26) سورة الشعراء
طسم (الشعراء: 1).
تِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ (الشعراء: 2).
لَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَفْسَكَ أَلاَّ يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ (الشعراء: 3).
إِنْ نَشَأْ نُنَزِّلْ عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ السَّمَاءِ آيَةً فَظَلَّتْ أَعْنَاقُهُمْ لَهَا خَاضِعِينَ (الشعراء: 4).
وَمَا يَأْتِيهِمْ مِنْ ذِكْرٍ مِنْ الرَّحْمَنِ مُحْدَثٍ إِلاَّ كَانُوا عَنْهُ مُعْرِضِينَ (الشعراء: 5).
فَقَدْ كَذَّبُوا فَسَيَأْتِيهِمْ أَنْبَاءُ مَا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُون (الشعراء: 6).
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَى الأَرْضِ كَمْ أَنْبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ زَوْجٍ كَرِيمٍ (الشعراء: 7).
إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَةً وَمَا كَانَ أَكْثَرُهُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ (الشعراء: 8).
وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ (الشعراء: 9).
وَإِذْ نَادَى رَبُّكَ مُوسَى أَنْ ائْتِ الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ (الشعراء: 10).
قَوْمَ فِرْعَوْنَ أَلاَ يَتَّقُونَ (الشعراء: 11).
قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَنْ يُكَذِّبُونِ (الشعراء: 12).
وَيَضِيقُ صَدْرِي وَلاَ يَنْطَلِقُ لِسَانِي فَأَرْسِلْ إِلَى هَارُونَ (الشعراء: 13).
وَلَهُمْ عَلَيَّ ذَنْبٌ فَأَخَافُ أَنْ يَقْتُلُونِ (الشعراء: 14).
قَالَ كَلاَّ فَاذْهَبَا بِآيَاتِنَا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ مُسْتَمِعُونَ (الشعراء: 15).
فَأْتِيَا فِرْعَوْنَ فَقُولاَ إِنَّا رَسُولُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ (الشعراء: 16).
أَنْ أَرْسِلْ مَعَنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ (الشعراء: 17).
قَالَ أَلَمْ نُرَبِّكَ فِينَا وَلِيدًا وَلَبِثْتَ فِينَا مِنْ عُمُرِكَ سِنِينَ (الشعراء: 18).
وَفَعَلْتَ فَعْلَتَكَ الَّتِي فَعَلْتَ وَأَنْتَ مِنْ الْكَافِرِينَ (الشعراء: 19).
قَالَ فَعَلْتُهَا إِذًا وَأَنَا مِنْ الضَّالِّين (الشعراء: 20).
فَفَرَرْتُ مِنْكُمْ لَمَّا خِفْتُكُمْ فَوَهَبَ لِي رَبِّي حُكْمًا وَجَعَلَنِي مِنْ الْمُرْسَلِينَ (الشعراء: 21).
وَتِلْكَ نِعْمَةٌ تَمُنُّهَا عَلَيَّ أَنْ عَبَّدْتَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ (الشعراء: 22).
قَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ وَمَا رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ (الشعراء: 23).
قَالَ رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إنْ كُنتُمْ مُوقِنِينَ (الشعراء: 24).
قَالَ لِمَنْ حَوْلَهُ أَلاَ تَسْتَمِعُونَ (الشعراء: 26).
26. Surah Ash Shuaraa (The Poets)
The Surah takes its name from verse 224 in which the word Ash-Shu‘araa’ occurs. Period of Revelation The subject matter and the style show, and the traditions confirm, that it was revealed during the middle Makkan period. According to Ibn Abbas, Surah Ta Ha was revealed first, then Surah Al Wagiah, and then Surah Ash-Shu’araa.(Ruh-ul-Ma’ani, Vol. xx, p. 64). Surah Ta Ha is well known that it had been revealed before Hadrat Umar embraced Islam.
