The Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) and his family settled in Egypt. They were called the Israelites. Gradually they increased in number and gained considerable power. These Israelites did not intermingle with other native people. They remained isolated and were considered as foreigners in Egypt.
Cruel Act of Pharaoh in respect of Israelites:
At that time Egypt was ruled by the king Fir’aun (Pharaoh). He was arrogant, tyrant and powerful. He thought himself to be god. In their kingdom the people led miserable lives. They were forced to work as slaves. They were chained and whipped if they refused to work. The Israelites were looked down upon in that society. They suffered badly due to destitution and indigence. Some of them grew weak and died of starvation. When Pharaoh noticed that the Israelites were increasing in number, he was much alarmed. He held discussions with his counsellors on this topic. They decided that Israelites should be snubbed. They should not be allowed to become powerful and supreme in the land. They planned to oppress and persecute them in different ways. Pharaoh ordered that all male children born in the families of the Israelites should be put to death. This tyrannical act of Pharaoh against the Israelites has been described in the following Verses of the Holy Qur’an:
“Surely Fir’aun exalted himself in the land and divided its people into parties, oppressing one party from among them by killing their sons and sparing their women. Surely he was one of the mischief-makers.” (28:3, 5)
When the people heard those terrible orders they were much upset. The soldiers started complying with the orders of their king. Whenever they got wind of the male baby born to any family, they would yank him out of his mother’s arms. They did not care for the feelings of the crying mothers. They used to throw the infants mercilessly into the river. It was an awful act of cruelty but no one dared to disobey the orders of Pharaoh because every one was much scared of him. Many innocent babies were drowned in this way and numerous unfortunate parents expressed lamentations over the death of their dear ones.
The Prophet Musa (Moses) Enclosed into Chest and Cast into the River:
In that era one of the Israelite woman gave birth to a male baby who was: extremely beautiful. The mother thought that the soldiers of Pharaoh would soon find him out. They would throw him to the fish in the river. God revealed to her to be patient and not to be frightened. She was communicated the glad-tidings that her son would become an Apostle. The newly born baby was named Musa (Moses). He was very attractive. His mother fed and concealed him for a few months. When she was unable to hide him any longer, God guided her saying:
“And We revealed to Musa’s mother saying: Give him suck. When you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear nor grieve, surely We will restore him to you and make him one of the apostles.” (28: 7)
The same direction is expressed in other Verses:
“Call to mind the occasion when We revealed to your mother: Put him into the chest and cast it down into the river, then the river shall throw him on the shore; then shall take him up to one who is an enemy to Me and enemy to him and I cast down upon you love From Me and that you may be brought up before My eyes.” (20:38-39)
When the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) had attained the age of a few months, his mother got made a very tight box. She put a blanket in the box. She lifted her affectionate son and kissed him again and again. She put him in the box with tears in her eyes. Her heart was beating violently. She pushed the box into the water when it was still dark. The box moved slowly on the surface of the water. His sister watched the box at a distance but the mother went back home wailing and sobbing. She was full of anxiety due to the separation of her beloved baby.
The Prophet Musa’s sister was hiding from place to place along the shore of the river. She was constantly watching the box and praying for the safety of her brother. The box went on moving and gradually came near the shore. Some People were washing their clothes at the shore. By chance they saw the box floating slowly. They waded through the water and picked up the box. They were greatly surprised to see a beautiful infant enclosed in the box. He had a smiling countenance.
The Prophet Musa Grows up in Pharaoh’s House:
The people took the box to Pharaoh and his family. All of them were full of excitement. The Prophet Musa’s sister followed them but no one recognised her. The wife of Pharaoh fell in love with the baby. She decided to make him her own son:
“And Fir’aun’s wife said: Joy of the eye to me and to you, do not slay him, may be he will be useful to us or we may take him for a son. But they knew not what they did.” (28: 10)
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) became awfully hungry. He began to cry out of hunger. The baby was handed over to a woman who was appointed to nurse him. He did not take her breast and kept on weeping. Every one was in a fix what to do. The sister of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) who was standing near remarked: May I bring a woman whom the baby requires? She was directed to go immediately and call her. She rushed towards her house and informed her mother of the whole situation. She requested her mother to accompany her to Pharaoh’s house. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was still crying due to hunger. The mother gave him her breast. He was much pleased and drank milk to his heart’s content. Pharaoh’s wife requested the mother of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) to stay with them and nurse him. The Holy Qur’an states:
“So We restored him to his mother that her eyes might be refreshed and that she might not grieve and that she might know that the promise of Allah is true but most of them do not know.” (28: 13)
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was brought up in Pharaoh’s house like a prince. His mother was taking care of him and he was the apple of her eye. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) learnt a great deal about Pharaoh and his indecent ways of life. He came to know about his cruel treatment towards Israelites. Although he led a luxurious life yet deep inside his heart he had pains.
