1. 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.
[Note: . Israel is the surname of Jacob , the grandson of Abraham. The meaning in Hebrew of Israel is sufwatu ‘Ilah i.e. sincere friend of God. Bani Israel, the children of Israel is a term that occurs frequently in the Qur’an.”]
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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. The Birth of Aaron and Moses (PBUT)
Moses' 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.
5. Description of the Pharaoh - Qur'anic
Allah the Almighty revealed:
Ta. Sin. Mim. These are Verses of the Book that makes (things) clear. We rehearse to you some of the story of Moses and Pharaoh in Truth for people who believe. Truly Pharaoh elated himself in the land and broke up its people into sections depressing a small group among them: their sons he slew but he kept alive their females: for he was indeed a maker of mischief. Al-Qasas 28: 1-4
6. The Birth of Moses - Qur'anic
And We wished to be gracious to those who were being depressed in the land to make them leaders (in faith) and make them heirs. To establish a firm place for them in the land and to show Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts at their hands the very things against which they were taking precautions. So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: "Suckle (your child) but when you have fears about him cast him into the river but fear not nor grieve: for We shall restore him to you and We shall make him one of Our apostles."Al-Qasas 28: 5-7
(Note: Pharaoh’s Minister)
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 riverbank, she found herself right in the palace grounds and saw what was unfolding before her eyes.
8. Moses Finds a Home in the Palace
The basket came to rest at the riverbank that 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 then 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."
9. Moses Finds a Home - Qur'anic
Almighty Allah said:
Then the people of Pharaoh picked him up (from the river): (it was intended) that (Moses) should be to them an adversary and a cause of sorrow: for Pharaoh and Haman and (all) their hosts were men of sin. The wife of Pharaoh said: "(Here is) a joy of the eye for me and for you: slay him not. It may be that he will be of use to us or we may adopt him as a son." And they perceived not (what they were doing)! Al-Qasas 28: 8-9
10. 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' 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' 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.
11. Moses and His Mother Reunited - Qur'anic
Allah the Almighty narrated:
But there came to be a void in the heart of the mother of Moses: she was going almost to disclose his (case) had We not strengthened her heart (with faith) so that she might remain a (firm) believer. And she said to the sister of (Moses) "Follow him." So she (the sister) watched him in the character of a stranger and they knew not. And We ordained that he refused suck at first until (his sister came up and) said: "Shall I point out to you the people of a house that will nourish and bring him up for you and be sincerely attached to him?" Thus did We restore him to his mother that her eye might be comforted that she might not grieve and that she might know that the promise of Allah is true: but most of them do not understand. Al-Qasas 28: 10-13
12. The Qualities of Moses - Qur'anic
When he reached full age and was firmly established (in life) We bestowed on him wisdom and knowledge: for thus do We reward those who do good. Al-Qasas 28: 14
13. 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' 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: "O Moses, the chiefs have taken counsel against you. You are to be tried and killed. I would advise you to escape."
14. 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 when its people were not watching: and he found there two men fighting one of his own religion and the other of his foes. Now the man of his own religion appealed to him against his foe and Moses struck him with his fist and made an end of him. He said: "This is a work of Evil (Satan): for he is an enemy that manifestly misleads!" He prayed: "O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul! Do You then forgive me!" So (Allah) forgave him: for He is the Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. He said: "O my Lord! For that You have bestowed Your Grace on me never shall I be a help to those who sin!" So he saw the morning in the City looking about in a state of fear when behold the man who had the day before sought his help called aloud for his help (again). Moses said to him: "You are truly it is clear a quarrelsome fellow!" Then when he decided to lay hold of the man who was an enemy to both of them that man said: "O Moses! Is it your intention to slay me as you have slewed a man yesterday? Your intention is none other than to become a powerful violent man in the land and not to be one who sets things right!" And there came a man running from the furthest end of the City. He said: "O Moses! The Chiefs are taking counsel together about you to slay you: so get you away for I do give you sincere advice." He therefore got away there from looking about in a state of fear. He prayed: "O my Lord! Save me from people given to wrongdoing. Al-Qasas 28: 15-21
15. 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 Madyan, 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.
16. Moses Helps Women Shepherds
He traveled for eight nights, hiding during the day. After crossing the main desert, he reached a watering hole outside Madyan where shepherds were watering their flocks.
No sooner had Moses reached Madyan 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.
