Firawn Who Was Drowned
(Deeds) after the manner of the people of Firawn and those before them":
They treated as false the Signs of their Lord: so We destroyed them for their crimes, and
We drowned the people of Firawn: for they were all oppressors and wrong-doers. (Surat
Ancient Egyptian Civilisation, along with other city states established in
Mesopotamia at the same time, is known to be one of the oldest civilisations in the world
and it is recognised to have been an organised state with the most advanced social order
of its age. The facts that they discovered writing around the 3rd millennium B.C. and used
it, that they made use of the river Nile and were protected against dangers abroad on
account of the natural setting of the country, greatly contributed to the Egyptians
improving their civilisation.
But this civilised society was one in which the reign of
pharaohs prevailed, which is the system of denial mentioned in the clearest and most
straightforward way in the Quran. They puffed up with pride, turned aside, and
blasphemed. In the end, neither their advanced civilisations, their social and political
orders, nor their military successes could save them from being destroyed.
The Authority of the Pharaohs
The Egyptian civilisation was based on the fertility of the River Nile.
Egyptians had settled in the Nile valley due to the abundant water of this river, and
because they could cultivate the land with the water supplied by the river without being
dependent on rainy seasons. The historian Ernst H. Gombrich states in his writing that
Africa is very hot and sometimes it does not rain there at all for months. For this
reason, many areas in this huge continent are extremely dry. Those parts of the continent
are covered with vast desert. Both sides of the River Nile are also covered with deserts,
and it hardly rains in Egypt. But in this country, rain is not needed so much, because the
River Nile runs right down the middle of the whole country.
The borders of Ancient Egypt during its most brilliant period. The country which grew
around the River Nile succeeded in establishing an extremely powerful civilisation despite
being surrounded by deserts and other natural impediments. It is the bountiful supply of
water continuously provided by the River Nile, that underlie this fact. The systematically
organised army, which was built up during a period of development lasting for centuries,
allowed for the enlargement of the country so that it reached the borders of the states of
Hittites and Mitanni.
So, whoever has control of the River Nile, which is of such great importance, is also
able to control Egypts biggest source of commerce and agriculture. The Firawns
were able to establish their dominance over Egypt in this way.
The narrow and vertical form of the Nile valley did not allow residential units
situated around the river to expand much, and therefore Egyptians formed a civilisation
made up of small-scaled towns and villages instead of big cities. This factor also
fortified the dominance the pharaohs had over their people.
King Menes is known to be the first Egyptian Pharaoh who united the whole of ancient
Egypt, for the first time in history, in a united state around the 3rd millennium B.C.. In
fact, the term pharaoh originally referred to the palace where the Egyptian
king lived, but in time, it became the title of Egyptian kings. This is why the kings, who
were rulers of Old Egypt started to be called pharaohs.
Being owners, administrators and rulers of the whole state and its lands, these
pharaohs were accepted as reflections of the biggest god in the distorted polytheistic
religion of old Egypt. The administration of Egyptian lands, their division, their income,
in short, all the estates, services and production within the countrys borders were
managed on behalf of the pharaoh.
The absolutism in the regime had furnished the pharaoh ruling the country
with such a power that he could have anything he wished. Right at the establishment of the
first dynasty, at the time of Menes who became the first King of Egypt by uniting Upper
and Lower Egypt, the River Nile started to be delivered to the public through canals.
Beside that, production was taken under control and the entire production of goods and
services were assigned to the king. The king distributed and shared these goods and
services in the proportions his people needed. It was not hard for the kings, who had
established such a power in the region, to reduce the people to submission. The King of
Egypt, or with his future name, the pharaoh, was looked upon as a holy being who held
great power and met all the needs of his people: and he was transformed into a god. The
Pharaohs definitely believed in time that they were indeed gods.
Some of the words Firawn mentioned in the Quran used during
his conversation with Musa prove that they held this belief. He tried to intimidate Musa
by saying If thou dost put forward any god other than me, I will certainly put
thee in prison! (Surat ash-Shuara: 29), and he said to the people around him
no god do I know for you but myself (Surat al-Qasas: 38). He said all
this because he regarded himself as a god.
