قَالَ ءَامَنتُمۡ لَهُۥ قَبۡلَ أَنۡ ءَاذَنَ لَكُمۡۖ إِنَّهُۥ لَكَبِيرُكُمُ ٱلَّذِي عَلَّمَكُمُ ٱلسِّحۡرَۖ فَلَأُقَطِّعَنَّ أَيۡدِيَكُمۡ وَأَرۡجُلَكُم مِّنۡ خِلَٰفٖ وَلَأُصَلِّبَنَّكُمۡ فِي جُذُوعِ ٱلنَّخۡلِ وَلَتَعۡلَمُنَّ أَيُّنَآ أَشَدُّ عَذَابٗا وَأَبۡقَىٰ
Pharaoh threatened, “How dare you believe in him before I give you permission? He must be your master who taught you magic. I will certainly cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and crucify you on the trunks of palm trees. You will really see whose punishment is more severe and more lasting.” (20:67)
The other day, I was watching the news. A reporter had caught the president in a lie; after stating in an interview he would not be cutting state aid, a video surfaced where the president said the exact opposite. In the face of embarrassment, the spin doctors got to work…
“You haven’t presented the whole story…”
“The President will not cut state aid…”
It’s easy for us to watch and laugh at how ludicrous any defence of this position could be. How could anything explain a video which categorically stated the opposite to what was said?
Sadly, such behaviour isn’t new. When confronted with the truth of Musa’s (as) Prophecy, Pharaoh challenged him. He called upon the greatest magicians across the land to disprove Prophet Musa’s claim, promising immense reward and power to anyone who did. On the appointed day, the magicians came and presented their trickery before an enormous crowd; each of them threw their sticks which sprung to life, slithering as though they were real! The illusion perturbed both the audience and Prophet Musa (as) – such was the power of their trickery. Reassured by His Lord, Prophet Musa (as) threw his staff. Unlike their illusions, his magic was a miracle, transforming to a real snake by the will of God. Before everyone’s eyes, the snake ate each of the “snakes” of the other magicians.
The game was up. The magicians bowed in submission to Allah ﷻ in unison. The very people brought to prove him wrong had proven him right. Checkmate.
…Except it wasn’t?
Pharoah doubled down in his denial. “Musa is your grandmaster! He taught you magic! This was a ploy to trick me!” In the face of undeniable truth, when the evidence stared him in the face, he would always find an escape.
Many of us have this same Pharoah within. Rather than face the discomfort of change, we double down on what we know to be wrong. How often have we argued with our spouse over something we knew we were mistaken in? How many times have we denied something we have seen to be true because our desires couldn’t give up we liked? How many excuses have we made for things we knew were inexcusable?
The story of Prophet Musa (as) and Pharoah is one we live through every day. The question is, do we double down in our denial, or repent to the Truth?