Subject Matter and Topics
The background of the Surah is that the disbelievers of Makkah were persistently refusing, on one pretext or the other, to accept the message of Islam given by the Holy Prophet.
Sometimes they would say that he did not show them any sign to convince them of his Prophethood; sometimes they would brand him as a poet or a sorcerer and mock his message; and sometimes they would ridicule his Mission, saying that his followers were either a few foolish youths or the poor people and slaves – whereas, they argued, if his Mission had really some value for the people, the nobles and the elders would have accepted it first. Thus, on the one hand, the Holy Prophet was becoming wearied by his efforts to show them rationally the errors of their creeds and prove the truth of the Doctrines of Tauhid and the Hereafter, the disbelievers, on the other, were never tired of adopting one kind of obduracy after the other. This state of affairs was causing great anguish and grief to the Holy Prophet.
Such were the conditions when this Surah was revealed. It begins with words of consolation to the Holy Prophet, implying, “Why do you fret for their sake? If these people have not believed in you, it is not because they have not seen any Sign, but because they are obdurate.
They will not listen to reason they want to see a Sign which makes them bow their heads in humility. When this Sign is shown in due course of time, they will themselves realize that what was being presented to them was the Truth.”
After this introduction, till verse 191, one and the same theme has been presented continuously, and it is said: “The whole earth abounds in such Signs as can guide a seeker after truth to Reality, but the stubborn and misguided people have never believed even after seeing the Signs, whether these were the Signs of the natural phenomena or the miracles of the Prophets. These wretched people have stubbornly adhered to their erroneous creeds till the Divine scourge actually overtook them.” It is to illustrate this that the history of seven of
the ancient tribes has been told, who persisted in disbelief just like the disbelievers of Makkah. In this connection, the following points have been stressed:
1. The Signs are of two kinds:(a) Those which are scattered all over the earth, and by seeing which an intelligent person can judge for himself whether what the Prophet is presenting is the Truth or not, and (b) those which were seen by Pharaoh and his people, Noah’s people, the Ad and the Thamud, Lot’s people and the people of Aiykah. Now it is for the disbelievers to decide which kind of Signs they are eager
2. The mentality of the disbeliever has been the same throughout the ages; their arguments and their objections, and their excuses and subterfuges for not believing have been similar and ultimately the fates that they met have also been the same.
Likewise, the Prophets in every age presented the same teachings, their personal character, and their reasoning and arguments against their opponents were the same, and they were all similarly blessed with mercy by Allah Almighty. Both these patterns of behavior and conduct are found in history, and the disbelievers could themselves see as to which respective patterns they and the Holy Prophet belonged.
3. Allah is All Mighty, All Powerful, and All Merciful at the same time. History contains instances of His Wrath as well as of His Mercy. Now, therefore, it is for the people to decide whether they would like to deserve Allah’s Mercy or His Wrath.
4. Lastly, the discussion has been summed up, saying “O disbelievers, if at all you want to see the Signs, why should you insist on seeing those horrible Signs that visited the doomed communities of the past? Why don’t you see the Qur’an which is being presented in your own language? Why don’t you see Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and mercy) and his Companions? Can the revelations of the Qur’an be the work of a satan or a jinn? Does the recipient of the Qur’an appear to be a sorcerer?
Are Muhammad and his Companions no different from a poet and his admirers? Why don’t you give up disbelief and search your hearts for their judgment? When in the heart of your hearts you yourselves believe that the Revelations of the Qur’an have nothing in common with sorcery and poetry, then you should know that you are being cruel and unjust, and will certainly meet the doom meant for the cruel and unjust.”
(26:1) Ta’. Sin. Mim.
(26:2) These are the verses of the Clear Book.1
1. That is, the verses being presented in this Surah are of that Book, which presents and explains its subject matter clearly and plainly so that every reader and listener may easily understand what it invites to, what it enjoins, and what it forbids, and what it regards as true and what as false. To believe or not to believe is a different matter, but no one can have the excuse that he could not understand the teachings of the Book and its injunctions and prohibitions.
