Prophet Musa (pbuh)
The family of Prophet Ya’qub (pbuh) settled in Egypt and were called the Bani Israil.
After several centuries, a man called Firawn came to power in Egypt. He was alarmed to see that the Bani Israil had become so many and he felt that they were a threat to the existence of the Egyptians. He made life very difficult for them.
Once an astrologer told Firawn that a boy from the Bani Israil would take over his kingdom. Firawn ordered all baby boys born to the Bani Israil to be killed at birth.
When Prophet Musa (pbuh) was born, Allah inspired his mother to put her baby in a water proof box and place it in the waters of the Nile. She did this, and then sent her daughter to follow the box and see where it went. The box floated towards the palace of Firawn, where his men fished it out. Firawn wanted to kill the baby but his wife, Aasiya persuaded him to adopt the child as their own as theyhad no children. Firawn agreed and asked for someone to be found to breastfeed the crying baby. Musa (pbuh) refused milk from all the women who came forward. His sister then came forward and said she knew someone whom the baby would not refuse. She brought her mother and thus Prophet Musa (pbuh) was reunited with his mother as Allah had promised.
Prophet Musa (pbuh) grew up in the palace of Firawn. Once in his youth, he saw two men fighting. One was from Bani Israil, and shouted for help. Prophet Musa (pbuh) came to his rescue and struck the other man a single blow which killed him. The incident was seen by one of Firawn’s men and Prophet Musa (pbuh) had to leave the city as Firawn was looking for him.
He walked for a long time without any destination in mind when he reached the town of Madain. Here, he rested next to a well and saw that the shepherds had gathered to water their sheep. Two women were standing away from the crowd of men, waiting their turn.
Prophet Musa (pbuh) went forward to help them get the water. They went away but one returned later and told Prophet Musa (pbuh) that her father would like to thank him personally for helping them. Their father was Prophet Shuayb (pbuh). He offered Prophet Musa (pbuh) a job as a shepherd. He worked there and married one of the daughters of Prophet Shuayb (pbuh) called Safura.
After 10 years in Madain, he left for Egypt with his wife and a few sheep. It was winter time and one day Prophet Musa (pbuh) lost his way in the night. Suddenly he saw a fire in the distance. He asked Safura to wait where she was and he went towards the fire thinking he could bring some of it back to provide warmth. The fire was coming from Mount Sinai and as he came nearer he saw that the flames were from a green tree. Suddenly a voice said: "O Musa, I am your Rabb! Take off your shoes for you have stepped on to the sacred valley of Tuwa."
The voice asked him to throw his staff onto the ground. Suddenly it became a snake. Musa (pbuh) was assured that it would not harm it and he should lift it without fear. As he lifted the snake it became a staff once again. He was asked to put his hand under his armpit and draw it out again. Musa (pbuh) saw a dazzling light on his palm. The voice said: "O Musa! These are the two great signs of your Rabb. Go back to Firawn and his people and invite them towards your Rabb!"
Prophet Musa (pbuh) returned to Egypt and with his brother Harun (pbuh) went to the court of Firawn. He told Firawn that He was a messenger from the one God. In Suratu Taha, Ayaat 49 and 50, Allah says: “Said (Firawn): And who is the Rabb of you two, O Musa! Said he (Musa): Our Rabb is He who gave everything it’s form and then guided it.”
Firawn rejected Musa (pbuh) and Harun (pbuh) saying: “He (Firawn) said, "If you will take a Rabb besides me, I will most certainly imprison you". He (Musa) said, "What! even if I bring to you something manifest". He said, "Bring it then if you are one of the truthful ones". So he cast down his staff and lo! it suddenly becomes an obvious snake. And he drew forth his hand, and lo! it appeared dazzling white to the onlookers.” Allah mentions this conversation in Suratush Shuara, ayaat 29 to 33.
Firawn was taken back but decided that they were just magicians and called all the greatest magicians in the land to contest with Prophet Musa (pbuh). On the appointed day, everyone was gathered in Firawn’s court to watch. The magicians threw some rope on the ground which started wriggling like snakes. Prophet Musa (pbuh) threw down his staff which became a snake ant ate up all the bits of rope thrown by the magicians. The magicians realised that they had witnessed a miracle and immediately went into sajda saying: “We believe in the Rabb of Harun and Musa.”
