اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ بِجَمِیعِ مَحَامِدِه کُلِّهَا عَلَی جَمِیعِ نِعَمِهِ کُلِّهَا… اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ مالِکِ الْمُلْکِ مُجْرِی الْفُلْکِ مُسَخِّرِ الرِّیاحِ فالِقِ الاْصْباحِ دَیّانِ الدّینِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمینَ اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی حِلْمِهِ بَعْدَ عِلمِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی عَفْوِهِ بَعْدَ قُدْرَتِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی طُولِ اَناتِهِ فی غَضَبِهِ وَهُوَ قادِرٌ عَلی ما یُریدُ
All praise be to Allah with full gratitude for all His bounties. … All praise be to Allah: the master of the sovereignty, Who allows arks to flow [on seas], Who controls the winds, Who causes the day to break, Who administers the authority, and Who is the Lord of the worlds. All praise be to Allah for His forbearance despite His full knowledge. All praise be to Allah for His amnesty despite His full power. All praise be to Allah for the length of His respite during His wrath, while He is able to do whatever He wills.
و نشهد أن لا اله الا الله وحده لا شریک له، و أَنَّ محمداً عبده و رسوله ارسله بالهدی و دین الحق لیظهره علی الدین کله و لو کره المشرکون
We bear witness that there is no god but Allah. He is one and has no partners. We bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He may make it prevail over all religions, though the polytheists should be averse.
اوصیکم عبادالله و نفسی بتقوی الله و اتباع امره و نهیه، و اخوفکم من عقابه
I enjoin you, servants of Allah and myself, to have fear of God and comply with His commands and forbiddances, and warn you against His retribution.
Children of Israel Refusing to Enter Palestine
God commanded His confidant Moses to settle the Israelites in the holy land of Palestine. Moses then sent some people to survey the area, who later returned with information indicating that the inhabitants of the land were tall, sturdy, recalcitrant, and cruel, and that their cities were fortified.
Moses ordered the Children of Israel to enter Palestine:
يَا قَوْمِ ادْخُلُوا الْأَرْضَ الْمُقَدَّسَةَ الَّتِي كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَرْتَدُّوا عَلَى أَدْبَارِكُمْ فَتَنْقَلِبُوا خَاسِرِينَ
O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has ordained for you, and do not turn your backs, or you will become losers. (Al-Maʾida, 21)
The Israelites feared and refused to abide by Moses’s order:
قَالُوا يَا مُوسَى إِنَّ فِيهَا قَوْمًا جَبَّارِينَ وَإِنَّا لَنْ نَدْخُلَهَا حَتَّى يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا فَإِنْ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا فَإِنَّا دَاخِلُونَ
They said, ‘O Moses, there are a tyrannical people in it. We will not enter it until they leave it. But once they leave it, we will go in.’ (Al-Maʾida, 22).
It goes without saying that, to achieve a goal, one must try their best. As the saying goes, “Without toil there cannot be treasure.” The response of the Israelites to Moses was indicative of their humility, fear, and indolence. They desired to take the easy way out, entering the holy land of Palestine without making even the slightest effort.
Two faithful pious Israelites tried to encourage and console their people by urging them not to fear and to trust in God. They suggested that the Israelites should enter the city officially and peacefully through its gate:
قَالَ رَجُلَانِ مِنَ الَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ، أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمَا: ادْخُلُوا عَلَيْهِمُ الْبَابَ، فَإِذَا دَخَلْتُمُوهُ فَإِنَّكُمْ غَالِبُونَ، وَعَلَى اللَّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُوا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ
Said two men from among those who were Godfearing and whom Allah had blessed: ‘Go at them by the gate! For once, you have entered it, you will be victors. Put your trust in Allah, should you be faithful.’ (Al-Maʾida, 23)
The victory these two faithful men speak of, as quoted in the Quran, does not necessarily refer to a military victory. It could mean that, through humane behavior, one can influence and guide others towards monotheistic faith and overcome their unjust treatments.
The Children of Israel had been subjected to tyranny and oppression for several generations, and the character of slavery had become ingrained in them. As a result, they were alien to peaceful life, civilized spirit, and friendship. They became war-mongers who believed that they should fight the Palestinians and occupy their land, despite lacking the valor and boldness to engage in warfare. When the two faithful men spoke of God, the Israelites told Moses:
قَالُوا يَا مُوسَى إِنَّا لَنْ نَدْخُلَهَا أَبَدًا مَا دَامُوا فِيهَا، فَاذْهَبْ أَنْتَ وَرَبُّكَ فَقَاتِلَا إِنَّا هَاهُنَا قَاعِدُونَ
‘O Moses, we will never enter it so long as they remain in it. Go ahead, you and your Lord, and fight! We will be sitting right here.’ (Al-Maʾida, 24)
Moses became frustrated as he was caught between the divine command to enter Palestine and the disobedience of the Children of Israel, who did not follow his orders. So he told God:
رَبِّ إِنِّي لَا أَمْلِكُ إِلَّا نَفْسِي وَأَخِي ۖ فَافْرُقْ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَ الْقَوْمِ الْفَاسِقِينَ
“My Lord! I have no power over [anyone] except myself and my brother, so part us from the transgressing lot” (al-Maʾida, 25).
Because of their disobedience, God punished the Israelite by depriving them from entering the holy land of Palestine. As a consequence, they wandered in Sinai Desert for forty years:
قَالَ فَإِنَّهَا مُحَرَّمَةٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً يَتِيهُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَلَا تَأْسَ عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْفَاسِقِينَ
He said, ‘It shall be forbidden them for forty years: they shall wander about in the earth. So do not grieve for the transgressing lot.’ (Al-Maʾida, 26)
The noble Quran describes this forty-year wandering of the Children of Israel in the desert as a retribution for their disobedience of the divine commands. Similarly, the Bible also states that this was a consequence of God’s wrath:
Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Bible, Hebrews 3:16-19)
From a sociological and psychological perspective, Ibn Khaldūn analyzes the forty-year wandering of the Children of Israel in terms of the character of slavery that had been ingrained in them during their generations of servitude to the Egyptians. As a result, they lacked the ability to establish a civilization. To address the issue, God created circumstances in which the Israelites lived in the desert and became accustomed to its hardships for forty years, which was the time necessary for rearing a new generation. In this way, they could acquire the psychological ability to establish a civilization.