Al-Kitab-ul-Mubin also has the meaning that the Quran is, beyond any doubt, a divine Book. Its language, its diction and themes, the facts presented by it, and the background of its revelations, all testify to the fact that this is indeed the Book of the Master of all Creation. Inthis sense, every sentence is a sign and a miracle. As such, any person who has common sense has no need of any other sign than the verses of this Book for believing in the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
This brief introductory sentence, which covers both these meanings, has a close connection with the subject matter of this Surah. The disbelievers of Makkah demanded a miracle from the Prophet (peace be upon him) so as to be convinced that the message he gave was really from Allah. In answer to that, it has been said that if someone really wanted a sign for believing in the Prophet (peace be upon him), he should study the verses of this Book. Then, the disbelievers accused the Prophet (peace be upon him) of being a sorcerer. This charge has been refuted by saying that the Quran has nothing ambiguous or mysterious in it, but it plainly puts forward all of its teachings which cannot be the creation of a poet or a sorcerer’s imagination.
(26:3) (O Muhammad), you will perhaps grieve yourself to death because these people do not believe.2
2. The words bakhiun-nafsaka literally mean: You would kill yourself. The verse in fact describes the extreme anguish, anxiety, and grief of the Prophet (peace be upon him) over the Makkan disbelievers’ ways of deviation, moral degradation, and obduracy and opposition to his message of reform. Sometimes it seemed as if his grief and mental
suffering for their sake would cause his death. This state of the Prophet (peace be upon him) has been referred to in other places in the Quran as well, for instance in (Surah Al-Kahf Ayat 6), thus: Well, O Muhammad, it may be that you will consume your life for their sake
out of sorrow if they do not believe in this message. And in (Surah Al-Fatir, Ayat 8), thus: Let not your life be consumed in grief for their sake.
(26:4) If We will, We can send down a Sign to them from heaven, so their necks will be humbled to it.3
3. That is, it is not at all difficult for Allah to send down a sign which would make all the disbelievers yield and submit. If, however, He does not send one, it does not mean that such a thing is beyond His powers, but the reason is that the belief under compulsion is not acceptable to Him. Allah wants that people should use their common sense and recognize the truth through the verses of the divine Book and the signs which are scattered all over the universe and are found even in their own selves. Then, when their hearts are satisfied that the message of the Prophets contains the truth, and the beliefs and the creeds which are opposed to it, are false, they should willingly give up falsehood and adopt the truth. This voluntary belief, acceptance of the truth, and rejection of falsehood is what Allah demands from man. It is for this reason that Allah has bestowed upon man choice and free will, and freedom to follow anyway, right or wrong, that he pleases. For the same reason, He has placed in his nature both the tendencies, towards good and towards evil, and opened up before him both the ways, to piety and sin. For the same purpose, He has given Satan the freedom and respite to mislead him and has made arrangements of Prophethood, revelation, and invitation to goodness to guide him to the right way, and has placed man on trial to see whether he adopts the way of belief and obedience or of disbelief and sin. On the other hand, if Allah had adopted a method of coercing people to believe and obey, it would have defeated the very purpose of the trial and test. Then there was no need to send down the signs for the purpose, but He would have created man with a pure nature, without any inclination for evil, disbelief, and sin, and made him obedient by birth like the angels. This has been referred at several places in the Quran, for instance in (Surah Younus, Ayat 99): Had your Lord willed, all the dwellers of the earth would have believed in Him. And in (Surah Houd, Ayat 118): Your Lord could have made mankind one community had He so willed, but now they will continue to follow different ways, but only those on whom Allah has His mercy (escape wrong ways). It will be so because He has created them for this (very freedom of choice and action). For further explanation, see (E.Ns 101,102 of Surah Younus) and (E.N. 116 of Surah Houd).
(26:5) Never does there come to them an admonition from the Merciful Lord but they turn away from it.
