Marks of Holiness

Umeyye Isra Yazicioglu
University of Virginia

According to the Quran one frequent charge against the messengers of God was that they were mere human "like us" and even "less than us," with "inadequate" wealth and prestige. In Quran 40: 26-45, however, we see a person who is not even a prophet displaying an exemplary holiness. In this passage, an unnamed man "from the house of Pharaoh" defends Moses' message before the angry Pharaoh and delivers an exquisite speech to his people on behalf of faith in one God and in life after death. Perhaps no other person other than this unnamed man is quoted in talking uninterruptedly for that long in the Quran. This is perhaps an unexpected and yet profound moment of holiness. The central themes he highlights, such as the urgency of honestly acknowledging the Creator, and giving up false pride, short-sightedness, and wishful thinking, give us clues about what constitutes holiness.