Musa AS and Harun AS were the agents of change, and the countdown to the destruction of Pharaoh’s empire had begun, starting with the mass conversion of the magicians.
There was another shocking conversion, by Pharaoh’s own queen, Asiah AS. Allah had instilled love in her heart for Musa AS from the time he was washed ashore as an infant onto the banks of the river by her palace. When Musa AS returned to spread the message of Islam, she became one of those who embraced the message.
Asiah AS had everything to lose: her regal position, social status, treasures and jewellery and the luxuries of palace life. And more: she risked losing her life by becoming Muslim.
Pharaoh was furious by his wife’s actions. Upon his orders, she was debased and tortured. One account mentions that the torturers hung her by the hair, nailed her hands and feet, and sliced her flesh little by little with blades. In the midst of this suffering, Musa AS went to the torture chamber, and found her smiling serenely – at how Allah was so patient with the behaviour of her torturers!
As the agony intensified, she supplicated to Allah to reveal her place in jannah, and begged Him to build her a palace next to Him in Paradise. Within a few days, Allah took her soul.
In a short span of time, Asiah AS relinquished all she possessed in this world, but in return attained the highest station in jannah. She will spend eternity in a palace beside Allah and will have Prophet Muhammad SAW as her husband. Imagine the level of her iman and what she endured for her Lord, and how vast the reward.
Meanwhile, the chiefs of Pharaoh were outmanoeuvred and disgraced by Musa AS. Therefore, they incited Pharaoh to harm Musa AS and his people:
And the eminent among the people of Pharaoh said, “Will you leave Moses and his people to cause corruption in the land and abandon you and your gods?” [Pharaoh] said, “We will kill their sons and keep their women alive; and indeed, we are subjugators over them.” (Qur’an 7:127)
Thus another wave of hardship hit the community of Bani Israel. Pharaoh in his fury continued the oppression upon Bani Israel to make them feel helpless and humiliated. Their sons were again slaughtered to reduce the male population, removing their resistance and power.
Musa AS advised them that if they were really believers, the provocations from Pharaoh should not frustrate or affect them.
Said Moses to his people, “Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah . He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.” (Qur’an 7:128)
The Israelites complained to Musa AS that they were harmed twice and their male offspring killed twice: before he was born, and when he returned to them as a Prophet.
They said, “We have been harmed before you came to us and after you have come to us.” He said, “Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy and grant you succession in the land and see how you will do.” (Qur’an 7:129)
The Smear Campaign
Pharaoh knew deep down that Musa AS was a true prophet, and that his opposition was based on arrogance. Numerous signs had already been presented to him, but Pharaoh rejected them nevertheless. He still proclaimed himself as God, in his delusions, believing that the monotheistic call by Musa AS was leading his people to the wrong path.
Pharaoh sought comfort in his power and glittering wealth, and was so entrenched in his spiritual blindness that he was no longer capable of distinguishing truth from falsehood. This is what happens when the wealthy think that this life is their only life. Pharaoh relished in his enjoyment of dunia, and thought its flavours, richness and pleasures could last eternally and grant him immortality.
Not being content with denying the God of Musa AS, Pharaoh then also created further distractions by asking his chief minister, Haman, to build a tower for him in order to have access to the heavens to see the God of Musa AS.
And Pharaoh said, “O eminent ones, I have not known you to have a god other than me. Then ignite for me, O Haman, [a fire] upon the clay and make for me a tower that I may look at the God of Moses. And indeed, I do think he is among the liars.” (Qur’an 28:38)
The cronies surrounding Pharaoh knew that it was a fruitless endeavour, but in order to make a mockery of the religion of Musa AS, they wasted resources in building the tower. Never before had a tower of such dimensions been built. The disbeliever is always arrogant, ignorant and blind in his actions.
Tribulations and Signs
The disobedience of Pharaoh and his people persisted. They rejected sign after sign from Allah, until Allah placed the Coptic Egyptians through intense hardship as a divine wake up call.
At first, the people of Pharaoh suffered years of drought and famine. However, they felt a sense of entitlement – any good that came towards them was attributed as their right, and any calamity that befell them was blamed on Musa AS and his faith.
And they said, “No matter what sign you bring us with which to bewitch us, we will not be believers in you.” (Qur’an 7:132) The people were stubborn and refused to follow the way of Musa AS, still believing that he was a magician. Therefore, Allah increased their torment, and trial succeeded trial.
