Moses Vs Pharoah: Challenge!

A Glimpse of Qur’an on the Life of Moses:

The Qur’an is amazing in narrating the stories of the Prophet’s and Messengers’ of Allah before us.

Here is one example [in surah al-Shu’ara 26:10 onwards]. of the story of Moses vs Pharoah with brief commentary by Nouman Ali Khan;

Watch Video Here;
[button url=”” target=”_self” size=”small” style=”black” ]Divine Speech Prologue Part 2 [/button]
[near the end of the Video]

Download in:

PDF [Adobe Reader]  [button url=”” target=”_self” size=”small” style=”black” ]Download[/button]
DOC [MS Word]           [button url=”” target=”_self” size=”small” style=”black” ]Download[/button]


Moses vs Pharoah (al Shu’ara[26]: 10-35)

Ayah 10-11:

وَإِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبُّكَ مُوسَىٰ أَنِ ائْتِ الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ.قَوْمَ فِرْعَوْنَ ۚ أَلَا يَتَّقُونَ

And [mention] when your Lord called Moses, [saying], “Go to the wrongdoing people – The people of Fir’aun (Pharaoh). Will they not fear Allah and become righteous?”

Musa/Moses said;

Ayah 12:

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَن يُكَذِّبُونِ

He said: “My Lord! Verily, I fear that they will belie me,

Commentary: Moses is not scared of his reputation in the sight of the people, he is scared of failing the conveyance of Allah’s message.

Ayah 13:

وَيَضِيقُ صَدْرِي وَلَا يَنطَلِقُ لِسَانِي فَأَرْسِلْ إِلَىٰ هَارُونَ

( wa yaDeequ sadriy – my chest becomes Tight).

Commentary: Moses would get angry quick when someone insulted Allah’s message, and he also had a stutter problem.

wa la yantalliqu lisaani (and my tongue cannot express itself clearly)

fa arsil haroon (so send Harun [with me])

So he hopes that the message is spread properly through the support of his brother Harun who can talk properly and clearly.

Ayah 14:

وَلَهُمْ عَلَيَّ ذَنبٌ فَأَخَافُ أَن يَقْتُلُونِ

wa lahmu alayya dhanbun (and they have a crime against me [he unintentionally killed a man in the past in Egypt])
[see surah Qasas 28:15]

Commentary: Moses is not scared of death, he is scared of failing the conveyance of Allah’s message.

Ayah 15:

قَالَ كَلَّا ۖ فَاذْهَبَا بِآيَاتِنَا ۖ إِنَّا مَعَكُم مُّسْتَمِعُونَ

qaala kal-laa fadh-haba bi aayaatinaa, innaa ma’akum mustami’oon

(Allah said, go! Both of you with Our signs, surely We are with you listening)


So Allah is listening;
– to support Moses.
– so we also hear closely, just as Allah did listen to Moses carefully.

Ayah 16:

فَأْتِيَا فِرْعَوْنَ فَقُولَا إِنَّا رَسُولُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

fa’tiyaa fir’awn fa qoolaa innaa Rasoolu Rabbil aalameen, an arsil ma’anaa bani isra’eel

(go to Pharoah and say together and say [as one] – We are a messenger of the Master of the worlds.

Ayah 17:

أَنْ أَرْسِلْ مَعَنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ

send with us the children of Israel)


So both ayahs 16-17 imply Moses and Harun saying;

1- we are as one messenger
2- send with us bani isra’eel and free them.

In the next ayah;
Transition takes place NOW so a picture of Pharoah’s response has suddenly been portrayed.

So Moses is a fugitive, he had killed someone before and escaped, and now they are closest to Pharoah’s punishment.

Suddenly they come to Pharoah’s palace and confront him and tell him in a strong tone that; we are a Messenger from the Lord of the worlds.

Along with this, they are commanding him to free the slaves of Pharoah, when they are also Israelites (‘second class slave citizens’ in the sight of Pharoah).

