumpet will be sounded: that Day, We shall gather the sinful, blear-eyed (with terror). 103. In whispers will they consult each other: “You tarried not longer than ten (Days);” 104. We know best what they will say, when their leader most eminent in conduct will say: “You tarried not longer than a day!”


Aaron had already, before this said to them: “O my people! You are being tested in this: for verily your Lord is (God) Most Gracious; so follow me and obey my command.” (20:90)



SECTION 6: The Prophet’s Opponents


105. They ask you concerning the Mountains: say, “My Lord will uproot them and scatter them as dust;” 106. “He will leave them as plains smooth and level;” 107. “Nothing crooked or curved will you see in their place.”


108. On that Day will they follow the Caller (straight): no crookedness (can they show) him: all sounds shall humble themselves in the Presence of (God) Most Gracious: nothing shall you hear but the tramp of their feet (as they march). 109. On that Day shall no intercession avail except for those for whom permission has been granted by (God) Most Gracious and whose word is acceptable to Him. 110. He knows what (appears to His creatures as) before or after or behind them: but they shall not compass it with their knowledge. 111. (All) faces shall be humbled before (Him)—the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal: hopeless indeed will be the man that carries iniquity (on his back). 112. But he who works deeds of righteousness, and has faith, will have no fear of harm nor of any curtailment (of what is his due).


113. Thus have We sent this down—an Arabic Qur’ān—and explained therein in detail some of the warnings, in order that they may fear God, or that it may cause their remembrance (of Him). 114. High above all is God, the King, the Truth! Be not in haste with the Qur’ān before its revelation to you is completed, but say, “O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge.” 115. We had already, beforehand, taken the covenant of Adam, but he forgot: and We found on his part no firm resolve.


High above all is God, the King, the Truth! Be not in haste with the Qur’ān before its revelation to you is completed, but say, “O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge.” (20:114)



SECTION 7: The Devil’s Misleading

116. When We said to the angels, “Prostrate yourselves to Adam”, they prostrated themselves, but not Iblīs: he refused. 117. Then We said: “O Adam! Verily, this is an enemy to you and your wife: so let him not get you both out of the Garden, so that you are landed in misery.

118. There is therein (enough provision) for you not to go hungry nor to go naked, 119. Nor to suffer from thirst, nor from the sun’s heat.”

120. But Satan whispered evil to him: he said, “O Adam! Shall I lead you to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that never decays?” 121. In the result, they both ate of the tree, and so their nakedness appeared to them: they began to sew together, for their covering, leaves from the Garden: thus did Adam disobey his Lord, and allow himself to be seduced. 122. But his Lord chose him (for His Grace): He turned to him, and gave him guidance. 123. He said: “Get you down, both of you,—all together, from the Garden, with enmity one to another: but if, as is sure, there comes to you guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance, will not lose his way, nor fall into misery. 124. But whosoever turns away from My Message, verily for him is a life narrowed down, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgement.” 125. He will say: “O my Lord! Why have You raised me up blind, while I had sight (before)?” 126. (God) will say: “Thus did you, when Our Signs came unto you, disregard them: so will you, this day, be disregarded.” 127. And thus do We recompense him who transgresses beyond bounds and believes not in the Signs of his Lord: and the Penalty of the Hereafter is far more grievous and more enduring. 128. Is it not a warning to such men (to call to mind) how many generations before them We destroyed, in whose haunts they (now) move? Verily, in this are Signs for men endued with understanding.


When We said to the angels, “Prostrate yourselves to Adam”, they prostrated themselves, but not Iblīs: he refused. (20:116)


SECTION 8: Punishment is Certain

129. Had it not been for a Word that went forth before from your Lord, (their punishment) must necessarily have come; but there is a term appointed (for respite). 130. Therefore be patient with what they say, and celebrate (constantly) the praises of your Lord, before the rising of the sun, and before its setting; indeed, celebrate them for part of the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day: that you may have (spiritual) joy. 131. Nor strain your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendor of the life of this world, through which We test them: but the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring. 132. Enjoin prayer on your people, and be constant therein. We ask you not to provide sustenance: We provide it for you. But the (fruit of) the Hereafter is for righteousness.

133. They say: “Why does he not bring us a Sign from his Lord?” Has not a clear Sign come to them of all that was in the former Books of revelation? 134. And if We had inflicted on them a penalty before this, they would have said: “Our Lord! If only You had sent us a messenger, we should certainly have followed Your Signs before we were humbled and put to shame.” 135. Say: “Each one (of us) is waiting: wait you, therefore, and soon shall you know who it is that is on the straight and even Way, and who it is that has received Guidance.