THE PROPHET MUSA (AS)

 

Magicians Embrace Faith

The result of the confrontation was completely unexpected for Pharaoh, the magicians and the spectators alike. The magicians, who had been so self-assured and arrogant of their superiority, were defeated. Furthermore, this total defeat took place right before the eyes of the people of Egypt. The impact of the defeat was even greater for the magicians. Their spectacle, which was merely an illusion, they knew very well not to have been real. They had devised tricks to deceive people into believing that their system-and consequently Pharaoh's system-was divinely powerful. However, Musa's miracles presented something different. They grasped that his feat was neither illusion, nor a magician's tricks. The staff of Musa had actually devoured their trickery. The magicians, therefore, grasped that this was a real miracle, and a sign of the existence of God, and an evidence of God's support to Musa. Thereupon, they embraced faith:

The magicians threw themselves down in prostration. They said, "We have faith in the Lord of all the worlds, the Lord of Musa and Harun." (Qur'an, 7: 120-122)

At that moment, the whole system was turned on its head. Pharaoh, who openly challenged Musa, being so overly confident that he would win, was in fact defeated, with his magicians finally believing in Musa. Pharaoh could not accept the decision of the magicians. According to his perverted rationale, he was the sole owner of the land-even of the people-, and thought himself entitled to authorize whether or not people be allowed to convert to another belief:

Pharaoh said, "Have you believed in him before I authorised you to do so? This is just some plot you have concocted in the city to drive its people from it." (Qur'an, 7: 123)

Deluded by his own distorted mind, Pharaoh tried to rationalize the situation.

An obvious miracle had just occurred, and followed by an ignominious defeat, the magicians came to have faith in the Lord of Musa. What should have been expected of Pharaoh then was to openly admit the occurrence of a miracle and to accept to be rightly guided. On the contrary, however, he offered himself false interpretations, fabricating scenarios which he himself knew were imaginary. Thus, he convinced himself that Musa and the magicians were conspiring to seize power over Egypt. Furthermore, he assumed that it was Musa who had taught them magic:

".He is your chief, the one who taught you magic." (Qur'an, 20: 71)

That is how Pharaoh witnessed the irrefutable signs and miracles of God but resisted and denied the truth. In fact, his behaviour was typical of all those who deny the truth. Those people, resolved to remain in disbelief, adhere to it no matter how incontrovertible are the signs put forth to them. They resort to any form of delusion in order to legitimise their denial. In every society and in every age, we will find countless disbelievers infected with the resolute obstinacy of Pharaoh, who have denied the existence, oneness and the righteousness of God's religion.

Nevertheless, Pharaoh knew that his obstinacy would not save him. The defeat of his magicians and their acceptance of faith in the Lord of Musa greatly destabilised his authority. In one way or another, he would have to defuse the situation and re-establish his power. For this purpose, he resorted to violence, threatening the believing magicians with torture and death. However, already cognisant of the truth of the message of God, the magicians turned to God in submission. In several verses of the Qur'an, we find the magicians expressing their resolve in their belief:

".I will cut off your hands and feet alternately and have you crucified on palm trunks. Then you will know for certain which of us has the harsher and longer lasting punishment."

They said, "We will never prefer you to the Clear Signs which have come to us nor to Him who brought us into being. Decide on any judgement you like. Your jurisdiction only covers the life of the earth. We have had faith in our Lord so that He may forgive us for our mistakes and for the magic, which you forced us to perform. God is better and longer lasting." (Qur'an, 20: 71-73)

They said, "We are returning to our Lord. You are only avenging yourself on us because we had faith in our Lord's Signs when they came to us. Our Lord, pour down steadfastness upon us and take us back to You as Muslims." (Qur'an, 7: 125-126)

They said, "We do not care! We are returning to our Lord. We remain hopeful that our Lord will forgive us our mistakes for being the first of the believers." (Qur'an, 26: 50-51)

As is explained in the above verses, these people of faith did not yield to the threats of Pharaoh, or submit to him, because they grasped that if they were to be killed, they would return to God, who is the Creator of everything. All the while, they dearly hoped that God would forgive their indulging in denial prior to accepting belief, and their adversarial attitude they had adopted against the religion. Because God is the forgiver and the merciful.