(26:6) They will soon come to know the truth of that which they have been scoffing at.4
4. That is, the people who show a lack of feeling and interest for every rational attempt made to bring them to the right way, cannot be made to believe forcibly by sending down signs from heaven. They only deserve to be shown their evil end after they have been duly warned and shown guidance, which they not only treated with indifference but rejected scornfully. This evil end can be shown to them in several ways.
(1) The truth which they have bitterly opposed and scoffed at should prevail in the world in front of their very eyes in spite of their antagonism. (2) They should be visited by painful torment and eliminated from the world. (3) Alter a few years of misguided life they should meet death and see for themselves that what they had been following whole heartedly throughout their lives was nothing but falsehood and what the Prophets had been presenting was the very truth, which they had been scoffing at. Thus the evil end can take
place differently for different people as it happened in the past.
(26:7) Do they not look at the earth, how We caused a variety of fine vegetation to grow from it (in abundance)?
(26:8) Surely there is a Sign in this,5 but most of them would not believe it.
5. That is, the seeker after truth does not have to look far for a sign. If only he sees with open eyes the phenomena of vegetation around him, he will be able to judge for himself whether the reality about the system of the world (i.e. Tauhid) which was being presented by the
Prophets are true or the speculations of the polytheists and atheists. From the variety and abundance of creation found on the earth, the various elements and factors supporting it, the laws of nature causing it to grow and flourish, and the accord and harmony existing between its characteristics and the countless needs and demands of innumerable creatures, only a fool will conclude that all this is happening automatically without the wisdom, knowledge, power, and design of an All-Mighty, All-Powerful Creator. Obviously, many masters and gods could not have by any device arranged and produced the perfect harmony and accord between the soil, the sun, and the moon, and the animal and plant life produced with their help and the needs of a great variety of creatures living on the earth. A sensible person, unless he is prejudiced and biased, cannot help feeling convinced that these are the clear signs and proofs of the existence of One God, and there is no further need for a miracle to convince him of the reality of Tauhid.
6. That is, He has the power and ability to annihilate completely anyone whom He wills to punish, but it is His mercy that He does not hasten to punish the wrong-doer, but gives him respite for years and centuries to allow him time to think, understand and mend his ways,
and is ever ready to forgive the sins of a lifetime if the sinner offers repentance but once.
(26:9) Verily Your Lord is Infinitely Mighty, Most Compassionate.
(26:10) (Recount to them about the time) when Your Lord called Moses:7 “Go to the wrong-doing people,’
7. After a brief introduction, historical events have been presented beginning with the story of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and Pharaoh, and attention has been drawn specifically to the following points:
(1) The conditions under which Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had to work were much harsher and more severe than those faced by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Prophet Moses belonged to a slave community very much suppressed by Pharaoh and his people. In contrast to them, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was a member of the clan of Quraish and his family enjoyed equal status with the other clans. Then Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had been bred and brought up in the house of Pharaoh and after
remaining a fugitive for ten years due to a charge of murder, he was commanded to go before the same king from whom he had fled for life. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not have to face any such situation. Then the empire of Pharaoh was the most extensive and
powerful empire of the time and the meager power of the Quraish had no comparison with it. In spite of that Pharaoh could not do any harm to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and ultimately perished in the conflict. From this Allaln wanted the Quraish to learn this lesson: None can defeat the one who has Allah to help him? When Pharaoh with all his might became helpless against Moses (peace be upon him), how can you, O poor Quraish, succeed against Muhammad (peace be upon him)?
