Surah Ta Ha Ayat 71-94

{71. (Firawn) said: “Believe you in him before I give you permission? Verily, he is your chief who has taught you magic. So I will surely cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you on the trunks of date palms, and you shall surely know which of us can give the severe and more lasting torment. ” 

72. They said: “We prefer you not over what have come to us of the clear signs and to Him (Allah) Who created us. So, decree whatever you desire to decree, for you can only decree (regarding) this life of the world.” 

73. “Verily, we have believed in our Lord, that He may forgive us our faults, and the magic to which you did compel us. And Allah is better as regards reward in comparison to your reward, and more lasting.”}

 

Firawn’s turning against the Magicians, His threatening Them and Their Reply

Allah, the Exalted, informs of Firawn’s disbelief, obstinance, transgression and haughtiness against the truth in favor of falsehood. When he saw what he saw of the magnificent miracle and the great sign, and he saw those whose help he sought accept faith in the presence of all of the people, and he was absolutely defeated, he began to behave arrogantly and cast accusations. He resorted to using his esteemed honor and might against the magicians. He warned them and threatened them saying, “Believe you in him (Musa)” This means, “Do you have faith in him” “before I give you permission” meaning, “I have not commanded you to do so, by which you have rebelled against me.” Then he said a statement that he, the magicians and all creatures knew was a forgery and an utter lie. “Verily, he is your chief who has taught you magic.” meaning “You all only took your magic from Musa and you have made an agreement with him against me and my subjects, that you would help him be victorious.” Allah says in another Ayah, “Surely, this is a plot which you have plotted in the city to drive out its people, but you shall come to know.” (7:123) Then he began threatening them. He said to them, “So I will surely cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you on the trunks of date palms,” meaning, “I will certainly make an example of you, I will kill you in a public execution.” Ibn Abbas said, “Thus, he was the first person to ever do this (public execution, crucifixion).” This was reported by Ibn Abi Hatim. (At-Tabari 13:34)

Concerning Allah’s statement, “And you shall surely know which of us can give the severe and more lasting torment.” This means, “You say that my people and I are astray and that you (magicians), Musa and his people are following correct guidance, but you will come to know who will be punished and remain punished.” So when he attacked with this and threatened them, their souls eased them because of their belief in Allah, the Mighty and Sublime. They exclaimed, “They said: “We prefer you not over what have come to us of the clear signs…” meaning, “We do not chose you over the guidance and conviction that we have received.” “and to Him (Allah) Who created us.” It could be that they were swearing, “By He Who has created us.” It also could be connected in meaning to the clear signs mentioned before it. In this case it would mean, “We do not prefer you over our Originator and Creator, Who produced us from a beginning that was nothing. He created us from clay (or mud). Therefore, He alone deserves worship and humility and you do not (Firawn)!” “So decree whatever you desire to decree” “Do whatever you wish and whatever your hands are able to achieve.” “for you can only decree (regarding) this life of the world.” meaning, “You only have power in this world and it is a world that will come to an end. Verily, we are hoping in the eternal abode.” “Verily, we have believed in our Lord, that He may forgive us our faults,) “Whatever evils that we did.” It specifically means, ‘which we were forced to do of magic, in order to oppose the sign of Allah and the miracle of His Prophet.’

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn Abbas said concerning Allah’s statement, “and the magic to which you compelled us.” Firawn took forty boys from the Children of Israel and commanded that they be taught magic at Al-Farama [a fort at the shore of Egypt]. He said, ‘Teach them knowledge that no one in the land knows.” Ibn Abbas then said, “They were of those who believed in Musa and they were of those who said, “We have believed in our Lord, that He may forgive us our faults, and the magic to which you did compel us.” (Ad-Durr Al-Manthur 5:587) Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said the same. (At-Tabari 18:341)

Allah’s statement, “And Allah is better as regards reward in comparison to your reward, and more lasting.” means, “He is better for us than you.” “and more lasting.” More lasting in reward than what you promised us and made us aspire to. It is apparent that Firawn (may Allah curse him) was bent upon their punishment, and that what he did to them was a mercy from Allah for them. This is why Ibn Abbas and others of the Salaf said, “They woke up in that morning as magicians, but they became witnesses of faith by the evening.”

{74. Verily, whoever comes to his Lord as a criminal, then surely, for him is Hell, wherein he will neither die nor live. 

