Animals In The Glorious Quran


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  • Animals In The Glorious Quran


  • The Staff of Musa

     

    {And We inspired Musa (Moses) (saying), 'Throw your staff',’ and behold! It swallowed up straight away all the falsehoods which they showed.}                                              (Al-A'raf: 117)

     

    Why is it that a garden is sometimes green and sometimes yellow?

    Why is it that the deserts are dry and the mountaintops are covered with snow?

    Why is it that the color of the sun is like fire when rising and like blood when setting?

    Why is it that the moon turns from a beautiful full moon to a slim crescent?

    There are so many 'whys' which I cannot find the answer for. All I know is that I was a plant, then I became an inanimate object and then I turned into an animal. I know that my last transformation, from an object to an animal, was one of Allah's great Miracles. To Musa I was only a staff but to Almighty Allah I was something totally different.

    The staff of Musa, that is me.

    I am the staff of Musa. I preceded the Prophet while walking ...I would raise high then fall down onto earth all the way along. I have no mind and I know nothing about "why" or "how".

    At first the sun used to provide me with greenness and elasticity, but when I died it gave me strength and solidity, how amazing! Death is supposed to be the end of power and strength for all beings, but for me it was the opposite. I was only a branch of a tree and when I died I became stronger. So, you see that death means the ultimate end of power for some beings and a newborn power for others.

    It is both simple and miraculous at the same time. When a branch of a tree dies, it is turned into a staff and a staff does not gain its solidity unless it is completely dead. That is how power is generated from death, the cessation of being, and this is only a modest sign of Allah's Omnipotence. I believe in Allah just like all the plants and all the inanimate objects do, though each of us glorifies Allah in his own special way.

    So, it is me the staff of Musa! The most famous staff of all,   chosen to be in the hands of Allah's Messenger to Pharaoh.

    Anyway, I would rather start from the beginning.

    First of all, I was a branch of a tree that was found in the royal garden of Pharaoh. Nobody could say that I belonged to him because we, trees, do not belong to human beings. We only belong to Allah Whom we glorify and worship. We are born from a seed whose father is the water and whose mother is the sun.

    The sun! What a beautiful feeling of warmth! It is also wonderful to feel firmness when my roots dig their way down into the soil to meet the cold water that gives me life. It is just great! My roots in the water and my head in the sun, a constant communication with the mother and the father ...what pleasure!

    So many people think that we trees do not feel but this is not true because all beings feel. It is only man's vanity that makes him believe himself to be the only being who feels. The only difference between us is that we express our feelings through silence and greenness or through silence and non-greenness. We have special feelings and we have our very special ways to express such feelings. We do not have a will and we do not have the choice. We do not know evil and we do not know goodness. We are brought by Allah into being to perform a certain role without ever making mistakes or creating anything ourselves. To sum up, we are created to be obliged, but this in itself is a great blessing.

    At the beginning of creation, Allah offered the trust; all the duties that He has ordained, to the heavens, the earth and the mountains but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it. As for man, out of his injustice to himself and his ignorance of this heavy responsibility, he agreed to bear it. Anyway, I thank Allah that I am one of those who were rescued from bearing this trust and this is a gain in itself.

    Some people believe that all creatures other than man, are inferior to man because they are not honored by bearing this trust. To tell you the truth, I am not authorized to say whether this is right or wrong but all I know is that being created as a tree is the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Had I been a man, may Allah forbid, there would have been a probability that I could be a sinner. Surely, to be a staff is better than to be a sinner. To be a staff rescued from Allah's Torment is better than to be a man enraging the Almighty. I thank Allah that I am a tree and it is enough for me to be submissive to Him all my life ...I cannot wish for anything better.

    I came from Egypt, and I was meant to teach an Egyptian tyrant a lesson, but let us not go into this now.

    I know that life is a big mystery. For instance, I do not know why I love the sun and water and why I bend with the wind. I do not know why I grow when I absorb water or why I die every winter and come back to life every spring. I do not know how other creatures feel when they move about on earth for I have never before tried walking. I told you, for me the whole universe is a mysterious secret, but I know that we glorify Allah and praise Him in our own special ways that will remain forever an unrevealed secret. Other creatures do not know how we glorify Allah and how we prostrate to Him in our own special way. Actually, when we do so, we feel great and I really do not know if this is how human beings feel or not.

    Anyway, I was a branch of a tree in the royal garden of Pharaoh.

    To tell you the truth, I never liked Pharaoh. I used to see him wandering in the garden. Sometimes he used to stand in my shade and I would hear him uttering words of blasphemy denying the existence of Almighty Allah. This enraged me and made me shiver with disgust. How come he would stand in my shade that is nothing but a blessing from Allah, and yet arrogantly deny the Giver of such a blessing!

    I am not the only one, who would shudder when hearing words of ingratitude and heresy uttered by man, for all other creatures would do the same thing.

    We, plants, have accepted to be tied down to earth and to be in a lower rank in the hierarchy of creatures, because freedom to us meant the probability of falling into sin and this we could not bear. But what about man; the being who was blessed with freedom and with the ability to choose and who has the potential to be the top of all creatures! How can he receive such blessings with denial and ingratitude! Do you realize now why I shuddered whenever Pharaoh would pass near my stem or would put his hand on me? And why I suffocated whenever his breath would blow near me?

    I cannot say I hated Pharaoh because we, plants, do not know hatred. We know pain but hatred is not in our dictionary.

    On the other hand, there were three people I used to like having them under my shade: the wife of Pharaoh, an Egyptian man from Pharaoh's relatives and a boy from Banu Isra'il. These three people used to gather under my shade and I used to feel satisfaction whenever they came near me. Maybe I liked them because they believed in Allah even though they never announced it. In the palace of Pharaoh no one was allowed to believe in any god but in Pharaoh himself. How arrogant he was! He was a tyrant who would not hesitate to do anything he pleased. Nothing could stop him. Killing was very easy for him, Despite all this, we trees never feared him. Yes, we would shiver with disgust from him, but we never feared him and we never feared to announce our faith in Allah, the One and Only.

