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Story of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and Fir`awn

Allah said,

﴿ ثُمَّ بَعَثۡنَا مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِم

(Then after them We sent), after the Messengers whom We mentioned, such as Nuh, Hud, Salih Lut and Shu`ayb (may Allah's peace and blessings be on them and the rest of Allah's Prophets), We sent,

﴿ مُّوسَىٰ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَآ

(Musa with Our signs) proofs and clear evidences, to Fir`awn, who was ruler of Egypt during the time of Musa,

﴿ وَمَلَإِيْهِۦ

(and his chiefs) the people of Fir`awn,

﴿ فَظَلَمُواْ بِہَا‌ۖ

(but they wrongfully rejected them), they denied and disbelieved in the signs, out of injustice and stubbornness on their part. Allah said about them in another Ayah,

﴿ وَجَحَدُواْ بِہَا وَٱسۡتَيۡقَنَتۡهَآ أَنفُسُہُمۡ ظُلۡمً۬ا وَعُلُوًّ۬ا‌ۚ فَٱنظُرۡ كَيۡفَ كَانَ عَـٰقِبَةُ ٱلۡمُفۡسِدِينَ

(And they belied them (those Ayat) wrongfully and arrogantly, though they were themselves convinced thereof. So see what was the end of the evildoers.) (27:14) The Ayah says, `those who hindered from the path of Allah and belied in His Messengers, look how We punished them, We caused them to drown, all of them, while Musa and his people were watching.' Public drowning added disgrace to the punishment that Fir`awn and his people suffered, while adding comfort to the hearts of Allah's party, Musa and those people who believed in him.

﴿ وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ يَـٰفِرۡعَوۡنُ إِنِّى رَسُولٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ حَقِيقٌ عَلَىٰٓ أَن لَّآ أَقُولَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ إِلَّا ٱلۡحَقَّ‌ۚ قَدۡ جِئۡتُڪُم بِبَيِّنَةٍ۬ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ فَأَرۡسِلۡ مَعِىَ بَنِىٓ إِسۡرَٲٓءِيلَ قَالَ إِن كُنتَ جِئۡتَ بِـَٔايَةٍ۬ فَأۡتِ بِہَآ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ

(104. And Musa said: "O Fir`awn! Verily, I am a Messenger from the Lord of all that exists.'') (105. "Proper it is for me that I say nothing concerning Allah but the truth. Indeed I have come unto you from your Lord with a clear proof. So let the Children of Israel depart along with me.'') (106. (Fir`awn) said: "If you have come with a sign, show it forth, if you are one of those who tell the truth.'') Allah mentions a debate that took place between Musa and Fir`awn, and Musa's refuting Fir`awn with the unequivocal proof and clear miracles, in the presence of Fir`awn and his people, the Copts of Egypt. Allah said,

﴿ وَقَالَ مُوسَىٰ يَـٰفِرۡعَوۡنُ إِنِّى رَسُولٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ

(And Musa said: "O Fir`awn! Verily, I am a Messenger from the Lord of all that exists''.) meaning Musa said, `the one Who sent me is the Creator, Lord and King of all things,'

﴿ حَقِيقٌ عَلَىٰٓ أَن لَّآ أَقُولَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ إِلَّا ٱلۡحَقَّ‌ۚ

("Proper it is for me that I say nothing concerning Allah but the truth. '') `It is incumbent and a duty for me to convey only the Truth from Him, because of what I know of His might and power.'

﴿ قَدۡ جِئۡتُڪُم بِبَيِّنَةٍ۬ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ

("Indeed I have come unto you from your Lord with a clear proof.'') `I brought unequivocal evidence that Allah gave me to prove that I am conveying the truth to you,'

﴿ فَأَرۡسِلۡ مَعِىَ بَنِىٓ إِسۡرَٲٓءِيلَ

("So let the Children of Israel depart along with me.'') means, release them from your slavery and subjugation. Let them worship your Lord and their Lord. They are from the offspring of an honorable Prophet, Isra'il, who is Ya`qub son of Ishaq son of Ibrahim, the Khalil (intimate friend) of Allah.

﴿ قَالَ إِن كُنتَ جِئۡتَ بِـَٔايَةٍ۬ فَأۡتِ بِہَآ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ

((Fir`awn) said: "If you have come with a sign, show it forth, if you are one of those who tell the truth.'') Fir`awn said, `I will not believe in what you have said nor entertain your request'. Therefore, he said, `if you have proof, then produce it for us to see, so that we know if your claim is true.'