An Egyptian is Killed by Prophet Musa:
One day he saw an Israelite fighting hard with one of the men of the King. They were shouting and hitting each other. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) appeared on the scene. He tried to pacify them. When he saw that the Egyptian was not going to spare him in spite of several requests, he lifted up his stick and hit the man of the King. The man became dizzy and fell to the ground with a bang. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and his companions stepped forward to support the man but he was limp like a rag. Soon after he passed away.
The Prophet Musa Repents:
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) felt sorry for what had happened. It was an accidental and not intentional act. One blow of the stick is quite insufficient to cause the death of a person. His head was twirling. He called his action as a devil’s doing who misled human beings. He realised his mistake and prayed for Divine protection. The Holy Qur’an states:
“He found therein two men fighting, one being of his party and the other of his foes and he who was of his party cried out to him for help against him who was of his enemies. Musa struck him with his fist and despatched him. He said: This is of the devil’s doing; surely he is an open enemy leading astray. He said: My Lord: Surely l have done harm to myself, so, You should protect me.” (18: 18)
The Prophet Musa’s Migration and Marriage:
Soon the news of the murder of a man spread far and wide. The people flew into a rage. They hatched a plan to kill the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him). He became scared and was directed to migrate to another place. The Holy Qur’an states:
“A man came running from the remotest part of the City. He said: 0′ Musa Surely the Chiefs are consulting together to slay you. Therefore, begone at once. Surely I counsel you as a friend.” (28:19)
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) packed up his luggage and left Pharaoh’s house in the pitch dark when every one was enjoying a sound sleep. He reached Madian after a long tiresome journey. He sat down to take rest near a watering place.
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) saw two young girls waiting at a distance. Their sheep were standing near the spring for drinking water. The Prophet Musa (peace he upon him) thought that the girls needed some help. Although he was tired and hungry yet he wished to help them. He went up to the girls and asked if they needed help. The girls were modest and bashful. They said that they were waiting so that the shepherds might go away. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) drove the sheep to the spring to drink water. It was a kind act of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him). The girls expressed a deep sense of gratitude for this favour. They took their sheep and proceeded towards their house. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) went back to rest. He became depressed and prayed to Almighty Allah to help him. In the meanwhile two women came to him and said:
“My father invites you so that he may give you the reward of your having watered for us.” (28:24)
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) accompanied them. When be entered the house, he introduced himself politely; Soon after he dined with the members of the family. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was asked to stay with them. The time passed on happily. One day the master of the house said:
“I desire to marry one of these two daughters of mine to you on the condition that you should serve me for eight years but if you complete ten, it will be of your own free will, and I do not wish to be hard on you. If Allah pleases, you will find me one of good. He said: This will be an agreement between you and me. whichever of the two terms I fulfil, there shall be no wrong doing to me and Allah is a witness of what we say.” (28:27, 28)
According to the agreement Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) got married to one of the girls of that family. He took care of the farm and the sheep efficiently. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) had been away from his family for many years. He missed his kith and kin. One day he set out on a journey from Madian. His family accompanied him.
The Call of Prophet Musa to Prophethood:
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) crossed the sandy desert and reached the mountain, Tur. He perceived a brilliant light from a distance. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) thought that to be fire land reached near it to warm himself. All of a sudden a voice was-heard from the right side of the Valley. It uttered:
“Surely. I am your Lord: so put off your shoes because you are in the sacred Valley which is blessed twice I have chosen you; so hearken to what shall be revealed: Verily, I am Allah, there is no god but I, therefore serve-Me-and keep up prayers for My remembrance.” (10: 22)
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was puzzled and scared. The thing which looked like fire was not fire in the real sense of the word but it was the reflection of the glory of God. It was a moment of great honour for the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him).
Some Miracles of Prophet Musa:
God commanded Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) to throw the stick that was in his hand on the ground. He threw the stick in compliance with the orders. To his surprise he saw the stick moving like a long wiggling snake and it greatly scared him. He thought that it was going to bite him. God directed the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) not to lose courage and pick up the snake. He obeyed and caught hold of the terrible looking snake. When he touched it, it was restored to its former shape. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was much amazed to see those happenings.