From then on, Pharaoh's rule over the people became increasingly malicious. He sought to steer the people through his power. Due to the oppression he meted out, no one, except for a small group of young people from the people of Musa, followed Musa. Only these few young people showed the courage and sincerity to follow in the magicians' footsteps. The majority, on the other hand, did not appreciate the power of the Almighty God, and, having no fear of Him, rejected faith. This is conveyed in the Qur'an as follows:

No one believed in Musa, except for a few of his people, out of fear that Pharaoh, and the elders, would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty in the land. He was one of the profligate. (Qur'an, 10: 83)

One of those to have put her faith in Musa was the wife of Pharaoh. This noble woman, who previously shared so many worldly favours with Pharaoh, not only dared to leave all such riches behind, but also to make herself the object of Pharaoh's violence. Her choice is clearly the sign of a very profound and sincere faith. Indeed, along with Maryam (Mary) (as), the Qur'an refers to the wife of Pharaoh as a faithful woman whose conduct was exemplary:

God has made an example for those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh when she said, "My Lord, build a house in Paradise for me in Your presence and rescue me from Pharaoh and his deeds and rescue me from this wrongdoing people." (Qur'an, 66: 11)

The sincere devotion of Pharaoh's wife to God is a great example for all Muslims. This true believer abandoned the riches of this world, and acknowledged that the real life would be in the hereafter. She preferred the blessings of the hereafter over the benefits of this short, though deceptively dazzling life. She prayed to God only for a house in Paradise. Without a doubt, such a sincere prayer, filled with a spiritual devotion towards the hereafter, is a fine example for all those who believe.


...Those who believe and do right actions will be in the lush meadows of the Gardens. (Qur'an, 42: 22)

 

A Man Of Faith And The Palace

Despite the supernatural events and miracles they witnessed, Pharaoh and his inner circle resisted Musa. They insisted on denying the truth, due to their arrogance and obstinacy, and went to such lengths as to claim that Musa was a magician who performed a spell. Furthermore, they devised new plans to subject Musa and his adherents to more severe torture and oppression:

We sent Musa with Our Signs and clear authority to Pharaoh, Haman and Qarun. But they said, "A lying magician." When he brought them the truth from Us they said, "Slaughter the sons of those who have faith with him but let their women live." The stratagems of the unbelievers are nothing but errors. Pharaoh said, "Let me kill Musa and let him call upon his Lord! I am afraid that he may change your religion and bring about corruption in the land." Musa said, "I seek refuge in my Lord and your Lord from every proud man who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning." (Qur'an, 40: 23-27)

Pharaoh intended to kill Musa. He was committed to preventing the establishment of a new order in the land of Egypt which would hinder his further enrichment. If Musa were to attain more power, Pharaoh would not be able to rule over the Egyptian people as he desired. That is why he tried to justify killing Musa by suggesting that Musa's intentions were solely evil. However, there appeared a man from the family of Pharaoh who supported Musa and objected to Pharaoh's cruelties:

A man among Pharaoh's people who had faith, but kept his faith concealed, said, "Are you going to kill a man for saying 'My Lord is God' when he has brought you Clear Signs from your Lord? If he is telling a lie, be it on his own head. But if he is telling the truth, then some of what he is promising you will certainly happen to you. God does not guide any unbridled inveterate liar. My people! The kingdom is yours today, as masters in the land, but who will help us against God's violent force, if it comes upon us?"

Pharaoh said, "I only show you what I see myself and I only guide you to the path of rectitude."

The man who had faith said, "My people! I fear for you a fate like that of the factions (of old), the same as happened to the people of Noah and 'Ad and Thamud and those who followed after them. God does not want any injustice for His servants. My people! I fear for you the Day of Calling Out, the Day when you will turn your backs in flight, having no one to protect you from God. Whoever God misguides will have no guide. Yusuf brought you the Clear Signs before, but you never stopped doubting what he brought to you to the extent that when he died, you said, 'God will never send another Messenger after him' That is how God misguides those who are unbridled and full of doubt."

Those who argue about the Signs of God without any authority coming to them do something hateful in the sight of God and in the sight of the people who believe. That is how God seals up the heart of every arrogant oppressor. (Qur'an, 40: 28-35)


There are some of the stories of communities that We relate you:
of them, some are standing, and some have been mown
down (by the sickle of time). (Qur'an 11:100)

The warning from the believer in the palace did not affect Pharaoh, whose heart was filled with arrogance and blinded in denial. In order to render his words ineffective, he tried to ridicule this Muslim who had warned him and all the people of Egypt. In a derisive manner, Pharaoh turned to his assistant Haman, asking him to build a tower:

Pharaoh said, "Haman, build me a tower so that perhaps I may gain means of access, access to the heavens, so that I can look on Musa's God. Truly I think he is a liar." That is how Pharaoh's evil actions were made attractive to him and he debarred others from the path. Pharaoh's scheming led to nothing but ruin. (Qur'an, 40: 36-37)

Pharaoh was aiming to regain control merely by derision. He did not grasp the importance of the message, that is, the existence and oneness of God, communicated by Musa. Pharaoh thought that Musa suggested God was up in the air and knew that nothing would be seen once one ascends there. It was based on this premise that he founded his denial of Musa.