    Anyway, winter, the time of my death, was approaching. Imagine this, Pharaoh saw us dying every winter and coming back to life every spring and yet he completely denied the existence Of the Day of Judgment!

    We, trees, offer a constant proof of the miracle of death and resurrection to all people but unfortunately few people realize the truth. Anyway, there were only three people in the palace of Pharaoh who realized this truth.

    The number of believers was very few and this made us feel as if we were living in exile.

    Winter came and with it came my death.

    Trees die while standing. They lose their green color and their leaves fall to the ground. I felt my leaves leaving my branches and starting their journey in the air until they safely reached the earth. Actually, trees do not feel sad when they die, though they may give the impression of grief from the outside.

    We, trees, do not see or hear or talk and in winter we glorify Allah and we prostrate to Him but it takes a longer time than usual.

    The first days of winter passed smoothly, but one night a violent storm blew and there was thunder and lightening. I did not know what happened after this. All I knew was that a spark came down from heaven unto the garden of Pharaoh. It fell on my head and so I was split into two and I burnt. In this way, I fell down upon the earth. The rain then poured down extinguishing the fire that was kindled on my tips. Later on, when the storm was over, the destruction caused by my fall became clear. With my heavy weight, I almost destroyed half the trees in the royal garden of Pharaoh.

    I also destroyed part of Pharaoh's temple where he used to retire and contemplate, though I could swear, if I am allowed to swear, that Pharaoh was too foolish to think or contemplate. He was fond of open areas and gardens and he would always give others the impression that he was in deep meditation. His arrogance fooled him into believing himself to be the wisest and most intelligent person on earth, but the truth was totally the opposite, for he was nothing but a tyrant wearing the mask of a clown. Being blinded with his own vanity, he was almost mindless and I used to wonder how he could think of himself as an intelligent being at all!

    Pharaoh was not effective at all in ruling his people, and this system was under the control of Haman. His only concern was pursuing those who might dare to oppose him. In other words, Pharaoh was the one ruled not the only ruler as he allowed himself to think. It is something like mud that surrounds the roots. The roots believe themselves to be grasping the mud in order to attain their food and water, whereas the truth is that the mud is the thing that holds the roots and surrounds them and provides them with what it does not have.

    Anyway, the ruling system of Pharaoh was mainly based upon subjugation and nonsense, just like any totalitarian regime that is built upon sanctifying the individual and denying the existence of Allah. Such regimes are nothing but gates to destruction and they always die out because of a catastrophe from heaven which represents Divine Justice.

    Pharaoh was not a blind man, yet he lacked the power of mental perception, i.e. insight. He could not understand that this storm was only meant to be a warning for him from Allah. He could not understand that Allah was too Merciful to punish him without sending him many warnings before. No, he was too foolish to understand this and he only thought this storm to be a coincidence. So with great indifference he gave his orders to uproot the destroyed trees, to replant the garden and to repair his temple.

    Anyway, this was how I was moved from the royal garden of Pharaoh to a wood merchant. The latter was so happy to have me, for I was of the expensive kind of wood. So he dedicated his time to cutting and shaping me into idols and staffs. He then gave a group of those staffs as a gift to the royal palace.

    So, after being a tree, which is one unit, I was split into a number of pieces; idols and staffs. Musa then carne to acquire one of my staffs and this was how I became a staff in the hand of Musa.

    Of course, to me the whole thing was different. First of all I was a tree, a living plant, then I became a staff, an inanimate object and this was not the same as before. In my new condition, I was given the power to hate Pharaoh and to hate his tyranny. Some may think that objects cannot feel, but this however is not true for they do feel but in their own special way. Yes, they may not grow or move, but inside they feel.

    Thus, I became the staff of Musa.

    Musa used to take me when going out because in the palace nobody was allowed to carry a staff except Pharaoh. The staff of Pharaoh was so distinguished. It was a short one made from black ebony and gold and it was adorned with jewels. Nevertheless, despite its ostentatious appearance, the staff of Pharaoh could not help feeling miserable.

    Objects can feel happiness and misery. They are usually miserable when they are being used for purposes that contradict the natural laws of the universe that Allah prescribed.

    I used to hear the staff of Pharaoh glorifying Allah and cursing Pharaoh whenever he uttered words of heresy or ingratitude towards Allah the Lord of the Worlds. Despite all this, and against its own will, this staff was the symbol of Pharaoh's power. Whenever he signaled with it, this would mean a royal decree coming in the way. For this reason, no one was permitted to hold a staff in the palace for who would dare to share power with Pharaoh?

    So, Musa used to keep me in his room and whenever he went out, he would take me with him. At first, he used to forget me a lot for he was not used to carrying a staff at all. A staff, at that time, was only important to shepherds, old people and aristocrats and Musa did not belong to any of these groups. This explains why he sometimes used to forget me. One time, he forgot me at Harun's house and another time he forgot me with Pharaoh's wife who was like a second mother to him. He also forgot me once in the house of an old lady from Banu Isra'il whom he used to visit and each time they would carry me back to him.

      Time passed, then one day there carne a man running, from the farthest end of the city. He said, "O Musa (Moses)! Verily, the chiefs are taking counsel together about you, to kill you, so escape. Truly, I am to you of those who give sincere advice."

    This was a warning to Musa, but at that time I could not understand why they were conspiring to kill him. Later on, I learnt that Musa had struck an Egyptian man with his fist and had unintentionally killed him. There had been a quarrel between an Egyptian man and a man from among Musa's people. The latter asked for Musa's help and so he interfered but without ever meaning to kill the other man.

    Anyway, the Egyptian man fell dead and the story spread throughout the country. It was known to be an unintentional killing, yet there was a new factor that influenced the whole case.

    Musa never worshiped Pharaoh and he never worshiped the multi-gods of the Egyptians and most important of all, he was from Banu Isra'il. There was a prophecy that said that one day, a man from Banu Isra'il would come and be the cause of destroying Pharaoh. Pharaoh believed himself to be Egypt and so he considered that any threat to him would be a threat to Egypt as a whole.

