The Nine Signs of Musa

Allah tells us that He sent Musa with nine clear signs, which provided definitive proof that his prophethood was real and that what he was conveying from the One Who had sent him to Fira`wn was true. These clear signs were: his staff, his hand, the years of famine, the sea, the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs and the blood. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas. Muhammad bin Ka`b said, “They were his hand and his staff, the five signs mentioned in Al-A`raf, and destruction of wealth and the rock.” Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Ash-Sha`bi and Qatadah said: “They are his hand, his staff, the years of famine, the failure of the crops, the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs and the blood.”

فَاسْتَكْبَرُواْ وَكَانُواْ قَوْماً مُّجْرِمِينَ

(Yet they remained arrogant, and they were of those people who were criminals,) 7:133 meaning, despite all these signs and their witnessing of them, they disbelieved them and belied them wrongfully and arrogantly, although they were themselves were convinced of them, so they did not have any effect on them. By the same token, (Allah tells His Messenger here,) `if We were to respond to what these people are asking you for, who have said that they will not believe in you until you cause springs to gush forth throughout the land for them, they would not respond or believe except if Allah willed.’ As Fira`wn said to Musa, even though he had witnessed the signs which he brought,

إِنِّى لأَظُنُّكَ يمُوسَى مَسْحُورًا

(“O Musa! I think you are indeed bewitched. “) It was said that this meant he thought he was a sorcerer, but Allah knows best. These nine signs which were mentioned by the Imams (scholars) quoted above are what is referred to here, and in the Ayah :

وَأَلْقِ عَصَاكَ فَلَمَّا رَءَاهَا تَهْتَزُّ كَأَنَّهَا جَآنٌّ وَلَّى مُدْبِراً وَلَمْ يُعَقِّبْ يمُوسَى لاَ تَخَفْ

(“And throw down your stick!” But when he saw it moving as if it were a snake, he turned in flight, and did not look back. (It was said:) “O Musa ! Fear not.”) until His saying,

فِى تِسْعِ ءَايَـتٍ إِلَى فِرْعَوْنَ وَقَوْمِهِ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ قَوْماً فَـسِقِينَ

(among the nine signs (you will take) to Fir`awn and his people. Verily, they are a people who are rebellious.) 27:10-12 These Ayat include mention of the stick and the hand, and the rest of the nine signs are mentioned in detail in Surat Al-A`raf. Musa was also given many other signs, such as striking the rock with his staff and water flowing from it, their being shaded with clouds, manna and quails, and other signs which were bestowed upon the Children of Israel after they had left the land of Egypt. But here Allah mentions the nine signs which were witnessed by his people in Egypt. These became evidence against them, because they stubbornly rejected them out of disbelief. So Musa said to Fira`wn:

لَقَدْ عَلِمْتَ مَآ أَنزَلَ هَـؤُلاءِ إِلاَّ رَبُّ السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ بَصَآئِرَ

(“Verily, you know that these signs have been sent down by none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth. ) meaning, as proof and evidence of the truth of what I have brought to you.

وَإِنِّى لأَظُنُّكَ يفِرْعَونُ مَثْبُورًا

(And I think you are indeed, O Fir`awn, doomed to destruction!) i.e., bound to be destroyed. This was the view of Mujahid and Qatadah. Ibn `Abbas said: “It means cursed.” Ibn `Abbas and Ad-Dahhak said:


(doomed to destruction.) means defeated. As Mujahid said, “doomed” includes all of these meanings.

The Destruction of Fir`awn and His People

فَأَرَادَ أَن يَسْتَفِزَّهُم مِّنَ الاٌّرْضِ

(So he resolved to turn them out of the land.) means, he wanted to expel them and drive them out.

فَأَغْرَقْنَاهُ وَمَن مَّعَهُ جَمِيعًاوَقُلْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِ لِبَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ اسْكُنُواْ الاٌّرْضَ

(But We drowned him and all who were with him. And We said to the Children of Israel after him: “Dwell in the land…”) This is good news for Muhammad , a foretelling of the conquest of Makkah, even though this Surah was revealed in Makkah before the Hijrah. Similarly, the people of Makkah wanted to expel the Prophet from the city, as Allah says in two Ayat:

وَإِن كَادُواْ لَيَسْتَفِزُّونَكَ مِنَ الاٌّرْضِ لِيُخْرِجُوكَ مِنْهَا

(And verily, they were about to frighten you so much as to drive you out from the land…) 17:76-77 Hence Allah caused His Messenger to inherit Makkah, so he entered it by force, according to the better-known of the two opinions, and he defeated its people then out of kindness and generosity, he let them go, just as Allah caused the Children of Israel, who had been oppressed, to inherit the land, east and west, and to inherit the land of Fir`awn’s people, with its farmland, crops and treasures. As Allah said,

كَذَلِكَ وَأَوْرَثْنَـهَا بَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ

(thus We caused the Children of Israel to inherit them. ) (26:59). Here Allah says:

وَقُلْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِ لِبَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ اسْكُنُواْ الاٌّرْضَ فَإِذَا جَآءَ وَعْدُ الاٌّخِرَةِ جِئْنَا بِكُمْ لَفِيفًا

(And We said to the Children of Israel after him: “Dwell in the land, then, when the final and the last promise comes near, We shall bring you altogether as mixed crowd.”) meaning, all of you, you and your ene mies. Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah and Ad-Dahhak said, “It means all together.”

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