Ayah 18:

قَالَ أَلَمْ نُرَبِّكَ فِينَا وَلِيدًا وَلَبِثْتَ فِينَا مِنْ عُمُرِكَ سِنِينَ

[Pharaoh] said, “Did we not raise you among us as a child, and you remained among us for years of your life?

Commentary: Pharoah tests and makes Moses nervous by reminding him that he gave Moses a good upbringing throughout his youth.

Ayah 19:

وَفَعَلْتَ فَعْلَتَكَ الَّتِي فَعَلْتَ وَأَنتَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ

Then you did what you did (i.e. Killed that man) and you were of the ungrateful?

Ayah 20:

قَالَ فَعَلْتُهَا إِذًا وَأَنَا مِنَ الضَّالِّينَ

[ThenMoses]Said (replies); I did that when when i was of the misled.

Ayah 21:

فَفَرَرْتُ مِنكُمْ لَمَّا خِفْتُكُمْ فَوَهَبَ لِي رَبِّي حُكْمًا وَجَعَلَنِي مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ

Then i ran away from you when I used to be scared of you (lammaa khiftukum). And my Rabbee (Real Lord) has sent me on a mission

Commentary:(Moses is showing that he is not intimidated by Pharoah’s fear tactics).

Ayah 22:

وَتِلْكَ نِعْمَةٌ تَمُنُّهَا عَلَيَّ أَنْ عَبَّدتَّ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ

i am those who have been sent. And that favour you did upon me (of upbringing me), does that mean you have the right to enslave the whole of Bani Isra’eel?

Commentary: So Pharoah’s tactics of changing the subject did not work. Moses returned back to the main 2 points which he started with – warning Pharoah not to rebel against Allah, and to free the children of Israel.

Ayah 23:

قَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ وَمَا رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Pharoah replied;

wa maa (and what) is the Rabb (Lord) of the worlds?

Commentary: He asked sarcastically to challenge and confront Moses.

Ayah 24:

قَالَ رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ إِن كُنتُم مُّوقِنِينَ

Musa replied;

The Lord of the heavens, and the earth and what is between them.

Commentary: (Pharaoh is on the earth as king – but limiting his kingdom on earth in comparison to a Lord who owns BOTH the heavens and earth humiliates Pharoah).

..In kunTUM moowqineen – if you (all) have certainty. Moses has addressed all his councillors – not just pharoah. This is humiliating pharoah because Musa is implying that pharoah is not worthy of being spoken to alone.

Ayah 25:

قَالَ لِمَنْ حَوْلَهُ أَلَا تَسْتَمِعُونَ

So Pharaoh threatens his councillors – Fir’aun (Pharaoh) said to those around: “Do you not hear (what he says)?”

Commentary: i.e. Pharoah is trying to scare them to make them affirm their loyalty to him.

Ayah 26:

قَالَ رَبُّكُمْ وَرَبُّ آبَائِكُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ

So Moses said; that it is your Rabb/Master and the Rabb of your forefathers.

Commentary: So now pharoah is losing. He is desperate.

Ayah 27:

قَالَ إِنَّ رَسُولَكُمُ الَّذِي أُرْسِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ لَمَجْنُونٌ

So Pharoah says; Your Lot [Pharoahs’ counsellors] Messenger is a madman.

Commentary: He says your (the Counsellors’) Messenger because Pharoah’s Counsellors are infact really listening to Moses in depth. So Pharoah is angrily saying that the message did not affect him, so if it affected them, then they are being affected by a madman/insane/crazy person.

Ayah 28:

قَالَ رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

So Moses says that; I am the Messenger of the Lord and the West and whatever is between them – if you understood.

Commentary: Pharoah is scared inside himself, because these are his close counsellors who are being affected by Moses’s call to the guidance.The same counsellors who help him rule his kingdom. If he loses them, he loses all his power and authority.