75. But whoever comes to Him as a believer, and has done righteous good deeds, for such are the high ranks, 

76. Adn Gardens, under which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, and such is the reward of those who purify themselves.}

 

The Magicians admonish Firawn

The clear intent of this is to be a completion of what the magicians admonished Firawn with. They warned him of the vengeance of Allah and His eternal and everlasting punishment. They also encouraged him to seek Allah’s eternal and endless reward. They said, “Verily, whoever comes to his Lord as a criminal” This means, whoever meets Allah on the Day of Judgment while being a criminal. “then surely, for him is Hell, wherein he will neither die nor live.” This is similar to Allah’s statement, “Neither will it have a complete killing effect on them so that they die, nor shall its torment be lightened for them. Thus do We requite every disbeliever!” (35:36) Allah also said, “But it will be avoided by the wretched, who will enter the great Fire. There he will neither die nor live.” (87:11-13) “And they will cry: “O Malik (Keeper of Hell)! Let your Lord made an end of us.” He will say: “Verily, you shall abide forever.” (43:77) Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded that Abu Said Al-Khudri said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“The dwellers of Hellfire, who are those who deserve it, they will not die in it, nor will they be living. Rather, they will be a people who will be punished by the Fire due to their sins. It will be gradually killing them and devouring them until they become burnt coals. Then, intercession will be allowed and they will be brought (out of Hell) group by group and they will be spread on the rivers of Paradise. It will then be said, “O people of Paradise, pour (water) over them.” Then, they will start to grow like the growing of a seed on the muddy banks of a flowing river.”

A man among the people said, “It is as if the Messenger of Allah lived in the desert.” (Ahmad 3:11)

This is how Muslim recorded this narration in his Sahih. (Muslim 1:172)

Concerning Allah’s statement, “But whoever comes to Him (Allah) as a believer, and has done righteous good deeds” whoever meets his Lord on the Day of Judgment as a believer in his heart, then verily, his intentions in his heart will be affirmed to be true by his statements and deeds. “for such are the high ranks” Paradise, which has the highest levels, the most tranquil rooms and the nicest homes. Imam Ahmad reported from Ubadah bin As-Samit that the Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, said,

“Paradise has one hundred levels and between each level is a distance like the distance between the sky and the earth. Al-Firdaws is the name of the highest of its levels. From it springs the four rivers and the Throne is above it. Therefore, when you ask Allah, then ask Him for Al-Firdaws.” (Ahmad 5:316)

This narration was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi. (Tuhfat Al-Ahwadi 7:238)

In the Two Sahihs it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“Verily, the people of the Illiyyin will see those who are above them just as you see the fading star in the horizon of the sky, due to the different status of virtue between them.”

The people said, “O Messenger of Allah, these are the dwellings of the Prophets.” He replied,

“Of course. And I swear by the One Whom my soul is in His Hand, (it is for) men who had faith in Allah and they believed the Messengers.” (Fath Al-Bari 6:368)

In the Sunan collections this narration is mentioned with the additional wording, “And verily Abu Bakr and Umar are of them and they will be most favoured.” (Abu Dawud 4:287) His saying, “And Gardens” meaning established as a residence. It is merely used here in reference to the high ranks mentioned previously. “under which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever” meaning that they will abide in it for eternity. “and such is the reward of those who purify themselves.” One who purifies himself from dirt, filth and associating partners with Allah. This is the person who worships Allah alone, without ascribing partners to Him, and he follows the Messengers in the good they came with all that they claim.

{77. And indeed We revealed to Musa: “Travel by night with My servants and strike a dry path for them in the sea, fearing neither to be overtaken nor being afraid.” 

78. Then Firawn pursued them with his hosts, but the sea [Al-Yamm] completely overwhelmed them and covered them up. 

79. And Firawn led his people astray, and he did not guide them.}

 

