When Musa passed away, the leadership of Bani Isra’il passed to Yusha ibn Nun. Yusha ibn Nun is not mentioned directly in the Qur’an but he is the servant of Musa who is referred to in the following verse of the Qur’an.
The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, mentions the name of Yusha ibn Nun as this servant of Musa in a number of authentic narrations – see for example 3/124 and 55/613 of Sahih Al-Bukhari.
Being a servant of Musa he was close to the Revelation, close to the teacher (Musa) and he was a righteous student of this teacher. And so, when Musa, ‘alayhis-salam, passed away, the leadership of Bani Isra’il was passed down to Yusha ibn Nun, and he became their nabi.
Under the leadership of Yusha ibn Nun, Bani Isra’il is made victorious and returns to the Holy Land, an event which did not occur under Musa or Harun (who both passed away whilst Bani Isra’il was still in the wilderness). The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, gives us a clue as to why this victory was delayed when he said:
The Children of Isra’il who came out of Egypt were raised up in slavery and servitude so they were weak and were not fit for victory. Allah made them stay in the wilderness for 40 years until all of that generation had passed away. And they were replaced by a new generation raised in freedom and taught the guidance of the Taurah by Musa and Harun, and it was this generation that was given the victory.
Musa is undoubtedly the greatest Prophet that was sent to Bani Isra’il and he strived eagerly to have this victory, yet we see that victory was not at his hands but rather at Yusha’s. What do we learn from this? That it is not enough to have an excellent leader alone – applying this to our times, it is not enough for us simply to wait for Al-Mahdi but rather we need to ensure we are a generation capable of victory and to be led to that victory by an excellent leader (be that Al-Mahdi or someone else).
And through the example of Yusha we see how Allah grants victory to those who have prepared for it. Yusha ibn Nun led the Children of Isra’il against the Jababirah (the inhabitants of Jerusalem), who were a large giant-like people. The fighting was furious and the sun was about to set. Yusha ibn Nun knew that he could not defeat these people except if the day was longer as, if night came, the Jababirah would be able to regroup. So Yusha pointed to the sun and said, “You are receiving orders and I am receiving orders from Allah, O Allah stop the sun!” Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, caused the sun to stop for Yusha ibn Nun until he defeated the people of Jerusalem. If you have Allah on your side, don’t worry! It’s not a matter of numbers, or weapons, or artillery when Allah is on your side.
The full story of Yusha ibn Nun is told to us in a sahih hadith of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, recorded in Sahih Muslim 19/4327. The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
This Prophet did not want any person to come with him whose heart may be attached to anything else. This is a Prophet who is not looking for numbers but rather for ikhlas (sincerity).
The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, continued:
We know this Prophet was Yusha ibn Nun because of a separate narration recorded by Imam Ahmad in which the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
Adapted by SunnahOnline.com from a lecture by Anwar al-Awalki as part of his Lives of the Prophets lecture series
AL-AWLAKI, ANWAR. (2021, February 18). Story of Yusha ibn Nun (Joshua), The. Retrieved from https://sunnahonline.com/library/stories-of-the-prophets/621-story-of-yusha-ibn-nun-joshua-the