    As a matter of fact, that incident brought the old prophecy into the minds of Pharaoh and his men, who were eagerly waiting for the chance to kill Musa. They thought that by doing so they would be preserving the country's security and this was the reason they gave for the decision to kill Musa.

    At that time of his life, Musa was worshiping Allah in secret. He never discussed this matter with Pharaoh and yet in spite of this, he was still sentenced to death. At this point, Almighty Allah sent this good man to Musa who was from Pharaoh's people. He came running to warn him about their evil intentions. On hearing this, Musa snatched me quickly and quickly escaped from Pharaoh's palace. His main concern at that time was to leave Egypt.

    For a very long time, Musa kept on walking.

    While walking, I always preceded him; one step for me and two steps for him. Night fell and Musa stopped to rest in the middle of a dreary desert.

    I felt that Musa was relieved that I was with him, for I could serve him as a means of defense. Anyway, he put me on his chest and he slept on the ground.

    Musa was so frightened and worried when he was leaving Egypt and so he prayed Allah to save him from the polytheists and he was actually granted his wish. He traveled a long distance from Egypt then he slept for a while in the desert. The hot sun soon woke him up and so once again he started his journey.

    Again, one step for me and two steps for Musa.

    While walking, I discovered that I had many uses. I was a staff, a tent and a means for defense. I could feel it whenever Musa felt tired, for his sweat would fall on my rough wooden skin. Anyway, when he was tired, he used to stop, take off his cloak, stick me in the ground and then hang his cloak over me and sit under the shade. So, when I was a branch in a tree, I was able to grant people shade and despite my death and my transformation, I could still grant them the same privilege.

    For days we kept on walking. Sometimes Musa would stop to eat from the trees and sometimes he would stop to drink from an old well.

    Finally, we reached a wooded village that was surrounded by green pastures. When I saw this village, I remembered my past life and I could not help glorifying Allah Who has created everything on the earth from the dust of earth itself.

    To tell you the truth, I could not figure out how dust could be the origin of everything on earth. How could it be the origin of wood, granite and jewels for instance?

    How could the surface of a garden be green, and then be the bottom of a river and then be turned into rocks? It is really amazing. For us trees it is a mysterious puzzle but I do not know if it is the same thing for human beings or not.

    Anyway, this village was called Madyan. When we reached Madyan, Musa helped two women to water their flocks. He then left them and headed towards the shade where he sat thinking about his past and present life. I heard him then say, "My Lord! Truly, l am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!"

    I could not actually understand his prayer but it appeared to me most likely that it was his own way of prostration as a human being. It is really a big mystery, the way different creatures prostrate to Allah; the birds, the bees, the flowers, the clouds, the thunder, the lightening, the Jinn and the human beings…” Of each one He (Allah) knows indeed his Salat (prayer) and his glorification." So, every creature glorifies Allah in the way Allah has taught him.

      An hour later, one of the two women whom Musa had helped, came to him walking shyly and said to him, "Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us."

    So, Musa got up and went with her.

    After a short distance, we entered a simple house that appeared to be the house of a shepherd. The man was so old yet he was so handsome. Musa sat in front of him, put me on the ground, and told him his story about Pharaoh and his men.

    The man then said to Musa, "Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are Zalimun (polytheists, disbelievers, and wrong-doers)."

    In Madyan, Musa was so far from Egypt and from the tyranny of Pharaoh and so he realized that Allah had responded to his prayer. Musa thus praised Allah and thanked Him then he sat silently. A womanly voice was then heard in the room, as one of the two daughters was saying to her father, "O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the, trustworthy.”

    This woman had never known Musa before, yet she praised him because she really felt him to be a good man. This of course made a good impression on Musa.

    The old man then said to Musa, "I intend to wed one of these two daughters of mine to you on condition that you serve me for eight years, but if you complete ten years, it will be (a favour) from you. But I intend not to place you  under a difficulty. If Allah will, you will find me one of the righteous."

    In reply to this offer Musa said, "That (is settled) between me and you whichever of the two terms I fulfill, there will be no injustice to me, and Allah is Surety over what we say."

    So, in a very short time the course of Musa's life was changed from a chased, frightened, lonely man, to a secure, safe and married man. So, Allah not only granted Musa his wish, but He has also bestowed upon him many other blessings.

    Musa only wished to be rescued from the polytheists, but he was granted much more than this, for besides security and safety, he was also granted marriage and happiness. His wife had a very good character and she was predestined to live with such a righteous man and be a very helpful wife for Musa in the end.

    Anyway, Musa leaned me against the wall of his room and with my closed eyelids, I went on discovering the house we were in and I found that it was a house of very righteous people who believed in Allah and worshiped Him sincerely.

    We spent ten years in Madyan.

    Those ten years were a very good chance for Musa to think and contemplate the universe and its Lord. During this period, Musa worked as a shepherd for the old man, his father-in-law, and every morning we would go out early with the flock to the wide pastures. It was a great chance for us to enjoy the beauty of nature. Every morning we watched the rising sun and smelt the grass and the scented mountainous flowers. The sheep would run happily one after the other as if the breeze was tickling them to run and they would then stop to eat from the grass, then run on again. Musa would stretch his hand while holding me and point with me to the direction that could guarantee the flock food and safety. I used to watch the whole scene and glorify Almighty Allah Who has created all this beauty.

    I could not understand how this outstanding scene had originally come from inside the earth and how it then came onto its surface then once more would vanish and return back to the earth. I knew that this is the normal cycle of all beings until the Day of Judgment would come and all would be resurrected from death.

    At this thought, I could not help glorifying Allah. The idea made me shiver from fear and awe of Allah. Actually Musa too had the opportunity to contemplate deeply and I used to notice him wondering at the perfection of Allah's Creation and glorifying Almighty Allah with great submission.

    I remember that one day, a group of wolves dared to approach our flock, thinking Musa to be a weak, lonely man with nothing in his hand but a staff. However, when they came near, Musa moved me strongly in the air causing the air to whisper and I recall touching the back of one of the wolves causing him to howl out in pain. Anyway, they all ran away escaping Musa's staff.

