Description of the Pharaoh
The pharaoh who ruled Egypt was a tyrant who oppressed the descendants of Jacob , known as the children of Israel (Bani Israel). He used every means to demean and disgrace them. They were kept in bondage and forced to work for him for small wages or nothing. Under this system the people obeyed and worshipped the pharaoh, and the ruling class carried out his orders, thereby authorizing his tyranny and crazy whims.
The pharaoh wanted the people to obey him only, and to believe in the gods of his invention. Perhaps, during that time, there were many classes of people who did not believe in or practice polytheism; however, they kept this to themselves and outwardly did as they were expected to do, without revolting or revealing themselves to anyone.
Thus, successive dynasties came to Egypt and assumed that they were gods or their representatives or spokesmen.
Visions of Dethroning the Pharaoh
Years passed, and a despotic king, who was adored by the Egyptians, ruled Egypt. This king saw the children of Israel multiplying and prospering. He heard them talking about a vague vision that one of Israel’s sons would dethrone the pharaoh of Egypt. Perhaps this vision was only a daydream that persisted within the hearts of the persecuted minority, or perhaps it was a prophecy from their books.
Another tradition states that it was Pharaoh himself who had the vision. Ibn Abbas narrated: “Pharaoh saw in his vision a fire which came from Jerusalem and burned the houses of the Egyptians, and all Copts, and did not do harm to the children of Israel. When he woke up, he was horrified. He then gathered his priests and magicians and asked them about this vision. They said: ‘This means a boy will be born of them and the Egyptian people will perish at his hands.’ That is why Pharaoh commanded that all male children of the children of Israel be killed.”
Either way, this vision reached the ears of the Pharaoh. He then issued a decree to slay any male child that would be born to the children of Israel.
The Killing of the Children of Israel
This (the killing of the children of Israel) was carried out until the experts of economics said to Pharaoh: “The aged of the children of Israel die and the young are slaughtered. This will lead to their annihilation. As a result, Pharaoh will lose the manpower of those who work for him, those whom he enslaves, and their women whom he exploits. It is better to regulate this procedure by initiating the following policy: males should be slaughtered in one year and spared to live the next year.” Pharaoh found that solution to be safer economically.
The Birth of Aaron and Moses (PBUT)
Moses’s mother was pregnant with Aaron in a year that boys were to be spared; thus she gave birth to the child publicly and safely. During a year in which boys were to be slain, she gave birth to Moses ; thus his birth caused her much terror. She was afraid he would be slain, so she nursed him secretly.
Description of the Pharaoh – Qur’anic
Allah the Almighty revealed: These are Verses of the manifest Book (that makes clear truth from falsehood, good from evil, etc.). We recite to you some of the news of Moses and Pharaoh in truth, for a people who believe (those who believe in this Qur’an, and in the Oneness of Allah). Verily, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people sects, weakening (oppressing) a group (i.e. children of Israel) among them, killing their sons, and letting their females live. Verily, he was of the Mufsideen (i.e., those who commit great sins and crimes, oppressors, tyrants, etc.).
The Birth of Moses – Qur’anic
And We wished to do a favor to those who were weak (and oppressed) in the land, and to make them rulers and to make them the inheritors, and to establish them in the land, and We let Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts receive from them that which they feared. And We inspired the mother of Moses, (saying): “Suckle him (Moses), but when you fear for him, then cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve. Verily! We shall bring him back to you, and shall make him one of (Our) Messengers.” Surah 28: 2-7
Moses Thrown into the Nile
No sooner had the divine revelation finished than she obeyed the sacred and merciful call. She was commanded to make a basket for Moses. She nursed him, put him into the basket, then went to the shore of the Nile and threw it into the water. Her mother’s heart, the most merciful one in the world, grieved as she threw her son into the Nile. However, she was aware that Allah was much more merciful to Moses than to her, that He loved him more than her. Allah was his Lord and the Lord of the Nile.
Hardly had the basket touched the water of the Nile than Allah issued His command to the waves to be calm and gentle while carrying the child would one day be a prophet.
She instructed her daughter to follow the course of the basket and to report back to her. As the daughter followed the floating basket along the river bank, she found herself right in the palace grounds and saw what was unfolding before her eyes.