Ayah 29:

قَالَ لَئِنِ اتَّخَذْتَ إِلَٰهًا غَيْرِي لَأَجْعَلَنَّكَ مِنَ الْمَسْجُونِينَ

So Pharoah now threatens, saying that if you take another Lord beside me, i will place you in prison.

Commentary: So now that he can’t win the debate – he is threatening Moses with imprisonment.

Ayah 30:

قَالَ أَوَلَوْ جِئْتُكَ بِشَيْءٍ مُّبِينٍ

Now Moses says;

ok i will be imprisoned – even if i bring you a clear proof (mubeen)?

Commentary: Now the people are shocked – what is he going to do?Will Pharoah accept the challenge?! If Pharoah rejects this challenge – he will lose his authority??

Ayah 31:

قَالَ فَأْتِ بِهِ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ

He said, bring it then if you are from the truthful.

Commentary: He has to accept the challenge. He has no option. Otherwise people will doubt the strength of Pharoah and say that he ‘backed out’ of a challenge.

Ayah 32 – 33:

فَأَلْقَىٰ عَصَاهُ فَإِذَا هِيَ ثُعْبَانٌ مُّبِينٌ

So Moses throws his staff and it turns into a real live snake.

وَنَزَعَ يَدَهُ فَإِذَا هِيَ بَيْضَاءُ لِلنَّاظِرِينَ

And he drew out his hand; thereupon it was white [bright/glowing/apparent] for the observers.

Ayah 34:

قَالَ لِلْمَلَإِ حَوْلَهُ إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَسَاحِرٌ عَلِيمٌ

Pharoah says to the chiefs around him (since he fears they may overthrow him after being convinced by the miracle of Moses) – this is a knowledgeable magician![saahirun aleem]. [ayah34]


Pharoah contradicts himself; How can Moses be a crazy man [as Pharoah said (see ayah 27)] and a knowledgable magician at the same time? Since you lose your mind when you go insane. Yet Moses is an insane, knowledgeable magician?

Subhan Allah – Pharoah disproved his ownself.

The people around him are smart and they know he has contradicted himself. This is the same Pharoah who claimed to be fearless, and claimed to be the god of the Earth. Yet now he is losing to what he calls a ‘insane second class Israelite slave’.

Ayah 35:

يُرِيدُ أَن يُخْرِجَكُم مِّنْ أَرْضِكُم بِسِحْرِهِ فَمَاذَا تَأْمُرُونَ

Pharoah resorts to a final resort and says to his counsellors; he intends to expel you from your land (yuKhrijukum). [ayah 35]


Pharoah attempted to first;
Insult, intimidate, accuse, character assasinate, then he knew it wouldn’t work against him. So he started to threaten the people that he will punish them.

Whereas Moses just wanted to leave Egypt with the children of Isra’eel.

So Pharoah wanted to scare the people by saying Moses is threat to national security.When Moses had done nothing like that.

Pharoah said to his Counsellor/Advisors; Fa maa ta’muroon – so what do you command? [ayah 35]

(He says this to his people) – he has to to see that they still support him as their Rabb/master.

Normally he would force them to obey him out of his high majesty. But now he is affirming his authority by asking them because he is scared he is losing his respect in their sight. So he desperately asks them to see if they are still obedient to him or not.

To be Continued…

We will end the narrative there, although the story continues in the surah – Shu’ara 26:36 -68 [full story in this surah is surah Shu’ara 26: 10-68]

So we see that the dialogue of the Qur’an is remarkable in all ways; psychologically, story form etc.

We see that if we heard about the remarkable inspiration from the Qur’an by understanding the arabic language – our Iman (faith) will increase drastically and hugely.

This is why I (Nouman) intend to make Bayyinah Tafseer sessions’ of Qur’an so we can understand it’s miraculousness in the arabic language for new non-arabic speakers.

وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ

We have surely made the Qur’an easy to remember, so is there anyone who will remember? [al Qamar 54:17]