(2) There could not be clearer and more manifest signs (miracles) than those which were shown to Pharaoh through Moses (peace be upon him). Then in an open contest with the magicians before a gathering of hundreds of thousands of people to meet the challenge of Pharaoh himself, it had been conclusively demonstrated that what was presented by Moses (peace be upon him), was not magic. The skillful magicians who were themselves Egyptians and had been summoned by Pharaoh himself bore witness to the fact that turning of Moses’
(peace be upon him) staff into a serpent was a real change of nature, which could only happen through a divine miracle, and not by any trick of magic. Then the magicians’ believing in Moses (peace be upon him) immediately, even at the risk of life, proved beyond any doubt that the sign presented by Moses (peace be upon him) was a miracle and not
magic. Yet the disbelievers were not inclined to believe in the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Now how can you, O Quraish, say that you will believe only when you are shown a perceptible miracle and a physical sign? As a matter of fact, if a person is free from prejudice, false sense of prestige and vested interest, has an open mind to appreciate the distinction between truth and falsehood, and is prepared to give up falsehood for the truth, he does not stand in need of any other signs than those found in this Book, in the life of the one presenting it and in the vast universe around him. On the contrary, an obstinate person, who is not interested in the truth, and who because of selfish motives is determined not to recognize and accept any such truth as may clash with his interests, will not be prepared to believe after seeing any sign whatsoever, even if the earth and the heaven are turned upside
down in front of his eyes.
(3) The tragic end of such obstinacy as met by Pharaoh is not something for which other people should become so impatient. Those who do not believe even after seeing with their own eyes the signs of divine power have inevitably met a similar fate. Therefore, instead
of learning a lesson why do you insist on seeing such a dreadful sign? For comparison, see (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayats 103-137); (Surah Younus, Ayats 75-92); (Surah Bani Israil, Ayats 101- 104); and (Surah Ta Ha, Ayats 9-79).
8. The epithet of the wicked people describes the extremely wicked character of the people of Pharaoh.
(26:11) the people of Pharaoh: do they have no fear?”9
9. That is, O Moses! Just see how these people are perpetrating crime and injustice presuming that they are all-powerful in the land having no fear of God, Who will call them to account in the Hereafter.
(26:12) He said: “My Lord! I fear that they will brand me a liar.
(26:13)My breast is constricted and my tongue is not fluent, so endow Messengership on Aaron.10
10. The sentence, “My breast straitens”, shows that Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was somewhat hesitant about going alone on such a difficult mission, and also had the feeling that he was not eloquent in speech. That is why he begged Allah to appoint Aaron too, as a messenger to assist him who, being more vigorous in speech, could support and strengthen him as and when the need arose. It is just possible that in the beginning, the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) might have begged that Aaron be appointed to Prophethood instead of him, but later when he felt that Allah willed him to be appointed to that position, he might have appealed that Aaron should at least be made his counselor and assistant. We say this because here Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) is not praying for Aaron to be made his counselor, but says: Appoint Aaron to Prophethood. On the other hand, in Surah Ta Ha, he says: Appoint for me a counselor from my family, (let it be) my brother Aaron. Then in Surah Al-Qasas, he says: My brother Aaron is more vigorous in speech than myself, so send him as an assistant with me to confirm (and support) me. From this it appears that these two requests were made later, but originally Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had begged Allah appointed Aaron to Prophethood instead of himself.
The Bible has a different story to tell. According to it, Prophet Moses, fearing that he would be rejected by the people of Pharaoh, and putting forward the excuse of his faltering speech, had declined to accept his appointment to prophethood on the pretext that he lacked vigor and eloquence in speech: O my, Lord, send, I pray Thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. (Exodus, 4: 13), Then Allah, of His own will, appointed Aaron to be his assistant and persuaded them: to go together before Pharaoh. (Exodus, 4: 1-13). For further details, see
(E.N. 19 of Ta Ha).
(26:14) As for me, they hold the charge of a crime against me. I fear they will put me to death.”11
11. The allusion is to the incident of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) giving a blow to an Egyptian, who was fighting with an Israelite, thus causing his death. Then as soon as Moses came to know that the report had reached Pharaoh and his people and they were planning to take revenge, he fled the country and took refuge in Midian. See (Surah Al- Qasas, Ayat 15-21). Now when after a period of almost ten years of hiding he was suddenly called upon and commanded to go before Pharaoh, who had already a charge with murder against him, with the message, Prophet Moses rightly felt apprehensive that he would immediately be involved in the murder case even before he was able to convey the message as commanded by Allah.