    Yes, a staff of a shepherd is not just a staff for directing the flock, for it is sometimes a tent and sometimes a very effective weapon for defense.

    The days passed smoothly and everyday Musa would learn more about Allah and would come to fear and glorify Him more. Despite my wooden nature, I was able to feel the warmth of his body whenever he would remember Allah and His blessings. I could swear that this energy inside his body was sometimes greater than the energy of the sun itself.

    This was how Musa spent ten years in Madyan.

    Those ten years actually acted like the rough stones that are used in polishing mirrors and the weapons. Musa was totally refined from all the impurities of life and was ready to grasp the full picture of the truth. At this stage, he felt a deep yearning             inside him to leave.

    So, Musa went to his father-in-law and told him how he felt. Musa said, "The ten years have passed.”

    The old man said, "Yes, Musa."

    Musa said, "1 would like to return to Egypt."

    The old man trembled and said, "It is your right but I shall miss you a lot."

    Musa smiled and said, "1 shall miss you too. I owe you a lot. You gave me shelter and you allowed me to marry your daughter and you have been like a father to me but there is something inside me that calls me to leave. I do not know exactly what it is but all I know is that I do not have a choice. "

    Musa's wife said, "There are many dangers in traveling."

    Her father said, "Do not be afraid, a long time has passed and he will be safe in Egypt."

    Musa frowned and said, "To tell you the truth, there is no law in Egypt but Pharaoh himself. He can do whatever he wants without restriction, but this is not what I am thinking of."

    The old man said to his daughter, "Get Musa a cup of milk."

    He then turned to Musa and said, "What are you thinking of?"

    Musa said, "Leaving is inevitable. I feel I am not free to choose, I am ordered to leave. I have seen myself in a vision, walking in the desert of Sinai heading back to Egypt and it appeared to be an order. "

    The old man said, "When will you leave? Musa said, "Tomorrow if Allah wills."

    Musa then drank the milk and his wife went to prepare their belongings. She put all her clothes and her husband's in a pile and put with them plenty of food and many pots and then stood wondering what she might have forgotten.

     On seeing this huge pile, Musa said to his wife, "What is this?"

    She said, "It is our clothes, pots and cups."

    He said, "We shall not take any of these things. Leave everything to your father. We shall only take the clothes we are wearing and one cup to drink water in." His wife said, "How can I meet your people with the clothes I will be traveling in?"

    Musa smiled and allowed her to take another dress. He then went out to the pastures at night and stood watching the sky and the stars.

    In the morning, Musa's journey started.

    We, Musa, his wife and myself, walked for a very long distance. I always preceded them. We passed by green pastures, then by a muddy road, and then by a dusty way. We walked near a little stream, then we passed by the big well that was found at the entrance of Madyan. After this, we went out onto a broad desert and here nature wore a different mask, for the earth then turned to be rough and rocky. We walked for two days.

    At first when we started our journey, the weather was cold but when we approached the mountains, the weather became             chilly.

    We kept on walking for a whole week.

    As a matter of fact, I felt that something was changing inside me but I did not know what it was. There was something mysterious and confusing going on inside myself; something I could never ever express.

    Anyway, we walked for days in that fierce weather and one night the moon vanished behind some dark clouds, lightening sparked in the sky, thunder grumbled loudly and the rain started pouring down.

    Suddenly, I found myself shaking.

    Musa was trembling from the cold. It was a deep-black night. He turned his head and could not see anything, and then suddenly he saw something. He saw a bright fire in the distance and so he said to his wife, "Wait! Verily, I have seen afire, perhaps I can bring you some burning brand therefrom, or find some guidance at the fire.

    Musa then hurried towards the fire. He took me with him and I preceded him while walking.

    Suddenly, something sparkled inside me like lightening. Only then I realized my real identity. I was not a staff and I was not a branch of a tree. I was not a plant. It was only a mask covering my reality. In fact, I was something totally different.

    I was a serpent, a huge snake!

    I do not know from where this snake came or why it was taking the shape of a staff. My amazement increased when we were approaching the Divine Presence.

    I swear I was about to melt in front of the Lord of the Worlds and for the first time I learnt my true reality.

    Anyway, Musa came near the fire and then he was called by name, "O Musa!"

    I had been called before Musa.

    I was called with no voice and no words. I was just ordered to be my real self.

    When we approached the fire, I realized before Musa that what we were approaching was light, not fire. Before he was commanded to throw me, I was destined to know my truth.

    I knew that I was a manifest serpent and a quick-moving snake. I realized for the first time that I had a much bigger role on earth than to be just a staff or a mere branch in a tree.

    Musa approached the fire.

    Suddenly the whole atmosphere changed. Before it had been severely cold and rain was falling heavily, but in this valley we did not feel any cold or any wind blowing. There was a great and solemn silence allover the place.

    Musa came near the fire and here the earth became submissive to the Great Call, "O Musa! Verily! I am your Lord! So rake off your shoes, you are in the sacred valley, Tuwa. And I have chosen you. So listen to that which is inspired to you. Verily! I am Allah! La ilaha ilIa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I), so worship Me, and perform As Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) for My Remembrance. Verily, the Hour is coming and My Will is to keep it hidden that every person may be rewarded for that which he strives. Therefore, let not the one who believes not therein (i.e. in the Day of Resurrection, Reckoning, Paradise and Hell, etc.), but follows his own lists, divert you therefrom, lest you perish."

    It was an extremely exalted situation more than words can describe. Musa's body trembled while he was taking off his shoes and I was shaking in his hands.

    This invisible Greatness overwhelmed the whole valley and the Light was too strong for Musa to see and so he put his hands over his eyes for fear of being blinded by this extraordinary Light.

    Allah was addressing Musa from behind a veil and I too received the command of knowing my reality from behind a veil. It is beyond the creatures' power to endure seeing Allah or listening to Him without a veil. Trees, mountains, the heavens, the earth and all other creatures would collapse to dust if this happened. So Allah in His mercy talked to Musa from behind a veil.