According to the historian Herodotus, the Ancient Egyptians were the most
devout people in the world. However, their religion was not the religion of
Truth, but a perverse polytheistic one and they could not abandon their perverse religion
because of their extreme conservatism.
The religious beliefs of the Egyptians were mainly based on serving
their gods. The intermediaries between these gods and people were the priests
who were among the leaders of the society. Dealing with magic and witchcraft at the same
time, the priests made an important class whom the Pharaohs used in order to keep the
people in submission. The priests seen in the pictures with shaved heads, were presenting
gifts to their gods, and were playing music and performing rites to please them.
The Ancient Egyptians were largely influenced by the natural environment
in which they lived. The natural geography of Egypt protected the country against external
attacks perfectly. Egypt was surrounded by deserts, mountainous lands and seas on all
sides. Attacks likely to be made on the country had two possible routes and it was very
simple for the Egyptians to defend those routes. Thus, the Egyptians remained isolated
from the external world thanks to these natural factors. But passing centuries transformed
this isolation into a dark bigotry. Thus the Egyptians acquired a viewpoint which was
locked against new developments and novelties, and which was extremely conservative about
their religion. The religion of their ancestors mentioned frequently in the
Quran became their most important value.
This is why Firawn and his close circle turned their backs on Musa
and Harun when they announced the Religion of Truth to them, by saying. Hast thou
come to us to turn us away from the ways we found our fathers following - in order that
thou and thy brother may have greatness in the land? But not we shall believe in you!
(Surah Yunus: 78)
The religion of Ancient Egypt was divided into branches, the most
important of which were the official religion of the state, the beliefs of the people and
belief in life after death.
According to the states official religion, Firawn was a holy
being. He was a reflection of the peoples gods on earth and his purpose was to
dispense justice and protect them on earth.
The beliefs widespread among people were extremely complicated, and the
elements in item which clashed with the states official religion were oppressed by
the reigns of the Pharaohs. Basically, they believed in many gods, and these gods were
usually depicted as having animal heads on human bodies. But it was also possible to meet
with local traditions which differed from region to region.
Life after death made up the most important part of Egyptian belief. They
believed that the soul went on living after the body died. According to this, the souls of
the dead were brought by particular angels to the God who was a Judge and forty-two other
witness judges, a scale was set in the middle and the heart of the soul was weighed in
this scale. Those with more goodness passed on to a beautiful setting and lived in
happiness, those with more wickedness were sent to a place where they were subject to
great torments. There, they were tormented throughout eternity by a strange creature
called the The Dead Eater.
The belief of the Egyptians in the Hereafter clearly shows a parallelism
with the monotheistic belief and the religion of Truth. Even their belief in the hereafter
alone proves that the religion of truth and the message had reached ancient Egyptian
civilisation, but that this religion was later corrupted, and monotheism was turned into
polytheism. It is already known that warners calling people to the unity of Allah and
summoning them to be His slaves were sent in Egypt from time to time, as they were to all
the earths peoples at one time or another. One of these was the prophet Joseph whose
life is told in detail in the Quran. The history of Joseph is also extremely
important because it includes the arrival of the Children of Israel in Egypt and their
On the other hand, in the historical resources, there are references to
some Egyptians who invited people to monotheistic religions even before Musa. One of them
is the most interesting pharaoh in the history of Egypt, that is, Amenhotep IV .
The Monotheistic Pharaoh Amenhotep
The Egyptian pharaohs were generally brutal, oppressive, belligerent and
ruthless people. In general they adopted the polytheistic religion of Egypt and deified
themselves through this religion.
But there is a pharaoh in Egyptian history who is very different from the others. This
pharaoh defended belief in a single Creator and was subjected to great resistance by the
priests of Ammon, who profited from the polytheistic religion, and some soldiers who
supported them, and so he was finally killed. This pharaoh was Amenhotep IV who rose to
power in the 14th Century B.C..
When Amenhotep IV was enthroned in 1375 B.C., he came across a conservatism and
traditionalism which had been lingering for centuries. Until then, the structure of the
society and the relations of the public with the royal palace had carried on without any
change. The society kept all its doors firmly shut to all external events and religious
innovations. This extreme conservatism, also remarked by ancient Greek travellers, was
caused by the natural geographical conditions of Egypt as we have explained above.
