“Then he (Moses) prayed: ‘My Lord! I have indeed inflicted wrong on myself, so do forgive me’. Wherefore Allah forgave him for He is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Thereupon Moses vowed: ‘My Lord, because of the favour that You have done me I shall never support the guilty’.”

(Al Qur’ān – 28:16-17)

Moses’ pledge is couched in very broad terms. It not only means he would never lend any assistance to the guilty, but also that his help and assistance would never be for the perpetrators of injustice and tyranny. Ibn Jarīr al-Tabarani and many other exegetists have taken these words to mean that then Moses decided to sever his relations with Pharaoh and his administration because it was a tyrannical government which had established an unjust rule over God’s land. A just person could not be a cog in such machinery of government nor could a just person be instrumental in augmenting its power and majesty.

Muslim scholars have deduced therefrom that a believer should shun helping a tyrant, regardless of whether that tyrant is a person, a group, or a government. Someone asked ‘Aṭā ibn Abī Rabāḥ, a well-known Successor (Tābi‘ī): “My brother is a scribe to the governor of Kūfah under the Umayyads. Though he does not judge the disputes of people, the judgements are written by his pen. If he does not have this job, he will become penniless.” ‘Aṭā at this point recited this verse, saying: “It is better for your brother to throw away his pen for it is God Who provides livelihood.”

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