17. Moses Helps Women Shepherds - Qur'anic
Almighty Allah described this event:
Then when he turned his face towards (the land of) Madyan he said: "I do hope that my Lord will show me the smooth and straight Path." And when he arrived at the watering (place) in Madyan 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 back (their flocks): and our father is a very old man." So he watered (their flocks) for them; then he turned back to the shade and said: "O my Lord! Truly am I in (desperate) need of any good that You do send me!" Al-Qasas 28: 22-24
18. 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 that 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' 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.
19. 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 Madyanite's daughter and looked after the old man's animals for ten long years.
20. Moses Becomes a Shepherd - Qur'anic
Almighty Allah recounted:
Afterwards one of the (damsels) came (back) to him walking bashfully. She said: "My father invites 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: (well) have you escaped from unjust people." Said one of the (damsels): "O my (dear) father! Engage him on wages: truly the best of men for you to employ is the (man) who is strong and trusty" He said: "I intended to wed one of these my daughters to you on condition that thou serve me for eight years; but if thou complete ten years it will be (grace) from you. But I intend not to place you under a difficulty: you will find me indeed if Allah wills one of the righteous." He said: "Be that (the agreement) between me and you: whichever of the two terms I fulfil let there be no ill-will to me. Be Allah a witness to what we say. Al-Qasas 28: 25-28
21. 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' 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.
22. Moses Decides to Return to Egypt
One day after the end of this period, a vague homesickness arose in Moses' 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' 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.
23. Moses Begins His Prophethood
Moses left Madyan 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' attention would focus on the staff and to prepare him for the miracle that was to happen. This was the beginning of Moses' mission as a prophet.)
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' 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.
24. Moses Begins His Prophethood - Qur'anic
Almighty Allah narrated this event:
Has the story of Moses reached you? Behold he saw a fire: so he said to his family "Tarry you; I perceive a fire; perhaps I can bring you some burning brand there from or find some guidance at the fire." But when he came to the fire a voice was heard: "O Moses! "Verily I am your Lord! Therefore (in My presence) put off your shoes: you are in the sacred valley Tuwa. "I have chosen you: listen then to the inspiration (sent to you). "Verily I am Allah: there is no god but I: so serve you me (only) and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise. "Verily the Hour is coming My design is to keep it hidden for every soul to receive its reward by the measure of its endeavor. "Therefore let not such as believe not therein but follow their own lusts divert you there from lest thou perish!" And what is that in your right hand O Moses?" He said "It is my rod: on it I lean; with it I beat down fodder for my flocks; and in it I find other uses." (Allah) said "Throw it O Moses!" He threw it and behold! it was a snake active in motion. (Allah) said "Seize it and fear not: We shall return it at once to its former condition" Now draw your hand close to your side: it shall come forth white (and shining) without harm (or stain) as another Sign. "In order that We may show you (two) of Our Greater Signs. "Go you to Pharaoh for he had indeed transgressed all bounds." Taha 20:9-24
25. Moses and Aaron () Given Their Duties
"O my Lord! expand me my breast;" "Ease my task for me; "And remove the impediment from my speech. "So they may understand what I say:
"And give me a Minister from my family "Aaron my brother; "Add to my strength through him "And make him share my task: "That we may celebrate Your praise without stint. "And remember You without stint: For You are He that (ever) regards us." (Allah) said: "Granted is your prayer O Moses!" "And indeed We conferred a favor on you another time (before). "Behold! We sent to your mother by inspiration the message: " `Throw (the child) into the chest and throw (the chest) into the river: the river will cast him up on the bank and he will be taken up by one who is an enemy to Me and an enemy to him': but I cast (the garment of) love over you from Me: and (this) in order that you may be reared under Mine eye. "Behold! your sister goes forth and says `Shall I show you one who will nurse and rear the (child)?' So We brought you back to your mother that her eye might be cooled and she should not grieve. Then you did slay a man but We saved you from trouble and We tried you in various ways. Then did you tarry a number of years with the people of Madyan. Then did you come hither as ordained O Moses! "And I have prepared you for Myself (for service)" "Go you and your brother with My Signs and slacken not either of you in keeping Me in remembrance. "Go both of you to Pharaoh for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; "But speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear (Allah)." They (Moses and Aaron) said: "Our Lord! We fear lest He hasten with insolence against us or lest he transgress all bounds." He said: "Fear not: for I am with you: I hear and see (everything). "So go you both to him and say `Verily we are apostles sent by your Lord: send forth therefore the Children of Israel with us and afflict them not: with a Sign indeed have we come from your Lord! And peace to all who follow guidance! " `Verily it has been revealed to us that the Penalty (awaits) those who reject and turn away.' " Taha 20: 25-48
26. Moses and Aaron 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' 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.