Imposed on people by the pharaohs, the official religion required an
unconditional faith in everything old and traditional. But Amenhotep IV did not adopt the
official religion. The historian Ernst Gombrich writes;
He (Amenhotep IV) broke with many of the customs hallowed by an age-old tradition. He
did not wish to pay homage to the many strangely shaped gods of his people. For him only
one god was supreme, Aton, whom he worshipped and whom he had represented in the shape of
the sun. He called himself Akhenaton, after his god, and he moved his court out of reach
of the priests of the other gods, to a place which is now called
After the death of his father, young Amenhotep IV was subjected to great
pressure. This oppression was caused by the fact that he developed a religion based on
monotheism by changing the traditional polytheistic religion of Egypt, and attempting to
make radical changes in all fields. But the leaders of Thebes did not allow him to convey
the message of this religion. Amenhotep IV and his folk moved away from the city of Thebes
and settled in Tell-El-Amarna. Here, they established a new and modern city named
Akh-et-aton. Amenhotep IV changed his name which meant the Contentment
of Amon to Akh-en-aton, which meant Submitting to Aton. Amon was the
name given to the greatest totem in Egyptian polytheism. According to Amenhotep, Aton is
the creator of the heavens and earth, their equating the name with
Disturbed by these developments, the priests of Amon wanted to snatch
Akhenatons power by profiting from an economic crisis in the country. Akhenaton was
finally killed by being poisoned by conspirators. Succeeding pharaohs were careful to stay
under the influence of the priests.
After Akhenaton, pharaohs with a military background came to power. These
again caused the old traditional polytheism to become widespread and spent a considerable
effort to return to the past. Nearly a century later, Ramses II, who was to have the
longest rule in the history of Egypt, came to the throne. According to many historians,
Ramses was the pharaoh tormenting the Children of Israel and fighting against
The Coming of the Prophet Musa
Because of their deep bigotry, the ancient Egyptians would not abandon
their idolatrous beliefs. Some persons came to them who announced the message of
worshipping only Allah, but the people of the Firawn always turned back to their
perverted beliefs. Finally, Musa was sent by Allah as a messenger (rasul) to them, both
because they had adopted a system of falsehood contrary to the religion of truth, and also
because they had enslaved the Children of Israel. Musa was instructed both to invite Egypt
to the religion of truth, and to save the Children of Israel from slavery and show them
the right way. In the Quran, it is stated;
We rehearse to thee some of the story of Prophet Musa and Firawn in Truth, for
people who believe. Truly Firawn elated himself in the land and broke up its people
into sections, depressing a small group among them: their sons he slew, but he kept alive
their females: for he was indeed a maker of mischief. And We wished to be Gracious to
those who were being depressed in the land, to make them leaders (in Faith) and make them
heirs, To establish a firm place for them in the land, and to show Firawn, Haman,
and their hosts, at their hands, the very things against which they were taking
precautions. (Surat al-Qasas: 3-6)
Firawn wanted to prevent the Children of Israel increasing in
number, by killing all new-born male babies. This was why, by inspiration from Allah,
Musas mother placed him in a basket and left him in the river. This was the way that
led him into the palace of Firawn. In the Quran, the verses on the subject are
So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Musa: Suckle (thy child), but
when thou hast fears about him, cast him into the river, but fear not nor grieve: for We
shall restore him to thee, and We shall make him one of Our messengers.
Then the people of Firawn picked him up (from the river): (It was intended) that
(Musa) should be to them an adversary and a cause of sorrow: for Firawn and Haman
and (all) their hosts were men of sin.
The wife of Firawn said: (Here is) joy of the eye, for me and for thee:
slay him not. It may be that he will be use to us, or we may adopt him as a son. And
they perceived not (what they were doing)! (Surat al-Qasas: 7-9)
Considered to be the Firawn mentioned in the Quran
according to many historians, Ramses II is seen killing some of the slaves he has
captured. As these wall pictures also reveal, the pharaohs had themselves idealised and
depicted as strong warriors. They were presented as tall heroes with wide shoulders who
could overcome a number of people at one time. Since they saw themselves as divine beings,
they tried to seem superior to all other people.
Firawns wife prevented the murder of Musa and adopted him.
This way, Musa spent his childhood in Firawns palace. With the help of Allah,
his own mother was brought to the palace as his wet-nurse.