(26:15) He said: “Certainly not! So go both of you with Our Signs. 12 We shall be with you listening to everything.
12. Here the signs meant the miracles of the staff and the shining hand, which were given to Moses. For details see (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayats 106-117); (Surah Ta Ha, Ayats 17-23); (Surah An-Naml, Ayats 7-14); and (Surah Al-Qasas; Ayats 31-32).
(26:16) Go, then, to Pharaoh and say to him: ‘The Lord of the Universe has sent us
(26:17) that you let the Children of Israel go with us.’13
13. The mission of the Prophets Moses and Aaron (peace be upon them) was twofold: First, to invite Pharaoh to the worship and obedience of Allah which has been the foremost aim of the mission of every Prophet, and secondly, to liberate the Israelites from the bondage of Pharaoh, which was specifically assigned to them. The Quran has mentioned sometimes only the first part of their mission (as in Surah An-Naziat) and sometimes only the second.
(26:18) Pharaoh said: “Did we not bring you up among us when you were a child?14
14. This remark of Pharaoh shows that he was not the same Pharaoh who had brought up Moses in his house, but his son. Had he been the same Pharaoh, he would have said, “I brought you up.” But, on the contrary, he says, “You were brought up among ourselves.” For a detailed discussion, see (E.Ns 85-93 of Surah Al-Aaraf).
(26:19) You spent many years of your life among us and then you committed that deed of yours.15 You are very ungrateful indeed.”
15. The allusion is to the incident of murder committed by Moses accidentally.
(26:20) Moses replied: “I committed that act erringly.16
16. The word dalalat does not always mean straying away, but it is also used in the sense of ignorance, folly, error, forgetfulness, inadvertence, etc. As mentioned in Surah Al- Qasas, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had only given a blow to the Egyptian (Copt) when he saw him beating an Israelite cruelly. A blow does not cause death, nor is it given with the intention of causing death. It was only an accident that the Egyptians died. As such, it was not a case of deliberate murder but of accidental murder. A murder was committed but not intentionally, nor was any weapon used, which is usually employed for murder, or which
can cause murder.
(26:21) Then I fled for fear of you. Then my Lord bestowed wisdom and authority on me17 and made me one of the Messengers.
17. The word hukm means wisdom, knowledge or authority, which is granted by Allah to a Prophet so that he may speak with confidence and power.
(26:22) Now this is the favor that you tauntingly remind me of: that you enslaved the Children of Israel!”18
18. That is, if you had not been unjust and cruel to the Israelites. I should not have been brought to your house for upbringing. It was only on account of your barbarism that my mother put me in a basket and cast it into the river. Had it not been so, I should have been
happily brought up in my own house. Therefore, it does not behoove you to remind me of your favor of bringing me up in your house.
(26:23) Pharaoh said:19 “And who is this Lord of the Universe?”
19. Here are the details that Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) went before Pharaoh as the Messenger of the Lord of the universe and conveyed to him His message, have been omitted, and only the conversation that took place between them has been related.
20. This question of Pharaoh concerned the assertion of Moses (peace be upon him) that he had been sent by the Lord, Master, and Ruler of all Creation with the message that he should let the Israelites go with him. This was a political message. It implied that the One, Whom
Moses claimed to represent and possessed authority and sovereign rights over all the people of the world including Pharaoh and that he was not only encroaching upon his sphere of sovereignty as Supreme Ruler but was also sending him the command that he should hand
over a section of his subjects to the representative appointed by Him so that he should take them out of his kingdom. That is why Pharaoh asked: Who is this Master and Ruler of all Creation who is sending such a command to the king of Egypt through an ordinary subject of his kingdom?