Firawn was furious and he retorted: "You believe in him without my permission while he is only your chief who taught you this magic, therefore I will cut off your feet and hands and I will certainly crucify you on the trunks of palm trees…”. The magicians were not scared. Firawn felt that his authority was being threatened and he decided to kill Musa (pbuh). His advisors were terrified and persuaded him not to.
In the meantime, Allah asked Prophet Musa (pbuh) to warn Firawn that His punishment would come if Firawn did not change his ways. Firawn ignored the warning and soon Egypt had a severe famine. Swarms of locusts ate away the crops. The river Nile flooded its banks causing great destruction. The people were afflicted with lice and boils on their skin.
The people rushed to Prophet Musa (pbuh) asking him to pray for their relief and promised believe in Allah. But when they were cured and the situation improved, they returned to their old ways.
Finally, Allah ordered Prophet Musa (pbuh) to leave Egypt. In Suratu Taha, ayaat 77, 78 and 79, He says: “We commanded Musa, "Journey by night with Our creatures, and strike a dry path for them through the sea. Do not fear being overtaken by Firawn nor have dread of anything". Firawn followed them with his army, but the sea overpowered and engulfed them. Firawn had led his people astray and did not rightly guide them”.
Prophet Musa (pbuh) got together the Bani Israil and by cover of night they left to go to Palestine. As soon as Firawn found out he followed them with a large army. When Musa (pbuh) reached the Red Sea, Allah asked him to strike the waters of the sea with his staff.
Suddenly, the waters parted and twelve paths appeared one for each of the tribes of Bani Israil. Firawn and his army caught up with them just as they were crossing the Red Sea. As the army charged up the paths, the waters closed in on them and they were all drowned.
In the final moments of his life Firawn realised the greatness of Allah and he cried out: “…I believe that there is no god except He in Whom the Bani Israil believes and I am of those who submit.”
Allah answers in the Qur’an, in Suratu Yunus, Ayaat 91 and 92: “What now? And indeed you disobeyed before and you were one of the mischief makers. But We will deliver you with your body that you may be a sign to those after you….” Firawn’s body was thrown on to the shore and can be seen in the museum of Cairo today as Allah promised as a lasting lesson for mankind.
The Bani Israil meanwhile continued with prophet Musa (pbuh) towards Palestine. They had to be constantly reminded about their baya’t to Allah to worship Him alone. When they reached Mount Sinai, Allah summoned him. In Suratul A’raaf, aya 142, He says: “And We appointed with Musa a time of thirty nights and completed them with ten (more), so that the appointed time with his Rabb was complete forty nights, and Musa said to his brother Harun, take my place among my people, and act well and do not follow the ways of the mischief makers".
Allah revealed to prophet Musa (pbuh) the Tawrat inscribed on tablets of stone. When he returned to his people he saw that they were worshipping a statue of a cow made of gold. Prophet Harun (pbuh) had tried to warn them but a man called Samiri had convinced them the cow was a deity to be worshipped. Prophet Musa (pbuh) was furious. He admonished his people and banished Samiri. The people did tawba and the statue of the cow was melted and thrown into the sea.
After a long journey, the Bani Israil finally came to Palestine. In Suratul Ma’ida, ayat 21 and 22, Allah says: “O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah has prescribed for you and turn not away for then you will be of the losers.” “They said: O Musa! Surely there is a strong race in it, and we will on no account enter it until they go out from it, so if they go out, then we will enter”. The many years under Firawn’s oppression had made them weak. Prophet Musa (pbuh) tried to convince them but they said: “…O Musa! We will never enter in it as long as they are in it, go therefore you and your Rabb, then fight you both and we will sit down here.” Allah mentions this in aya 24 of Suratul Ma’ida.
Because of their disobedience, they remained in the wilderness for forty years without homes. During these forty years a new generation of stronger and more courageous generation replaced the older ones. Prophet Musa (pbuh) and Prophet Harun (pbuh) had died, but Yusha' bin Nun, a successor of Prophet Musa (pbuh), led the Bani Israil to live in Palestine.