When he had become an adult, one day Musa intervened when he saw one of
the children of Israel being tormented by an Egyptian and he struck the Egyptian one blow
upon which the Egyptian died. Despite the fact he was living in the palace of
Firawn, and he had been adopted by the Queen, the chiefs of the city decided that
his punishment was to be death. Hearing this, Musa ran away from Egypt and came to Madyan.
At the end of the period he passed there, Allah spoke directly to him and Allah gave him
the station of prophethood. He was ordered to return to Firawn and convey the
message of Allahs religion to him.
Musa and Harun went to Firawn in obedience to Allahs command
and conveyed him the message of the religion of truth. They asked him to stop tormenting
the Children of Israel and let them go with Musa and Harun. It was unacceptable to
Firawn that Musa, whom he had kept near him for years and who most probably was to
have been his successor on the throne, stood up to him and talked to him in this manner.
For that reason, Firawn accused him of ingratitude;
(Firawn) said: Did we not cherish thee as a child among us, and didst
thou not stay in our midst many years of thy life? And thou didst a deed of thine which
(thou knowest) thou didst, and thou art an ungrateful (wretch)! (Surat
Firawn was trying to play on Musas sentiments and affect his
conscience. It was as if he was saying that since it was he and his wife who had brought
him up, it was Musa who should obey them. Moreover, Musa had killed an Egyptian. All these
acts required heavy penalties according to the Egyptians. This emotional atmosphere which
Firawn tried to create, was also directed at influencing the leaders of his people,
so that they would also agree with Firawn.
On the other hand, the message of the religion of truth proclaimed by Musa
undermined Firawns power, and reduced him to the level of ordinary people.
From then on, it would be revealed that he was not a god, and moreover he would be
compelled to obey Musa. Besides, if he set the Children of Israel free, he would loose
some important manpower and thus could fall in great distress.
For all these, Firawn did not even listen to what Musa said. He
tried to make fun of him, and attempted to change the subject by asking meaningless
questions. At the same time, he was tried to represent Musa and Harun as anarchists and
accuse them of being politically motivated. Finally, neither Firawn nor the leaders
of the people within his close circle, except for the magicians, obeyed Musa and Harun.
They did not follow the religion of truth shown to them. Therefore Allah first of all sent
some disasters to them.
The Disasters That Befell Firawn and His Close Circle
Firawn and his close circle were so deeply engaged in their
polytheism and their idolatry, that is the religion of their ancestors, that
they never considered leaving it. Even two of the main miracles of Musa, his hand
appearing white and his rod turning into snake, were not enough to make them move away
from their superstitions. Moreover, they expressed this openly. They said Whatever
be the Signs thou bringest, to work therewith thy sorcery on us, we shall never believe in
thee. (Surat al-Araf: 132)
Because of their conduct, Allah sent them a number of disasters as
separate miracles to make them taste the torment in this world, before the
eternal torment of the next world. The first of these was drought and scarcity of crops.
In relation to the subject, it is written in the Quran: We punished the
people of Firawn with years (of droughts) and shortness of crops; that they might
receive admonition. (Surat al-Araf: 130).
Egyptians had based their agricultural system on the River Nile and,
therefore, they were not influenced by changes in natural conditions. But an unexpected
disaster befell them because Firawn and his close friends were proud and arrogant
towards Allah and denied His prophet. Most probably, for various reasons, the level of the
River Nile sank a great deal and irrigation canals running off from the river did not
carry enough water to agricultural areas. Extreme heat caused the crops to dry up. Thus,
the disaster came on Firawn and his circle from a very unexpected direction, from
the River Nile upon which they relied. This drought dismayed Firawn who previously
used to address his people as follows O my people! Does not the dominion of Egypt
belong to me, (witness) these streams flowing underneath my (palace)? What! see ye not
then? (Surat az-Zukhruf: 51)
However, instead of taking heed, as shown in the verses, they
held all that had happened was because of ill fortune brought by Musa and the Children of
Israel. They were overcome by such a conviction because of their superstitions and the
religion of their ancestors. Because of this, they chose to suffer from great distress,
but what befell them was not limited to these. This was just a beginning. Afterwards,
Allah sent to them a series of disasters. These disasters are described as follows in the
So We sent (plagues) on them: Wholesale death, Locusts, Lice, Frogs, And Blood:
Signs openly self-explained: but they were steeped in arrogance - a people given to sin. (Surat
These disasters Allah sent on Firawn and the people around him who
also denied were also described in the Old Testament in agreement with the
And there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
And if thou refuse to let [them] go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: And
the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house,
and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon
thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the
dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of
Egypt: very grievous [were they]; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither
after them shall be such.
Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This [is] the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart
was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
Awful disasters kept happening to Firawn and his close circle. Some
of these disasters were caused by the objects worshipped as gods by the idolatrous people.
For example, the River Nile and frogs were sacred for them and had been deified by them.
As they expected guidance from their gods and called for their help, Allah
punished them through their own gods so that they could see their
mistakes and pay for the wrongs they had done.
According to interpreters of the Old Testament, the blood was
the turning of the River Nile into blood. This was explained as a metaphor for the River
Niles turning solid red. According to an interpretation, what gave the river this
colour was a type of bacteria.
The Nile was the main source of life for the Egyptians. Any harm done to
this source could mean death for the whole of Egypt. If the bacteria had covered the River
Nile so fully as to turn it red, this would cause every living thing using this water to
be infected by these bacteria.
Recent explanations of the cause for the red colouring of water has
favoured protozoan, zooplankton, both salt - and fresh - water algal (phytoplankton)
blooms, and dinoflagellates. All of these various blooms -- plant, fungal or protozoan --
deoxygenate water and produce noxious toxins for both fish and frogs.
Citing the Exodus account in the Bible, Patricia A. Tester of the National
Marine Fisheries Service, writing in the Annals of the New York Academy of Science , noted
that while fewer than 50 out of approximately 5,000 known phytoplankton species are toxic,
those which possess toxins can be dangerous to aquatic life. In the same publication, Ewen
C. D. Todd of Health Canada, referring to historic and prehistoric data, cited nearly two
dozen examples of specific phytoplanktons causing various outbreaks throughout the world.
W. W. Carmichael and I. R. Falconer listed diseases associated with fresh-water blue-green
algae. Aquatic ecologist Joann M. Burkholder, of North Carolina State University,
described a dinoflagellate, Pfiesteria piscimorte (found in estuary waters) that is
capable of, as the species name implies, killing fish. (20)
In Firawns time, this kind of chain of disasters appears to
have occurred. According to this scenario, when the Nile was contaminated, fish also died,
and the Egyptians were deprived of an important source of nutrition. Without predator
fish, the frogs could initially breed freely in both ponds and the Nile and thus
overpopulate the river, eventually escaping the anoxic, toxic, and putrefying environment
by migrating to land, hence dying on land and decomposing along with the fish. The Nile
and adjacent lands thus became fouled, and the waters dangerous to drink or to bathe in.
Moreover, the extinction of frog species causes bugs such as locusts and lice to reproduce
Finally, no matter how the disasters took place, and what effect they
left, neither Firawn, nor his people turned to Allah by paying heed, and they went
on in their arrogance.
Firawn and his close circle were so hypocritical that they thought
to deceive Musa and, thus, Allah (Allah forbid!). When the dreadful penalty fell upon
them, they at once called for Musa and asked him to save them from it:
Every time the penalty fell on them, they said: O Musa! on your behalf call on
thy Lord in virtue of his promise to thee: If thou wilt remove the penalty from us, we
shall truly believe in thee, and we shall send away the Children of Israel with
thee. But every time We removed the penalty from them according to a fixed term
which they had to fulfil,- Behold! they broke their word! (Surat al-Araf: 134-135)
Exodus from Egypt
Allah explained to Firawn and his close circle through Musa that
which they had to take heed of, and thus warned them. In response, they rebelled and
accused him of being possessed and untrue. Allah prepared a humiliating end for them. He
revealed to Musa what was to happen.
By inspiration we told Musa: Travel by night with my servants; for surely ye
shall be pursued.
Then Firawn sent heralds to (all) the Cities,
(Saying): These (Israelites) are but a small band,
And they are raging furiously against us;
But we are a multitude amply fore-warned.
So We expelled them from gardens, springs,
Treasures, and every kind of honourable position;
Thus it was, but We made the Children of Israel inheritors of such things.