Moses Finds a Home in the Palace
The basket came to rest at the river bank which skirted the king’s palace. The palace servants found the basket with the baby and took it to the Pharaoh and his queen. When the queen beheld the lovely infant, Allah instilled in her a strong love for this baby. Pharaoh’s wife was very different from Pharaoh. He was a disbeliever; she was a believer. He was cruel; she was merciful. He was a tyrant; she was delicate and goodhearted. She was sad because she was infertile and had hoped to have a son. Hardly had she held the baby than she kissed him.
Pharaoh was much amazed when he saw his wife hugging this baby to her breast. He was much astonished because his wife was weeping with joy, something he had never seen her do before. She requested her husband: “Let me keep the baby and let him be a son to us.”
Moses Finds a Home – Qur’anic
Almighty Allah said: Then the household of Pharaoh picked him up, that he might become for them an enemy and a (cause of) grief Verily! Pharaoh, Haman and their hosts were sinners. And the wife of Pharaoh said: “A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he may be of benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceived not (the result of that). Surah 28: 9
Moses and His Mother Reunited
The queen summoned a few wet nurses to suckle the baby Moses, but he would not take any of their breasts. The queen was distressed and sent for more wet nurses. Moses’s sister was also worried, as her baby brother was without milk for a long time. Seeing the queen’s anxiety, she blurted that she knew just the mother who would suckle the child affectionately.
They asked her why she was following the floating basket. She said she did so out of curiosity. Her excuse sounded reasonable, so they believed her. They ordered her to rush and fetch the woman she was talking about. Her mother also was waiting with a heavy heart, worried about the fate of her baby. Just then her daughter rushed in with the good news. Her heart lifted and she lost no time in reaching the palace. As the child was put to her breast, he immediately started suckling. Pharaoh was astonished and asked: “Who are you? This child has refused to take any other breast but yours.”
Had she told the truth, Pharaoh would have known that the child was an Israelite and would have killed Moses instantly. However, Allah gave her inner strength and she replied: “I am a woman of sweet milk and sweet smell, and no child refuses me.” This answer satisfied Pharaoh.
From that day onward, she was appointed as Moses’s wet nurse. She continued to breast-feed him for a long time. When he was bigger and was weaned, she was allowed the privilege of visiting him. Moses was raised in the palace as a prince.
Moses and His Mother Reunited – Qur’anic
Allah the Almighty narrated: And the heart of the mother of Moses became empty (from every thought, except the thought of Moses). She was very near to disclose his (case, i.e. the child is her son), had We not strengthened her hearth (with Faith), so that she might remain as one of the believers. And she said to his (Moses’s) sister: “Follow him.” So she (his sister) watched him from a far place secretly, while they perceived not.
And We had already forbidden (other) foster suckling mothers for him, until she (his sister came up and) said: “Shall I direct you to a household who will rear him for you, and sincerely they will look after him in a good manner?”
So did We restore him to his mother, that she might be delighted, and that she might not grieve, and that she might know that the promise of Allah is true. But most of them know not. Surah 28: 10-13
The Qualities of Moses – Qur’anic
And when he attained his full strength, and was perfect (in manhood), We bestowed on him Hukman (Prophethood, right judgment of the affairs) and religious knowledge of the religion of his forefathers i.e., Islamic Monotheism. And thus do We reward the Muhsineen (i.e., good-doers). ” Surah 28: 14
Moses Kills an Egyptian
Allah had granted Moses good health, strength, knowledge, and wisdom. The weak and oppressed turned to him for protection and justice.
One day in the main city, he saw two men fighting. One was an Israelite, who was being beaten by the other, an Egyptian. On seeing Moses, the Israelite begged him for help. Moses became involved in the dispute and, in a state of anger, struck a heavy blow on the Egyptian, who died on the spot. Upon realizing that he had killed a human being, Moses’s heart was filled with deep sorrow, and immediately he begged Allah for forgiveness.
He had not intended to kill the man. He pleaded with Almighty Allah to forgive him, and he felt a sense of peace filling his whole being. Thereafter Moses began to show more patience and sympathy towards people.
The next day he saw the same Israelite involved in another fight. Moses went to him and said: ‘You seem to be a quarrelsome fellow. You have a new quarrel with one person or another each day.” Fearing that Moses might strike him, the Israelite warned Moses: “Would you kill me as you killed that wretch yesterday?”