Recognizing the error of Pharaoh's understanding, the believer from Pharaoh's family, who had concealed his belief, started to explain the existence of God and the hereafter to Pharaoh and his people. He warned them against a never-ending torment. He summoned them to the right way and pleaded them to follow him:

The man who believed said, "My people! Follow me and I will guide you to the path of rectitude. My people! The life of the earth is only fleeting enjoyment. It is the hereafter, which is the abode of permanence. Whoever does an evil act will only be repaid with its equivalent. But whoever acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, such a person will enter Paradise, provided for in it without any reckoning. My people! How is it that I call you to salvation while you call me to the Fire? You call me to reject God and to associate something with Him about which I have no knowledge, while I call you to the Almighty, the Endlessly Forgiving. There is no question that what you call me to has no foundation neither in the world nor the hereafter, that our return is to God, and that the profligate will be Companions of the Fire. You will remember what I say to you. I consign my affair completely to God. Truly God sees His servants."

So God safeguarded him from the evil things they plotted and a most evil torment engulfed Pharaoh's people. (Qur'an, 40: 38-45)

Pharaoh and his companions did not heed the warnings of this devout believer who was from among them. Nevertheless, in return for their denial and their arrogance, a great torment awaited them.

The Name "Haman" In The Qur'an
Is Also Mentioned In The Ancient Egyptian Inscriptions

Some of the information the Qur'an provides about ancient Egypt reveals many historical facts that were not disclosed until recently. This information also indicates that every word in the Qur'an is used in accordance with divine reason.

"Haman" is another person, along with Pharaoh, whose name is mentioned in the Qur'an. In six separate verses, Haman is referred to as one of the closest men to Pharaoh.

Surprisingly however, we never encounter the name of Haman in that section of the Torah where the life of Musa is related. However, there is reference to Haman in the latter chapters of the Bible, as the counsellor of a Babylonian king, who lived approximately 1100 years after Pharaoh, and who was notorious for his cruelty against Jews.

Some non-Muslims, who claim the Qur'an to be a compilation of the Bible by the Prophet Muhammad (saas), allege the fallacy that the Prophet incorrectly copied some of the material from the Bible into the Qur'an.

However, this claim has been proven to be groundless, thanks to the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet approximately 200 years ago. Through this achievement, the name "Haman" was found in the ancient Egyptian inscriptions.

Until then, the writings and scrolls in the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs had remained unread. The language of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs had remained in use for many centuries, but with the spread of Christianity, and its ultimate cultural influence in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D, brought an end to the knowledge of it. The last example of the hieroglyphic writing known to us was a scroll dated 394 A.D. After this date, hieroglyphic had become an extinct language, leaving behind no one who could speak it until the 19th century.2

The mystery of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs was solved only in 1799, by the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, which dated back to 196 B.C. The use of three different languages made this stone decipherable: hieroglyphic, demotic (a simplified form of hieroglyphics used by the ordinary literate class) and Greek. The ancient Egyptian writings were decoded mainly by the help of the Greek script. The transcription was completed by a Frenchman, Jean-François Champollion, and an extinct language, as well as the history conveyed by it, had finally been brought to light. Thus, ancient Egyptian civilization, representing an entirely different religion and social life, was resurrected.3

Thanks to the decoding of hieroglyphic, we also attained an essential piece of information related to our subject: the name of "Haman" was indeed mentioned in the Egyptian texts. This name was inscribed on a monument displayed today in the Hof Museum of Vienna. The inscription also stressed the nearness of Haman to Pharaoh.4

In the "Dictionary of Personal Names of the New Kingdom," a dictionary based on the information gathered from a complete collection of scrolls, Haman is mentioned as "the chief of workers in the stone-quarries."5

Unlike the claims of its opponents, Haman was a person that had lived in Egypt at the time of Musa, just as was indicated in the Qur'an. Again, as mentioned in the Qur'an, he was a man close to Pharaoh who was responsible for construction projects.

Similarly, the verse conveying how Pharaoh asked Haman to build a tower is also in compliance with evidence in this archaeological finding:

Pharaoh said, "Council, I do not know of any other god for you apart from Me. Haman, kindle a fire for me over the clay and build me a lofty tower so that perhaps I may be able to climb up to Musa's god! I consider him a blatant liar." (Qur'an, 28: 38)

In conclusion, the existence of the name of Haman in the ancient Egyptian scrolls not only rendered these fabricated claims totally unfounded, but also reinforced the fact that the Qur'an is the infallible word of God. Miraculously, the Qur'an reveals to us a piece of historical information which had been otherwise impossible to attain or resolve during the time of the Prophet.

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2-"Hieroglyph," Britannica Online.
3- "Hieroglyph," Britannica Online.
4- Maurice Bucaille, Musa and Pharaoh:The Hebrews inEgypt, pp. 192-193.
5- Hermann Ranke, Die Ägyptischen Personennamen, Verzeichnis der Namen, Verlag Von J J Augustin in Glückstadt, Band I (1935).

 

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