    Musa stood in great submission before Allah. He was astonished when Allah asked him about what he was holding in his right hand.

    Almighty Allah was asking Musa about me, what a great honor! He (Exalted and Glorified be He) knew my reality which had not yet been revealed to Musa.

    It was the time for Musa to discover my real identity. Musa replied saying, "This is my staff, whereon I lean, and wherewith I beat down branches for my sheep, and wherein I find other uses."

    I listened to Musa's words and realized that he did not know what I really was, though we had lived with each other for almost sixteen years, five of which I was a branch in a tree in Egypt and one year as a staff that he hardly ever used, and ten years helping him and never leaving one another.

    So, that was how Musa thought of me! A simple staff.

    Anyway, Allah gave Musa His order to throw me saying, "Cast it down, Musa!"

    Musa obeyed and once he threw me from his hand, I started moving quickly and violently. At this very moment, my true identity was for the first time revealed. Although I never saw my image as a serpent, I was certain that I was a huge snake for I saw in Musa's eyes a kind of fear that I had never ever seen in his eyes before and I guessed that it was my appearance that caused him to be that frightened.

    Musa was standing in the holy valley talking to Almighty Allah, however despite the greatness of the situation, Musa did not hesitate to run when he first saw me for he was terribly scared of me.

    Musa wanted to run away from me! From his staff or let us say from his snake. I never felt any, enmity towards Musa or towards any other creature. I was only a miracle and a mercy     from Allah but it seemed that the mask I wore was terrible.

    Anyway, Musa was terrified and so he ran away.

    However, Allah said to him, "Grasp it, and fear not, We shall return it to its former state."

    Musa proceeded towards me and he grasped me with shaking hands. Once he did, I became so mild just like the staff he was used to holding before. Once again I listened to Allah addressing Musa who was holding me in his hand. Musa was of course shaken from all the incidents that had happened to him. He was being addressed by Almighty Allah and the staff he was holding was not really a staff. It was a difficult experience for him. I realized all this from the moment he grasped me for I could easily feel that he was trembling.

    Knowing what was going on inside Musa, Allah wanted him to calm down and feel safe and peaceful. He said to him, "And press your (right) hand to your (left) side, it will come forth white (and shining), without any disease as another sign." So, this was another miracle but this time it was a miracle from Musa's body himself not from any other external object.

    Musa was stunned to see his hand shining white like the moon.

    This miracle amazed him as well. However he endured it because Allah fortified his heart and helped him to remain calm. Almighty Allah told Musa that those were two of His greatest Signs. Then He gave Musa His Order saying, "Go to Pharaoh! Verily, he has transgressed (all bounds in disbelief and disobedience, and has behaved as an arrogant, and as a tyrant)."

    It was only when Allah gave Musa His Divine Command to go to Pharaoh, that I realized the secret behind my being a serpent. I realized that Pharaoh was my ultimate end. Musa was supposed to talk leniently at first with Pharaoh, but if Pharaoh refused to listen, then it would be my turn to give Pharaoh a tough lesson.

    So, I was supposed to come at the end of the stage of leniency.

    A snake's skin, despite the shiver of fear it causes, is still so smooth. I knew that I was not destined to eat Pharaoh or harm him, I was only meant to frighten him. See how Merciful and Patient Allah is with His Servants!

    This Divine Patience is much greater than man's power to imagine. I knew that as a staff I was able to bite Pharaoh once and kill him. I knew that as a serpent I was able to twist around  him and crush his bones, or even swallow him at once before "anyone could reach him. I knew I was able to do this, however, I was only commanded to be transformed in front of Pharaoh from a staff to a serpent in order to make him believe in Allah. What great Divine Patience!

    Anyway, when Musa became calm again, he prayed to Allah, "0 my Lord! Open for me my chest (grant me self-confidence, contentment, and boldness). And ease my task for me. And make loose the knot (the defect) from my tongue, (i.e. remove the incorrectness from my speech) [That occurred as a result of a brand of fire which Musa (Moses) put in his mouth when he was an infant]. That they understand my speech. And appoint for me a helper from my family, Harun (Aaron), my brother. Increase my strength with him. And let him share my task (of conveying Allah’s Message and Prophethood), that we may glorify You much, And remember You much, Verily! You are of us Ever a Well-Seer."

    Allah said, "You are granted Your request, Musa! And indeed We conferred a favour on you another time (before). "

    So, Allah granted Musa his request and He reminded him of the previous blessings He had conferred upon him saying, "When We inspired your mother with that which We inspired. Saying, ‘Put him (the child) into the Tabut (a box or a case or a chest) and put it into the river (Nile), then the river shall cast it up on the bank, and there, an enemy of Mine and an enemy of his shall take him.’ And I endued you with love from Me, in order that you may be brought up under My Eye. When Your sister went and said, 'Shall I show you one who will nurse him?' So We restored You to your mother, that she might cool her eyes and she should not grieve. Then you did kill a man, but We saved you from great distress and tried you with a heavy trial. Then you stayed a number of years with the people of Madyan. Then you came here according to the fixed term which I ordained (for you), Musa! And I have prepared you for Myself (for my Message).”

    I realized from Allah's Speech to Musa that Musa was meant to be a great man and a great Prophet as well.

    Thus, Almighty Allah created Musa for Himself.

    I comprehended the significant task that he was destined to carry out and I understood that I was a tool for persuading Pharaoh of Musa's Prophethood. After Allah had finished talking to Musa, Musa returned to his family. He took them and started on his journey again towards Egypt. I walked on the earth just like a staff.

    Egypt finally came in sight and here I remembered my childhood as a branch of a tree in this country. Musa walked beside the garden of Pharaoh, my place of birth, and I was so amazed to see that place again. It is true that creatures do change.

    That place did not stimulate any feelings within me as it used to in my childhood. I felt I had no memories there and I also felt that I was playing a great role in the human scene. Anyway, my first identity and role became mingled with my second one and this only incited me to glorify Almighty Allah more.