So they pursued them at sunrise.
And when the two bodies saw each other, the people of Musa said: We are sure to
(Surat ash-Shuara: 52-61)
In such circumstances, when the Children of Israel thought that they were
trapped, and Firawns men thought that they were about to catch them, Musa
said, never loosing faith in Allah's help: By no means! my Lord is with me! Soon
will He guide me! (Surat ash-Shuara: 62)
At that moment, Allah saved Musa and the Children of Israel by dividing
the sea. Firawn and his men were drowned under the waters which closed over them
after the Children of Israel had safely crossed.
Then We told Musa by inspiration: Strike the sea with thy rod. So it
divided, and each separate part became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain.
And We made the other party approach thither.
We delivered Musa and all who were with him;
But We drowned the others. Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe.
And verily thy Lord is He, the Exalted in Might, Most Merciful.
(Surat ash-Shuara: 52-68)
Musa's rod had miraculous qualities. Allah had turned it into a snake in
His first revelation to him, and then this same rod had turned into a snake again and
swallowed the sorceries of Firawns magicians. Now, Musa divided the sea with
the same rod. This was one of the greatest miracles given to the prophet Musa.
Did the incident take place on the Mediterranean Coasts of
Egypt, or in the Red Sea?
There is no common agreement on the place where Musa divided the sea.
Since no detail is given on the subject in the Quran, we cannot be sure of the
correctness of any of the views on the subject. Some sources show the Mediterranean shores
of Egypt as the place where the sea was divided. In the Encyclopedia Judaica, it is said;
The majority opinion today identifies the Red Sea of the Exodus with one
of the lagoons on the shores of the Mediterranean (21)
David Ben Gurion said that the event could have taken place during the
reign of Ramses II, possibly after the Kadesh defeat. In the Book of Exodus in the Old
Testament, the event is said to have happened in Migdol and Baal-Zephon, which are located
to the north of the delta.(22)
The above migration map is prepared on the supposition that the point
where Musa crossed the sea is on the Mediterranean coast.
In the map above, the points where Musa is likely to have passed are specified. As
seen, the 1st and 2nd possible crossing points are on the Red Sea, and the 3rd point is on
the Mediterranean coast of Egypt.
This view is based on the Old Testament. In the translations of the Book
of Exodus chapter from the Old Testament, it is said that Firawn and his men were
drowned in the Red Sea. But according to those who hold this view, the word translated as
The Red Sea is really The Sea of Reeds. The word is identified
with the Red Sea in many sources, and used for that location. However,
The Sea of Reeds is actually used to refer to the Mediterranean coast of
Egypt. In the Old Testament, while mentioning the route followed by Musa and those
following him, the words Migdol and Baal-Zephon are mentioned, and these are located to
the north in the Nile Delta, on the shore of Egypt. The Sea of Reeds, by implication,
supports the possibility that the incident may have happened on the Egyptian shores,
because in this region, in agreement with the meaning of the name, reeds are produced
thanks to the delta alluvions.
The Drowning of Firawn and His Men in the Sea
The Quran informs us about the most important aspects of the event
of the division of the Red Sea. According to the account of the Quran, Musa set out
to leave Egypt with the Children of Israel who obeyed him. However, Firawn could not
accept their departure without his permission. He and his soldiers followed them in
insolence and spite (Surah Yunus: 90). By the time Musa and the Children of Israel
reached the shore, Firawn and his soldiers had caught up with them. Some of the
Children of Israel, who saw this, began to complain to Musa. According to the Old
Testament, they said to Musa why did you take us away from our homeland, there we
were slaves but we could lead our lives, now we will die. This weakness of the
community is also described in the Quran in the following verse: And when
the two bodies saw each other, the people of Musa said: "We are sure to be overtaken.
