And We showed Pharaoh all Our Signs, but he did reject and refuse. (56) He said: “Hast thou come to drive us out of our land with thy magic O Moses? (57) “But we can surely produce magic to match thine! So make a tryst between us and thee, which we shall not fail to keep― neither we nor thou― in a place where both shall have even chances.” (58) Moses said: “Your tryst is the Day of the Festival, and let the people be assembled when the sun is well up.” (59) So Pharaoh withdrew: he concerted his plan, and then came (back). (60) Moses said to them: “Woe to you! Forge not ye a lie against Allah, lest He destroy you (at once) utterly by chastisement: the forger must suffer frustration!” (61) So they disputed, one with another, over their affair, but they kept their talk secret. (62) 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. (63) “Therefore concert your plan, and then assemble in (serried) ranks: he wins (all along) today who gains the upper hand.” (64) They said: “O Moses! Whether wilt thou that thou throw (first) or that we be the first to throw?” (65) He said, “Nay throw ye first!” Then behold their ropes and their rods― so it seemed to him on account of their magic― began to be in lively motion! (66) So Moses conceived in his mind a (sort of) fear. (67) We said: “Fear not! For thou hast indeed the upper hand: (68) “Throw that which is in thy 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.” (69) So the magicians were thrown down to prostration: they said, “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.” (70) (Pharaoh) said: “Believe ye 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 ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting Punishment!” (71) They said: “Never shall we regard thee as more than the Clear Signs that have come to us or than Him Who created us! So decree whatever thou desirest to decree: for thou canst only decree (touching) the life of this world. (72) For us we have believed in our Lord: may He forgive us our faults, and the magic to which thou didst compel us: for Allah is Best and Most Abiding.” (73) Verily he who comes to his Lord as a sinner (at judgment)― for him is Hell: therein shall he neither die nor live. (74) But such as comes to Him as Believers who have worked righteous deeds–for them are ranks exalted― (75) Gardens of Eternity, beneath which flow rivers: they will dwell therein for aye: such is the reward of those who purify themselves (from evil). (76)
Excerpted, translated and paraphrased from the Tafseer of Dr. Farhat Hashmi:
The pharaoh is enraged……………… (Part of this story from the Quran is elsewhere on this blog)
His advisors are confident that Moses (AS) and Aaron (Haroon AS) are both magicians and after conferring with his advisors, Pharaoh throws the gauntlet in front of Moses (AS) confident of his win.
There is to be a match in the Festival Grounds on the Day of the Egyptian Festival, which draws thousands of people from the surrounding cities and villages.
The match is set for a time when there is broad daylight. When Moses (AS) arrives at the festival grounds with his gentle brother Aaron (Haroon AS) the festival grounds are lined with Pharaoh’s army, arranged by their tribes and color. The pitch-black tall Nubians army next to the fair skinned Egyptians with sharp features and every hue in between. Each army of color is dressed in elaborate regalia. The generals distinguished by their elaborate headdresses of steel depicting snakes and beasts to strike fear in the heart of the onlooker.
The Magicians of the Pharaohs arrive and Moses (AS) who has made dua to Allah Subhanawataala to loosen his tongue speaks to the entire packed field of people and the magician of ONE God the one who has created them and the one who will turn them to dust.
The people as well as the Magician are affected by this message and some of the magicians are hesitant about the match. One look at the multicolored army lining the festival grounds, the Pharaoh perched in his elaborate throne surrounded by his advisors squelches all thoughts of dissent.
The announcement is called, the confrontation must begin.
Moses (AS) asks the magicians to go first, and they do. There is a collective gasp as the crowd steps back for out of the hands of the magicians come hundreds of snakes, writhing, evil and predatory. They rapidly spread all over the field……….
For a split second a smidgeon of a fear-like emotion touches Moses (AS) but is immediately followed by the calm brought by the reassurance from His Lord who removes all fear and strengthens him giving him the first set of instructions that are to change the history of Egypt forever…………
I am at the Pyramids of Giza; the guide says there are twenty-three of them maybe more. I look at the vast desert and imagine the Day of the Festival, Moses (AS), tall, lank with dark straight hair, with his gentle brother Aaron facing the multihued soldiers and a crowd of thousands as far as the eye can see.
I think of the dissent in the magicians caused by the effect of the message of Allah spoken by Moses (AS) I think of his bravery and resilience and the deep and abiding faith in Allah Subhanawataala that allows him to stand without fear in front of the most powerful man on earth the Pharaoh!
Moses (AS) speaks fluently and the crowd listens ………he invites the crowd and the magician to look around them for the signs of their Creator, the natural bounties of Allah, and reflect how they are born, they live and how they are returned to dust………by His will!
Looking at the pyramids standing in the dust a heap of rocks with no life that is what I am reminded………….all is returned to dust!
Moses (AS) as instructed and trained earlier on Mount Tuwa throws his staff on the sandy ground and suddenly it wriggles stretches and rises into the shape of a huge snake, which wriggles with speed in pursuit of the hundreds of snakes writhing all over the sands of the Festival grounds.
As the people, the army and the magician’s watch in horror, this huge snake morphed from the staff of Moses (AS) begins to swallow the writhing snakes one by one till none remains…..
There is a hush in the crowd and suddenly the Magicians, every single one of them fall to the ground as if thrown into prostration by an invisible hand and cry out “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses”
The Pharaoh stands up enraged because not only have his magician reneged on him but also there are cries from the public stands where people have fallen into prostration and crying out their belief in one God the God of Moses and Aaron.