    Musa then visited his brother Harun and in one of the rooms of that simple house, he took him, putting me beside him, and related to him everything about the mission the three of us were assigned to perform with Pharaoh.

    The three of us, Musa, Harun and me.

    We entered the palace of Pharaoh and I noticed the great difference between that palace and the house of Musa and Harun. The house of Musa and Harun was built of clay, whereas the palace of Pharaoh was made of stones covered with scented wood and the floor was made of marble and the furniture was made of marble, ebony and gold. Everything in that palace was shining and glittering except Pharaoh's face. The expression on his face was so cold, cruel and indifferent and here I realized           why I was sent to him.

    Pharaoh said, "Finally Musa."

    Musa said, "Yes, I have finally returned and I have brought you the goodness of this worldly life and the Hereafter."

    The expression on Pharaoh's face changed from cruelty and coldness to astonishment and amazement and with suppressed sarcasm he said, "How come that you bring me the goodness of life and the Afterlife? What is all this generosity? And from where did you receive all this goodness?"

    Musa said leniently, "I have received it from Allah and I came to you as His Messenger to call you to worship Him."

    Pharaoh stood up, walked for a while and then said, "You have never believed in me Musa. You have never believed in me as a god and you have always denied my divinity."

    Pharaoh then walked before the throne and stood contemplating for a while then said, "Do you not believe that I am a god?"

    Musa said, "I believe in the Lord of the Worlds."

    Pharaoh examined Musa, “And who is the Lord of the Worlds?”

    Musa said, "He is the Lord of the heavens and the earth and everything that is between them if you seek to be convinced with certainty."

          Pharaoh then turned to the people around him and with deep sarcasm he said, “Do you not hear (what he says)?"

    Of course his question was ironic and was addressed to his ministers, as he wanted them to witness the daring attitude of Musa who came to offer him faith in Allah the One and Only.

          Musa, disregarding Pharaoh's sarcasm, again said, "Your Lord and the Lord of your ancient fathers.”

    Here Pharaoh failed to maintain his calm temper and so he said loudly, "Your Messenger who has been sent to you is a madman.

    Silence prevailed allover the place the moment Pharaoh accused Musa of being mad. It was a very hurtful accusation, first because it was obviously false and second because it undermined the power of understanding of all the attendants.

    Haman then proceeded forward bowing to Pharaoh and said, "Would you like me to give my men the order to kick Musa out of the palace?

    Thrilled with Haman's hypocrisy, Pharaoh said, "No, we have not heard all his words yet. Musa is calling me to believe in Allah the One and Only and I am simply rejecting his proposal. Do you have any other thing to add Musa?"

    Musa said, "Not much. I just want to draw your attention to Allah's Signs in the universe. O Pharaoh, Allah has created everything in this universe. Can any human being cause the clouds to move or the rain to fall? Can any tyrant cause the plants to come out of the earth? Allah has created us from earth and we will be returned to earth when we die and then we will be resurrected from the earth."

    After listening for a long time, Pharaoh said with boredom obvious on his face, "This is another case Musa. Let us not talk about this and let us see your own case."

    Musa said, "What case?"

    Pharaoh said, "There are a lot of cases against you and I think the most simple is your killing an Egyptian man and your escape from Egypt. What is the name of such a crime in law?"

    Haman said, "It is called resisting authority."

    Turning to Haman, Pharaoh asked, "What is the penalty for the one who worships a god other than me?"

    Haman said, "Imprisonment for life."

    Pharaoh then walked towards Musa and said, "If you choose an ilah (god) other than me, I will certainly put you among the prisoners.”

    Musa said, “Even if I bring You something manifest and convincing?

    It was an obvious challenge for Pharaoh and it was enough to make him believe in Musa's sincerity, however Pharaoh went on with his arrogance and cried out saying, “Bring it forth if you are of the truthful.”

          Musa then retreated two steps backward and then he threw me, the staff, from his hand onto the marble floor.

    Pharaoh thought that Musa was retreating because he was confused and frightened and that was why his staff had fallen from him. At that thought, Pharaoh smiled confidently.

    Anyway, that confident smile vanished once I touched the floor, for I was turned into a manifest snake and I started twisting and opening my mouth and sticking out my tongue.

    Pharaoh was frozen in his place. His expression was something that had never been seen before. He was stunned and he kept on staring at me as his face was sometimes yellow and sometimes green because of terror.

    He wanted to speak, but his tongue was paralyzed in his mouth. Deep silence overwhelmed the whole place and no voice was heard except my terrifying hissing.

    All the attendants were frozen in their places out of great terror. Haman was the first one to recover and he quickly tried to call the guards but I turned to him and looked at him with my ever-opened eyes and stuck out my slim black tongue towards him and so he remained silent.

    All the attendants kept on staring at me until Musa interfered and held me in his hand and so once again I returned to be a staff.

    Once I had returned to my former solid state, Pharaoh was finally able to talk All he could say was, "O, you ..." He could not say anything else.

    When he recovered, Haman said, "a my master Pharaoh, this is only a trick of a magician and in Egypt we have many magicians who can do the same trick"

    Musa moved towards Pharaoh and said, "O, Pharaoh, this is not a magician's trick, it is only a sign from Allah to you and here is another sign."

    Musa then held his hand tight to his side and when he took it out, a great light came with it and fell onto the marble floor. Musa's hand was extraordinarily white and this was the second miracle meant to convince Pharaoh of Allah's Existence. So, I was the first sign of Musa and his whitened hand was the second sign.

    I felt that Pharaoh's body was experiencing something new. It was about to submit to Allah's Greatness and prostrate to Him. Pharaoh was intelligent enough to know that what Musa had brought was a true sign of Allah's Existence, however his personal interests, once more, came to rule his mind and so he decided to enter into a conflict with Musa and he thought of killing him.

    So, the two miracles proved to be useless with an arrogant and blind-hearted character like Pharaoh.

    Pharaoh moved towards Musa and asked him, "What do you want from us?"

