Word by Word
He replied: "The knowledge of that is with my Lord, duly recorded: my Lord never errs, nor forgets,-
Said he, Moses, 'The knowledge thereof, that is, the knowledge of their [otherworldly] status, is, preserved, with my Lord, in a Book, namely, the Preserved Tablet (al-lawh al-mahfooz), and He shall requite them in accordance with it on the Day of Resurrection. My Lord does not err, He is [never] absent from anything, nor does He, my Lord, forget, anything.
The Conversation between Musa and Fir`awn
Allah, the Exalted, informs about Fir`awn that he said to Musa, in his rejection of the existence of a Supreme Maker and Creator, Who is the God of everything and his own Lord and Owner:
قَالَ فَمَن رَّبُّكُمَا يَا مُوسَى
(Fir`awn) said:Who then, O Musa, is the Lord of you two!
meaning Who is the one who called you forth and sent you! For verily, I do not know him and I have not given you any god other than myself.
قَالَ رَبُّنَا الَّذِي أَعۡطَى كُلَّ شَيۡءٍ خَلۡقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَى
(Musa) said:Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright.
Ali bin Abi Talhah related that Ibn Abbas said,
He is saying that He created a mate for everything.
Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn Abbas said,
He made the man a man, and the donkey a donkey and the sheep a sheep.
Layth bin Abi Sulaym reported from Mujahid that he said,
He gave everything its form.
Ibn Abi Najih said that Mujahid said,
He fashioned the creation of every moving creature.
Sa`id bin Jubayr said concerning His statement,
أَعۡطَى كُلَّ شَيۡءٍ خَلۡقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَى
((Who) gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright),
He gave each of His creatures what is suitable for its creation.
Therefore, He did not give man the form of a wild beast, nor did He give wild beasts the form of the dog. Likewise, the dog's form is not like the sheep's. He also gave creature a suitable spouse, and He influenced everything towards that mate. There is no species of creation that is exactly like another species. They are different in their actions, their forms, their sustenance and their mating.
Some of the scholars of Tafsir have said that this statement, He gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright, is similar to Allah's statement,
وَالَّذِى قَدَّرَ فَهَدَى
And Who has measured; and then guided. (87:3)
This means He measured out an ordained amount (of sustenance, actions, etc.) and then guided His creatures to it. He wrote the deeds, the appointed times of death and the provisions. Then, the creatures traverse upon that and they are not able to avoid it, nor are they able to abandon it.
In this Ayah Musa is saying that our Lord is the One Who created the creation, measured out its ordainment and compelled the creatures to that which He wanted.
قَالَ فَمَا بَالُ الۡقُرُونِ الاۡاُولَى
(Fir`awn) said:What about the generations of old!
The most correct opinion concerning the meaning of this, is that when Musa informed Fir`awn that his Lord Who sent him is the One Who creates, sustains, ordains and guides, Fir`awn began to argue, using the previous generations as a proof. He was referring to those people of old who did not worship Allah. In other words, If the matter is as you say, then what happened to those people! They did not worship your Lord. Instead they worshipped other gods besides Him.
قَالَ عِلۡمُهَا عِندَ رَبِّي فِي كِتَابٍ
(Musa) said:The knowledge thereof is with my Lord, in a Record.
Musa said to him, in response to this, that if they did not worship Allah, then Allah knows precisely what happened to them and He will give them just recompense for their deeds, as is written in Allah's Book (of decrees). This Book is called Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz (The Preserved Tablet) and it is the Book of Deeds.
لاَّا يَضِلُّ رَبِّي وَلَا يَنسَى
My Lord neither errs nor forgets.
This means that nothing eludes Him and He does not miss anything, whether it is small or great. He does not forget anything and His Most Exalted knowledge is described as encompassing everything. Blessed be He, the Exalted, the Most Holy and free of any imperfections.
The knowledge that creatures have has two deficiencies. The first is that it does not completely encompass anything, and the second is that the creature is prone to forget after knowing. Therefore, Allah has declared Himself above such deficiencies
The Completion of Musa's Reply to Fir`awn
This is from the completion of Musa's speech concerning the description of His Lord when Fir`awn asked him about Him.
He (Musa) said,
الَّذِي أَعۡطَى كُلَّ شَيۡءٍ خَلۡقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَى
(He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright).
Then, Fir`awn attempted to present some argumentative rebuttal during Musa's reply. Yet, Musa continued by saying,
الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الاَۡرۡضَ مَهۡدًا
Who has made earth for you like a bed;
He is the One Who made the earth as a bed for you.
Some recited the word as Mihadan and others recited it as Mahdan, which means `a place of rest that you settle down upon.'
It also may mean `that which you stand upon, sleep upon or travel upon its back.'
وَسَلَكَ لَكُمۡ فِيهَا سُبُلً
and has opened ways for you therein.
This means, `He made roads for you to walk upon their shoulders.'
This is just as He, the Exalted, said,
وَجَعَلۡنَا فِيهَا فِجَاجاً سُبُلً لَّعَلَّهُمۡ يَهۡتَدُونَ
And placed therein broad highways for them to pass through, that they may be guided. (21:31)
وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء فَأَخۡرَجۡنَا بِهِ أَزۡوَاجًا مِّن نَّبَاتٍ شَتَّى
and has sent down water from the sky. And We have brought forth with it various kinds of vegetation.
referring to the various species of plants, such as vegetation and fruits. Some are sour, some are sweet, some are bitter and there are other kinds as well
كُلُوا وَارۡعَوۡا أَنۡعَامَكُمۡ
Eat and pasture your cattle (therein);
meaning, `something that is food for you and a palatable fruit for you, and something that is for your cattle as fodder for them, both green and dry.'
إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَايَاتٍ
Verily, in this are Ayat.
This means proofs, signs and evidences.
for men of understanding.
meaning those who possess correct and upright intelligence realizing that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah, and there is no true Lord other than Him.
مِنۡهَا خَلَقۡنَاكُمۡ وَفِيهَا نُعِيدُكُمۡ وَمِنۡهَا نُخۡرِجُكُمۡ تَارَةً أُخۡرَى
Thereof We created you, and into it we shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out once again.
meaning, `the earth is your beginning. For your father, Adam, was created with dirt from the surface of the earth. You also will be returned to the earth. This means that you will become dirt when you die and decay.'
The statement, And from it We shall bring you out once again, means,
يَوۡمَ يَدۡعُوكُمۡ فَتَسۡتَجِيبُونَ بِحَمۡدِهِ وَتَظُنُّونَ إِن لَّبِثۡتُمۡ إِلاَّ قَلِيلً
On the Day when He will call you, and you will answer with His praise and obedience, and you will think that you have stayed (in this world) but a little while! (17:52)
This Ayah is similar to Allah's statement,
قَالَ فِيهَا تَحۡيَوۡنَ وَفِيهَا تَمُوتُونَ وَمِنۡهَا تُخۡرَجُونَ
He said:Therein you shall live, and therein you shall die, and from it you shall be brought out. (7:25)
Musa showed Fir`awn all of the Signs but He did not believe
Concerning Allah's statement,
وَلَقَدۡ أَرَيۡنَاهُ ايَاتِنَا كُلَّهَا فَكَذَّبَ وَأَبَى
And indeed We showed him (Fir`awn) all Our Ayat, but he denied and refused.
This means that the proofs, signs and evidences were established against Fir`awn and he saw them with his own eyes, but he still denied and rejected them due to his disbelief, abstinence and transgression.
This is as Allah, the Exalted, says,
وَجَحَدُواۡ بِهَا وَاسۡتَيۡقَنَتۡهَأ أَنفُسُهُمۡ ظُلۡماً وَعُلُوّاً
And they belied them wrongfully and arrogantly, though they themselves were convinced thereof. (27:14
Fir`awn describes Musa's Proofs as being Magic and Their Agreement to hold a Contest
قَالَ أَجِيۡتَنَا لِتُخۡرِجَنَا مِنۡ أَرۡضِنَا بِسِحۡرِكَ يَا مُوسَى
فَلَنَأۡتِيَنَّكَ بِسِحۡرٍ مِّثۡلِهِ فَاجۡعَلۡ بَيۡنَنَا وَبَيۡنَكَ مَوۡعِدًا لاَّ نُخۡلِفُهُ نَحۡنُ وَلَا أَنتَ مَكَانًا سُوًى
He (Fir`awn) said:Have you come to drive us out of our land with your magic, O Musa! Then verily, we can produce magic the like thereof; so appoint a meeting between us and you, which neither we nor you shall fail to keep, in an open place where both shall have a just and equal chance.
Allah, the Exalted, informs of what Fir`awn said to Musa when he showed him the great proof. This great sign to Fir`awn was Musa casting down his stick which became a huge snake, and his pulling his hand out from under his arm while it was glowing white without any illness.
At this, Fir`awn said, This is magic that you have brought to us to bewitch us and conquer the people, so that they will follow you. Then you will outnumber us.
Fir`awn then said, Your plan will not work. We have magic just like yours, so do not let yourself be deceived by that what you are doing.
فَاجۡعَلۡ بَيۡنَنَا وَبَيۡنَكَ مَوۡعِدًا
so appoint a meeting between us and you,
Meaning, `a day that we can come together to present some of our magic to confront yours. It will be at a specified place and time.'
With this, Musa said to them
قَالَ مَوۡعِدُكُمۡ يَوۡمُ الزِّينَةِ
(Musa) said:Your appointed meeting is the day of the festival,
That was the day of their celebration and their New Year's festivity. It was a holiday for them when they took vacation from their work and came together for a large gathering.
This day was selected so that all of the people could witness the power of Allah to do whatever He wills. They would see the miracles of the prophets and the futility of magic to contest the supernatural prophetic powers.
This is why Musa said,
وَأَن يُحۡشَرَ النَّاسُ
and let the people assemble,
meaning all of them.
when the sun has risen (forenoon).
meaning in the morning, just before noon.
In this way the contest will be most visible, well lit, apparent and obvious in plain view. This is the way of the Prophets. Their work is always clear and apparent. It is never something hidden, or something for sale. This is why he did not say that the meeting should be at night, but rather, it was to be held during the bright part of the day.
Ibn Abbas said,
The day of their festivity was the day of `Ashura'.
As-Suddi, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd said,
It was the day of their great celebration.
Sa`id bin Jubayr said,
It was the day of their great bazaar.
These statements are not contradictory.
I say that Allah destroyed Fir`awn and his armies on a day similar to this, just as is confirmed in the Sahih.
Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said,
It was a flat place where all of the people were on the same level, having an equal view of the event. There was nothing there that would obstruct the view so that some people could see what others did not.
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