When Moses came to the place appointed by Us, and his Lord addressed him, He said: “O my Lord! show (Thyself) to me, that I may look upon thee.” Allah said: “By no means canst thou see Me (direct); But look upon the mount; if it abide in its place, then shalt thou see Me.” When his Lord manifested His glory on the Mount, He made it as dust. And Moses fell down in a swoon. When he recovered his senses he said: “Glory be to Thee! to Thee I turn in repentance, and I am the first to believe.” (verse 143)
(Allah) said: “O Moses! I have chosen thee above (other) men, by the mission I (have given thee) and the words I (have spoken to thee): take then the (revelation) which I give thee, and be of those who give thanks.” (verse 144)
And We ordained laws for him in the tablets in all matters, both commanding and explaining all things, (and said): “Take and hold these with firmness, and enjoin thy people to hold fast by the best in the precepts: soon shall I show you the homes of the wicked,- (How they lie desolate).” (verse 145)
The verse 143 carries the phrase “you shall never see me” The phrase has an indication that sighting of Allah is not impossible, but that he (Musa pbuh ) cannot endure it with his present physical disposition. Had it been impossible, the phrase would have been: “I cannot be seen” (Mazhari) This allows that sighting of Allah is a logical possibility even in this world but at the same time this verse has precluded the possibility of its occurrence in this world. This is also the unanimous view of the majority of scholars. The following hadith has been included in Sahih Muslim:
“None among you can see his Lord unless he dies.”
The second phrase, “But look at the mount” is a physical demonstration of the fact that in his present state the addressee is not capable of enduring the impact of such experience.
Thereafter, Allah actually demonstrated this fact by a flash of His
appearance on the Mount of Sinai which could not stand it and was
smashed into pieces.
The next phrase is “So when his Lord appeared to the
Mount.” The Arabic word Tajali. signifies exposure or disclosure.
According to the Spiritual masters (Sufis) the word signifies seeing
something indirectly through some other means, like seeing certain
thing reflected in the mirror. The word, therefore, cannot signify
‘seeing’. It is also inferred by this very verse because this verse has
negated the possibility of seeing while it has mentioned the occurrence
of ‘Tajalli’ or appearance on the mount of Sinai.
Imam Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Hakim have reported on the authority
of the Companion Anas (RA) that the Holy Prophet (S) recited this
verse and placing his thumb on the tip of his little finger said that only
this much of Allah’s light was exposed to the mount of Sinai which
made it burst into pieces. This does not necessarily mean that the
whole of the mount was not shattered, but the part of the mountain
directly exposed to light might have been affected.
The Speech of Allah:
The fact that Allah spoke directly to the Prophet Musa (pbuh) is
confirmed by the Qur’an in clear terms. The first time Allah spoke with the Prophet Musa (pbuh) was when he was entrusted with Prophethood. This is the second time at the occasion of giving him the
Torah that He spoke to him. The wording of the present verse indicates that this later discourse of Allah had some additional characterstics as compared to the first speech of Allah.
As to the question what was the nature and character of this
discourse, cannot be ascertained by anyone but Allah. Only those
logical suppositions, in this regard, can be allowed which do not go
against any rule of the Shari’ah. None of such views can be accepted as
being definite uneless supported by some valid argument. The best
practice, in this regard, is the one followed by the Companions, their
disciples, and the elders who followed them. They left such matters to
Allah and never tried to make ungrounded supposition to resolve
them. (Bayan al-Qur’an).
The last sentence is “I will show you the abode of the
sinners”. This is a kind of promise by Allah that the Israelites shall
soon take over Egypt or perhaps Syria, referred to as the abode of the sinners in this verse. There are two views about the reference to the abode of the sinners. The first holds that the reference has been made
to Egypt while the second takes it to refer to Syria. The difference of
opinion is, in fact, based on a question whether the Israelites had
returned to Egypt after the destruction of Pharaoh and his people or
not. If they went back to Egypt at that time and ruled the land, as has
been indicated by the verse 137 saying that Allah made the Israelites
inherit the land, then, this verse definitely has referred to Syria, as
the abode of the sinners. It is because, in this case, the Israelites had
taken over the land of Egypt before this event of Allah’s light
appearing to the Mount of Sinai. In case, they did not go to Egypt after
the destruction of Pharaoh, the reference may be to Egypt and Syria,
The phrase “And we wrote for him everything on the
Tablets” makes us understand that the Torah was given to the
Prophet Musa (pbuh) inscribed or written on the Tablets.
*Another view with regard to these tablets is that these tablets were given
to him prior to the revelation of the Torah and were not the part of the
Torah. This has been cited by Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani under his
comments on this verse. He has cited it from Ibn Kathir. (Translator)
Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .4 surah 7 verses 143-145). English-MaarifulQuran-MuftiShafiUsmaniRA-Vol-4.pdf (islamicweblibrary.com)