So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people. (Qur’an 7:133)
The locusts eradicated all the crops and fruits. Frogs used to be found everywhere, even in the food and household dishes. According to Ibn Kathir, when someone opened his mouth to put a bit of food in it, or drink water, a frog jumped from somewhere and landed in it. Fresh blood welled up in everything: water of the rivers and wells. Not even a cup of water or milk could be drunk without blood being found in it. Finally, a flood came and wiped out all the fertile land, rendering it barren.
At each stage whenever the situation became intolerable for the Coptic Egyptians, they turned to Musa AS for help. They knew that Musa AS was connected to Allah, but were too arrogant to pray to Allah directly.
And when the punishment descended upon them, they said, “O Moses, invoke for us your Lord by what He has promised you. If you [can] remove the punishment from us, we will surely believe you, and we will send with you the Children of Israel.” (Qur’an 7:134)
So Musa AS prayed to Allah, and Allah removed their suffering. However, each occasion the calamity was diminished, the Egyptian Copts did not fulfil their promise. Instead, they resumed their disbelieving ways. Therefore, the calamity at the next stage was worsened, and the affliction increased. Repeatedly, they turned to Musa AS for help, and again reverted into their old pattern once the suffering was lifted.
Allah provided the Coptic Egyptians many opportunities to repent and turn to Him. However, they repeatedly rejected the evidences, and broke their covenants at every turn. They continued making a mockery of the faith instead of admitting the truth.
The smear campaign against Musa AS persisted. Pharaoh belittled him for his lack of eloquence, status and wealth, as compared to his own mighty kingdom and position. As with the corrupted politics utilised everywhere today, Pharaoh also employed propaganda designed to mislead and deceive his people from the truth.
And Pharaoh called out among his people; he said, “O my people, does not the kingdom of Egypt belong to me, and these rivers flowing beneath me; then do you not see? Or am I [not] better than this one who is insignificant and hardly makes himself clear? Then why have there not been placed upon him bracelets of gold or come with him the angels in conjunction?” So he bluffed his people, and they obeyed him. Indeed, they were [themselves] a people defiantly disobedient [of Allah]. (Qur’an 43:51 to 43:54)
At the same time, Allah placed a trial on the followers of Musa AS, to test their faith in Him. Musa AS advised his people:
“O my people, if you have believed in Allah, then rely upon Him, if you should be Muslims. So they said, “Upon Allah do we rely. Our Lord, make us not [objects of] trial for the wrongdoing people. And save us by Your mercy from the disbelieving people.” (Qur’an 10:84 – 86)
Musa AS and Harun AS were also instructed by Allah to make the houses of Bani Israel distinct from the dwellings of the Coptic Egyptians. And We inspired to Moses and his brother, “Settle your people in Egypt in houses and make your houses [facing the] qiblah and establish prayer and give good tidings to the believers.” (Qur’an 10:87)
One opinion offers that it was to make it easy for them to communicate with each other in case of departure from Egypt when commanded to do so. Another speculates that that since the people were unable to disclose their belief or offer their prayers openly, they were commanded to pray in their own houses to compensate for what they missed of their worship and devotion.
Parting of Ways
Each Prophet and Messenger has a tipping point, when it is evident that the society in which they are preaching can no longer be moved to worship Allah. At this moment, their supplication for the destruction of the society is accepted by Allah.
And Moses said, “Our Lord, indeed You have given Pharaoh and his establishment splendour and wealth in the worldly life, our Lord, that they may lead [men] astray from Your way. Our Lord, obliterate their wealth and harden their hearts so that they will not believe until they see the painful punishment.” [Allah] said, “Your supplication has been answered.” So remain on a right course and follow not the way of those who do not know.” (Qur’an 10:88 – 10:89)
Musa AS was commanded to depart with Bani Israel under the cover of the night. This was not an easy exercise logistically – Bani Israel was comprised of men, women and children that numbered thousands, rather than a stealthy army that could travel with speed. Meanwhile, Pharaoh had already deployed heralds to all the cities to be on the lookout for Musa AS and his followers.
The two groups met at sunrise, with Bani Israel being outnumbered by Pharaoh and his army. Bani Israel, many of whose faith in Allah was shaky despite the countless signs they had witnessed, were frightened by the approaching army. However, Musa AS said:
“No! Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me.” (Qur’an 26:62) The reference was only to Musa AS himself, as many of his men were still weak in faith.
