Prophet Musa and his brother Harun had been called upon by Allah to deliver a message to the leader of the Egyptians, Fir’awn (Pharaoh), who considered himself a god and insisted that his subjects worship him.
Prophet Musa told Fir’awn that he, Musa, was a messenger of the Lord of the Worlds and that he had clear proof of it. Therefore, Fir’awn should let the people of Israel go with him. Prophet Musa showed Fir’awn the staff that turned into a serpent and the hand which turned shining white when placed under his arm. Fir’awn consulted with all his chiefs and they decided that perhaps Musa was just a very good magician. They called together all their best magicians to compete with Prophet Musa. The magicians were promised a reward if they won.
The magicians went first in the contest and they were good, really good. They made their ropes and sticks appear to run in front of their audience. Prophet Musa was afraid that he couldn’t surpass their skills, but Allah told him not to be afraid. When Prophet Musa threw down his staff, it ate up all that the magicians had made. When the magicians saw this, they bowed down and proclaimed their belief in the Lord of Prophet Musa and Harun.
Fir’awn was not very happy about this turn of events. He threatened to cut off the hands and feet of the magicians and to crucify them. But the magicians would not change their opinion. They were convinced by the clear proofs which Prophet Musa had shown to them and they told Fir’awn that he could only end for them their life in this world. For those who believe there would be another life after death, in gardens beneath which rivers flow.
Following this there began another period of persecution against the followers of Allah. Fir’awn had all of their sons killed. Prophet Musa had to encourage the children of Israel to continue strong in their belief in Allah and to pray to Allah faithfully.
Whenever good fortune befell the Egyptians, they took credit for it. When misfortune came, they blamed Prophet Musa and his people. They failed to see that everything, both good and bad, comes from Allah. Allah sent all kinds of hardships against the Egyptians- famine, loss of fruits, floods, locusts, pests, frogs, and blood- as signs to them. They would promise to free the people of Israel if Musa would pray to his God for deliverance from the pestilence. But as soon as the hardship had been removed, they would go back on their promise.
Finally Prophet Musa was instructed by Allah to lead the followers of Allah away by night. When they came to the sea, the waters parted so that they could pass to the other side without getting wet. However, when Fir’awn and his armies pursued them, the waters of the sea closed in on them and they were all drowned. In this way did Allah punish Fir’awn for leading his people away from Allah.
Insha Allah in the next issue we shall relate the conclusion of the story of Musa , when we tell what befell the children of Israel after they left Egypt. You can read about Musa and Fir’awn in al-Quran 7:103-137; 20:49-79; 26:16-67; and 43:46-56.