Fir’oun’s oppression and tyranny did not exempt even his wife, Hadhrat Aasiyah (rahmatullah alayha). She had accepted Imaan in secret with Hadhrat Haroon (alayhis salaam). She was from Bani Israaeel. She had accepted Imaan after Fir’oun had tortured and brutally killed the wife of his treasurer who had concealed his Imaan for a hundred years. His name was Kharbeel bin Nauhabeel. He had met the companions of the companions of Nabi Yusuf (alayhis salaam). In other words, he was a Taabi-ee of Nabi Yusuf (alayhis salaam). He and his wife were Mu’min. His wife was the chaperon of Fir’oun’s daughter. Once while she was combing the girl’s hair, the comb slipped from her hand. Saying ‘Bismillaah’ the chaperon picked up the comb. Fir’oun’s daughter was stunned by this exclamation. She asked: “Is there another god besides my father?”
Kharbeel’s wife (the chaperon) said: “My God, the God of your father and the God of the heavens and the earth is the One God Who has no partners.” The princess hastened to report to her father what had happened. Fir’oun summoned the chaperon and demanded an explanation. She repeated what she had said to his daughter. When Fir’oun ordered her to renege from her Deen, she emphatically refused. Then began the process of torture.
Four steel spikes were driven through her body and she was impaled on the ground. Snakes and scorpions were let loose on to her. She was then ordered to renounce Imaan and she would be set free. But she refused. Her infant son was brought and slaughtered on top of her. As the baby’s rooh (soul) took flight, it said to its mother: “O Mother! Have sabr (patience).”
Aasiyah had witnessed this brutality and by Allah’s permission had heard the soul of the baby speaking to its mother. This was the episode which led to her acceptance of Imaan. When Fir’oun discovered that Hadhrat Aasiyah had embraced the Deen of Nabi Musa and was worshipping Allah, he summoned her into his presence and interrogated her. She said: “O Fir’oun! You are the most contemptible and most despicable person in creation. Who tortured and killed the chaperon.” Fir’oun said: “It appears that the insanity of the chaperon has afflicted you.” Aasiyah said: “There is no insanity afflicting me. Verily, my God, her God, your God and the God of the heavens and the earth is the One God Who has no partner.”
Fir’oun tore her garments and struck her. He sent for her parents to admonish her. The pleading of her parents had no effect on Aasiyah. She resolutely proclaimed the Kalimah Tauheed. Fir’oun endeavoured to tempt her with wealth, and he said: “O Aasiyah! Abandon the religion of Musa otherwise I shall chastise you severely. If you abandon the religion of Musa, I shall erect for you a palace of gold and silver and bestow all my wealth to you. If you refuse and choose to retain the religion of Musa, I shall have you skinned alive.”
Imaan was entrenched in her heart. The degree of her yaqeen made her Imaan unshakeable. She fearlessly said: “O Firoun! I shall need your gold and silver palace and wealth only if in Jannat my Rabb will deny me palaces of yaqoot and zamard (these are precious stones in Jannat). I shall fear your fire only if my Rabb has not prepared for me the wonderful bounties of Jannat – the lush orchards and cool rivers. Since all these bounties have been prepared for me, why should I worship a weak paralyzed being such as you?”
Fir’oun’s rage overwhelmed him. He summoned the executioner and ordered: “Undress this woman, then skin her alive; then lay her prostrate on the ground and knock spikes through her body. Place a huge tray of fire on her breast. When the torture commenced, Hadhrat Aasiyah supplicated: “O my Rabb! Erect for me a mansion by You in Jannat…’ – (Qur’aan) At that time, Allah Ta’ala removed all veils and displayed Jannat to her. He unravelled such spiritual mysteries and His Proximity to her, that she was deriving immense delight from the torture. This is the Qudrat (Power) of Allah Ta’ala.
Just as Nabi Ibraaheem (alayhis salaam) found the fire of Namrood a cool garden, so too did Hadhrat Aasiyah find the torture of Fir’oun. Her joyous laughter mystified and perplexed Fir’oun. He approached and asked her the reason for her ‘insane’ laughter while she was undergoing such terrible punishment. Harshly she barked: “O Evil One! Get away from me. You can never understand the joy and delight of Divine Proximity which I am right now experiencing.”
Frustrated and angered beyond limit, Fir’oun ordered a huge boulder to be placed on her to crush her to death. As the boulder was being lowered on her, her gracious rooh (soul) too flight from her earthly body and returned to the highest levels of Divine Proximity.