The Egyptian with whom the Israelite was fighting overheard this remark and reported Moses to the authorities. Soon thereafter, as Moses was passing through the city, a man approached and alerted him: “0 Moses, the chiefs have taken counsel against you. You are to be tried and killed. I would advise you to escape.”
Moses Kills an Egyptian – Qur’anic
Moses knew that the penalty for killing an Egyptian was death. Allah the Exalted recounted: And he entered the city at a time of unawareness of its people, and he found there two men fighting, – one of his party (his religion – from the children of Israel), and the other of his foes. The man of his (own) party asked him for help against his foe, so Moses struck him with his fist and killed him. He said: “This is of Satan’s doing, verily, he is a plain misleading enemy.”
He said: ‘My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, so foorgive me.” Then He forgave him. Verily, He is the OftForgiving, the Most Merciful.
He said: ‘My Lord! For that with which You have favored me, I will never more be a helper for the Mujrimeen (criminals, disobedient to Allah, polytheists, sinners, etc.)!”
So he became afraid, looking about in the city (waiting as to what will be the result of his crime of killing), when behold, the man who had sought his help the day before, called for his help (again). Moses said to him: “Verily, you are a plain misleader!” Then when he decided to seize the man who was an enemy to both of them, the man said: “0 Moses! Is it your intention to kill me as you killed a man yesterday? Your aim is nothing but to become a tyrant in the land, and not to be one of those who do right.”
And there came a man running, from the farthest end of the city. He said: “0 Moses! Verily, the chiefs are taking counsel together about you, to kill you, so escape. Truly, I am to you of those who give sincere advice.”
So he escaped from there, looking about in a state of fear. He said: ‘My Lord! Save me from the people who are Zalimeen (polytheists and wrong-doers)!” Surah 28: 15-21
Moses Leaves Egypt
Moses left Egypt in a hurry without going to Pharaoh’s palace or changing his clothes. Nor was he prepared for traveling. He did not have a beast of burden upon which to ride, and he was not in a caravan. Instead, he left as soon as the believer came and warned him of Pharaoh’s plans.
He traveled in the direction of the country of Midian, which was the nearest inhabited land between Syria and Egypt. His only companion in this hot desert was Allah, and his only provision was piety. There was not a single root to pick to lessen his hunger. The hot sand burned the soles of his feet. However, fearing pursuit by Pharaoh’s men, he forced himself to continue on.
Moses Helps Women Shepherds
He traveled for eight nights, hiding during the day. After crossing the main desert, he reached a watering hole outside Midian where shepherds were watering their flocks.
No sooner had Moses reached Midian than he threw himself under a tree to rest. He suffered from hunger and fatigue. The soles of his feet felt as if they were worn out from hard walking on sand and rocks and from the dust. He did not have any money to buy a new pair of sandals, nor to buy food or drink. Moses noticed a band of shepherds watering their sheep. He went to the spring, where he saw two young women preventing their sheep from mixing with the others.
Moses sensed that the women were in need of help. Forgetting his thirst, he drew nearer to them and asked if he could help them in any way.
The older sister said: “We are waiting until the shepherds finish watering their sheep, then we will water ours.”
Moses asked again: “Why are you waiting?”
The younger one said: “We cannot push men.”
Moses was surprised that women were shepherding, as only men were supposed to do it. It is hard and tiresome work, and one needs to be on the alert. Moses asked: “Why are you shepherding?”
The younger sister said: “Our father is an old man; his health is too poor for him to go outdoors for pasturing sheep.”
Moses said: “I will water the sheep for you.”
When Moses approached the water, he saw that the shepherds had put over the mouth of the spring an immense rock that could only be moved by ten men. Moses embraced the rock and lifted it out of the spring’s mouth, the veins of his neck and hands standing out as he did so. Moses was certainly strong. He watered their sheep and put the rock back in its place.
He returned to sit in the shade of the tree. At this moment he realized that he had forgotten to drink. His stomach was sunken because of hunger.
Moses Helps Women Shepherds – Qur’anic
Almighty Allah described this event: And when he arrived at the water of Midian (Midyan) he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said: “What is the matter with you ?” They said: “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man.”
So he watered their flocks for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: ‘My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” Surah 28: 22-24
Moses Finds a Home Among Shepherds
The young ladies returned home earlier than usual, which surprised their father. They related the incident at the spring which was the reason that they were back early. Their father sent one of his daughters to invite the stranger to his home. Bashfully, the woman approached Moses and delivered the message. “My father is grateful for what you have done for us. He invites you to our home so that he may thank you personally.”
