Written by Muhammad Nuh | 08/22/2013 | 8111
Expert Magicians of Pharoah Lost and Accept IslamEstimated reading time: 6 minutes, 26 seconds
When Allah sends a Prophet, he equips them with miracles that challenge the people in their field of expertise. For the people of Egypt, this field was magic. It is said that even until today the people have not seen magic of the strength that was in Egypt during the time of Musa AS.
Firaun used to utilise this to control and dominate the minds of the people in society. The people were working with Firaun and children were often forced to learn this in specially designated schools and Firaun used this magic to control the people and keep them in fear and awe of his power and keep them under the delusion that he is God. The extent of fear that Musa AS inspired in the mind of Firaun is evident in the fact that to disprove Musa AS he didnt just call upon one or two expert magicians. He called all of the expert magicians from every city in Egypt. There are many different narrations so we don’t know how many there were, but Ibn Ishaq goes as far as saying there were 15000 but Ibn Abbas says there were 70. For simplicities sake, we will stick with 70.
Musa AS was challenged by Firaun to have a contest with the magicians that he would call. Musa AS selected the day of a festival in Egypt so that the people would gather and as many people as possible could witness Allah SWT’s miracle.
‘[Musa (Moses)] said: “Your appointed meeting is the day of the festival, and let the people assemble when the sun has risen (forenoon).” ‘ – Surah TaHa, ayaat 59
Firaun was so sure of Musa AS’s defeat that he agreed. He was even probably happy about the chosen date because he wanted to make an example out of Musa AS and therefore reinforce his authority over the people.
The motivation of Musa AS was not to defeat anyone. The motivation of Musa AS was simply to give dawah through the miracle of Allah. Therefore Musa AS warned the magicians.
‘Musa (Moses) said to them: “Woe unto you! Invent not a lie against Allah, lest He should destroy you completely by a torment. And surely, he who invents a lie (against Allah) will fail miserably.” ‘ – Surah TaHa, ayaat 61
These words were discussed by the magicians who gathered in the town before the meeting.
‘Then they debated with one another what they must do, and they kept their talk secret. They said: “Verily! These are two magicians. Their object is to drive you out from your land with magic, and overcome your chiefs and nobles.” So devise your plot, and then assemble in line. And whoever overcomes this day will be indeed successful.” ‘ – Surah TaHa, ayaat 62 – 64
Imagine at this time a field. At one end we have Musa AS and Haroon AS standing together. On the other side, we have what could have been 15000 magicians or at the least 70 magicians all gathered together in a line, ready and eager to win and earn the favour of Firaun. All of these magicians are experts in their field and hand selected for their ability. Surrounding this field watching as if it is a spectator sport are the people of Egypt, a huge crowd.
They asked Musa AS if he would throw down his staff first or would they throw down whatever was in their hands first? Musa AS responded that they could go first.
‘They said:”O Musa (Moses)! Either you throw first or we be the first to throw?” [Musa (Moses)] said: “Nay, throw you (first)!” Then behold, their ropes and their sticks, by their magic, appeared to him as though they moved fast.’ – Surah TaHa, ayaat 65 – 66
They threw down their sticks and ropes which began moving like snakes. The magic which they did were optical illusions designed to provoke a fear response. The people watching were certainly fearful. Musa AS was shaken for a brief moment, and in this moment, he turned to Allah SWT who responded with words of comfort.
‘So Musa (Moses) conceived a fear in himself. We (Allah) said: “Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand. “And throw that which is in your right hand! It will swallow up that which they have made. That which they have made is only a magician’s trick, and the magician will never be successful, no matter whatever amount (of skill) he may attain.” ‘ – Surah TaHa, ayaat 67 – 69
This is the effect Iman has on the heart of a believer. Doubts and fears are natural and expected. They will come when you are tested by Allah SWT. But the true believer is able to suppress them and seek comfort from Allah SWT. Remember the fear reaction when Musa AS threw down his staff the first time on the mountain side? Notice the change in the heart of Musa AS as he did not let on at all that he was afraid, but taking comfort from the words of Allah he threw down the staff in his hand, which took the form of a snake.
Where the work of the magicians was all optical illusion, the miracles of Allah are not optical illusions. The staff had become a snake. To the magicians who knew the limits of their ability they knew that try as they might, their tricks were just that, tricks. Only Allah SWT has the ability to give life to dead and inanimate things. The magicians immediately understood that what they were witnessing was not magic.
‘So the magicians fell down prostrate. They said: “We believe in the Lord of Harun (Aaron) and Musa (Moses).” ‘ – Surah TaHa, ayaat 70.
Firaun immediately became fearful of what had happened and rebuked them. They magicians responded in a way that makes me praise Allah for the change he inspired in them.
‘[Fir'aun (Pharaoh)] said: “Believe you in him [Musa (Moses)] before I give you permission? Verily! He is your chief who taught you magic. So I will surely cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you on the trunks of date-palms, and you shall surely know which of us [I (Fir'aun - Pharaoh) or the Lord of Musa (Moses) (Allah)] can give the severe and more lasting torment.”. They said: “We prefer you not over the clear signs that have come to us, and to Him (Allah) Who created us. So decree whatever you desire to decree, for you can only decree (regarding) this life of the world. ”Verily! We have believed in our Lord, that He may forgive us our faults, and the magic to which you did compel us. And Allah is better as regards reward in comparison to your [Fir'aun's (Pharaoh)] reward, and more lasting (as regards punishment in comparison to your punishment).” ‘ – Surah TaHa
These magicians have travelled far and wide to come seeking the reward of Firaun and wealth and status. Now they realise the triviality of the life of this world, they despair of the reward of Firaun and turn towards who they recognise is their true lord, Allah SWT. These people are willing not only to sacrifice the wealth on offer but also their lives for what they now believe in. If our iman does not transform us in this way then we have to recognise the weakness in our iman.
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