After Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) fled from Egypt, on receiving the news that Fir‘aun planned to execute him, he came to the land of Madyan which was the area of Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam). Since he had fled in fear, he travelled by foot with no provisions nor did he have any shoes. On arriving in Madyan, Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) came to a well where he observed many shepherds drawing water and giving it to their flocks to drink.

However, Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) also noticed two young women standing apart from the crowd. These young women were the respected daughters of Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam). They had a flock of animals with them which they were restraining, preventing them from going forward and mixing with the other animals.

On seeing the two young women in this condition, Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) asked, “What is your matter (i.e. why are you not allowing your flock to drink as the others are doing)?” The two women explained that they were waiting for the shepherds to finish giving water to their animals and leave the well so that they could go forward and give water to their own animals. They further explained the reason for them carrying out this task of bringing the animals to the well by saying, “And our father is an extremely old man.”

It was the habit of the other shepherds that after they had given their animals water to drink, they would seal the well shut by placing a huge boulder over the mouth of the well. Such was the weight of this boulder that it would take ten men to lift and carry it! Thus, the daughters of Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) could not draw water from the well for their flock. Rather, they would suffice on giving their animals whatever water had been left behind (outside the well) after the animals of the other shepherds had finished drinking.

Taking pity on their condition and in keeping with the nature of the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam) of helping those in need, Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) went forward to assist them. He thus went to the well, and such was the strength which Allah Ta‘ala had endowed him with that he single-handedly moved the rock from the well. He then drew water and gave it to their animals. Thereafter, he went to rest in the shade of a tree.

At this point, Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) was exhausted on account of the long journey that he had covered on foot, and extremely hungry due to not eating food for seven days. Such was the extent of his hunger that his stomach had caved in towards his back. Hence, he humbly turned to Allah Ta‘ala and expressed his desperation in these words, “O my Rabb! Indeed, I am most in need of any goodness that you send to me.”

When the two young women returned home, their father was surprised as they had returned earlier than normal. Hence, he asked them the reason for their early return, to which they mentioned the man who had assisted them. Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) then sent one of his daughters to invite Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) to his home so that he could repay him for the kindness he had shown them.

The daughter of Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) walked towards the place where they had left Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam). On coming to Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) to convey the message of her father, the young woman covered her face with her sleeve. Describing the scene, the Quraan Majeed mentions, “Then one of the two (daughters) came to him, walking with hayaa (modesty).” As for Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam), then as soon as he realized that the person approaching him was a woman, he lowered his head and refrained from looking at her face.

The young woman conveyed her father’s message to Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) using these explicit words, “Indeed my father is calling you so that he may reward you for giving our animals water.” As they walked to the home of Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam), Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) instructed the young woman to walk behind him (so that his gaze would not fall on her). Furthermore, since he did not know the road to the home of Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam), he told her that if he needed to take any turn in the path, then she should throw a pebble in that direction (so that he would not listen to her voice).

It so happened that when they arrived, supper had just been prepared at that time. Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) thus told Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) to partake of the food. However, Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) refused the offer. Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) enquired, “Are you not hungry?” Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) replied, “Certainly (I am), however, I come from such a household that does not sell any action of the Hereafter (even) in exchange of the entire world full of gold. (Therefore, I will not accept this invitation because) I fear that this will be a compensation for drawing water for them (i.e. the two girls).”

Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) responded by explaining that this was not in exchange of the kind gesture that he had shown them. Rather, showing hospitality to one’s guests and feeding others has always been his habit and the habit of his forefathers. Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) thus accepted the invitation and partook of the meal.

Thereafter, Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) related to Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) regarding what had transpired and the reason for him fleeing Egypt. Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) thus told him not to fear or worry since this area was not under the rule of Fir‘aun.

One of the daughters then suggested to her father that he should hire Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) as a shepherd to their flock, mentioning that he was both strong and trustworthy. When Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) asked her how she knew that, she described the manner in which he had single-handedly lifted the boulder which normally required ten men to be lifted. As for his trustworthiness, then this quality could be gauged by the hayaa which he displayed when coming with her.

(Impressed by the excellent character of Nabi Moosa [‘alaihis salaam],) Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) expressed his desire to get him married to one of his daughters, on condition that he works for him for a minimum of eight years and another two years optional. Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) accepted the offer and married Sayyidah Safooraa (‘alaihas salaam), who was the daughter that had brought the message to him. He then worked as the shepherd of Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) for ten years before returning to Egypt.

(Surah Qasas v21 – 28, As-Sunanul Kubra lin Nasaai #11263, Al-Bidaayah wan Nihaayah vol. 1, pg. 287, Al-Kaamil vol. 1, pg. 130, Hilyatul Awliyaa vol. 3, pg. 10 and Ma‘aariful Quraan vol. 6, pgs. 626 – 631)


1. Though there are many important lessons that can be learnt from this incident, the lesson that stands out in particular is that of hayaa – shame, bashfulness and modesty. The young daughters of Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) were forced by a genuine necessity and circumstance to come out of the home. However, they still held on firmly to their hayaa and they avoided mixing with the men. Likewise, when the one daughter needed to convey her father’s message to Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam), she walked with hayaa and covered her face as well. Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) also exhibited complete hayaa by not looking at the woman’s face and by instructing her to walk at the back.

2. Although the laws of niqaab and purdah which apply to our Ummah did not apply to the people at that time, however, hayaa and adopting purdah is an inherent and instinctive quality within women of nobility and piety. It was for this reason that the daughter of Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) covered her face with her sleeve when approaching a strange man – Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam).

3. This incident actually teaches the great lesson that a woman’s original place is within the home, not the other way around, as some wrongly try to prove. Hence, the young women explained to Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) that the reason for them attending to the animals for their livelihood was that their father was too advanced in age to fulfil this task. Furthermore, as soon as they found a capable and trustworthy person to do this work on their behalf, they suggested that their father employ him and thereby absolve them of the need to leave the home.

4. When the daughter needed to convey her father’s message to Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam), she did so in a short yet complete manner. Hence, she did not engage in any extra conversation and idle chit-chat with him, nor was she ambiguous, thereby giving him the wrong impression that she had some wrong intention in inviting him.

5. Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) had no other option but to send his daughters out to fulfil this important task. However, he was so cautious and watchful over them that when they returned earlier than usual, he questioned them regarding it. Unfortunately, some parents today do not even question their children for coming home after midnight! Furthermore, when his daughter mentioned that Nabi Moosa (‘alaihis salaam) was strong and trustworthy, Nabi Shu‘aib (‘alaihis salaam) questioned her as to how she had this information about a strange man.