Moses welcomed this invitation and accompanied the maiden to her father. Moses could see that they lived comfortably as a happy and peaceful household. He introduced himself and told the old man about the misfortune that had befallen him and had compelled him to flee from Egypt. The old man comforted him: “Fear not, you have escaped from the wrongdoers.”
Moses’s gentle behavior was noticed by the father and his daughters. The kind man invited him to stay with them. Moses felt at home with this happy household, for they were friendly and feared Allah.
Moses Becomes a Shepherd
One of the daughters suggested to her father that he employ Moses, as he was strong and trustworthy. They needed someone like him, especially at the water hole, which was visited by ruffians.
The father asked her how she could be sure of his trustworthiness in such a short time. She replied: “When I bade him to follow me to our home, he insisted that I walk behind him so he would not observe my form (to avoid sexual attraction).”
The old man was pleased to hear this. He approached Moses and said: “I wish to marry you to one of my daughters on condition that you agree to work for me for a period of eight years.”
This offer suited Moses well, for being a stranger in this country he would soon have to search for shelter and work. Moses married the Midianite’s daughter and looked after the old man’s animals for ten long years.
Moses Becomes a Shepherd – Qur’anic
Almighty Allah recounted: Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.” So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said: “Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are Zalimeen (polyt heists, disbelievers, and wrong-doers).” And said one of them (the two women): “0 my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.” He said: “I intend to wed one of these two daughters of mine to you, on condition that you serve me for eight years, but if you complete ten years, it will be (a favor) from you. But I intend not to place you under a difficulty. If Allah wills, you will find me one of the righteous.” He (Moses) said: “That (is settled) between me and you whichever of the two terms I fulfill, there will be no injustice to me, and Allah is Surety over what we say.” Surah 28: 25-28
The Ten Years of Preparation
Time passed, and he lived in seclusion far from his family and his people. This period of ten years was of importance in his life. It was a period of major preparation. Certainly Moses’s mind was absorbed in the stars every night. He followed the sunrise and the sunset every day. He pondered on the plant and how it splits the soil and appears thereafter. He contemplated water and how the earth is revived by it and flourishes after its death.
Of course, he was immersed in the Glorious Book of Allah, open to the insight and heart. He was immersed in the existence of Allah. All these became latent within him. The religion of Moses was the same as that of Jacob , which was Islamic monotheism. His forefather was Jacob the grandson of Abraham . Moses , therefore, was one of the descendants of Abraham and every prophet who came after Abraham was one of Abraham’s successors.
In addition to physical preparation, there was a similar spiritual preparation. It was made in complete seclusion, in the middle of the desert and in the places of pasture. Silence was his way of life, and seclusion was his vehicle. Allah the Almighty prepared for His prophet the tools he would need later on to righteously bear the commands of Allah the Exalted.
Moses Decides to Return to Egypt
One day after the end of this period, a vague homesickness arose in Moses’s heart. He wanted to return to Egypt. He was fast and firm in making his decision, telling his wife: ‘Tomorrow we shall leave for Egypt.” His wife said to herself: ‘There are a thousand dangers in departing that have not yet been revealed.” However, she obeyed her husband.
Moses himself did not know the secret of the quick and sudden decision to return to Egypt. After all, he had fled from there ten years ago with a price on his head. Why should he go back now? Did he look forward to seeing his mother and brother? Did he think of visiting Pharaoh’s wife who had raised him and who loved him as if she were his mother?
No one knows what went through Moses’s mind when he returned to Egypt. All we know is that a mute obedience to Allah’s destinies impelled him to make a decision and he did. These supreme destinies steered his steps towards a matter of great importance.
Moses Begins His Prophethood
Moses left Midian with his family and traveled through the desert until he reached Mount Sinai. There Moses discovered that he had lost his way. He sought Allah’s direction and was shown the right course. At nightfall they reached Mount Tur. Moses noticed a fire in the distance. “I shall fetch a firebrand to warm us.”
As he neared the fire, he heard a sonorous voice calling him: “0 Moses, I am Allah, the Lord of the Universe.” Moses was bewildered and looked around. He again heard the strange voice. “And what is in your right hand, 0 Moses?”
