Aaron in the Quran is one of the noble prophets of the Israelites who was the vicegerent and second-in-command of Prophet Moses (peace be on him). God says in the Quran that he would send revelation on Aaron (peace be on him) just like Moses. In this article on Islam4u, we will take a look at:
- Who Was Aaron in the Quran?
- Why Did Moses Want Aaron to Accompany Him?
- Aaron in the Quran Is Mentioned Among the Prophets
- Aaron in the Quran Takes Moses’ Place Among the Israelites
- Aaron in the Quran: The Golden Calf
- Aaron in the Quran: Moses Returns
- Aaron in the Quran: His Death
- A Hadith From the Noble Prophet
Who Was Aaron in the Quran?
Aaron was the older brother of Moses whom Moses asked God to send with him as his aid and vizier. His name has been mentioned 20 times in the Quran. Before Aaron was made a prophet, Moses had escaped the city and was in Midian. After getting married to Shu‘ayb’s daughter and finishing his term as the worker of Shu‘ayb, Moses and his wife got ready to go back to Egypt. On the way, Moses felt the warmth of a fire. Therefore, he went close to it to bring some of it for his family, but then a voice began speaking to him. This was the voice of God who spoke to Moses through a voice He created in a tree. God gave Moses his prophetic mission. Moses prayed to God and asks for certain things. One of those things was making Aaron his vizier and assistant:
وَاجْعَل لِّي وَزِيرًا مِّنْ أَهْلِي ﴿29﴾
Appoint for me a minister from my family,
هَارُونَ أَخِي ﴿30﴾
Aaron, my brother.
اشْدُدْ بِهِ أَزْرِي ﴿31﴾
Strengthen my back through him,
وَأَشْرِكْهُ فِي أَمْرِي ﴿32﴾
and make him my associate in my task. 1
Why Did Moses Want Aaron to Accompany Him?
The reason Moses asked God to allow his brother Aaron to come with him as his aid was because apparently, Moses had somewhat of a speech defect which he had acquired when he was young. Moses had put a hot coal in his mouth when he was a baby while being raised by the Pharaoh. Therefore, because Aaron was more eloquent in speech than him, he wanted him to accompany him. God quotes Moses as saying in the Quran:
وَأَخِي هَارُونُ هُوَ أَفْصَحُ مِنِّي لِسَانًا فَأَرْسِلْهُ مَعِيَ رِدْءًا يُصَدِّقُنِي ۖ إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَن يُكَذِّبُونِ ﴿34﴾
Aaron, my brother—he is more eloquent than me in speech. So send him with me as a helper to confirm me, for I fear that they will impugn me.’ 2
Aaron in the Quran Is Mentioned Among the Prophets
It is interesting that two prophets who happen to be brothers live at the same time. Aaron was the successor of Moses and his second-in-command. God mentions his name among other prophets and says that revelation descended on him:
إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَعِيسَىٰ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُونُسَ وَهَارُونَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ ۚ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورًا ﴿163﴾
We have indeed revealed to you as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him, and [as] We revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, Jesus and Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon—and We gave David the Psalms— 3
This shows the high status of Aaron in that most of what God revealed to Moses, He revealed to Aaron as well, as they were together, albeit other than the times when Moses was alone. That is why God uses the dual verb form when He commands Moses and Aaron to go to the Pharaoh such as in the following verses:
اذْهَبَا إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَىٰ ﴿43﴾
Both of you go to Pharaoh, for he has indeed rebelled.
فَقُولَا لَهُ قَوْلًا لَّيِّنًا لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ ﴿44﴾
Speak to him in a soft manner; maybe he will take admonition or fear.’ 4
Aaron in the Quran Takes Moses’ Place Among the Israelites
After God saved the Children of Israel from the clutches of the Pharaoh and his men, they landed in a region to the east of the Red Sea. There, God blessed them with manna and quail (مَنَّ و السلوی) and so they inhabited that region. Moses struck a rock with his staff and water gushed forth. Therefore, the Children of Israel were living in peace and comfort. God made an appointment with Moses to stay on top of Mount Sinai for thirty nights, and then ordered him to stay another ten nights so that forty nights had been completed. Then Moses said to his brother:
وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِأَخِيهِ هَارُونَ اخْلُفْنِي فِي قَوْمِي وَأَصْلِحْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ ﴿142﴾
And Moses said to Aaron, his brother, ‘Be my successor among my people, and set things right and do not follow the way of the agents of corruption.’ 5
Aaron in the Quran: The Golden Calf
While Moses was spending nights and was busy worshipping his Lord atop Mount Sinai, a man among the Israelites by the name of Samiri told people to bring all your gold and jewelry. Then, he made a golden calf out of them. When Moses and the Children of Israel were crossing the sea, Samiri took some clay that was beneath the hoof of the horse of Gabriel who had appeared as a human being to Moses. He then struck that clay against the golden calf, and due to the properties that that clay had, the calf would make a “lowing” sound. Samiri said this is your God and the God of Moses but he forgot to tell you:
فَأَخْرَجَ لَهُمْ عِجْلًا جَسَدًا لَّهُ خُوَارٌ فَقَالُوا هَـٰذَا إِلَـٰهُكُمْ وَإِلَـٰهُ مُوسَىٰ فَنَسِيَ ﴿142﴾
Then he produced for them a calf—a [lifeless] body with a low—and they said, This is your god and the god of Moses, so he forgot! 6
The Children of Israel Worship the Calf
The Children of Israel were convinced by Samiri’s words and so they accepted the calf as their god and started bowing toward it and worshipping it. All along, Aaron, the righteous and trustworthy successor of Moses scolded them and reproached them from doing such a thing. However, he did not want to get into a fight with them lest there would be discord among the Israelites. Nevertheless, he warned them and told them they should only worship the one and only God.
