Allah tells us why He saved the Children of Israel from Fir`awn and his people. He tells us how he saved them. Allah commanded Musa and his brother Harun to take houses for their people in Egypt,
(and make your dwellings as places for your worship,) Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said, while interpreting this Ayah: "The Children of Israel said to Musa, `We cannot offer our prayers in public in front of Fir`awn's people.' So Allah permitted them to pray in their houses. They were commanded to build their houses in the direction of the Qiblah.'' Mujahid commented,
(and make your dwellings as places for your worship,) When Banu Israel feared that Fir`awn might kill them in their gatherings at their temples, they were commanded to take their houses as places of worship. The houses should be facing the Qiblah and the prayer could be in secret.'' This was stated by Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak as well.
(88. And Musa said: "Our Lord! You have indeed bestowed on Fir`awn and his chiefs splendor and wealth in the life of this world, our Lord! That they may lead men astray from Your path. Our Lord! Destroy their wealth, and harden their hearts, so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment.'') (89. Allah said: "Verily, the invocation of you both is accepted. So you both keep to the straight way, and follow not the path of those who know not.'')
Allah mentioned what Musa said when he prayed against Fir`awn and his chiefs after they refused to accept the truth. They continued to go astray and be haughty and arrogant. Musa said:
(Our Lord! You have indeed bestowed on Fir`awn and his chiefs splendor) and pleasure of this worldly life.
(and wealth) plentiful and abundant. Allah's statement,
(in the life of this world, Our Lord! That they may lead men astray from Your path.) was read with the word "Liyadillu'' and "Liyudillu.'' The first is with a Fathah over the Ya, meaning that "You have given them that while You know they would not believe in what You have sent me with to them. You did that so they would gradually be drawn away from the truth.'' As Allah said:
(that We may test them thereby.)(20:131) and (72:17). Others read the word with a Dammah over the Ya. (i.e. Liyudillu) This makes the Ayah mean: You have given them that so whoever You willed from among Your creatures will be tried. Those whom You wish to misguide would think that You have given them that because You loved them and You cared about them.''
("Our Lord! Destroy their wealth,'') Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid said: "They asked Allah to destroy their wealth.'' Ad-Dahhak, Abu Al-`Aliyah and Ar-Rabi`a bin Anas said: "Allah made their wealth into engraved stones as it was before.'' About Allah's statement,
(and harden their hearts) Ibn `Abbas said, "Harden their hearts means put a seal on them.''
(so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment.) This prayer was from Musa because he was angry for the sake of Allah and His religion. He prayed against Fir`awn and his chiefs when he was certain that there was no good in them. Similarly, Nuh prayed and said:
(My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers on the earth! If You leave them, they will mislead Your servants, and they will beget none but wicked disbelievers.) (71:26-27) Harun said "Amin'' to his brother's prayer. And Allah answered Musa's prayer. Allah said:
(Verily, the invocation of you both is accepted.) `in destroying Fir`awn's people.
(Verily I have answered your prayers (both of you). So you both keep to the straight way) So as I have answered your prayer, you should remain steadfast on My command.' Ibn Jurayj narrated that Ibn `Abbas said about this Ayah: "Be steadfast and follow My command.''
(90. And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Fir`awn with his hosts followed them in oppression and enmity, till when drowning overtook him, he (Fira`wn) said: "I believe that none has the right to be worshipped but He in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am one of the Muslims.'') (91. Now (you believe) while you refused to believe before and you were one of the mischief-makers. ) (92. So this day We shall deliver your (dead) body (out from the sea) that you may be a sign to those who come after you! And verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our Ayat.)
Allah tells us how He caused Fir`awn and his soldiers to drown. The Children of Israel left Egypt in the company of Musa. It was said that there were six hundred thousand soldiers, plus offspring. They borrowed a lot of ornaments from the Coptics and took that with them. Fir`awn became very angry with them. So he sent heralds to all the cities to send their soldiers. He embarked, following behind them, filled with great pride and with massive armies. Allah wanted this to happen for He had a plan for them. No one that had any authority or power remained behind in Fir`awn's kingdom. They were all together and caught the Children of Israel at sunrise.
(And when the two hosts met each other, the companions of Musa said: "We are sure to be overtaken.'') (26:61) They said that because when they got to the seashore Fir`awn was behind them. The two groups met face to face. The people with Musa kept asking, "How can we be saved today'' Musa replied, "I have been commanded to come this way.'' Musa said:
(Nay, verily, with me is my Lord. He will guide me.) (26:62) It had been so difficult, but it suddenly became easy. Allah commanded him to strike the ocean with his staff. He did and the sea was cleft asunder, each part stood like a mighty mountain. The sea was split into twelve paths, each route for each Israelite tribe. Allah then commanded the wind and the path was dry for them.