Shivering, Moses answered: ‘This is my staff on which I lean, and with which I beat down branches for my sheep, and for which I find other uses.” (This question was asked so that Moses’s attention would focus on the staff and to prepare him for the miracle which was to happen. This was the beginning of Moses’s mission as a prophet – PBUH.)
The same voice commanded him: ‘Throw down your staff’.” He did so, and at once the staff became a wriggling snake. Moses turned to run, but the voice again addressed him: “Fear not and grasp it; We shall return it to its former state.” The snake changed back into his staff. Moses’s fear subsided and was replaced by peace, for he realized that he was witnessing the Truth.
Next, Allah commanded him to thrust his hand into his robe at the armpit. When he pulled it out, the hand had a brilliant shine. Allah then commanded Moses: ‘You have two signs from your Lord; go to Pharaoh and his chiefs, for they are an evil gang and have transgressed all bounds.”
However, Moses feared that he would be arrested by Pharaoh, so he turned to Allah saying: “My Lord! I have killed a man among them and I fear that they will kill me.”
Allah assured him of his safety and set his heart at rest.
Moses Begins His Prophethood – Qur’anic
Almighty Allah narrated this event: And has there come to you the story of Moses? When he saw a fire, he said to his family: “Wait! Verily, I have seen a fire, perhaps I can bring you some burning brand therefrom, or find some guidance at the fire.”
And when he came to it (the fire), he was called by name: “0 Moses! Verily! I am your Lord! So take off your shoes, you are in the sacred valley, Tuwa, And I have chosen you. So listen to that which is inspired to you. Verily! I am Allah! La ilaha illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I), so worship Me, and offer prayers perfectly, for My Remembrance. Verily, the Hour is coming – and My Will is to keep it hidden – that every person may be rewarded for that which he strives. Therefore, let the one who believes not therein (i.e. in the Day of Resurrection, Reckoning, Paradise and Hell, etc.), but follows his own lusts, divert you therefrom lest you perish. And what is that in your right hand, 0 Moses?”
He said: “This is my stick, whereon I lean, and wherewith I beat down branches for my sheep, and wherein I find other uses.”
(Allah) said: “Cast it down, 0 Moses!”
He cast it down, and behold! It was a snake, moving quickly.
Allah said: “Grasp it, and fear not, We shall return it to its former state, – and press your (right) hand to your (left) side, it will come forth white (and shining), without any disease as another sign, – that We may show you (some) of Our Greater Signs.
“Go to Pharoah! Verily, he has transgressed (all bounds in disbelief and disobedience, and has behaved as an arrogant, and as a tyrant).” Surah 9-24
Moses and Aaron (PBUT) Given Their Duties
(Moses) said: “0 my Lord! Open for me my chest (grant me self-confidence, contentment, and boldness). And ease my task for me; and make loose the knot (the defect) from my tongue, (i.e. remove the incorrectness of my speech) that they understand my speech, and appoint for me a helper from my family, Aaron, my brother; increase my strength with him, and let him share my task (of conveying Allah’s Message and Prophethood), that we may glorify You much, and remember You much, Verily! You are of us Ever a Well-Seer.”
Allah said: “You are granted your request, 0 Moses! And indeed We conferred a favor on you another time (before). When We inspired your mother with that which We inspired, saying: ‘Put him (the child) into the Tabut (a box or case or a chest) and put him into the river (Nile), then the river shall cast it up on the bank, and there, an enemy of Mine and an enemy of his shall take him.’ And I endued you with love from Me, in order that you may be brought up under My Eye, when your sister went and said: ‘Shall I show you one who will nurse him?’ So We restored you to your mother, that she might cool her eyes and she should not grieve. Then you did kill a man, but We saved you from great distress and tried you with a heavy trial. Then you stayed a number of years with the people of Madyan (Midian). Then you came here according to the fixed term which I ordained (for you), 0 Moses!
“And I have Istanatuka chosen you for My Inspiration and My Message for Myself Go you and your brother with My Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), and do not, you both, slacken and become weak in My Remembrance.
“Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, verily, he has transgressed (all bounds in disbelief and disobedience and behaved as an arrogant and as a tyrant). And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah.”
They said. “Our Lord! Verily! We fear lest he should hasten to punish us or lest he should transgress (all bounds against us).”