Soon afterwards God ordered the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) to thrust his hand into his armpit. He did so. When he took out his hand, it was shining white when he put his hand back into his armpit and pulled it out it had been changed into its normal position.
Allah, the Almighty made the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) to perform those miracles so that he might feel better and become sure of the existence of Allah and His power. He was going to derive benefits out of such miracles in future.
The Prophet Musa Settles in Egypt Again:
Allah commanded the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) to go to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from Pharaoh and reform his depraved people. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was not good at arguing. He had an impediment in his tongue to speak freely. He sought permission from Allah to take his brother Prophet Harun with him as an aider because he was an eloquent speaker. The permission was immediately granted.
The Prophet Musa Argues with Pharaoh:
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) settled with his family in Egypt. They went to Pharaoh to argue with him. They conveyed him the message of Allah but he made fun of them. He did not lose heart and kept on preaching. The king and his people were not convinced. Finally in desperation, the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) said: 0′ King! Do you like me to show you that my message is true? He replied in affirmative with an unbelieving smile on his face. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) threw his stick on the ground and it changed its shape as a terrible looking snake. The people were wonder-struck and got scared of it. When the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) picked it up, it became a stick again. Every one was much amazed. Then the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) put his hand in his armpit. When he got it out, his hand was shining brilliantly. The Holy Qur’an states:
“Then he threw down his staff and lo! it was an obvious serpent. And he drew forth his hand and lo! it appeared white to the beholders.” (26:32)
The Prophet Musa Contests with Magicians:
The Chiefs said that the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was an enchanter. He intended to turn the minds of the people. Pharaoh was much worried. He feared lest people should begin to follow him. He fixed a special day for contest between the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and other magicians. He sent collectors in various parts of the country to bring enchanters to hold competition and prevail upon the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him). He promised to reward the winners.
On the appointed day thousands of people gathered there. There was a great deal of excitement. Every one was eager to see the performances of the magicians of the king and the miracles of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him). First of all the royal magicians threw their sticks. They moved and looked like snakes from a distance. They deceived the eyes of the people and frightened them. The people were much surprised. They appreciated the magicians for their astonishing performances. Soon after the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) cast his stick. The stick became a hungry serpent by the order of Allah. It wiggled and moved like a dart. It devoured every moving stick that the magician had thrown. The spectators were much impressed. Some of the priests thought that such miracles could be done only by the order of Allah. Most of the magicians drew back humiliated and prostrated themselves adoring. They said: We believe in the Lord of the Worlds; the Lord of Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun (peace be upon them).
On seeing this state of affairs Pharaoh was much worried. He became mad with rage because his men were inclined to follow the Prophet Musa peace be upon him) and adopt his new religion. He threatened them of dire consequences. He said:
“I shall certainly cut off your hands and your feet on opposite side, then I will crucify you altogether. (7: 124)
Persecution of Prophet Musa slid his followers:
Pharaoh and his men began to persecute the followers of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him). The Israelites remained patient. They began to worship and glorify God in their homes. They kept praying to God. They said:
“O’ Our Lord! Make us not subject to persecution of the unjust people, and deliver us by Your mercy from the unbelieving people.” (20: 86)
When the Israelites were under the burden of hardships and sufferings, Allah ordered the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) to leave the area with his followers. He promised to save them. In compliance with the Commandment of Allah the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) directed his people to migrate secretly to another place.
The Prophet Musa Leaves Egypt:
When it was dark, a scanty band of the Israelites left Egypt. They took all precautionary measures to escape from the eye-sight of the guards. They moved as fast as they could with firm conviction that they would he saved by Allah. Next day the residence of the Israelites were found desolate and without hustle and bustle. Pharaoh was informed. He lost his temper and sent heralds to chase the absconders. He wanted to take revenge of his disgrace. He ordered his soldiers to arrest the Israelites and bring them back. When the followers of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) were near the sea-shore, they heard the sound of the hoofs of their horses. They were much frightened. They thought that they would be overtaken and punished by the enemies.