27. Moses and Aaron Talk to the Pharaoh - Qur'anic
Allah the Almighty revealed to us part of the dialogue between Moses and Pharaoh:
"So go forth both of you to Pharaoh and say: `We have been sent by the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds; " `Send you with us the Children of Israel.' " (Pharaoh) said: "Did we not cherish you as a child among us and did you not stay in our midst many years of thy life? "And you did a deed of yours which (you know) you did and you are an ungrateful (wretch)!" Moses: "I did it then when I was in error. "So I fled from you (all) when I feared you; but my Lord has (since) invested me with judgment (and wisdom) and appointed me as one of the apostles. "And this is the favor with which you do reproach me that you have enslaved the Children of Israel" Pharaoh said: "And what is the `Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds?' " (Moses) said: "The Lord and Cherisher of the heavens and the earth and all between if you want to be quite sure." (Pharaoh) said to those around: "Do you not listen (to what he says)?" (Moses) said: "Your Lord and the Lord of your fathers from the beginning!" (Pharaoh) said: "Truly your apostle who has been sent to you is a veritable madman!" (Moses) said: "Lord of the East and the West and all between! If you only had sense!" (Pharaoh) said: "If you do put forward any god other than me I will certainly put you in prison!" (Moses) said: "Even if I showed you something clear (and) convincing?" (Pharaoh) said: "Show it then if you tell the truth!" Ash-Shu’araa 26: 16-31
28. 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.
29. Moses Defeats the Magicians
(Moses) said: "Even if I showed you something clear (and) convincing?" (Pharaoh) said: "Show it then if you tell the truth!" Ash-Shu’araa 26: 30-31.
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' 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' 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.
30. Moses Defeats the Magicians - Qur'anic
Almighty Allah recounted this event:
"But we can surely produce magic to match yours! So make a tryst between us and you which we shall not fail to keep neither we nor you in a place where both shall have even chances." Moses said: "Your tryst is the Day of the Festival and let the people be assembled when the sun is well up." So Pharaoh withdrew: he concerted his plan and then came (back). Moses said to him: "Woe to you! Forge not you a lie against Allah lest He destroy you (at once) utterly by chastisement: the forger must suffer frustration!" So they disputed one with another over their affair but they kept their talk secret. They said: "These two are certainly (expert) magicians: their object is to drive you out from your land with their magic and to do away with your Most cherished institutions. "Therefore concert your plan. And then assemble in (serried) ranks: he wins (all along) today who gains the upper hand." They said: "O Moses! Whether will you that you throw (first) or that we be the first to throw?" He said "Nay throw you first!" Then behold their ropes and their rods so it seemed to him on account of their magic began to be in lively motion! So Moses conceived in his mind a (sort of) fear. We said: "Fear not! For you have indeed the upper hand: "Throw that which is in your right hand: quickly will it swallow up that which they have faked. What they have faked is but a magician's trick: and the magician thrives not (no matter) where he goes." So the magicians were thrown down to prostration: they said "We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses." (Pharaoh) said: "Believe you in Him before I give you permission? Surely this must be your leader who has taught you magic! Be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm trees: So shall you know for certain which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting Punishment!" They said: "Never shall we regard you as more than the Clear Signs that have come to us or than Him Who created us! So decree whatever you desire to decree: for you can only decree (touching) the life of this world. For us we have believed in our Lord: may He forgive us our faults and the magic to which you did compel us: for Allah is Best and Most Abiding." Taha 58-73.
31. Allah's Description of Believers and Non-Believers
Verily he who comes to his Lord as a sinner (at judgment) for him is Hell: therein shall he neither die nor live. But such as comes to Him as Believers who have worked righteous deeds - for them are ranks exalted. Gardens of Eternity beneath which flow rivers: they will dwell therein for ever: such is the reward of those who purify themselves (from evil). Taha 74-76.
32. 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.
33. The Pharaoh's Reaction to Moses’ 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):
Pharaoh said: "O Haman! Build me a lofty palace that I may attain the ways and means "The ways and means of (reaching) the heavens and that I may mount up to the Allah of Moses; but as far as I am concerned I think (Moses) is a liar!" Thus was made alluring in Pharaoh's eyes the evil of his deeds and he was hindered from the Path; and the plot of Pharaoh led to nothing but perdition (for him). Al-Mu’min 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 said: "O Chiefs! no god do I know for you but myself: therefore O Haman! light me a (kiln to bake bricks) out of clay and build me a lofty palace that I may mount up to the god of Moses: but as far as I am concerned I think (Moses) is a liar!" Al-Qasas 28: 38
Adapted from : http://www.isnacanada.com/prophets/moses.htm