English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 20: Ta Ha — Ta Ha (Revealed at Makkah: 8 sections, 135 verses)

Section 1 (Verses 20:1–20:24): Moses is Called


بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

طٰہٰ ۚ﴿۱﴾

20:1 O man,1

مَاۤ اَنۡزَلۡنَا عَلَیۡکَ الۡقُرۡاٰنَ لِتَشۡقٰۤی ۙ﴿۲﴾

20:2 We have not revealed the Quran to you that you may be unsuccessful;2

اِلَّا تَذۡکِرَۃً لِّمَنۡ یَّخۡشٰی ۙ﴿۳﴾

20:3 but it is a reminder to him who fears:

تَنۡزِیۡلًا مِّمَّنۡ خَلَقَ الۡاَرۡضَ وَ السَّمٰوٰتِ الۡعُلٰی ؕ﴿۴﴾

20:4 a revelation from Him Who created the earth and the high heavens.3

اَلرَّحۡمٰنُ عَلَی الۡعَرۡشِ اسۡتَوٰی ﴿۵﴾

20:5 The Beneficent is established on the Throne of Power.

لَہٗ مَا فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ مَا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ وَ مَا بَیۡنَہُمَا وَ مَا تَحۡتَ الثَّرٰی ﴿۶﴾

20:6 To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth and whatever is between them and whatever is beneath the soil.

وَ اِنۡ تَجۡہَرۡ بِالۡقَوۡلِ فَاِنَّہٗ یَعۡلَمُ السِّرَّ وَ اَخۡفٰی ﴿۷﴾

20:7 And if you utter the saying aloud, surely He knows the secret (that you hide), and what is yet more hidden.4

اَللّٰہُ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَ ؕ لَہُ الۡاَسۡمَآءُ الۡحُسۡنٰی ﴿۸﴾

20:8 Allah — there is no God but He. His are the most beautiful names.

وَ ہَلۡ اَتٰىکَ حَدِیۡثُ مُوۡسٰی ۘ﴿۹﴾

20:9 And has the story of Moses come to you?

اِذۡ رَاٰ نَارًا فَقَالَ لِاَہۡلِہِ امۡکُثُوۡۤا اِنِّیۡۤ اٰنَسۡتُ نَارًا لَّعَلِّیۡۤ اٰتِیۡکُمۡ مِّنۡہَا بِقَبَسٍ اَوۡ اَجِدُ عَلَی النَّارِ ہُدًی ﴿۱۰﴾

20:10 When he saw a fire, he said to his family: Wait, I see a fire; maybe I will bring to you a live coal from it or find guidance at the fire.5

فَلَمَّاۤ اَتٰىہَا نُوۡدِیَ یٰمُوۡسٰی ﴿ؕ۱۱﴾

20:11 So when he came to it, a voice came: O Moses,

اِنِّیۡۤ اَنَا رَبُّکَ فَاخۡلَعۡ نَعۡلَیۡکَ ۚ اِنَّکَ بِالۡوَادِ الۡمُقَدَّسِ طُوًی ﴿ؕ۱۲﴾

20:12 surely I am your Lord, so take off your shoes; surely you are in the sacred valley Tuwā.6

وَ اَنَا اخۡتَرۡتُکَ فَاسۡتَمِعۡ لِمَا یُوۡحٰی ﴿۱۳﴾

20:13 And I have chosen you so listen to what is revealed:

اِنَّنِیۡۤ اَنَا اللّٰہُ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّاۤ اَنَا فَاعۡبُدۡنِیۡ ۙ وَ اَقِمِ الصَّلٰوۃَ لِذِکۡرِیۡ ﴿۱۴﴾

20:14 Surely I am Allah, there is no God but I, so serve Me, and keep up prayer for My remembrance.

اِنَّ السَّاعَۃَ اٰتِیَۃٌ اَکَادُ اُخۡفِیۡہَا لِتُجۡزٰی کُلُّ نَفۡسٍۭ بِمَا تَسۡعٰی ﴿۱۵﴾

20:15 Surely the Hour is coming — I am about to make it manifest7 — so that every soul may be rewarded as it strives.

فَلَا یَصُدَّنَّکَ عَنۡہَا مَنۡ لَّا یُؤۡمِنُ بِہَا وَ اتَّبَعَ ہَوٰىہُ فَتَرۡدٰی ﴿۱۶﴾

20:16 So do not let him who does not believe in it, and follows his low desire, turn you away from it, so that you perish.