    Musa said, "I want you to send Banu Isra'il with me and I want you to stop torturing them."

    Haman said, "So, that is the conspiracy behind your magic Musa. Musa wants to get us out of our land with his magic."

    Pharaoh said, "O Musa, the meeting is over. Go now and we shall contact you later."

    Musa looked at Pharaoh then he turned around and left the palace heading to the house of his brother Hamn. Musa sat down to have dinner with Harun.

    Hamn said, "Did you see the expression on Pharaoh's face when he saw the serpent?"

    Musa said, "Well, I looked at his heart and it seemed too arrogant to submit to this great sign though it was very obvious that his face did."

    Hamn said, "What do you think he will do?"

    Musa said, "He will provoke all the people against us."

    For a while Hamn kept silent then he suddenly grasped me and said to Musa, "Do you know that when I saw your staff many years ago I was about to ask you to give it to me, but something mysterious held my tongue."

    They both kept silent for a while then Musa again said, "Haman convinced Pharaoh that we are two magicians and I believe that they will use the magicians against us."

    Harun said, "If it is only a matter of stirring the magicians against us, then it will not be difficult. I am only afraid that Pharaoh will be devising a plan against us."

    Musa said, "When Allah was talking to me He said 'Fear not, verily! I am with you both, hearing and seeing.’ Now let us pray, for praying is much better than wasting our time in such calculations and anticipations."

    Thus, Musa and Hamn went to perform prayer and all night long they went on glorifying Almighty Allah.

      The night passed and the next day Pharaoh sent his messengers to bring Musa.

      So, we all went with Pharaoh's messengers, Musa, Hamn and me.

    This time the meeting was held in the big hall where Pharaoh had gathered all his ministers, his leaders and all the men of authority in the country.

    The three of us entered the hall.

    Musa was wearing a dress made of white wool and old shoes on his feet. Whereas Hamn was wearing a better dress, yet a simple one. Both of them were not wearing golden bracelets that used to be worn by Pharaoh's men. Anyway, Pharaoh entered the hall wearing the best clothes and jewels he had and he seemed to be swollen with self-confidence.

    Pharaoh was holding a staff in his hand which was made of pure gold with a beautiful ruby at its end. He pointed at Hamn's clothes and said, "You came wearing the same clothes you were wearing yesterday!"

    Hamn bowed his head and hid a smile of sarcasm. Pharaoh then pointed at Musa and said, "Why then are not golden bracelets bestowed on him?"

    Pharaoh only meant to say that Musa was a liar, for had he really been a Messenger from Allah, then why would Allah have left him as poor as he was.

    Musa raised his head and with a frown on his face he said, "Pharaoh is making fun of my poor state. Well, let him know that richness and poverty are meant to be a trial for man."

    Pharaoh said, "Listen Musa, we have thought about it and we have decided that you are simply a magician who came to take Banu Isra'il out of this country by your magic. Well, Banu Isra'il represent the working hands of this society and we own such power and losing them means a great loss for Egypt and so we are challenging you. Your "staff" trick is a very simple one, and so we shall bring you our magicians to prove that you are a liar. Set the date and the place you like Musa."

    Musa said, "four appointed meeting is the day of the festival, and let the people assemble when the sun has risen (forenoon)."

    So Musa accepted Pharaoh's challenge and we left the palace after this.

    The day of the festival then came.

    Pharaoh had spread the news of this challenge between his magicians and Musa allover the country. Anyway, this day was the time of the plants resurrection from their death in winter.

    This day reminded me of my past life as a branch of a tree when I used to rise from death with the coming of spring. My leaves would again be born on my branches announcing my resurrection in their beautiful green color.

    So, the day set for the challenge was a sign in itself and had Pharaoh been a little bit intelligent, he would have realized the inevitability of Allah's Existence. But unfortunately, Pharaoh failed in reading this most obvious truth in the book of the universe and for that reason the "staff" was necessary for him.

    Musa and Harun went alone on the date set between them and Pharaoh. Pharaoh, however, did not come alone, for he gathered all his leaders and soldiers who came before him and took their places, and thousands of people came to watch that exciting event. Later on, the magicians arrived and the soldiers greeted them by raising their weapons and this was the soldiers' sign to the people to greet the magicians as well. On seeing the sign, the people did not hesitate to raise their voices saluting the magicians. Then, in the midst of this exciting atmosphere, the trumpets of the soldiers resounded in the air announcing the arrival of Pharaoh.

    Pharaoh entered being carried on his throne.

    Once he appeared, all his leaders, soldiers, the magicians and all the Egyptians prostrated to him except three, Musa and Harun and me. Being an inanimate object, I felt very proud of being more dignified than all those human beings who had accepted to humiliate themselves and prostrate to someone other than Almighty Allah.

    Pharaoh then gave his order to the people to rise. Of course, he was furious to see the three of us standing, for this was an obvious sign of our rejection of the idea of his being a god. Anyway, Pharaoh then signaled to the magicians to come forth. On approaching Pharaoh, the magicians said, “What is your command for us Pharaoh?"

    Pharaoh said, "Musa is saying that he has got a god other than me. He threw his staff onto the floor and it was turned to a snake. I realized that he was only challenging me with his magic and so I gathered you."

    The chief of the magicians turned to Musa and said loudly, "0 Musa, either you throw first or we be the first to throw?"

    Musa said, "Nay, throw you (first)."

    The magicians got ready to throw their ropes and their staffs and yelled out saying, "By the might of Pharaoh, it is we who will certainly win!"

    Musa then said, "Woe unto you! Invent not a lie against Allah, lest He should destroy you completely by a torment."

    The magicians then threw their ropes and staffs and suddenly the whole place became full of snakes. They bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them, and they displayed great magic. All the attendants were deceived into believing that those were real snakes.

    Silence mingled with fear overwhelmed the whole place and the people could not turn their eyes away from the snake-like bodies that were twisting on the ground. Pharaoh stood smiling confidently, whereas Musa, at that moment, lost all his self-confidence.

