A Reformer and Educator, Prophet Moses
Prophets are the spiritual teachers of humanity. As the people selected by God to deliver His message to humanity, they were exemplary educators and role models. Therefore, teachers and parents should consider their educational methods seriously, for each parent is a natural teacher and role model for his or her children.
There is a point in this verse
“They (the sorcerers) said: “Moses! Either you throw first or we will be the first to throw!” He answered: “Throw!” And when they threw (whatever they held in their hands to make spells) they cast a spell upon the people’s eyes (i.e. overawed and deluded them), and produced a mighty sorcery.” (Al-A‘rāf 7:115–116)
which should not be overlooked: it is the fact that sorcery was the most popular phenomenon among the people in the years when Moses, upon him be peace, was charged with Divine Messengership. Performance of sorcery in a crowded area on a festive day also proves this. Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, let the people of Pharaoh demonstrate their sorcery. When the most well-known sorcerers of Pharaoh’s country performed the best of their sorcery in the view of the folk, everybody was entranced. However, when Moses invalidated their sorcery, both the sorcerers and people were astonished. The sorcerers, who were ingeniously adept in sorcery, immediately submitted to Moses’ Message in spite of Pharaoh, realizing that what Moses did was not sorcery. They actually did a great service on behalf of the Message by their immediate submission.
Think about a crowd of magicians whose lives were based on deception, a despotic elite class that impelled these magicians to this, and the masses who usually followed these two classes. They saw some thick ropes and huge poles as piled up snakes and dragons, and no matter if it was magic or the sun’s heat that made pieces of tree and leather stuffed with mercury appear as such, a stick from a dried tree, which had temporary extraordinariness in Moses’ hands, swallowed up all of those false devices. The people, who had been astonished in the face of the huge rods conducted by deception shortly before, encountered both the truth and the defeat of falsehood. It was the time for the sorcerers to declare,
“We have come to believe in the Lord of the worlds” (Al-A‘rāf 7:121).
When the apparent representatives of falsehood made this declaration, the same action was expected from those following them.
The Qur’ān describes what happened between Moses and sorcerers in various places, approaching the events from different perspectives and in a distinct way or style appropriate for each place. Their messages reveal themselves in many different ways in these various places in the Qur’ān. Through the doors of history opened ajar, they draw our attention to recurring occurrences in history, allowing us to draw lessons from these events according to our capacities as there is always more to be found in the narratives of Prophet Moses and the despotic elites who used various people and mediums of illusion to mask the truth.
The pharaoh who ruled Egypt was a tyrant who oppressed the descendants of Jacob, known as the children of Israel. He used every means to demean and disgrace them. They were kept in bondage and forced to work for him for small wages or nothing. Under this system the people obeyed and worshipped the pharaoh, and the ruling class carried out his orders, thereby authorizing his tyranny and crazy whims.
The wanted the people to obey him only, and to believe in the gods of his invention. Perhaps, during that time, there were many classes of people who did not believe in or practice polytheism; however, they kept this to themselves and outwardly did as they were expected to do, without revolting or revealing themselves to anyone.
Thus, successive dynasties came to Egypt and assumed that they were gods or their representative or spokesmen.
Years passed, and a despotic king, who was adored by the Egyptians, ruled Egypt. His king saw the children of Israel multiplying and prospering. He heard them talking about a vague vision that one of Israel’ s sons would dethrone the pharaoh of Egypt. Perhaps this vision was only a daydream that persisted within the hearts of the persecuted minority, or perhaps it was a prophecy from their books.
Another tradition states that it was Pharaoh himself who had the vision. Pharaoh saw in his vision a fire, which came from Jerusalem and burned the houses of the Egyptians, and all Copts, and did not do harm to the children of Israel. When he woke up, he was horrified. He then gathered his priests and magicians and asked them about this vision. They said:
“This means a boy will be born of them and the Egyptian people will perish at his hands.’ That is why Pharaoh commanded that all male children of the children of Israel be killed.”
Either way, this vision reached the ears of the Pharaoh. He then issued a decree to slay any male child that would be born to the children of Israel. This was carried out until the experts of economics said to Pharaoh:
“The aged of the children of Israel die and the young are slaughtered. This will lead to their annihilation. As a result, Pharaoh will lose the manpower of those who work for him, those whom he enslaves, and their women whom he exploits. It is better to regulate this procedure by initiating the following policy: males should be slaughtered in one year but spared to live the next year.”
Pharaoh found that solution to be safer economically.
By M. Fethullah Gulen