﴿ فَأَلۡقَىٰ عَصَاهُ فَإِذَا هِىَ ثُعۡبَانٌ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬ وَنَزَعَ يَدَهُ ۥ فَإِذَا هِىَ بَيۡضَآءُ لِلنَّـٰظِرِينَ

(107. Then (Musa) threw his staff and behold! it was a (Thu`ban) serpent, manifest!) (108. And he drew out his hand, and behold! it was white (with radiance) for the beholders.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on Allah's statement,

﴿ ثُعۡبَانٌ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬

(a (Thu`ban) serpent, manifest), refers to "The male snake.'' As-Suddi and Ad-Dahhak said similarly. A report from Ibn `Abbas said,

﴿ فَأَلۡقَىٰ عَصَاهُ

"(Then (Musa) threw his staff), and it turned into a huge snake that opened its mouth and rushed towards Fir`awn. When Fir`awn saw the snake rushing towards him, he jumped from his throne and cried to Musa for help, so that Musa would remove the snake from his way. Musa did that.'' As-Suddi commented,

﴿ فَإِذَا هِىَ ثُعۡبَانٌ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬

(and behold! It was a (Thu`ban) serpent, manifest!) "This (Thu`ban) refers to male snakes. The snake opened its mouth and headed towards Fir`awn to swallow him, placing its lower jaw on the ground and its upper jaw reaching the (top of the) wall of the palace. When Fir`awn saw the snake, he was frightened, so he jumped and wet himself and he never wet himself before this incident. He cried, `O Musa! Take it away and I will believe in you and release the Children of Israel to you.' So Musa, peace be on him, took it, and it became a staff again. ''

﴿ وَنَزَعَ يَدَهُ ۥ فَإِذَا هِىَ بَيۡضَآءُ لِلنَّـٰظِرِينَ

(And he drew out his hand, and behold! it was white (with radiance) for the beholders.) Musa took his hand out of his cloak after he inserted his hand in it and it was shining, not because of leprosy or sickness. Allah said in another Ayah,

﴿ وَأَدۡخِلۡ يَدَكَ فِى جَيۡبِكَ تَخۡرُجۡ بَيۡضَآءَ مِنۡ غَيۡرِ سُوٓءٍ۬‌ۖ

(And put your hand into your bosom, it will come forth white without hurt.) (27:12) Ibn `Abbas said, "without hurt', means, `not because of leprosy'. Musa inserted his hand again in his sleeve and it returned back to its normal color.'' Mujahid and several others said similarly.

﴿ قَالَ ٱلۡمَلَأُ مِن قَوۡمِ فِرۡعَوۡنَ إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَسَـٰحِرٌ عَلِيمٌ۬ يُرِيدُ أَن يُخۡرِجَكُم مِّنۡ أَرۡضِكُمۡ‌ۖ فَمَاذَا تَأۡمُرُونَ

(109. The chiefs of the people of Fir`awn said: "This is indeed a well-versed sorcerer.'') (110. "He wants to get you out of your land, so what do you advise'')

Fir`awn's People say that Musa is a Magician!

The chiefs and noblemen of the people of Fir`awn agreed with Fir`awn's statement about Musa. After Fir`awn felt safe and returned to his throne, he said to the chiefs of his people,

﴿ إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَسَـٰحِرٌ عَلِيمٌ۬

(This is indeed a well-versed sorcerer) and they agreed. They held counsel to decide what they should do about Musa. They conspired to extinguish the light that he brought and bring down his word. They plotted to portray Musa as a liar and fake. They feared that he might lure people to his side by his magic, they claimed, and thus prevail over them and drive them away from their land. What they feared occurred, just as Allah said,

﴿ وَنُرِىَ فِرۡعَوۡنَ وَهَـٰمَـٰنَ وَجُنُودَهُمَا مِنۡهُم مَّا ڪَانُواْ يَحۡذَرُونَ

(And We let Fir`awn and Haman and their hosts receive from them that which they feared.) (28:6) After they conferred about Musa, they agreed on a plot, as Allah said about them,

﴿ قَالُوٓاْ أَرۡجِهۡ وَأَخَاهُ وَأَرۡسِلۡ فِى ٱلۡمَدَآٮِٕنِ حَـٰشِرِينَ يَأۡتُوكَ بِكُلِّ سَـٰحِرٍ عَلِيمٍ۬

(111. They said: "Put him and his brother off (for a time), and send callers to the cities to collect'') (112. "That they bring to you all well-versed sorcerers.'') Ibn `Abbas commented,

﴿ أَرۡجِهۡ

("Put him off''), means, "delay him (for a time).''

﴿ وَأَرۡسِلۡ فِى ٱلۡمَدَآٮِٕنِ

("and send to the cities''), areas and provinces of your kingdom -- O Fir`awn,

﴿ حَـٰشِرِينَ

("to collect'') to gather magicians from various lands. At this time, magic was the trade of the day and it was widespread and popular. They had the idea that what Musa brought was a type of magic similar to the magic that the sorcerers of their time practiced. Because of this incorrect assumption, they brought all the magicians in order to defeat the miracles that he showed them. Allah said about Fir`awn,

﴿ فَلَنَأۡتِيَنَّكَ بِسِحۡرٍ۬ مِّثۡلِهِۦ فَٱجۡعَلۡ بَيۡنَنَا وَبَيۡنَكَ مَوۡعِدً۬ا لَّا نُخۡلِفُهُ ۥ نَحۡنُ وَلَآ أَنتَ مَكَانً۬ا سُوً۬ى
﴿ قَالَ مَوۡعِدُكُمۡ يَوۡمُ ٱلزِّينَةِ وَأَن يُحۡشَرَ ٱلنَّاسُ ضُحً۬ى فَتَوَلَّىٰ فِرۡعَوۡنُ فَجَمَعَ ڪَيۡدَهُ ۥ ثُمَّ أَتَىٰ

