Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam), after an absence of more than a decade, returned to Egypt having been appointed the Nabi. Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam), together with his elder brother, Haaroon (alayhis salaam) who was also appointed a Nabi, arrived at Fir’oun’s palace at a time when the royal court was in full session. Haaroon (alayhis salaam) was fearful. He said to Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) that the oppression and cruelty of Fir’oun had increased manifold since he (Nabi Musa) had departed. At the slightest annoyance caused to him, he would order the hands and feet of people to be cut off. Without hesitation he would order people to be impaled on the gibbet. Haaroon’s (alayhis salaam) grim portrayal of Fir’oun’s wrath made Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) fearful.
While the two were overwhelmed by fear, Hadhrat Jibraeel (alayhis salaam) appeared. After conveying Allah’s salaam, he presented the revelation: “Both of you, do not fear, I am with you. I hear and I see. Go both of you to him, and say: “Verily, we are the Messengers of your Rabb, therefore, send with us Bani Israaeel, and do not torture them. Verily, we have come to you with a sign from your Creator, And peace on those who follow the guidance (of Allah).” (Surah Taahaa, verses 26 and 27)
Immediately on receiving this Wahi (Revelation) Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) and Hadhrat Haaroon (alayhis salaam) stood up and without any fear proceeded to Fir’oun. When they were in Fir’oun’s presence, Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) very loudly proclaimed that he was Allah’s appointed Messenger. He delivered the divine message . Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam) added: “O Fir’oun! If you reject this Message, Allah’s wrath and punishment will overtake you.”
Astounded by the sudden appearance and temerity of Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam), Fir’oun scrutinized him with searching eyes. Interrupting Hadhrat Musa (alayhis salaam), Fir’oun exclaimed: “O Musa! You are the one whom I have nourished. You lived for 30 years in my home. Then, you reattributed these favours by murdering one of my guards. Then you fled, fearing execution. Now after 18 years you appear in a new guise.
Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) responded: “I was unaware that the Qibti would expire with a single blow of my fist. His death was accidental. Allah has forgiven me. I had departed from here fearing your cruelty, and I lived in the Land of Madyan where Allah Ta’ala bestowed His bounties to me munificently. On my return, my Rabb bestowed Nubuwwat to me on Mount Tur.”
After a lengthy address, Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) reiterated the message of Allah Ta’ala.
Awed by the address, Fir’oun asked: “Who is your Rabb, O Musa!” Musa (alayhis salaam) replied: “Our Rabb is He who has created entire creation and Who guided all things to their functions.” Mockingly Fir’oun said: “If I accept your Rabb, what will He give me?” Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) said: “He will award three things to you. Perpetual youth, sovereignty of the world, and He will increase your life span by another hundred years.”
When Fir’oun heard these wonderful awards, he mellowed a bit and said: “Go now, and return tomorrow. I shall first consult with my advisors.” Nabi Musa and Nabi Haaroon (alayhimas salaam) thereupon departed and returned to their home.
The awards promised by Musa (alayhis salaam) were very attractive and tempting. Fir’oun was very restless. He convened his council of ministers and expressed his desire for perpetual youth. Hamaan, his chief minister said: “Have you so quickly fallen victim to Musa’s promises?” Hamaan convinced Fir’oun to reject Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam).
When Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) returned the next day, Fir’oun mockingly asked: “What is the proof of your Nubuwwat? On what basis should I believe that you are the appointed Messenger of the Creator?” As Fir’oun was speaking, Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) cast down his staff. A mighty fearsome serpent appeared with its mouth wide open. Its lower jaw was on the ground and its upper jaw against the ceiling. The scene was set for it to swallow Fir’oun, his throne and the entire palace. There was absolute pandemonium in the place. Everyone was running and screaming. Fir’oun descended from his throne and was looking for an escape route.
Describing this scene, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that several hundred of Fir’oun’s men were killed in the ensuing mad stampede. Everyone was dashing madly to escape from the giant serpent. Fir’oun while running, cried out hysterically: “O Musa! By that One God Who has appointed you the Messenger, I implore you to save us all from destruction. I believe in you and I shall release Bani Israaeel to go with you.” Taking pity on Fir’oun, Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) placed his hand on the serpent, and lo, it was transformed into the staff.
Everyone was shuddering, dumbstruck and in total confusion. Fir’oun resumed his position on the throne, and said affectionately: “O Musa! You have demonstrated a most frightful miracle. Now show us something beautiful.” Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) inserted his hand in his garment under his arm. When he removed it, it was dazzling like the sun. It was the same hand which had burnt when as a child he had placed his hand in the burning embers.
Profoundly impressed by the two Mu’jizah (Miracles) of Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam), Fir’oun said to his ministers: “Is there any reason why I should now refuse accepting Musa’s message and embracing his Deen?”
There was complete silence in the court of Fir’oun. Fir’oun was on the verge of accepting Islam, but Hamaan spoke: “Alas! What has happened to your intelligence? Do you not understand that in his 18 year absence, Musa has acquired expert proficiency in the science of magic. With his magic he plots to overwhelm you. Assemble the expert magicians from all over the land to confront Musa. First let there be a confrontation with all your magicians, thereafter you should ask our view regarding your intention of embracing Musa’s Deen.” Once again Fir’oun was convinced of the correctness of Hamaan’s advice. He thus cancelled his intention of accepting the Deen.
Orders were issued to summon all the expert magicians from every part of the country to appear in the court of Fir’oun. Magicians began arriving in droves at the royal palace. There were two brothers who were famous magicians. They lived in the town of Saeediyyah. When Fir’oun’s men approached them with the royal summons, they were hesitant. They had already heard about Musa (alayhis salaam) and his miraculous staff. They were apprehensive. They asked the messengers to wait while they went into consultation with their aged mother.