Musa AS was inspired to lead his community to the Red Sea, where it seemed that they were at a dead end. The deep sea with its swirling waves lay before them, and the army of Pharaoh was behind them. There was no escape in sight.
The people of Bani Israel started panicking and getting angry. Even after all the signs from Allah, they did not fully trust Allah to protect them. At this time, Allah gave Musa AS a revelation: Then We inspired to Moses, “Strike with your staff the sea,” and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain. (Qur’an 26:63)
Suddenly, the whole sea transformed. The waters parted, standing like mountains on either side, and by some reports into twelve paths, one for each tribe of the Israelites. Then the wind blew, drying the paths to make it easy to walk through.
Musa AS and the Israelites crossed the sea. They started descending into the miraculous paths, happy that divine rescue had been sent to them.
Pharaoh viewed this miracle with arrogance, presuming that if Musa AS could cross the waters, so could he. As the last of Bani Israel passed through it, Pharaoh and his army entered. Musa AS wanted to strike his staff against the sea again to block the passage of the pursuers, but was commanded by Allah not to react.
Some reports mention that Pharaoh knew at this moment that Musa AS had the true God on his side. However, Pharaoh could no longer recant, because of his arrogance! Even with such convincing evidence before him, he could not submit and be humble to Allah.
Once Pharaoh and his men entered the passage, the wall of water collapsed around them. There was no salvation. It did not matter if he knew how to swim, the waves pulled him down. Recognising that his death was inevitable, Pharaoh declared his belief in the God of Bani Israel.
And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, “I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims.” (Qur’an 10:90)
However, this declaration came too late! He had missed his chance, having spent years playing games with his life, waiting too long before acknowledging the truth.
So today We will save you in body that you may be to those who succeed you a sign. And indeed, many among the people, of Our signs, are heedless. (Qur’an 10:92)
The rest of Bani Israel were saved and continued onto their journey into the new land.
Lessons to be Learned
In the stories of Lut AS and Nuh AS, we saw how a wife can be a disbeliever despite having the most pious of husbands. Conversely, Asiah AS demonstrated that a wife can be the best of believers despite having the worst of husbands.
The story of Musa AS in the Qur’an takes precedence in terms of volume compared to all the other Prophets and Messenger. His story is repeated over and over again, from different perspectives.
Stories of Messengers, Prophets and their communities are lessons and wisdom for us. They were inserted in the Qur’an for a purpose. In the case of Musa AS, one of the early Muslim scholars observed that at any point in time, there will be a “Pharaoh” and a “Musa AS”. He meant that in history, one will always find a man or a group of people with power and wealth, who are blind and arrogant. They spread mischief and spread it to their own people, disguising it as truth and goodness. In the meantime, they slander and persecute the truth-bearing minority who are always low in numbers, wealth and status.
We can observe from our own lives how many people, once they achieve status and richness, become arrogant and deny the truth. They become perpetrators of corruption, aggression and oppression. They always look down upon the less fortunate and cloak their ears from any words of wisdom or goodness. This is a repeating pattern in the history of mankind. The people of the truth are seen as the wrongdoers and the wrongdoers are seen as the people of the truth. We see this even in so-called Muslim countries and amongst Muslim people, on a personal level, family level, nation and ummah.
Ask Allah SWT to open our eyes, for heart to see the sign of Allah and receive the guidance of Allah, and beg Allah to be in the path of and supporter of the truth, and to hold to the truth until we die.
From this story we can also see another recurring pattern. Allah SWT places us under overwhelming odds, not to finish us, but rather to make us trust Him and rely on him. Once reduced to zero, the believer has to believe in and reply only on Allah, and never lose hope. The believer knows that the victory of Allah is close at hand.
However, if one’s belief is shaky, or one has hypocrisy or association with Allah, he will not be able to withstand the test, and he will never be able to rely on Allah. This is the crux of the message: Allah will check who is steadfast with the rope of Allah and who will deviate.
The themes in the story of Musa AS will always be repeated in the same manner and with the same promise. The time, location and names may differ, but the principles are constant.
May Allah SWT allow us to be among the believers who can comprehend the sign of Allah, be a believer, rely on Allah only and elevate His message until we die, ameen.
Original Source: Muslim Footsteps