وَ مَا تِلۡکَ بِیَمِیۡنِکَ یٰمُوۡسٰی ﴿۱۷﴾

20:17 And what is this in your right hand, O Moses?

قَالَ ہِیَ عَصَایَ ۚ اَتَوَکَّؤُا عَلَیۡہَا وَ اَہُشُّ بِہَا عَلٰی غَنَمِیۡ وَ لِیَ فِیۡہَا مَاٰرِبُ اُخۡرٰی ﴿۱۸﴾

20:18 He said: This is my staff — I lean on it, and I beat leaves with it for my sheep, and I have other uses for it.

قَالَ اَلۡقِہَا یٰمُوۡسٰی ﴿۱۹﴾

20:19 He said: Throw it down, O Moses.

فَاَلۡقٰہَا فَاِذَا ہِیَ حَیَّۃٌ تَسۡعٰی ﴿۲۰﴾

20:20 So he threw it down, and lo! it was a snake, gliding.8

قَالَ خُذۡہَا وَ لَا تَخَفۡ ٝ سَنُعِیۡدُہَا سِیۡرَتَہَا الۡاُوۡلٰی ﴿۲۱﴾

20:21 He said: Take hold of it and do not fear. We shall return it to its former state.

وَ اضۡمُمۡ یَدَکَ اِلٰی جَنَاحِکَ تَخۡرُجۡ بَیۡضَآءَ مِنۡ غَیۡرِ سُوۡٓءٍ اٰیَۃً اُخۡرٰی ﴿ۙ۲۲﴾

20:22 And press your hand to your side, it will come out white without harm — another sign:9

لِنُرِیَکَ مِنۡ اٰیٰتِنَا الۡکُبۡرٰی ﴿ۚ۲۳﴾

20:23 that We may show you of Our greater signs.

اِذۡہَبۡ اِلٰی فِرۡعَوۡنَ اِنَّہٗ طَغٰی ﴿٪۲۴﴾

20:24 Go to Pharaoh, surely he has exceeded the limits.


  1. Ṭā hā, a combination of the two letters ā and hā, is, according to various early commentators, a word meaning O man. It is also considered to be a name of the Holy Prophet.
  2. That is, it could not be that the Prophet, to whom the Quran was revealed, should remain unsuccessful in bringing about the transformation for which it was revealed. It is a consolation, and a clear prophecy, that a mighty trans­formation will be brought about, not only in Arabia but in the whole world, for that was the object which the Quran had set out to accomplish from the first.
  3. The Quran cannot be a failure, because it is a manifestation of the will of Him Who holds sway over all.
  4. The secret is what a man hides in his heart, and what is yet more hidden is what is in the subconscious mind. Both are known alike to Allah.
  5. As the verses that follow show, Moses received a Divine revelation on this occasion, and his seeing the fire was also a part of the revelation; it was with the spiritual eye that he saw it. The Quran has stated elsewhere that revelation is received only in three ways (42:51), and in each of these the recipient is really given particular senses with which to feel and see things.
  6. The command to take off the shoes is a metaphorical expression for making the heart vacant from care for family and property. According to some, it is a command to stay (as if to say, make yourself at home).
  7. Ikhfā’ is one of the words which convey contrary significances, con­cealing or removing that which conceals a thing. But that here it does not mean concealing is made clear by the context. It is the coming of the Hour and the meting out of rewards and punishments that the verse deals with, which is clearly removing the veil or making the hour manifest. Note that the Hour does not necessarily signify the Resurrection; on the other hand, it very often indicates the doom of a people, the hour of the departure of their glory and power.
  8. All this was experienced by Moses in that particular state in which the recipient of a revelation finds himself at the time of the revelation; see 7:108 foot­note. What was shown to Moses on this occasion had a deeper significance; see v. 23, where the object of showing these signs is stated to be that We may show you of Our greater signs. Thus the two signs mentioned here were really indications of something greater. The word ‘aṣā (staff) stands metaphori­cally for a community. Hence the sight of his staff becoming a gliding serpent was shown to him as an indication that his community, i.e., the Israelites, who had been redu­ced to a state of slavery under Pharaoh, would soon become a living nation.
  9. Bearing in mind what has been said above, this has also a deeper meaning. A white hand signifies an argument made very clear. The deeper signi­fi­cance in this case was that his arguments would prevail.