(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 place where both shall have a just and equal chance.'' (Musa) said: "Your appointed meeting is the day of the festival, and let the people assemble when the sun has risen (forenoon).'' So Fir`awn withdrew, devised his plot and then came back.) (20:58-60). Allah said,

﴿ وَجَآءَ ٱلسَّحَرَةُ فِرۡعَوۡنَ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّ لَنَا لَأَجۡرًا إِن ڪُنَّا نَحۡنُ ٱلۡغَـٰلِبِينَ قَالَ نَعَمۡ وَإِنَّكُمۡ لَمِنَ ٱلۡمُقَرَّبِينَ

(113. And so the sorcerers came to Fir`awn. They said: "Indeed there will be a (good) reward for us if we are the victors.'') (114. He said: "Yes, and moreover you will (in that case) be of the nearest (to me).'')

The Magicians convene and change Their Ropes into Snakes before Musa

Allah describes the conversation that took place between Fir`awn and the magicians he collected to defeat Musa, peace be upon him. Fir`awn told them that he will reward them and give them tremendous provisions. He made them hope in acquiring what they wished for and to make them among his private audience and best associates. When they were assured of the cursed Fir`awn's promises,

﴿ قَالُواْ يَـٰمُوسَىٰٓ إِمَّآ أَن تُلۡقِىَ وَإِمَّآ أَن نَّكُونَ نَحۡنُ ٱلۡمُلۡقِينَ قَالَ أَلۡقُواْ‌ۖ فَلَمَّآ أَلۡقَوۡاْ سَحَرُوٓاْ أَعۡيُنَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَٱسۡتَرۡهَبُوهُمۡ وَجَآءُو بِسِحۡرٍ عَظِيمٍ۬

(115. They said: "O Musa! Either you throw (first), or shall we have the (first) throw'') (116. He (Musa) said: "Throw you (first).'' So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them, and they displayed a great trick.) The magicians challenged Musa, when they said,

﴿ إِمَّآ أَن تُلۡقِىَ وَإِمَّآ أَن نَّكُونَ نَحۡنُ ٱلۡمُلۡقِينَ

(Either you throw (first), or shall we have the (first) throw) before you. In another Ayah, they said,

﴿ وَإِمَّآ أَن نَّكُونَ أَوَّلَ مَنۡ أَلۡقَىٰ

(Or we be the first to throw) (20:65). Musa said to them, you throw first. It was said that the wisdom behind asking them to throw first, is that - Allah knows best - the people might witness the magicians' sorcery first. When the magicians had cast their spell and captured the eyes, the clear and unequivocal truth came, at a time when they all anticipated and waited for it to come, thus making the truth even more impressive to their hearts. This is what happened. Allah said,

﴿ فَلَمَّآ أَلۡقَوۡاْ سَحَرُوٓاْ أَعۡيُنَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَٱسۡتَرۡهَبُوهُمۡ

(So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them,) meaning, they deceived the eyes and made them think that the trick was real, when it was only an illusion, just as Allah said,

﴿ فَأَوۡجَسَ فِى نَفۡسِهِۦ خِيفَةً۬ مُّوسَىٰ قُلۡنَا لَا تَخَفۡ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلۡأَعۡلَىٰ وَأَلۡقِ مَا فِى يَمِينِكَ تَلۡقَفۡ مَا صَنَعُوٓاْ‌ۖ إِنَّمَا صَنَعُواْ كَيۡدُ سَـٰحِرٍ۬‌ۖ وَلَا يُفۡلِحُ ٱلسَّاحِرُ حَيۡثُ أَتَىٰ

(So Musa conceived 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, to whatever amount (of skill) he may attain'') (20:67-69). Ibn `Abbas commented that the magicians threw, "Thick ropes and long sticks, and they appeared to be crawling, an illusion that they created with their magic.''

﴿ وَأَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰٓ أَنۡ أَلۡقِ عَصَاكَ‌ۖ فَإِذَا هِىَ تَلۡقَفُ مَا يَأۡفِكُونَ فَوَقَعَ ٱلۡحَقُّ وَبَطَلَ مَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ فَغُلِبُواْ هُنَالِكَ وَٱنقَلَبُواْ صَـٰغِرِينَ وَأُلۡقِىَ ٱلسَّحَرَةُ سَـٰجِدِينَ قَالُوٓاْ ءَامَنَّا بِرَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ رَبِّ مُوسَىٰ وَهَـٰرُونَ

(117. And We revealed to Musa (saying): "Throw your stick,'' and behold! It swallowed up straight away all the falsehood which they showed.) (118. Thus truth was confirmed, and all that they did was made of no effect.) (119. So they were defeated there and returned disgraced.) (120. And the sorcerers fell down prostrate.) (121. They said: "We believe in the Lord of all that exists.) (122. "The Lord of Musa and Harun.'')