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,
(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,
(Either you throw (first), or shall we have the (first) throw) before you. In another Ayah, they said,
(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,
(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,
(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.''
(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.'')
Allah states that at that tremendous moment, in which Allah differentiated between Truth and Falsehood, He sent a revelation to His servant and Messenger Musa, peace be upon him, ordering him to throw the stick that he held in his right hand,
(It swallowed straight away) and devoured,
(all the falsehood which they showed.) the magic that they caused the illusion with, of magic with which they caused making it appear real, whereas it was not real at all. Ibn `Abbas said that Musa's stick swallowed all the ropes and sticks that the magicians threw. The magicians realized that this was from heaven and was by no means magic. They fell in prostration and proclaimed,
("We believe in the Lord of all that exists. The Lord of Musa and Harun ). Muhammad bin Ishaq commented, "It followed the ropes and sticks one after another, until nothing that the sorcerers threw remained. Musa then held it in his hand, and it became a stick again just as it was before. The magicians fell in prostration and proclaimed, `We believe in the Lord of all that exists, the Lord of Musa and Harun. Had Musa been a magician, he would not have prevailed over us. ''' Al-Qasim bin Abi Bazzah commented, "Allah revealed to Musa to throw his stick. When he threw his stick, it became a huge, manifest snake that opened its mouth and swallowed the magicians' ropes and sticks. On that, the magicians fell in prostration. They did not raise their heads before seeing the Paradise, the Fire, and the recompense of their inhabitants.''
(123. Fir`awn said: "You have believed in him ﴿Musa﴾ before I gave you permission. Surely, this is a plot which you have plotted in the city to drive out its people, but you shall come to know.'') (124. "Surely, I will cut off your hands and your feet from opposite sides, then I will crucify you all.'') (125. They said: "Verily, we are returning to our Lord.'') (126. "And you take vengeance on us only because we believed in the Ayat of our Lord when they reached us! Our Lord! pour out on us patience, and cause us to die as Muslims.'')
Allah mentions the threats that the Fir`awn - may Allah curse him - made to the magicians after they believed Musa, peace be upon him, and the deceit and cunning that Fir`awn showed the people. Fir`awn said,
(Surely, this is a plot which you have plotted in the city to drive out its people,) meaning Fir`awn proclaimed, `Musa's defeating you today was because you plotted with him and agreed to that.' Fir`awn also said,
(He (Musa) is your chief who has taught you magic.) (20:71) However, Fir`awn and all those who had any sense of reason knew for sure that what Fir`awn said was utterly false. As soon as Musa came from Madyan, he called Fir`awn to Allah and demonstrated tremendous miracles and clear proofs for the Truth that he brought. Fir`awn then sent emissaries to various cities of his kingdom and collected magicians who were scattered throughout Egypt. Fir`awn and his people chose from them, summoned them, and Fir`awn promised them great rewards. These magicians were very eager to prevail over Musa in front of Fir`awn, so that they might become closer to him. Musa neither knew any of them nor saw or met them before. Fir`awn knew that, but he claimed otherwise to deceive the ignorant masses of his kingdom, just as Allah described them,
(Thus he (Fir`awn) fooled his people, and they obeyed him.) (43:54) Certainly, a people who believed Fir`awn in his statement,
("I am your lord, most high.'') (79:24), are among the most ignorant and misguided creatures of Allah. In his Tafsir, As-Suddi reported that Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, and several other Companions, commented,
("Surely, this is a plot which you have plotted in the city...'') "Musa met the leader of the magicians and said to him, `If I defeat you, will you believe in me and bear witness that what I brought is the truth' The magician said, `Tomorrow, I will produce a type of magic that cannot be defeated by another magic. By Allah! If you defeat me, I will believe in you and testify to your truth.' Fir`awn was watching them, and this is why he said what he said.'' His statement,
("to drive out its people''), means, so that you all cooperate to gain influence and power, replacing the chiefs and masters of this land. In this case, power in the state will be yours,
("but you shall come to know''), what I will do to you. He then explained his threat,
("Surely, I will cut off your hands and your feet from opposite sides.'') by cutting the right hand and the left leg or the opposite,