The following interesting episode is recorded in Tafseer Mawaahib Ladunniyah:
A man by the name Zakiel, a carpenter by trade, was a member of Fir’oun’s race. He was the same person who had constructed the casket in which Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) was placed when he was a baby, and the casket deposited into the River Nile to escape the tentacles of Fir’oun. One day, he admonished his people for denying the truth of Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam). When this was reported to Fir’oun, orders were issued to apprehend Zakiel When he was ushered into Fir’oun’s presence, Zakiel proclaiming the truth admonished Fir’oun. Fir’oun ordered him to be immediately put to death. As attempts were made to kill him, he disappeared from sight.
Zakiel miraculously landed on a mountain. He remained there and engrossed himself in ibaadat. Fir’oun sent a party of soldiers to search for him. After sometime when the soldiers reached the mountain and saw Zakiel engrossed in ibaadat, they observed that on all sides there were lions and wolves prowling and guarding Zakiel. The soldiers were astonished at this scene and reported the matter to Fir’oun. Fir’oun instructed them to maintain silence and not to inform others because this type of information adds strength to the Deen of Musaa (alayhis salaam).
Meanwhile Fir’oun’s advisers and henchmen were goading Fir’oun to kill Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam). Narrating their mischief, the Qur’aan says: “A group from the nation of Fir’oun said:”Will you leave Musa and his people to spread anarchy in the land and to abandon you and your gods?” The ‘gods’ mentioned in this Qur’aanic aayat were the idols, the smaller gods’ while Fir’oun had elevated himself to be the ‘great god’. They advised Fir’oun to have Musa (alayhis salaam) put to death. Fir’oun, however, said to himself: “It is not possible to kill Musa nor to apprehend him.” To placate his people, he said: “We shall kill their sons and leave alive their females.” He assured his people that he would prevail over Musa and Bani Israaeel.
Although Fir’oun was at this time not inclined to again initiate a mass slaughter of Bani Israaeel, he was pressurized by his people to unleash a reign of terror. Thousands of male children of Bani Israaeel were once again slaughtered. Bani Israaeel was overwhelmed with grief. They came complaining to Musaa (alayhis salaam). They wailed and poured out their hearts with grief. They cried and said: ‘O Musa! We were persecuted before you came to us and even after you have come to us.” In fact, they pointed out that since his arrival from Madyan, the persecution has increased. Thousands of babies were torn from their mothers and put to death. Musa (alayhis salaam) was also overwhelmed with grief. He cried profusely. In this state of grief, he entered his closure of worship and supplicated to Allah Ta’ala. Allah Ta’ala accepted his supplication, and then commenced the series of punishments which overtook Fir’oun and his nation.
The very moment Musa (alayhis salaam) invoked Allah’s curse on Fir’oun and his people, the heavens became intensely dark. Within a short time the whole of Egypt as engulfed in darkness. A fierce storm erupted with cyclones and rains lashing the country for seven days. All the houses of the Copts were destroyed. Thousands of Fir’oun’s people were killed in this mighty storm. Their bodies were floating in heaps on the floodwaters.
Allah Ta’ala demonstrated His Qudrat by protecting Bani Israaeel from the storm. While the storm was ravaging all the areas of the Copts, the sun was pleasantly shining nearby in all places where there were the homes of Bani Israaeel. Not a single one of Bani Israaeel was affected by this punishment.
The people of Fir’oun understood that the storm was a punishment from Allah Ta’ala. They sent a delegation to plead with Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam), promising to accept his Deen if he supplicated for the cessation of the storm. Without the slightest hesitation Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) made dua. The storm abated immediately and the sun began to shine pleasantly.
After the ending of the punishment, Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) went to Fir’oun’s people and reminded them of their promise. They mockingly said: “We have seen this type of sorcery before as well.” They jeered Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) and rejected him.
Almost immediately after their rejection, the whole of Egypt was overtaken by massive swarms of locusts which settled everywhere and on everything. Within an hour or two they left orchards and farms barren. Every attempt to combat the locusts failed hopelessly. The locusts even ate the wooden roofs of the buildings. Not a single garden or house of Bani Israaeel was attacked by the locusts.
Realizing that they would be destroyed, Fir’oun’s men again hastened to Musa (alayhis salaam) and pleaded. They solemnly promised to accept Imaan if the calamity of the locusts was removed. Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) went to the outskirts and pointed his Staff to the east and west. Spontaneously the locusts formed into two swarms, one heading towards the east and one to the west. But not a single one of these incorrigibly corrupt Copts accepted Imaan. Again they mocked and rejected Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam).