“Then We sent on them the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs
and blood as detailed signs.” (Al’A’raaf, aayat 133)
The homes and fields of the Egyptians were utterly inundated and destroyed by raging floodwaters. According to some Sahaabah the “Toofaan” mentioned in the aayat as the first punishment refers to a plague of smallpox.
After pleading with Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) and pledging to accept Imaan and free Bani Israaeel, this punishment was lifted. But the evil Fir’oun and his people reneged and reverted to their kufr and oppression. Then Allah Ta’ala sent cloud upon cloud of locusts. Their numbers were so vast that for miles the ground was not visible. They literally darkened the regions where they were divinely despatch to wrought havoc. They annihilated all the crops and not a blade of grass or vegetation was left.
he series of punishments which descended on Fir’oun and his people was at monthly intervals. A month after the ending of the locust calamity, commenced the punishment of lice and ticks. Massive clouds of lice and ticks rained on the Egyptian kuffaar. The lice and ticks infested their hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. The immense pain caused by these blood-sucking lice and ticks constrained the people to scream like insane persons. In addition, all the water and food of the Copts were filled with lice and ticks. Any bowl of food or cup of water taken by a Copt became immediately filled with lice and ticks. However, not a single member of Bani Israaeel was afflicted with this calamity.
Once again, the Copts came running, wailing and crying to Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam), pleading and promising. They appealed to Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) to supplicate to Allah Ta’ala for the removal of the calamity. They pledged that they would this time accept the Deen and set free Bani Israaeel. Again Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) supplicated to Allah Ta’ala for the removal of the calamity. But again, after the ending of the punishment, the kuffaar reneged and mocked at Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam). In fact, they averred that Musa (alayhis salaam) had no equal in the science of magic. They attributed the calamities they suffered to magic.
A month thereafter, Allah Ta’ala afflicted the Egyptians with the punishment of frogs. Suddenly the entire land was overrun by millions and millions of frogs. Their houses were invaded by frogs. Their beds, utensils, food and everything were filled with frogs. The place had become a world of frogs. Every empty vessel became filled with frogs. The situation deteriorated so much that when a Copt would open his mouth to speak, it would suddenly be invaded by frogs. But there was not a single frog in any home of Bani Israaeel.
Driven to hopelessness and helplessness, the Copts once again petitioned Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) for succour, renewing their pledge and promise. Again Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) made dua and the punishment ended as suddenly as it had arrived. The Egyptians, instead of abiding by their pledge, reacted in their same incorrigible manner of rebellion, mocking and rejecting Musa (alayhis salaam).
After lapsing of a month, Allah Ta’ala afflicted the Copts with the punishment of blood. All water had transformed into blood for the Copts. Even the water which a Copt would bring from Bani Israaeel would become blood as soon as the water reached his mouth. Every utensils and every other item of the Copts became soiled with blood. They began to perish because of hunger and thirst.
Driven to abject misery by this deplorable state of affairs, Fir’oun resorted to a stratagem which he believed would save the day for the Copts. He ordered that with every Copt, one Israaeeli should join when drinking water and eating. The two had to participate in one utensil. By this ruse Fir’oun thought that the water and food would not become blood. However, the share consumed by the Israaeeli would remain unaffected while the share of the Copt would become blood. When the Israaeeli drank from the utensil, the water remained unaffected. But when the Copt desired to drink, the water would become blood.
A woman from the Copts pleaded with her Israaeeli neighbour saying: ‘I have been suffering from thirst for the past few days. Please take some water into your mouth and transfer it into my mouth with your mouth.” The dire straits of the Copts had driven this woman to this state of subservience to one who was held in contempt by the Copts. She cried for mercy. However, as soon as the Israaeeli woman would spit out the water, it would turn into blood thus depriving the Copt from water.
Fir’oun too was suffering. He did not have a drop of water for several days. When he attempted to chew the leaves of trees, the juice would become blood in his mouth. Again the Copts came to Musa crying for mercy. They again promised to honour their pledge. They pledged that if they again reneged from their pledge, then Allah Ta’ala should kill them all. Taking pity on them, Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) supplicated to Allah Ta’ala, and the punishment was lifted immediately. But these rebellious people who were confirmed to remain kuffaar in eternity, once again reneged and made a mockery of Musa (alayhis salaam).
Allah Ta’ala thereafter halted the series of punishment for some time. The people of Fir’oun became even more rebellious. Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) would daily invoke Allah’s curses on Fir’oun and his people, and Nabi Haaroon (alayhis salaam) would say: ‘Aameen’. But no further punishment descended on Fir’oun and his people. In consequence they became more rebellious. Their worldly pomp and splendour multiplied considerably as a result of the immense wealth they enjoyed. Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Abbaas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that according to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in the land of Egypt until the mountains of Abyssinia there flourished numerous mines of gold, silver and diamonds. All these mines were under the control and domination of Fir’oun. This was the primary source of the immense wealth enjoyed by the Copts, and it was this wealth which increased their rebellion.
The oppression of Fir’oun and his people exceeded all bounds. Then one day Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) supplicated with great fervour. Hadhrat Jibraeel (alayhis salaam) appeared and said: “Allah Ta’ala sends His Salaam with the message that He is listening to your supplication. Fir’oun’s oppression is not hidden from Allah. The cries of agony of Bani Israaeel are shaking the Divine Throne. Despite this, O Musa! How can I punish Fir’oun while he daily feeds ten thousand destitute persons? O Musa! As long as Fir’oun perpetuates his generosity on the poor I shall not destroy him.”
It was the daily practice of Fir’oun to feed ten thousand poor and destitute people. This was the mystery underlying the protection Fir’oun enjoyed from destruction by Divine Punishment. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Sadqah extinguishes the Wrath of Allah.”
However, Haamaan, who was Fir’oun’s chief minister and advisor, said to Fir’oun that due to the effects of Nabi Musa’s ‘sihr’ (magic) and the resultant calamities, the economic situation of the Copts has suffered grievously and their hardships were incremental. Due to these unforeseen calamities, the royal treasury was rapidly becoming depleted. He advised Fir’oun to exercise caution with regarding to expenditure. It was not known how long would Musa (alayhis salaam) remain an adversary, hence it was imperative to ensure that the economy is sustained. This advice was accepted by Fir’oun. The daily feeding scheme was drastically curbed and incrementally reduced until the day when Fir’oun and his men were destroyed, there was not a single destitute who was being fed by Fir’oun.
After the cessation of the series of calamities, Nabi Musa (Alayhis salaam) continued with his mission of Da’wat and Tableegh. He repeatedly proclaimed the Message of Islam to Fir’oun and his people. However, these people were incorrigibly intransigent and confirmed kuffaar. They refused to heed any of the callings of Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam). On the contrary, their transgression and rebellion increased considerably. This process of incremental rebellion continued until the time for Fir’oun’s destruction had arrived.
Allah Ta’ala instructed Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) to assemble his people and to depart from Egypt during the night time. Musa (alayhis salaam) ordered Bani Israaeel to gather at a particular spot on a certain night. The various chieftains of the tribes of Bani Israaeel were ordered to advise, educate and gather all their people for the final departure from Egypt.
Since every member of Bani Israaeel had to be informed, this secret plan did not remain long hidden from Fir’oun. When Fir’oun was informed that Bani Israaeel would be assembling, he summoned their leaders and questioned them about this planned event. They explained that the Day of Ashura was a holy day of happiness in their culture because it was the day when Hadhrat Nabi Aadam (alayhis salaam) was created. The gathering of Bani Israaeel was to celebrate this happy occasion. Fir’oun was relieved and he sanctioned the gathering.
Finally, the momentous day arrived and the entire nation of Bani Israaeel began assembling from the morning. When he was satisfied that everyone had gathered, he issued orders for the great march to commence. It was midnight when they began the migration. Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) began the march reciting, Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem. The large concourse of Bani Israaeel consisted of 670,000 persons. Nabi Haaroon (alayhis salaam) was appointed to lead the vast procession while Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) remained right in the rear.
When this huge gathering reached a certain point, it appeared to them that they had lost the road. The march halted while Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) conferred with Nabi Haaroon (alayhis salaam). They were mystified by their inability to find the way leading out of Egypt. The road was well known. What was the mystery of this conundrum? Immediately Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) summoned all the aged persons for a meeting. He asked: “This road is well known to us. Why are we lost? Why can we not find the way?” One extremely old person (according to some narrations it was a lady), spoke: “O Musa! I know the reason. A very important task has been left unaccomplished.” The road will not be found as long as the obligation is not fulfilled.”