("then I will crucify you all.'') just as he said in another Ayah,
("Fi the trunks of date palms'') (20:71), Fi in this Ayah means "on''. Ibn `Abbas said that Fir`awn was the first to crucify and cut off hands and legs on opposite sides. The magicians said,
("Verily, we are returning to our Lord.'') They said, `We are now sure that we will go back to Allah. Certainly, Allah's punishment is more severe than your punishment and His torment for what you are calling us to, this day, and the magic you forced us to practice, is greater than your torment. Therefore, we will observe patience in the face of your punishment today, so that we are saved from Allah's torment.' They continued,
("Our Lord! pour out on us patience''), with your religion and being firm in it,
("and cause us to die as Muslims.''), as followers of Your Prophet Musa, peace be upon him. They also said to Fir`awn,
("So decide whatever you desire to decree, for you can only decide for the life of this 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 ﴿to reward﴾ and more lasting ﴿in punishment﴾. Verily, whoever comes to his Lord as a criminal, then surely, for him is Hell, wherein he will neither die nor live. But whoever comes to Him (Allah) as a believer, and has done righteous good deeds, for such are the high ranks (in the Hereafter).) (20:72-75). The magicians started the day as sorcerers and ended as honorable martyrs! Ibn `Abbas, `Ubayd bin `Umayr, Qatadah and Ibn Jurayj commented, "They started the day as sorcerers and ended it as martyrs.''
(127. The chiefs of Fir`awn's people said: "Will you leave Musa and his people to spread mischief in the land, and to abandon you and your gods'' He said: "We will kill their sons, and let their women live, and we have indeed irresistible power over them.'') (128. Musa said to his people: "Seek help in Allah and be patient. Verily, the earth is Allah's. He gives it as a heritage to whom He wills of His servants; and the (blessed) end is for the pious and righteous persons.'') (129. They said: "We suffered troubles before you came to us, and since you have come to us.'' He said: "It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successors on the earth, so that He may see how you act'')
Allah mentions the conspiracy of Fir`awn and his people, their ill intentions and their hatred for Musa and his people.
(The chiefs of Fir`awn's people said), to Fir`awn,
("Will you leave Musa and his people''), will you let them be free,
("to spread mischief in the land''), spreading unrest among your subjects and calling them to worship their Lord instead of you Amazingly, these people were worried that Musa and his people would cause mischief! Rather, Fir`awn and his people are the mischief-makers, but they did not realize it. They said,
("and to abandon you and your gods'') `Your gods', according to Ibn `Abbas, as As-Suddi narrated from him, "Were cows. Whenever they saw a beautiful cow, Fir`awn would command them to worship it. This is why As-Samiri, made the statue of a calf that seemed to moo for the Children of Israel.'' Fir`awn accepted his people's recommendation, saying,
("We will kill their sons, and let their women live'') thus reiterating his previous order concerning the Children of Israel. He had tormented them (killing every newly born male) before Musa was born, so that Musa would not live. However, the opposite of what Fir`awn sought and intended occurred. The same end struck Fir`awn that he intended to subjugate and humiliate the Children of Israel with. Allah gave victory to the Children of Israel, humiliated and disgraced Fir`awn, and caused him to drown along with his soldiers. When Fir`awn insisted on his evil plot against the Children of Israel,
(Musa said to his people: "Seek help in Allah and be patient'') and promised them that the good end will be theirs and that they will prevail, saying,
("Verily, the earth is Allah's. He gives it as a heritage to whom He wills of His servants; and the (blessed) end is for the pious and righteous persons.'' They said: "We suffered troubles before you came to us, and since you have come to us.'') The Children of Israel replied to Musa, `they (Fir`awn and his people) inflicted humiliation and disgrace on us, some you witnessed, both before and after you came to us, O Musa'! Musa replied, reminding them of their present situation and how it will change in the future,
("It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy...'') encouraging them to appreciate Allah when the afflictions are removed and replaced by a bounty.
(130. And indeed We punished the people of Fir`awn with years of drought and lack of fruits (crops), that they might remember (take heed).) (131. But whenever good came to them, they said: "This is for us.'' And if evil afflicted them, they considered it an omen about Musa and those with him. Be informed! Verily, their omens are with Allah but most of them know not.)