Aaron in the Quran: Moses Returns
While all this was happening, Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai in the form of Tablets of Stone. God told Moses that his people have taken a golden calf as their god. When Moses returned, he noticed that his people are circumambulating and worshipping a golden calf. So, Moses angrily threw the Tablets of Stone and:
وَأَخَذَ بِرَأْسِ أَخِيهِ يَجُرُّهُ إِلَيْهِ ۚ قَالَ ابْنَ أُمَّ إِنَّ الْقَوْمَ اسْتَضْعَفُونِي وَكَادُوا يَقْتُلُونَنِي فَلَا تُشْمِتْ بِيَ الْأَعْدَاءَ وَلَا تَجْعَلْنِي مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿150﴾
And [Moses] seized his brother by the head, pulling him towards himself. He said, ‘Son of my mother, indeed this people thought me to be weak, and they were about to kill me. So do not let the enemies gloat over me, and do not take me with the wrongdoing lot.’ 7
Moses was telling his brother, “What? Why did you not stop them from making and worshipping the calf?” In another verse, the reason Aaron could not stop them is explained:
قَالَ يَا ابْنَ أُمَّ لَا تَأْخُذْ بِلِحْيَتِي وَلَا بِرَأْسِي ۖ إِنِّي خَشِيتُ أَن تَقُولَ فَرَّقْتَ بَيْنَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَلَمْ تَرْقُبْ قَوْلِي ﴿94﴾
He said, ‘O son of my mother! Do not grab my beard or my head! I feared lest you should say, ‘‘You have caused a rift among the Children of Israel and did not heed my word [of advice].’’’ 8
Therefore, Aaron did the best he could and he did not fall short of his duty. Then Moses burned the calf and threw its ashes into the sea. He also punished Samiri by banishing him and not allowing anyone to associate with him. God quotes Moses as saying to Samiri:
قَالَ فَاذْهَبْ فَإِنَّ لَكَ فِي الْحَيَاةِ أَن تَقُولَ لَا مِسَاسَ ۖ وَإِنَّ لَكَ مَوْعِدًا لَّن تُخْلَفَهُ ۖ وَانظُرْ إِلَىٰ إِلَـٰهِكَ الَّذِي ظَلْتَ عَلَيْهِ عَاكِفًا ۖ لَّنُحَرِّقَنَّهُ ثُمَّ لَنَنسِفَنَّهُ فِي الْيَمِّ نَسْفًا ﴿97﴾
He said, ‘Begone! It shall be your [lot] throughout life to say, ‘‘Do not touch me!’’ Indeed, there is a tryst for you which you will not fail to keep! Now look at your god to whom you went on clinging. We will burn it down and then scatter it[s ashes] into the sea. 9
Aaron in the Quran: His Death
Even though Aaron was the successor to Moses and his second-in-command, he was older than Moses and died sooner. Historians say that he lived 123 years. Consequently, God commanded Moses to make Yūshi‘ ibn Nūn (یوشع ابن نون) who is identified in the Bible by the name Joshua son of Nun as his successor. Aaron’s tomb is in the west of Jordan on the summit of Mount Hūr (هور).
A Hadith From the Noble Prophet
Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him and his household) was the final prophet and apostle of God. However, every prophet has a successor whom God appoints. God had informed Prophet Muhammad that your successor is Ali, the son of Abū Ṭālib (علي ابن ابی طالب). Therefore, many hadiths have been reported concerning this position of Imam Ali. One of the famous ones is the hadith of position or manzilah (مَنزِلَة). The Prophet said:
أنتَ مِنّی بِمَنزلةِ هارونَ مِنْ مُوسی، اِلّاأنـّه لانَبیّ بَعدی
“Your position to me is like the position of Aaron to Moses, except there will be no prophet after me.” 10
This hadith has been related by both major Islamic sects and in books of hadith such as Sahih Muslim (صَحیح مُسلِم) and Bihar al-Anwar (بِحار الانوار) and is thus authentic.
- Quran 20:29-32 (Qara’i).
- Quran 28:34 (Qara’i).
- Quran 4:163 (Qara’i).
- Quran 20:43-44 (Qara’i).
- Quran 7:142 (Qara’i).
- Quran 20:88 (Qara’i).
- Quran 7:150 (Qara’i).
- Quran 20:94 (Qara’i).
- Quran 20:97 (Qara’i).
- Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (صحیح مُسلِم), Dār al-Jalīl/Dār al-Āfāq al-Jadīdah (دارُ الجَليل/دار الآفاق الجديدَة), vol. 7 section on virtues of ‘Ali ibn Abī Ṭālib, p. 10; Biḥār al-Anwār, 1403 AH, vol. 24, p. 14.
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