He (Allah) said. “Fear not, Verily! I am with you both, Hearing and Seeing. So go you both to him, and say: ‘Verily, we are Messengers of your Lord, so let the children of Israel go with us, and torment them not; indeed, we have come with a sign from your Lord! And peace will be upon him who follows the guidance! Truly, it has been revealed to us that the torment will be for him who denies believes not in the Oneness of Allah, and in His Messengers, etc., and turns away’ (from the truth and obedience of Allah).” Surah 20: 25-48
Moses and Aaron (PBUT) Talk to the Pharaoh
Moses and Aaron went together to Pharaoh and delivered their message. Moses spoke to him about Allah, His mercy and His Paradise and about the obligations of monotheism and His worship. Pharaoh listened to Moses’s speech with disdain. He thought that Moses was crazy because he dared to question his supreme position. Then he raised his hand and asked. “What do you want?”
Moses answered: “I want you to send the children of Israel with us.”
Pharaoh asked: “Why should I send them, as they are my slaves?”
Moses replied: ‘They are the slaves of Allah, Lord of the Worlds.”
Pharaoh then inquired sarcastically if his name was Moses. Moses said: ‘Yes.”
“Are you not the Moses whom we picked up from the Nile as a helpless baby? Are you not the Moses whom we reared in this palace, who ate and drank from our provisions and whom our wealth showered with charity? Are you not the Moses who is a fugitive, the killer of an Egyptian man, if my memory does not betray me? It is said that killing is an act of disbelief. Therefore, you were a disbeliever when you killed. You are a fugitive from justice and you come to speak to me! What were you talking about Moses, I forgot?”
Moses knew that Pharaoh’s mentioning his past, his upbringing, and his receiving Pharaoh’s charity was Pharaoh’s way of threatening him. Moses ignored his sarcasm and explained that he was not a disbeliever when he killed the Egyptian; he only went astray and Allah the Almighty had not yet given him the revelation at that time.
He made Pharaoh understand that he fled from Egypt because he was afraid of their revenge upon him, even though the killing was an accident. He informed him that Allah had granted him forgiveness and made him one of the messengers.
Moses and Aaron (PBUT) Talk to the Pharaoh – Qur’anic
Allah the Almighty revealed to us part of the dialogue between Moses and Pharaoh: Allah said. “Nay! Go you both with Our Signs. Verily! We shall be with you, listening. And when you both come to Pharaoh, say: ‘We are the Messengers of the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists), – So allow the children of Israel to go with us.
(Pharaoh) said (to Moses): “Did we not bring you up among us as a child? And you did dwell many years of you life with us. And you did your deed which you did (i.e. the crime of killing a man). And you are one of the ingrates.”
Moses said: “I did it then, when I was an ignorant (as regards my Lord and His Message). So I fled from you when I feared you. But my Lord has granted me Hukman (i.e., religious knowledge, right judgments of the affairs and Prop het hood), and appointed me as one of the Messengers. And this is the past favor with which you reproach me, – that you have enslaved the children of Israel.”
Pharaoh said: “And what is the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)?”
Moses replied: “Lord of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, if you seek to be convinced with certainty.”
Pharaoh said to those around: “Do you not hear (what he says)?”
Moses said: “Your Lord and the Lord of your ancient fathers!”
Pharaoh said: “Verily, your Messenger who has been sent to you is a madman!”
Moses said: “Lord of the east and the west, and all that is between them, if you did but understand!”
Pharaoh said: “If you choose an ilah (a god) other than me, I will certainly put you among the prisoners.”
Moses said: “Even if I bring you something manifest (and convincing).”
Pharoah said: “Bring it forth then, if you are of the truthful!” Surah 26: 16-31
Moses Proves Himself Right
The degree of the conflict expressed in this dialogue reached its apex; thus, the tone of dialogue changed. Moses used a convincing intellectual argument against Pharaoh. However, Pharaoh escaped from the circle of this dialogue based on logic and began a dialogue of another type, a type which Moses could not bear to follow: a dialogue of menacing and threatening. Pharaoh deliberately adopted the style of the absolute ruler. He asked Moses how he dared to worship Allah! Did he not know that Pharaoh was a god?
After declaring his divinity, Pharaoh asked Moses how he dared to worship another god. The punishment for this crime was imprisonment. It was not permitted for anyone to worship anyone other than Pharaoh.
Moses understood that the intellectual arguments did not succeed. The calm dialogue was converted from sarcasm to mentioning charity, then to scorn, then to the threat of imprisonment.
Moses said: “Even if I bring you something manifest (and convincing).” Pharaoh said: “Bring it forth then, if you are of the truthful!” So Moses threw his stick, and behold, it was a serpent, manifest. And he drew out his hand, and behold, it was white to all beholders! Surah 26: 30-33
Moses Defeats the Magicians
Pharaoh’s amazement turned to terror. Fearing that his rule was in danger, he addressed his advisors: ‘These are two wizards who will strip you of your best traditions and drive you out of the country with their magic. What do you advise?” They counseled Pharaoh to detain Moses and his brother while they summoned the cleverest magicians in the country. Then they too, could show their skills of magic and change sticks into serpents. In this way they sought to reduce the influence of Moses’s miracles on the masses.
Pharaoh detained Moses and Aaron. He dispatched couriers all over the land to enlist the best magicians. He offered each successful magician a big reward, including appointment as a royal courtier.
On the customary festival day, which attracted citizens from all over the Egyptian empire, Pharaoh arranged for a public contest between Moses and the magicians. The people came in droves as never before when they heard of the greatest contest ever between Pharaoh’s many magicians and a single man who claimed to be a prophet. They had also heard of a baby who had once floated down the river Nile in a basket, landed on Pharaoh’s palace grounds, been reared as a prince, and who later had fled for killing an Egyptian with a single blow.
Everyone was eager and excited to watch this great contest. Before it began, Moses arose. There was a hush in the huge crowd. Moses addressed the magicians. “Woe unto you, if you invent a lie against Allah by calling His miracles magic and by not being honest with the Pharaoh. Woe unto you, if you do not know the difference between the truth and falsehood. Allah will destroy you with His punishment, for he who lies against Allah fails miserably.”
Moses had spoken sincerely and made the magicians think. But they were overwhelmed by their greed for money and glory. They hoped to impress the people with their magic and to expose Moses as a fraud and a cheat.
Moses asked the magicians to perform first. They threw their magical objects down on the ground. Their staffs and ropes took the forms of wriggling serpents while the crowd watched in amazement. Pharaoh and his men applauded loudly. Then Moses threw his staff. It began to wriggle vigorously and became an enormous serpent. The people stood up, craning their necks for a better view.
Pharaoh and his men sat silently as, one by one, Moses’s huge serpent swallowed all the snakes. Moses bent to pick it up, and it became a staff in his hand.
The crowd rose like a great wave, shouting and screaming with excitement. A wonder like this had never been seen before! On witnessing the power of Moses, the magicians prostrated themselves to Allah, declaring: “We believe in the Lord of Moses and Aaron.” Pharaoh was angry and began plotting his next move. He charged that the demonstration had been arranged secretly between Moses and the magicians. He demanded that the magicians confess to their scheme, threatening them with death. They refused to denounce Allah and stuck to the sincerity of their belief. No longer hiding his cruel nature, Pharaoh threatened to cut off their hands and feet and to crucify them on the trunks of palm trees as an example to his subjects.
Moses Defeats the Magicians – Qur’anic
Almighty Allah recounted this event: He (Pharaoh) said: “Have you come to drive us out of our land with your magic, 0 Moses? Then verily, we can produce magic the like thereof, so appoint a meeting between us and you, which neither we, nor you shall fail to keep, in an open wide place where both shall have a just and equal chance (and beholders could witness the competition).”
(Moses) said: “Your appointed meeting is the day of the festival, and let the people assemble when the sun has risen (forenoon).”
So Pharaoh withdrew, devised his plot and then came back.
Moses said to them: “Woe unto you! Invent not a lie against Allah, lest He should destroy you completely by a torment. And surely, he who invents a lie (against Allah) will fail miserably.”
Then they debated with one another what they must do, and they kept their talk secret. They said: “Verily! These are two magicians. Their object is to drive you out from your land with magic, and overcome your chiefs and nobles. So devise your plot, and then assemble in line. And whoever overcomes this day will be indeed successful.”
They said: “0 Moses! Either you throw first or we be the first to throw?”
(Moses) said: “Nay, throw you (first)!” Then behold, their ropes and their sticks, – by their magic, – appeared to him as though they moved fast. So Moses conceived a fear in himself.