The Sea Splits and Pharaoh is Drowned:
When the Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and his followers were being chased Allah revealed this order to him:
“Strike the sea with the rod; and it clove asunder and each part become like a large mountain.” (26: 60)
The water of the sea went up high with the great uproar. The bottom of the sea turned into dry land. It was an amazing miracle. The people could hardly believe their eyes. The Israelites ran desperately and went far ahead. Pharaoh and his huge army chased them in hostility. There was a great uproar again. The water from both the sides poured. It rushed over Pharaoh and his soldiers. They were completely drowned. The Holy Qur’an relates this incident in the following Verses:
“And We made the children of Israel to pass through the sea, then Fir’aun and his hosts followed them in hostility and for oppression until when drowning overtook him, he said: I believe that there is no god but He in Whom the children of Israel believe and I am of those who submit. What now! said God, and indeed you have been rebellious and was of the mischief makers. But this day We save you in your body so that you may be a sign to those after you and most surely most people are heedless of Our Signs”. (20:90-92)
The body of Fir’aun is still present in the Egyptian Museum as an admonitory sign to those who are transgressors.
When Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and thousands of his followers got rid of Pharaoh, they expressed a deep sense of gratitude to Allah. They had witnessed an impressive miracle. Now they were free to live according to the teachings of Allah.
The Prophet Musa Receives Instructions:
Allah commanded Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) to go to a certain mountain for austerity. He had to stay there for forty days. During this period Allah, the Almighty gave a lot of religious knowledge to Prophet Musa (peace be upon him). He gave him the tablets which contained ten Commandments. One day he (Musa) said:
“My Lord! Show me Thyself so that I may look upon Thee. He said’: you cannot bear to see Me but look at the mountain, if it remains firm in its place, then you will see Me. When his Lord manifested His glory to the mountain He made it crumble and Musa fell down in swoon. When he recovered, he said: Glory be to You: I turn to You and! am the first of believers”. C7:142)
At the end of the appointed time Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) went to his people to tell them about the revelations which he had received.
Israelites Worship the Calf:
The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) was much grieved to know that his followers had become addicted to praying to the cow instead of Allah. Whenever his brother Prophet Harun (peace be upon him) forbade them to do so, they made fun of him. Sometimes they tortured him. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) tried hard to uproot this form of idolatry from the hearts of the Israelites. Some men who had gone astray, repented but most of them insisted on worshipping a cow. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) said to his people:
“Surely, Allah commands you that you should sacrifice a cow.” (2: 71)
Most of them did so hesitatingly but the others refused. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) kept on conveying the people the new message of God.
One season came there was hardly any rain. It overtook the people with draughts and diminution of fruit. There was an acute shortage of water and food. The people began to die of starvation. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) prayed to Allah and He provided them with eatables. Water was not available in the area. They approached Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) for help. He prayed to Allah for a miracle. Allah directed the Prophet to hit a special high cliff with his stick. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) touched the cliff saying: By the name of our Lord, Almighty Allah. At once the water gushed forth. There were twelve places in that cliff from which sprang out cool clear water. The people were much amazed at the sight of this wonderful miracle. The Holy Qur’an states:
“And when Musa prayed for drink for his people, We said: Smite with your staff the rock, and there gushed out therefrom twelve springs so that each tribe knew their drinking place: Eat and drink of that which Allah has provided and do not act corruptly making mischief in the earth.” (2: 60)
The Israelites were of twelve branches each a descendant of a son of Prophet Ya’qub (peace be upon him). So each branch came to drink from one of the springs of water from that cliff. The people drank water to their hearts content. They do not have to shove and push for the water because Allah gave them twelve springs.
Israelites Win Victory and Prosper:
After staying in the desert for some time Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) planned to proceed towards the blessed land, Palestine. The Prophet Musa ( peace be upon him) sent twelve men in advance to go and had a bird’s eye view of the blessed land. They came back after many days. They told him that there were fertile farms and green trees. There was plenty of water. It made every one eager to go there. It was also reported that the owners of the blessed land were strong and brave. They had invincible armies. It was impossible to capture that land without fighting. The Israelites were much terrified because they were weak and armless. The Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and a small group of Israelites wished to fight tooth and nail whereas most of them did not agree to fighting. Some of them said to Prophet Musa (peace be upon him): You go with your God and fight against them. We will stay here and wait.
As the years passed, they increased in number. They gained strength gradually. They formed a small army of their own and marched with faith in their hearts towards the rich blessed land. They fought hard and became victorious in the battle. They became the rulers of Palestine. The inhabitants of that land lived with them in peace and harmony. Allah showered favours on Israelites and they began to prosper wonderfull.