(And strike a dry path for them in the sea, fearing neither to be overtaken )by Fir`awn( nor being afraid (of drowning in the sea).)(20:77) The water in between the paths appeared as windows and every tribe was able to see the other so they would not think that others were destroyed. The Children of Israel crossed the sea. When the last one crossed, Fir`awn and his soldiers had arrived at the edge of the other shore. They were one hundred thousand black horses in addition to horsemen of other colors. When Fir`awn saw the sea he was frightened. He wanted to turn back, but it was too late. Allah's decree prevailed and the prayer of Musa was answered. Jibril came on a war stallion. He passed by Fir`awn's horse. Jibril's horse whinnied at Fir`awn's and then Jibril rushed into the sea, and Fir`awn did the same behind him. Fir`awn no longer had any control over matters. He wanted to sound strong before his chiefs, so he said: "The Children of Israel do not have more right in the sea.'' So they rushed into the sea. Mika'il was behind their army pushing them all to join. When they all were in the sea and the first of them was about to emerge on the other side, Allah, the All-Powerful, commanded the sea to strand them. The sea closed over them and none was saved. The waves took them up and down. The waves accumulated above Fir`awn and he was overwhelmed by the stupors of death. While in this state, he said:
(I believe that none has the right to be worshipped but He (Allah) in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am one of the Muslims.) He believed at a time when he couldn't benefit from his faith.
(So when they saw Our punishment, they said: "We believe in Allah Alone and reject (all) that we used to associate with Him as (His) partners.'' Then their faith could not avail them when they saw Our punishment. (Like) this has been the way of Allah in dealing with His servants. And there the disbelievers lost utterly (when Our torment covered them).)(40:84-85) Therefore Allah said, as a response to Fir`awn,
(Now (you believe) while you refused to believe before) do you say that just now when you have disobeyed Allah before that.
(And you were one of the mischief-makers.) You were among the makers of mischief on the earth who misled the people.
(and We made them leaders inviting to the Fire: and on the Day of Resurrection, they will not be helped.) (28:41) These facts about Fir`awn and his status at that time were among the secrets of the Unseen that Allah revealed to His Messenger, Muhammad. Similarly Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that Allah's Messenger said;
(Jibril said to me, "If you could have seen me while I was taking black mud from the sea and placing into the mouth of Fir`awn out of fear that the mercy would reach him.'') Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir also recorded it. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Gharib Sahih.'' About Allah's statement,
(So this day We shall deliver your (dead) body (out from the sea) that you may be a sign to those who come after you!) Ibn `Abbas and others from among the Salaf have said: "Some of the Children of Israel doubted the death of Fir`awn so Allah commanded the sea to throw his body -- whole, without a soul -- with his known armor plate. The body was thrown to a high place on the land so that the Children of Israel could confirm his death and destruction.'' That is why Allah said,
("So this day We shall deliver your...'') meaning that We will put your body on a high place on the earth. Mujahid said,
(your (dead) body) means, `your physical body. "
(that you may be a sign to those who come after you!) meaning, so that might be a proof of your death and destruction for the Children of Israel. That also stood as a proof that Allah is All-Powerful, in Whose control are all the creatures. Nothing can bear His anger. Fir`awn and his people were destroyed on the day of `Ashura', as recorded by Al-Bukhari, Ibn `Abbas said, "When the Prophet arrived at Al-Madinah, the Jews fasted the day of `Ashura'. So he asked,
(What is this day that you are fasting) They responded `This is the day in which Musa was victorious over Fir`awn.' So the Prophet said,
(You have more right to Musa than they, so fast it.)
(93. And indeed We settled the Children of Israel in an honorable dwelling place, and provided them with good things, and they differed not until the knowledge came to them. Verily, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection in that in which they used to differ.)
In these Ayat, Allah tells us about all the worldly and religious gifts which He bestowed upon the Children of Israel. Allah's statement,
(honorable dwelling place) means in Egypt and Syria, around Jerusalem, as it was said by some. When Allah destroyed Fir`awn and his soldiers, the Mosaic State took control of all of Egypt as Allah said:
(And We made the people who were considered weak to inherit the eastern parts of the land and the western parts thereof which We have blessed. And the fair Word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because of their endurance. And We destroyed completely all the great works and buildings which Fir`awn and his people erected.)(7:137) He said in other Ayat:
(So, We expelled them from gardens and springs. Treasures, and every kind of honorable place. Thus, and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit them.)(26:57 -59) He also said:
(How many of gardens and springs that they left behind...) (44:25-27) They then continued with Musa, to seek Jerusalem -- the land of Ibrahim, the friend of Allah. There were giant people in Jerusalem. The Children of Israel refrained from fighting them. So Allah expelled them into the wilderness for forty years. During this time in the wilderness, first Harun died and then Musa. Yusha` bin Nun led after them. Allah supported them to conquer Jerusalem and rule it for a period of time. His statement,
(and provided them with good things) means from the lawful, pure and useful provision that is good in nature and in Law. Then Allah said:
(and they differed not until the knowledge came to them.) There should be no reason for them to have any disputes among them since Allah has sent them knowledge and explained different matters and issues to them. It has been mentioned in a Hadith,
(The Jews separated into seventy-one sects, and the Christians separated into seventy-two sects, and this Ummah will separate into seventy-three sects, one of which is in Paradise, seventy-two in the Fire.) They asked, "Who are they O Messenger of Allah!'' He replied;
(Those upon what I and my Companions are upon.) It was recorded by Al-Hakim in his Mustadrak with this wording. So here Allah said,
(Verily your Lord will judge between them) Here the meaning is, to distinguish between them
(the Day of Resurrection in that which they used to differ.)
(94. So if you are in doubt concerning that which We have revealed unto you, then ask those who are reading the Book before you. Verily, the truth has come to you from your Lord. So be not of those who doubt (it).) (95. And be not one of those who belie the Ayat of Allah, for then you shall be one of the losers.) (96. Truly, those, against whom the Word of your Lord has been justified, will not believe.) (97. Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.)