Shaking with anger as no one has ever seen him, The Pharaohs rage has no bounds and he begins with the description of the torture that awaits the magicians who have obeyed another without his permission. He begins with pointing his finger at Moses (AS) and decry’s him as the leader of the magicians.
I am inside the largest Pyramid, the Sarcophagus lies empty………. Dust to dust, and yet the Nafs when one is alive is such a potent force that it can program the brain to veil the heart from all spirituality. To such a degree that no word of goodness or mercy enters it.
The Nafs of the Pharaoh like all those in power is well fed and strong and forces and subjugates and oppresses others. Power begets absolute arrogance…
Thus it is for the Pharaoh of Egypt in ancient history and thus it for the Pharaohs of current history. Only the names are different the actions are very similar. So how does one control the fattening of the Nafs………..? The answer to that is in a lifetime of struggle called “Tazkiyah Nafs”
The Pharaoh in excruciating details describes what is going to be done to the Magicians. The description of the torture is such that even his soldiers are shaking with fear.
WHEN FEARS OR DOUBT SHAKES US SAY:
Even though Allah Subhanawataala has entered our hearts yet at times fear of external forces threatens the faith in our heart and we say as Allah Subhanawataala has instructed us to say:
“Our Lord!” (They say), “let not our hearts deviate now after Thou hast guided us, but grant us mercy from Thee: for Thou art the Grantor of bounties without measure. (3:8)
رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغۡ قُلُوبَنَا بَعۡدَ إِذۡ هَدَيۡتَنَا وَهَبۡ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحۡمَةًۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلۡوَهَّابُ (٨)
As the fearful description of the torture that awaits the magicians thunders out in the enraged voice of the Pharaoh, some of the people in the stands are petrified with fear, but others in prostration accepting the might of Allah, seem to have no fear.
After all these years of slavery they have found the strength to break the chains of oppression and have bowed down to the Lord of the Worlds who unlike the Pharaoh is Almighty and Merciful.
The Pharaoh, eyes blazing and lips curled with arrogance, orders torture for the magicians. He says: Their one arm and opposite leg will be cut off making them completely helpless, they will be nailed to the tree trunks not only by their hands but their entire body, allowing life to seeps out slowly one painful moment at a time. He looks in the eye of the Magician nearest him as he defies the God of Moses and Aaron and says:
” So shall ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting Punishment!”? (20:71)
When faced with an oppressor that shakes our heart about the justice on the Day of Judgment we say:
رَبَّنَآ إِنَّكَ جَامِعُ ٱلنَّاسِ لِيَوۡمٍ۬ لَّا رَيۡبَ فِيهِۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يُخۡلِفُ ٱلۡمِيعَادَ (٩)
“Our Lord! Thou art He that will gather mankind together against a day about which there is no doubt: for Allah never fails in His promise.” (3:9)
When the love and faith in Allah enters the heart all else exits. This happens to the magicians. The detailed descriptions of the torture that waits them, is turning the soldiers and the advisors of the Pharaoh pale with fright. It does not appear to touch them.
Their reply further enrages the Pharaoh, as they say:
They said: “Never shall we regard thee as more than the Clear Signs that have come to us or than Him Who created us! So decree whatever thou desirest to decree: for thou canst only decree (touching) the life of this world. (20:72)
For us we have believed in our Lord: may He forgive us our faults, and the magic to which thou didst compel us: for Allah is Best and Most Abiding.” (20:73)
We shall never know for certain what happens to the magicians, because the Quran does not elaborate on that with reference to them.
What ever happens to them is not wasted as Allah Subhanawataala in the following verse describes the place of the sinners who like The Pharaoh die sinning. He summarizes it in one sentence with such depth of meaning.
Verily he who comes to his Lord as a sinner (at judgment)― for him is Hell: therein shall he neither die nor live. (20:74)
Hell is described as where one can neither live nor die. The excruciating pain of being in Hell is such that one cannot live with it and yet one does not die of it.
As I am thinking of the magicians I read the next verse……….
It opens a window that will put Sakeena (peace and tranquility) in the hearts of all those who are suffering torture in the prisons of the oppressors for deeds done for the sake of Allah.
Allah Subhanawataala makes a beautiful promise (I think this includes the brave magicians who declared their Shahada in front of the oppressor despite death from torture staring them in the eye):
He Subhanawataala says:
But such as comes to Him as Believers who have worked righteous deeds–for them are ranks exalted― (20:75)
Gardens of Eternity, beneath which flow rivers: they will dwell therein for aye: such is the reward of those who purify themselves (from evil). (20:76)
Ameen…..may we deserve the Gardens of eternal peace as our final abode.
Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him, used to pray these duas regularly after Salah:
SUPPLICATION: (from Hisnul Muslim: Fortification of the Believer)
اللّهُـمَّ أَجِرني مِنْ النَّار. (a)
“Allaahumma ajirnee minan-naar.”
“Ô Allaah grant me safety from hell fire.”
اللّهُـمَّ أجِرني مِنْ النَّار. اللّهُـمَّ إِنِّي أسألُكَ الجَنَّة، (b)
“Allaahumma innee as’alukal- jannah, allaahumma ajirnee minan-naar.”
“Ô Allaah I ask you jannah, Ô Allaah grant me safety from hell fire.”