Back to Egypt
Moosaa (Moses), may Allah exalt his mention, left Madyan with his family and travelled through the desert until he reached Mount Sinai. There, he discovered that he had lost his way. He sought Allah's direction and was shown the right course. At nightfall, they reached Mount Toor. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, noticed a fire in the distance. "I shall fetch a firebrand to warm us," he said to his wife.
As he neared the fire, he heard a sonorous voice calling him, with (what means): "…‘O Moosaa! Indeed I am your Lord’…" [Quran: 20:11-12] Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, was bewildered and looked around. He again heard the strange voice, saying (what means): "And what is that in your right hand, O Moosaa?" [Quran: 20:17] Shivering, he answered with (what means): "...‘It is my staff; I lean upon it, and I bring down leaves for my sheep and I have therein other uses." [Quran: 20:18] This question was asked so that Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, would focus his attention on the staff and to prepare him for the miracle which was to happen. This was the beginning of Moosaa’s mission as a prophet.
The same voice commanded him with (what means): "Throw it [i.e., the staff] down!..." [Quran: 20:19] He did so, and at once the staff became a wriggling snake. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, turned to run, but the voice again addressed him (what means): "…‘Seize it and fear not; We will return it to its former condition.’" [Quran: 20:19] The snake changed back into his staff. Moosaa’s fear subsided and was replaced by peace, for he realised 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. He, therefore, had two signs from his Lord. Allah then commanded Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, with what means: "Go to Pharaoh [Pharaoh]. Indeed, he has transgressed [i.e., tyrannised]."[Quran: 20:24]
However, Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, 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.
Almighty Allah narrated this event in the Quranic verses (which mean): "And has the story of Moosaa reached you? When he saw a fire and said to his family: ‘Stay here; indeed, I have perceived a fire; perhaps I can bring you a torch or find at the fire some guidance.’ And when he came to it, he was called: ‘O Moosaa! Indeed, I am your Lord, so remove your sandals. Indeed, you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa. And I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed [to you].’”[Quran: 20:9-13] and the verses (which mean): "‘Go to Pharaoh. Indeed he has transgressed [i.e., tyrannised].’ [Moosaa] said: ‘My Lord! Expand [i.e., relax] for me my breast. And ease for me my task. And untie the knot from my tongue. That they may understand my speech. And appoint for me a minister [i.e., assistant] from my family – Haaroon [Aaron], my brother. Increase through him my strength. And let him share my task. That we may exalt You much. Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing.’ [Allah] said: ‘You have been granted your request, O Moosaa.’” [Quran: 20:24-36]
Moosaa and His Brother Haaroon Debate with Pharaoh
Moosaa and Haaroon, may Allah exalt their mention, went together to Pharaoh and delivered their message. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, spoke to him about Allah, His mercy and His Paradise, and about the obligations of monotheism and His worship.
Pharaoh listened to Moosaa’s speech with disdain. He thought that Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, was mad because he dared to question his 'supreme' position. Then he raised his hand and asked: "What do you want?"
Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, replied: "I want you to send the children of Israel with us."
Pharaoh asked: "Why should I send them, as they are my slaves?"
Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, replied: "They are the slaves of Allah, Lord of the Worlds."
Fir’awm then inquired sarcastically if his name was Moosaa, to which Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, answered in the affirmative.
Pharaoh said: "Are you not the Moosaa whom we picked up from the Nile as a helpless baby? Are you not the Moosaa whom we reared in this palace, who ate and drank from our provisions and on whom we showered wealth with charity? Are you not the Moosaa who is a fugitive, the killer of an Egyptian man? 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 O Moosaa? I forgot."
Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, knew that Pharaoh’s mentioning of his past, his upbringing, and his receiving Pharaoh’s charity was Pharaoh’s way of threatening him. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, 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.
Allah the Almighty revealed to us part of the dialogue between Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, and Pharaoh; He Says (what means):
"[Allah] Said: ‘Nay! Go both of you with Our signs; indeed, We are with you, listening. Go to Pharaoh and say: ‘We are the messengers of the Lord of the worlds. [Commanded to say]: ‘Send with us the Children of Israel.’’’ [Pharaoh] said: ‘Did we not raise you among us as a child, and you remained among us for years of your life? And then you did your deed which you did [i.e., the crime of killing a man], and you were of the ungrateful.’ [Moosaa] said: ‘I did it, then, while I was of those astray [i.e., ignorant]. So I fled from you when I feared you. Then my Lord granted me judgement [i.e., wisdom and prophethood] and appointed me [as one] of the messengers. And is this a favour of which you remind me – that you have enslaved the Children of Israel?’ Said Pharaoh: ‘And what is the Lord of the worlds?’ [Moosaa] said: ‘The Lord of the heavens and earth, and that between them, if you should be convinced.’ [Pharaoh] said to those around him: ‘Do you not hear?’ [Moosaa] said: ‘Your Lord and the Lord of your first forefathers.’ [Pharaoh] said: ‘Indeed, your ‘messenger’ who has been sent to you is mad.’ [Moosaa] said: ‘Lord of the east and the west and that between them, if you were to reason.’ [Pharaoh] said: ‘If you take a god other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned.’ [Moosaa] said: ‘Even if I brought you something [i.e., proof] manifest?’ [Pharaoh] said: Then bring it, if you should be of the truthful.’" [Quran: 26:15-31]
The degree of the conflict expressed in this dialogue reached its apex; thus, the tone of dialogue changed. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, used a convincing intellectual argument against Pharaoh. However, Pharaoh escaped from the circle of dialogue based on logic and began a dialogue of another type, a type which Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, could not bear to follow, a dialogue of menace and threat. Pharaoh deliberately adopted the style of the absolute ruler. He asked Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, how he dared to worship Allah! Did he not know that Pharaoh was a god?
After declaring his divinity, Pharaoh asked Moosaa 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. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, 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.
Allah Says (what means): "[Moosaa] said: ‘Even if I brought you something [i.e., proof] manifest?’ [Pharaoh] said: ‘Then bring it, if you should be of the truthful.’ So [Moosaa] threw his staff, and suddenly it was a serpent manifest. And he drew out his hand; thereupon it was white for the observers." [Quran: 26:30-33]
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 advice?" They counselled Pharaoh to detain Moosaa and his brother, may Allah exalt their mention, while they summoned the best 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 Moosaa’s miracles on the masses.
Pharaoh detained Moosaa and Haaroon, may Allah exalt their mention. 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.
[To be continued…]