The Children of Israel leave Egypt

Allah, the Exalted, informs that He commanded Musa to journey at night with the Children of Israel, when Firawn refused to release them and send them with Musa. He was to take them away from Firawn’s captivity. Allah expounds upon this in Surahs other than this noble Surah. Musa left with the Children of Israel, and when the people of Egypt awoke in the morning they found that not a single one of them remained in Egypt. Firawn became extremely furious. He sent callers into all of the cities to gather together his army from all of his lands and provinces. He said to them, “Verily, these indeed are but a small band. And verily, they have done what has enraged us.” (26:54-55) Then when he gathered his army and organized his troops, he set out after them and they followed them at dawn when the sun began to rise. “And when the two hosts saw each other” (26:61) This means that each person of the two parties was looking at the other party. “The companions of Musa said: “We are sure to be overtaken.” (Musa) said: “Nay, verily, with me is my Lord. He will guide me.” (26:61-62) Musa stopped with the Children of Israel and the sea was in front of them and Firawn was behind them. Then, at that moment, Allah revealed to Musa, “And strike a dry path for them in the sea.” So Musa struck the sea with his stick and he said, “Split for me, by the leave of Allah.” Thus, it split, and each separate part of the water became like a huge mountain. Then, Allah sent a wind to the land of the sea and it burned the soil until it became dry like the ground that is on land. For this reason Allah said, “and strike a dry path for them in the sea, fearing neither to be overtaken…” This means being caught by Firawn. “nor being afraid.” meaning, “Do not be afraid of the sea drowning your people.” Then, Allah, the Exalted, said, “Then Firawn pursued them with his hosts, but the sea [Al-Yamm] completely overwhelmed them” Al-Yamm means the sea. “and covered them up.” meaning, covered them up with a thing that was well-familiar to them in such a situa-tion, as Allah states; “And He destroyed the overthrown cities. So there covered them that which did cover.” (53:53-54) As Firawn pursued them into the sea, misled his people and did not lead them to the path of correct guidance, likewise, he will go ahead of his people on the Day of Resurrection, and will lead them in to the Hellfire. And evil indeed is the place to which they are led.

{80. O Children of Israel! We delivered you from your enemy, and We made a covenant with you on the right side of the Mount, and We sent down to you manna and quail, 

81. (Saying) eat of the Tayyibat wherewith We have provided you, and commit no transgression or oppression therein, lest My anger should justly descend on you. And he on whom My anger descends, he is indeed perished. 

82. And verily, I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes and does righteous deeds, and then Ihtada.}

 

A Reminder for the Children of Israel of Allah’s Favors upon Them
Allah reminds of His tremendous favors upon the Children of Israel and His numerous blessings. He saved them from their enemy, Firawn, and He relieved their eyes by drowning him and his hosts all at one time while they watched. Allah said, “And We drowned Firawn people while you were looking.” (2:50) Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abbas said, “When the Messenger of Allah came to Al-Madinah, he found the Jews fasting the day of Ashura. Therefore he asked them about it and they said, ‘This is the day that Allah gave Musa victory over Firawn.’ Then, the Prophet , peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“We have more right to Musa (than them), so fast it.” (Fath Al-Bari 8:288)

Muslim also recorded this narration in his Sahih. (Muslim 1:795)

Then, Allah made a covenant with Musa and the Children of Israel on the right side of the Mountain, after the destruction of Firawn. This is the Mountain upon which Allah spoke to Musa and He told Musa’s people to look at it when they requested to see Allah. It is also the same Mountain upon which Musa was given the Tawrah, while at the same time the Children of Israel began worshipping the (statue of a) calf, as Allah relates in the forth coming Ayat. The manna and quails have previously been discussed in Surah Al-Baqarah [See 2:57] and other Surahs. Manna was a sweet substance that descended upon them from the sky and the quail [Salwa] was a type of bird that would fall down to them. They would fill every pot with them as ample provisions until the following day. This was a kindness and a mercy from Allah upon them. It was a manifestation of Allah’s good treatment of them. For this reason Allah says, “Eat of the Tayyibat wherewith We have provided you, and commit no transgression or oppression therein, lest My anger should justly descend on you.” This means, “Eat from this sustenance which I have provided for you, and do not transgress against My sustenance by taking it without necessity or you will be opposing what I have commanded you.” “lest My anger should justly descend on you.” This means, “I will become angry with you.” “And he on whom My anger descends, he is indeed perished.” Ali bin Abi Talhah related that Ibn Abbas said, “This means that he will indeed be made miserable.” (At-Tabari 18:347)

Concerning Allah’s statement, “And verily, I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes and does righteous good deeds” meaning, “Whoever turns to Me in repentance, then I will accept his repentance regardless of whatever sin he did.” Allah, the Exalted, even accepts the repentance of the Children of Israel who worshipped the calf.

Concerning Allah’s statement, “who repents” This means to turn away from what one was involved in of disbelief, associating partners with Allah, disobedience of Allah or hypocrisy. Concerning Allah’s statement, “and believes” This means the person’s belief in his heart. “and does righteous deeds” his action with his bodily limbs.

Concerning Allah’s statement, “and then Ihtada.” Ali bin Abi Talhah related that Ibn Abbas said, “This means that he then does not doubt.” (At-Tabari 18:347)  Qatadah said, “and then Ihtada.” “This means he adheres to Islam until he dies.” We see here that there is a specific order in which these things are presented. This is similar to Allah’s saying, “Then he became one of those who believed and recommended one another to perseverance and patience and recommended one another to pity and compassion.” (90:17)

{83. “And what made you hasten from your people, O Musa 

84. He said: “They are close on my footsteps, and I hastened to You, O my Lord, that You might be pleased.” 

85. (Allah) said: “Verily, We have tried your people in your absence, and As-Samiri has led them astray.” 