    Haman meant to shake Musa more and so he made a gesture and bowed to Pharaoh and then he greeted the magicians. The soldiers hailed and so consequently the people did the same thing. The people's hailing had a strong impression on Musa who was amazed at what he had seen and who conceived a fear within himself.

    I felt Musa's fear for his hand was trembling when he came to hold me. Almighty Allah, however, calmed him by inspiring him with the following words "Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand. "

    I knew that what I had seen was only human magic and I knew that all those things twisting on the ground were not real snakes. I was the only real snake in that place despite my external wooden appearance and despite their snake-like movements. The difference between a real snake and a magician's snake is that the latter neither eats nor drinks.

    The painters in Pharaoh's palace used to draw bulls and cows on the walls of the temples. Such drawings actually used to be more beautiful than the real ones however nobody could ever eat them or get milk from them. This was exactly the same difference between a real snake and a magician's snake and I was surprised that Musa did not realize this and was frightened. Anyway, I prostrated to Allah's Mercy when He calmed Musa saying, "Fear not! Surely, you will have the upper hand. And throw that which is in your right hand! It 1vill swallow up that which they have made. That which they have made is only a magician's trick, and the magician 1vill never be successful, no matter whatever amount (of skill) he may attain."

    So, Musa threw me from his hand and I was immediately transformed into a manifest snake and I suddenly discovered that I was hungry.

    I was a hungry snake surrounded by moving ropes and staffs, Of course, I could not help swallowing up the nearest staff I could find. However, this only made me feel hungrier and so I devoured the rope that was twisting there and then I felt my hunger growing more. To tell you the truth, I was surprised to find myself feeling very hungry; it was as if I had not eaten for millions of years.

    It seemed that my favorite meal was the magicians' staffs and ropes that were thrown in the yard and so I immediately pounced upon them.

    The people kept on hailing when the magicians' staffs and ropes were made to move like snakes but as I was devouring these false snakes, I devoured the people's hailing with them. The people's voices could hardly be heard in the yard because of fear and amazement, and in few seconds I succeeded in eating everything.

    So in few seconds, there was nothing left of the magicians' tools, and there was only me alone in the yard. Deep silence covered the place and not a word could be uttered. I then turned to the magicians themselves and crawled towards them. They were stunned and seemed unable to move.

    Their chief then stood up and said, "What we have seen is not magic. It is a sign from Allah."

    By these words, the magicians declared their defeat before Allah's Omnipotence. They knew better than anyone else that magic had certain limits but what they had seen had surpassed all the limits they knew and so the magicians were defeated and were returned disgraced.

    Here the magicians fell down prostrate and they said, "We believe in the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists). The Lord of Musa and Harun."

    On hearing the magicians' words, Pharaoh said angrily, "You have believed in him (Musa) before I give you permission. Surely, this is a plot which you have plotted in the city to drive out its people, but you shall come to know. Surely, I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, then I will crucify you all.

    They said, "Verily, we are returning to our Lord. And you take vengeance on us only because we believed in the Ayat (proofs,evidences, lessons, signs, etc.) of our Lord when they reached us! Our Lord! Pour out on us patience, and cause us to die as Muslims. "

    Pharaoh was in a rage when he heard the words of the magicians. His anger was instantly diverted from Musa to them. For him, the magicians' stance was much more provoking than Musa's boldness because they were his own magicians, they were part of his ruling system so how could they disappoint him in front of all these people!

    Pharaoh could not stand the idea that people could ever worship a god other than himself and so he began to kill the believers and crucify them. He totally forgot that Divine Omnipotence was preparing for him an end that would fit his tyranny.

    Drowning with his mouth full of water and salt.

    That was the end of Pharaoh.

    When Pharaoh refused, because of his arrogance and stubbornness, to submit to Divine Power, Allah inspired Musa to take the believers and leave Egypt. They were chased by Pharaoh and his soldiers and this caused Musa's companions to be frightened.

    They said to Musa, "We are sure to be overtaken."

    Musa however, said, "Nay, verily! With me is my Lord, He will guide me."

    Allah then inspired Musa to strike the sea with his staff, me! When I came down on the sea, it parted and each separate part became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain. That was how Musa and his companions succeeded in crossing the sea.

    Pharaoh was following them with his army. Musa wanted to strike the sea again with his staff so as to prevent Pharaoh from catching them but Allah ordered him not to do so saying, "And leave the sea as it is (quiet and divided). Verily, They are a host to be drowned. "

    So, had Musa struck the sea again with his staff, Pharaoh would have survived. But Allah wanted Musa to survive and wanted Pharaoh to drown. Thus when Pharaoh and his army reached the middle of the sea, the sea returned again to its former state and they were all drowned. While drowning, Pharaoh said, "I believe that La ilaha ilia (Huwa): (none has the right to be worshipped but) He, in Whom Banu Isra'il believe, and I am one of the Muslims (those who submit to Allah's Will)."

    However, Pharaoh's repentance was rejected and Jibril (peace be upon him) said, "Now (you believe) while you refused to believe before and you were one of the Mufsidun (evil-doers, corrupts, etc.).”

    So, that was the end of a tyrant called Pharaoh and I was honored to have a share in putting an end to his tyranny.

    Many years passed. I played no other significant roles. I returned to my former state; a simple staff.

    Then, one day I fell from Musa (peace be upon him) as he was climbing down a mountain. Musa looked at me and found that I had fallen deep in a very far valley. I did not know why he left me there and had returned home without trying to get me back.

    To tell you the truth, I felt a certain depression in my heart. I felt that Musa's end was approaching and I felt that our separation was only a sign of it.

    That night the rain fell heavily and I learnt that Musa was dying as heavens wept over him. I stayed in my place and I was unable to overcome my sadness.

    The years passed again, and Banu Isra'il tried to find me but thanks to Allah they failed. Maybe if they had found me, I would have been an affliction for them just as I had been for Pharaoh.

    Anyway, I was transformed into dust and I returned back to the arms of the earth. I was a secret buried in the dust until Allah decided to tell my story in the Ever-Glorious Qur'an.

     

     

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