We (Allah) said: “Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand. And throw that which is in your right hand! It will swallow up that which they have made. That which they have made is only a magician’s trick, and the magician will never be successful, no matter whatever amount (of skill) he may attain.”
So the magicians fell down prostrate. They said: “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.”
(Pharaoh) said: “Believe you in him (Moses) before I give you permission? Verily! He is your chief who taught you magic. So I will surely cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you on the trunks of palm-trees, and you shall surely know which of us I (Pharaoh) or the Lord of Moses (Allah) can give the severe and more lasting torment.”
They said: “We prefer you not over the clear signs that have come to us, and to Him (Allah) Who created us. So decree (regarding) this life of the world. Verily! We have believed in our Lord, that He may forgive us our faults, and the magic to which you did compel us. And Allah is better as regards reward in comparison to your (Pharaoh’s) reward, and more lasting (as regards punishment in comparison to your punishment).” Surah 20: 58-73
Allah’s Description of Believers and Non-Believers
Verily! Whoever comes to his Lord as a Mujrim (criminal, polytheist, disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah and His Messengers, sinner, etc.), then surely, for him is Hell, therein he will neither die nor live.
But whoever comes to Him (Allah) as a believer (in the Oneness of Allah, etc.), and has done righteous good deeds, for such are the high ranks (in the Hereafter), – Everlasting Gardens (Adn Paradise), under which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever: such is the reward of those who purify themselves by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden and by doing all that which Allah has ordained. Surah 20: 74-76
The People’s Non-Reaction to the defeat of the magicians
The magicians represented the elite of the Egyptian society. They were its scholars. They prostrated before righteousness, but the people abandoned them and left them to their fate. The path of righteousness was plain, but in spite of this, the people did nothing but stand by and watch.
If every one of the Egyptians had stooped to pick up a piece of brick and had thrown it at Pharaoh, he would have fallen dead and the history of Egypt would have been changed.
This obviously did not happen. None of the people moved. Each one stood motionless in his place. The people did nothing but watch, and they paid the price for this inactivity: they were drowned later as the price for their cowardice of one day.
The Pharaoh’s Reaction to Moses’s Victory
Moses and Aaron left, and Pharaoh returned to his palace. Pharaoh was completely stupefied when he faced the two miracles. When Moses went out of his presence, his emotions changed from amazement and fear to violent rage. He quarreled with his ministers and men, reviled them bitterly for no reason, and commanded them to get out of his presence. When he was left alone, he tried to think more calmly. He drank several cups of wine, but his anger did not abate.
Then he summoned all the ministers, leaders, and responsible men for a serious meeting. Pharaoh entered the meeting with a rigid face. It was obvious that he would never surrender easily. He had established a kingdom on the basis of his being a god worshipped by the Egyptian people. Now Moses came to destroy what he had built. Moses said that there was no Lord other than Allah in existence. This meant that Pharaoh was a liar.
Pharaoh opened the session by throwing a sudden question at Haman: “Am I a liar, 0 Haman?”
Haman fell to his knees in amazement and asked: “Who dared to accuse Pharaoh of lying?”
Pharaoh said: “Has he (Moses) not said that there is a Lord in the heaven?”
Haman answered: “Moses is lying.”
Turning his face to the other side, Pharaoh asserted impatiently: “I know he is a liar.” Then he looked towards Haman (and cried): “0 Haman! Build me a tower that I may arrive at the ways, – the ways of the heavens, and I may look upon the Ilah (God) of Moses but verily, I think him to be a liar.”
Thus it was made fair-seeming, in Pharaoh’s eyes, the evil of his deeds, and he was hindered from the (Right) Path, and the plot of Pharaoh led to nothing but loss and destruction (for him). Surah 40: 36-37
Pharaoh issued his royal command to erect a lofty tower, its height to reach the heavens. Pharaoh’s command depended fundamentally upon Egyptian civilization and its fondness for building what Pharaoh wanted. However, he ignored the rules of engineering. In spite of this, Haman assented (hypocritically), knowing that it was impossible to erect such a tower. He said that he would issue a command to build it immediately. “However, your majesty, let me object to Pharaoh for the first time. You will never find anyone in the heavens. There is no god but you.”
Pharaoh listened to a settled fact. Then he declared in the famous meeting his historic line: “0 chiefs! I know not that you have an ilah (a god) other than me.” Surah 28: 38