(Surat ash-Shuara: 61)
As a matter of fact, this was neither the first nor the last time that the
Children of Israel displayed such behaviour in which they showed no submission. The people
of Musa had complained to him once before saying: We have had (nothing but)
trouble, both before and after thou camest to us. (Surat al-Araf: 129) Contrary
to the weak conduct of his people, Musa was extremely confident, since he had profound
trust in Allah. Right from the beginning of his struggle, Allah had informed him that His
help and support would be with him: Fear not: for I am with you: I hear and see
(everything). (Surah Ta-Ha: 46)
When Musa first met the sorcerers of Firawn, he felt a sort of
fear (Surah Ta-Ha: 67). Thereupon, Allah revealed to him that he should not fear at
all and that he would definitely overcome in the end. (Surah Ta-Ha: 68). Thus, Musa was
educated by Allah and acquired a full maturity in respect to His ways. Consequently, when
some of his people feared being overtaken, he said: By no means! my Lord is with
me! Soon will He guide me! (Surat ash-Shuara: 62)
Allah revealed to Musa that he should strike the sea with his rod. Upon
this, it divided, and each separate part became like the huge, firm mass of a
mountain. (Surat ash-Shuara: 63) In ordinary circumstances, at the moment when
Firawn saw such a miracle, he should have understood that there was something
extraordinary about the situation, and that he was seeing Divine intervention. The sea
opened for the people whom Firawn wanted to destroy. Moreover, there was no
guarantee that the sea would not close back after they passed across. Still, he and his
army followed the Children of Israel into the sea. Most probably, Firawn and his
soldiers had lost their ability to think reasonably because of their insolence and spite,
and were unable comprehend the miraculous nature of the situation.
The Quran describes the last moments of Firawn as follows:
We took the Children of Israel across the sea: Firawn and his hosts followed
them in insolence and spite. At length, when overwhelmed with the flood, he said: I
believe that there is no god except Him Whom the Children of Israel believe in: I am of
those who submit (to Allah in Islam). (Surah Yunus: 90)
Here, it is possible to see another miracle of Musa. Let us remind
ourselves of the following verse:
Musa prayed: Our Lord! Thou hast indeed bestowed on Firawn and his
chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of the present, and so, Our Lord, they mislead
(men) from Thy Path. Deface our Lord, the features of their wealth, and send hardness to
their hearts, so they will not believe until they see the grievous penalty.
Allah said: Accepted is your prayer (O Musa and Harun)! So stand ye straight, and
follow not the path of those who know not. (Surah Yunus: 88-89)
It is clearly understood from this verse that Musa was thus informed in
answer to his supplication that Firawn would believe in Allah at the time he faced
the painful punishment. Indeed, Firawn said that he believed in Allah when the
waters started to cover. Yet, it was very clear that his behaviour was insincere and
false. Firawn most probably said so to save himself from dying.
Certainly, the last-moment acceptance of faith of Firawn, and his
asking for forgiveness were not accepted by Allah. Firawn and his army could not be
saved from death by drowning.
(It was said to him): Ah now!- But a little while before, wast thou in
rebellion!- and thou didst mischief (and violence)! This day shall We save thee in the
body, that thou mayest be a sign to those who come after thee! but verily, many among
mankind are heedless of Our Signs! (Surah Yunus: 91-92)
We are also informed that his men, as well as Firawn himself,
received their share of the punishment. Since the soldiers of Firawn were men of
insolence and spite (Surah Yunus: 90), men of sin (Surat al-Qasas:
8), did wrong (Surat al-Qasas: 40), and thought that they would not have
to return to Allah (Surat al-Qasas: 39) just like Firawn, they well deserved
the punishment of Allah. Thus, Allah seized both Firawn and his hosts and flung them
into the sea. (Surat al-Qasas: 40)
The picture on the left is of the mummy of the Pharaoh, Ramses II which was taken
from his tomb. Most historical sources conclude that this Pharaoh is the Firawn
mentioned in the Qur'an. Well, how could the mummy of the Firawn who drowned and
died be found in a tomb? Most probably, after Firawn drowned in the sea, his corpse
was washed ashore and it was carried to his tomb and laid there by the Egyptians who found
So Allah exacted retribution from them and drowned them in the sea,
because they rejected His signs and failed to take warning from them. (Surat al-Araf: 136)
Allah describes in the Quran in the following verses, all that
happened after the death of Firawn:
And We made a people, considered weak (and of no account), inheritors of lands in
both east and west, - lands whereon We sent down Our blessings. The fair promise of thy
Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy,
and We levelled to the ground the great works and fine buildings which Firawn and
his people erected (with such pride). (Surat al-Araf: 137).