86. Then Musa returned to his people in a state of anger and sorrow [Asif]. He said: “O my people! Did not your Lord promise you a fair promise? Did then the promise seem to you long in coming? Or did you desire that wrath should descend from your Lord on you, that you broke your promise to me?” 

87. They said: “We broke not the promise to you, of our own will, but we were made to carry the weight of the ornaments of the people, then we cast them, and that was what As-Samiri suggested.” 

88. Then he took out for them a calf which was mooing. They said: “This is your god, and the god of Musa,” but he had forgotten. 

89. Did they not see that it could not return them a word (for answer), and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good?}

 

Musa goes to the Appointment with Allah and the Children of Israel succumb to worship the Calf

Allah relates what happened when Musa traveled with the Children of Israel after Firawn’s destruction. “And they came upon a people devoted to some of idols. They said: “O Musa! Make for us god as they have gods.” He said: “Verily, you are a people who know not. Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in. And all that they are doing is in vain.” (7:138-139) Then, Allah made a covenant with Musa of thirty nights after which He added to them ten more nights. Thus, they were forty nights in all. The covenant was that he was to fast these number of days, during both the day and night. Thus, Musa made haste to go to the Mountain and he left his brother, Harun, in charge over the Children of Israel. This is why Allah says, “And what made you hasten from your people, O Musa” He said: “They are close on my footsteps.” These means that they have arrived and are settled near the Mountain. “and I hastened to You, O my Lord, that You might be pleased.” meaning, “So You will be more pleased with me.” “(Allah) said: “Verily, We have tried your people in your absence, and As-Samiri has led them astray.” Allah informs His Prophet, Musa, of what happened to the Children of Israel after he left them, and their deification of the calf that As-Samiri had made for them.

During this time period, Allah wrote for Musa the Tablets, which contained the Tawrah. Allah said, “And We wrote for him on the Tablets the lesson to be drawn from all things and the explanation for all things (and said): “Hold unto these with firmness, and enjoin your people to take the better therein. I shall show you the home of evildoers.” (7:145) This means, “I will show you the final outcome of what will happen to those who abandon My obedience and oppose My command.”

Concerning Allah’s statement, “Then Musa returned to his people in a state of anger and sorrow [Asif].” This means that after Allah informed him of what they were doing, he became extremely angry and upset with them. He was very worried for them. During this time he received the Tawrah, which contained their Shariah (Law), this was a great honor for them. For they were a people who used to worship other than Allah. Every person with sound reason and good sense could see that what they were doing was false and foolish.

This is why Allah said that he (Musa) returned to them in a state of anger and sorrow. The word for sorrow used here is Asif, which is used to emphasize to the severity of his anger. Mujahid said, “In a state of anger and sorrow means worried.” (At-Tabari 18:350) Qatadah and As-Suddi said, “Asif here means in a state of sadness because of what his people had done after him.” (At-Tabari 18:350) “He (Musa) said: “O my people! Did not your Lord promise you a fair promise…” This means, “Did He not promise you in that which I have spoken to you, every good in this life and in the Hereafter, and the good end in the final outcome of things You have already witnessed how He helped you defeat your enemy (Firawn) and He made you victorious over him and He blessed you with other bounties as well through His help.” “Did then the promise seem to you long in coming?” meaning, ‘in waiting for what Allah had promised you and forgetting His previous favors and the covenant that He made with you before.’ “Or did you desire that wrath should descend from your Lord on you,” The word ‘Or’ here means `Nay, but.’ It is used here to separate between a previous item and a coming item. It is as if it is saying, “Nay, but you want to make permissible the anger of your Lord upon you by what you have done. Therefore, you have broken your promise to me.” The Children of Israel said in reply to Musa’s blame and rebuke, “We broke not our promise to you of our own will” Meaning by our power and our choice. Then, they began making lame excuses and they told him how they got rid of that which they were carrying of Coptic jewelry that they had borrowed from them [the Egyptian Copts] when they left Egypt. Therefore they cast it, meaning that they threw it away. Thus, it became a calf that made a moaning sound that would gradually rise in pitch. This calf was an ordeal, a hindrance and test. This is why Allah said, “…that was what As-Samiri suggested.” Then he took out (of the fire) for them (a statue of) a calf which was mooing.” (Tarikh At-Tabari 1:422)

Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn Abbas said, “This is your god, and the god of Musa.” “So they became religiously devoted to it (the calf) and they loved it with a love that they had never loved anything else with before.” Allah then says, “but he had forgotten.” This means that he abandoned what he was following of the religion of Islam. This is referring to As-Samiri. (Tarikh At-Tabari 1:422) Allah says in refuting them and rebuking them, and also explaining to them their folly and foolishness in that which they had done, “Did they not see that it could not return them a word (for answer), and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good?” This is about the calf. ‘Do they not see that it does not respond to them when they ask it and when they speak to it?’ “and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good” Meaning in their worldly affairs and matters of the Hereafter. Ibn Abbas said, “Nay, by Allah, the moaning sound of the calf was nothing but wind that would enter into its behind and come out of its mouth, thus causing it to make a sound.”(An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:396)

In a Hadith of Al-Fitun recorded from Al-Hasan Al-Basri, it is mentioned that this calf’s name was Bahmut. (An-Nasai in Al-Kubra 6:396) In reference to the excuse of these ignorant people, they claimed that they were merely ridding themselves of the jewelry of the Copts. In the process of doing so, they cast the jewelry (into the pit of fire) and ended up worshipping the calf. Thus, they were seeking to rid themselves of something detestable, but wound up doing something even worse. This is similar to an authentic narration reported from Abdullah bin Umar. A man from Iraq asked him about the ruling of mosquitoes’ blood if it get on one’s garment. The man wanted to know if it is permissible to pray in such a garment or not. Ibn Umar replied by saying, “Look at the people of Iraq. They killed the grandson of the Messenger of Allah , Al-Husayn, and yet they’re asking about the blood of the mosquito.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:440)

{90. And Harun indeed had said to them beforehand: “O my people! You are being tried in this, and verily, your Lord is (Allah) the Most Gracious, so follow me and obey my order.” 

91. They said: “We will not stop worshipping it, until Musa returns to us.”} 

 

Harun prohibits them from worship of Calf and the Persistence of the Children of Israel in doing so

Allah, the Exalted, informs of Harun’s attempt to prohibit them from worshipping the calf and his telling them that this was only a test for them. He told them that their Lord was the Most Beneficent, Who created everything and decreed for everything its just measure. He is the Owner of the Mighty Throne, the One Who does whatever He wants. “so follow me and obey my order.” Meaning, “Follow me in that which I am commanding you with and leave that which I forbid you from.” “They said: “We will not stop worshipping it, until Musa returns to us.” meaning, “We will not cease in our worship of this calf until we hear what Musa has to say about it.” So they opposed Harun in this matter and they fought against him, nearly killing him.

{92. (Musa) said: “O Harun! What prevented you when you saw them going astray;” 

93. “That you followed me not (according to my advice to you) Have you then disobeyed my order?” 

94. He (Harun) said: “O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard, nor by my head! Verily, I feared lest you should say: ‘You have caused a division among the Children of Israel, and you have not respected my word!”}

 

What happened between Musa and Harun after Musa returned

Allah informs of what happened when Musa returned to his people and saw the great matter that had taken place among them. With this he became filled with anger and he threw down the Divine Tablets that he had in his hand. Then, he grabbed his brother Harun by his head and pulled him towards himself. We expounded upon this previously in Surat Al-Araf, where we mentioned the Hadith, “Information is not the same as observation.” (Ahmad 1:271)

Then, he began to blame his brother, Harun, by saying, “What prevented you when you saw them going astray; that you followed me not?” meaning, “You should have informed me of this matter as soon as it happened.” “Have you then disobeyed my order?” “In that which I entrusted to you,” referring to Musa’s statement, “Replace me among my people, act in the right way and follow not the way of the mischief-makers.” (7:142) “He (Harun) said: “O son of my mother!” This mentioning of the mother was Harun’s attempt to soften Musa’s anger, because he was Musa’s biological brother and they had the same parents. The mentioning of the mother here is more delicate and profound in bringing about gentleness and mildness. This is why he said,

“O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard, nor by my head!”

This was Harun’s excuse to Musa for being delayed from coming to him and informing him of the great mishap that took place. He said, “Verily, I feared” meaning, “I was afraid to come after you and inform you of this, because I thought you might accuse me of leaving them alone and causing division between them.” “and you have not respected my word!” This means, “And you did not take care of what I commanded you to do when I left you in charge of them.” Ibn Abbas said, “Harun was respectful and obedient to Musa.” (At-Tabari 18:359)

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 6 Pages 361-381

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