﴿16﴾ قَالَ رَبِّ إِنّـِي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَغَفَرَ لَهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
16. “ (Moses) said: ‘My Lord! Verily I have done harm to myself! Do You then forgive me!’ So (Allah) forgave him. Verily He is the forgiving, the Merciful.”
The righteous people immediately ask forgiveness even for the unintentional wrong actions, too, and avoid from their sequels. (By his seeking forgiveness, Moses asked several things from Allah: both wiping the social effects of his action, and removing the anxiety from the future, and repellence of the revengeful plots of the people of Pharaoh.)
In this verse, the Holy Qur’ān from the tongue of Moses (a.s.) says:
myself! Do You then forgive me!’ So (Allah) forgave him.
Verily He is the forgiving, the Merciful.”
Certainly Moses did not commit any sin here, but there happened a ‘leaving the better (nodbī)’ from him that there should not happen such a thing so that he would not inflict some annoyance, trouble, and pain. For this very action he asked Allah to forgive him and Allah included him in His grace, too. Commentators have delivered a great deal of discussions about the affray of the Coptic man and the Israelite one, and the Coptic being killed by Moses (a.s.).
Of course this action was not itself an important problem, because thecriminal men of Pharaoh were some cruel mischief mongers who cut the head of thousands of newborn sons from
the Children of Israel and refused to commit no crime against the Children of Israel. Thus they were not some oneswhose bloodcould behonourable speciallyfor the Children of Israel.
The thingsthat havecreated difficulty for the commentators are the expressions that Moses (a.s.) himself has stated in this event:
Once he says: “… This is of the Satan’s doing, …”
In another occurrence he says: “My Lord! Verily I have done harm to myself! Do you then forgive me!’ …”
How do these expressions agree with the infallibility of the prophets who must have the rank of immunity even before their prophethood and Messengership?
But the above explanations upon the commentary of the above verses make clear that what Moses did was not more than leaving the better (nodbī). By this act he troubled him because a Coptic being killed by Moses was not an ordinary thing that the people of Pharaoh could easily renounce, and we know that abandoning this action is in the sense of an action which is not essentially unlawful (harām), but it causes that a better deed may be left without that a wrong action would have been done.
Something similar to this meaning has also been cited in the life story of some other prophets, including Hadrat Adam, the explanation of which was given when commenting on Sura Al-’A‘rāf, No. 7, verse 19.
A tradition upon the commentary of this verse has been recorded in ‘Uyūn-ul-’Akhbar from Imam Ali-ibn-Mūsar-Ridā (a.s.) whosaid: “The purpose of the Qur’ānic sentence: “… this is of the Satan’s doing; …” is the conflict of those two with
 Sura under discussion, verse 15  The verse under discussion
each other which was considered as a Satanic act, not the act of Moses (a.s.); and the purpose of the sentence: “My Lord! Verily I have done harm to myself! …” is that I put myself in a place where I should not put. I should not come into this city; and thepurpose of the phrase: “…Do You then forgive me! …” is that You do cover me from Your enemies so that they do not find me. (One of the meanings of /qufrān/ is ‘to cover’.)
Sayyid Murtadā ‘Alam-al-Hudā, in Tanzīh-ul-’Anbiyā, commenting on the verse, has chosen the same meaning, too.
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 'Uyūn-ul-'Akhbār, Nūr-uth-Thaqalayn, Tafsīr-us-Sāfī, Tafsīr-ul-Burhān, Tafsīr-i-Manhaj-us-Sādiqīn under the verse.