(26:24) Moses answered: “The Lord of the heavens and the earth and of all that is between them if you were only to believe.”21
21. That is, I have not been sent by any mortal king ruling in the world, but I come from Him Who is the Owner of the heavens and the earth. If you believe that, there is a Creator and Master and Ruler of this universe, it should not be difficult for you to understand who is the Lord of all Creation.
(26:25) Pharaoh said to those around him: “Do you hear (what he says)?”
(26:26) Moses said: “(He is) Your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers of yore.”22
22. These words were addressed to the chiefs of Pharaoh, whom he had asked: Do you hear? Prophet Moses said: I do not believe in the false gods who exist today but did not exist yesterday, or who existed yesterday but do not exist today. This Pharaoh, whom you worship as your lord today did not exist yesterday, and the Pharaohs whom your elders worshiped yesterday, do not exist today; whereas I believe in the sovereignty and authority of that Lord Who is both your Lord and Pharaoh’s Lord as much today as He was your elders’ Lord before this.
(26:27) Pharaoh said to the audience: “This Messenger of yours who has been sent to you is simply mad.”
(26:28) Moses continued: “(He is) the Lord of the east and the west and all between them. If you only had any understanding!”23
23. That is, You regard me as a mad person, but if you think you are wise people, you should yourself decide as to who is the real lord: this wretched Pharaoh who is ruling over a small piece of earth, or He Who is the Owner of the east and the west and of everything bounded by the east and the west including the land of Egypt. I believe in His sovereignty alone and have been sent to convey His message to a creature of His.
(26:29) Pharaoh said: “If you take any god other than me, I will certainly make you one of those (who are rotting) in prison.”24
24. To understate and appreciate this conversation fully, one should bear in mind the fact that as it is today, in ancient times too, the concept of deity was confined to its religious sense only. The deity was meant to be worshiped and presented with offerings and gifts, and
because of its supernatural powers and authority, the people were to pray to it for help and fulfillment of their desires. But a deity’s being supreme legally and politically also and his right to enjoin anything he pleased in the mundane affairs and man’s duty to submit to his
commands as to superior law, has never been recognized by the so-called worldly rulers.
They have always claimed that in mundane affairs, they alone possess absolute authority and no deity has any right to interfere in the polity and law prescribed by them.
This very thing has been the real cause of the conflict between the Prophets and their righteous followers, on the one hand, and the worldly kingdoms and governments on the other. The Prophets have been trying their utmost to make the worldly rulers acknowledge
the sovereign and absolute rights of the Lord of the Worlds, but they in return have not only been claiming sovereign powers and rights for themselves but have been considering every such person as a criminal and rebel, who has held someone else as a deity in the political and legal sphere. With this background, one can easily understand the real significance of Pharaoh’s words. Had it been a question of mere worship and offerings, he would have least bothered that Moses (peace be upon him), forsaking all gods, regarded only Allah, the Lord
of all Creation, as worthy of those rights. If Moses (peace be upon him) had invited him to serve Allah alone, he would not have felt provoked and offended. At the most, he would have refused to give up the creed of his forefathers or would have challenged Moses (peace be upon him) to have a debate with his own religious scholars. But what caused him provocation was that Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was presenting himself as the representative of the Lord of all Creation and was conveying to him a political command as if he was a subordinate ruler and the representative of the superior authority was demanding obedience from him to the command. In this sense, he was not prepared to acknowledge any other political or legal authority, nor allow any of his subjects to acknowledge anybody instead of himself as the supreme ruler. That is why he challenged the term “Lord of all Creation”, for the message sent by Him clearly reflected sovereignty in
the political and not in the mere religious sense. Then, when Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) explained over and over again what he meant by the Lord of all Creation, Pharaoh threatened that if he held anyone other than him as sovereign in the land of Egypt, he would
be cast into prison.
(26:30) Moses said: “Even if I were to bring a Clear Sign to you?”25
25. That is, will you still deny me and send me to prison, even if I present a convincing sign to prove that I am really the Messenger of God, Who is Lord of all Creation, Lord of the heavens and the earth and Lord of the east and the west?