The corrupted reasoning of Pharaoh


On Mount Sinai, together with the revelation, Musa was bestowed

with great wisdom from his Lord. There, God enlightened Musa on two

subjects especially: destiny and putting one's trust in God. Musa had

grasped that his entire life had been within the confines of a certain

destiny, and had pursued his journey in line with that destiny. Also, he had

comprehended that he should not fear Pharaoh, but put his trust in God

because God is with him, sees him, and helps him. With this mindset, Musa

and Harun had gone to Pharaoh and his inner circle, referred to in the

Qur'an as "a people of evildoers":

Then after them We sent Musa and Harun with Our Signs to Pharaoh

and his ruling circle, but they were arrogant and were a people of

evildoers. (Qur'an, 10: 75)

The dialogue between Musa and Pharaoh is related in the Qur'an. A

close examination of the answers Pharaoh gave to Musa discloses his

highly unreasonable and irrational way of thinking. From what he said, we

understand that, rather than considering the words of Musa, he sought to

defeat him and denounce him. To this purpose, Pharaoh tried to win over

the people around him or impose his crooked rationale on others. The

dialogue between Musa and Pharaoh was as follows:

Pharaoh said, "Who then is your Lord, Musa?"

He said, "Our Lord is He who gives each thing its created form and

then guides it."

He (Pharaoh) said, "What about the previous generations?"

He said, "Knowledge of them is with my Lord in a Book. My Lord does

not misplace nor does He forget."

It is He who made the earth a cradle for you and threaded pathways

for you through it and sent down water from the sky by which We

have brought forth various different types of plants. Eat and pasture

 your cattle. Certainly there are Signs in that for men of understanding.

From it We created you, to it We will return you, and from it We will

bring you forth a second time. (Qur'an, 20: 49-55)

Rather than evaluating this message with a sound mind and clear

conscience, Pharaoh and his inner circle assessed it based on their

accustomed way of thinking, founded on the religion of their ancestors.

According to their superstitious beliefs, Pharaoh was a deity, far from

admitting the idea of the existence of God:

But when Musa brought them Our Clear Signs they said, "This is

nothing but trumped-up magic. We never heard anything like this

among our earlier forefathers." (Qur'an, 28: 36)

As the above verse makes clear, Pharaoh's people thought Musa's

intention in proclaiming the existence and unity of God, was to seize

power in the land, by abolishing the system inherited from their ancestors.

The ancient religion entitled Pharaoh and his inner circle to obvious

advantages, and the change of this religion implied a loss of power for

Pharaoh and the shift of authority to Musa. Therefore, they believed that

Musa had simply come to oppress the people, just as Pharaoh had. This

narrow understanding of theirs is best expressed in the answer of Pharaoh

and his inner circle offered to Musa and Harun:

They said, "Have you come to us to turn us from what we found our

fathers doing, and to gain greatness in the land? We do not believe

you." (Qur'an, 10: 78)

However, the accusation expressed in the words "Have you come to

us to gain greatness in the land" by Pharaoh and his followers was merely

an insincerely motivated attempt at slander. Musa's intention was far from

desiring to rule Egypt; he had only asked Pharaoh to send the tribe of

Israel away with him. Musa's request was the release of the children of

Israel, an enslaved nation who had been living under grief-ridden


Musa said, "Pharaoh! I am truly a Messenger from the Lord of all the

worlds, duty bound to say nothing about God except the truth. I have

come to you with a Clear Sign from your Lord. So send the tribe of

Israel away with me." (Qur'an, 7: 104-105)

Nonetheless, Pharaoh, denying his request, tried various other

methods against Musa. One such ruse was emotional abuse. By reminding

Musa of how he had been brought up in the palace, he was attempting to

remind him of the loyalty he owed to him and his inner circle.

Furthermore, he tried to coerce him by mention of the Egyptian man he

unintentionally killed. Musa's response to all such mistreatment was one

A figure illustrating Pharaoh ruling among the slaves brought to him.

particular to a true believer, who unconditionally submits to his destiny,

and has a full grasp of its implications:

He (Pharaoh) said, "Did we not bring you up among us as a child and

did you not spend many years of your life among us? Yet you

committed the deed you did and were ungrateful."

He (Musa) said, "At the time I did it I was one of the misguided and so

I fled from you when I was in fear of you but my Lord gave me right

judgement and made me one of the Messengers." (Qur'an, 26: 18-21)

Musa explained to Pharaoh that his growing up in the palace was not

a favour but a result of his cruel oppression:

And anyway you can only reproach me with this favour because you

made the tribe of Israel into slaves! (Qur'an, 26: 22)

Despite any hesitation he may have previously felt, Musa delivered

the message fearlessly and forthrightly to Pharaoh and his circle of rulers,

mindful that God had reminded him of His companionship. Pharaoh first

asked Musa about his Lord:

Pharaoh said, "What is the Lord of all the worlds?'

He (Musa) said, 'The Lord of the heavens and the earth and everything

between them if you knew for sure."

He (Pharaoh) said to those around him, "Are you listening?"

He (Musa) said, "Your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers, the

previous peoples." (Qur'an, 26: 23-26)

In his response, Musa was explaining that the religion of Pharaoh's

ancestors was invalid since they were also transgressors. God was the Lord

of those ancestors as well. Having nothing to say in reply, Pharaoh resorted

to slandering and threatening Musa:

He (Pharaoh) said, "This Messenger, who has been sent to you, is mad."

He (Musa) said, "The Lord of the East and the West and everything

between them if you used your intellect."

He (Pharaoh) said, "If you take any god other than me, I will certainly

throw you into prison." (Qur'an, 26: 27-29)

As is evident, Musa's concise explanations and clear evidence put

Pharaoh in a difficult position, which led him to accuse Musa of insanity.

Here, Pharaoh's primary concern was to counteract the powerful influence

Musa was having on the people. The forthright and convincing manner of

Musa's speech infuriated Pharaoh. Ultimately, he threatened Musa with

imprisonment if he continued denying his divinity. This action was merely

another manifestation of Pharaoh's cruel character.

At this point, Musa declared that he had come with signs proving his

prophecy, and performed the two miracles granted to him by God:

He (Musa) said, "Even if I were to bring you something undeniable?"

He (Pharaoh) said, "Produce it then if you are someone telling the


So he threw down his staff and there it was, unmistakably a serpent.

And he drew out his hand and there it was, pure white to those who

looked. (Qur'an, 26: 30-33)

Pharaoh, and his inner circle, witnessing the two great miracles of

God performed by the hand of Musa, thought they could have been

possible only through sorcery. In order to refuse being impressed by these

miracles, they inspired each other to think in the following way:

He (Pharaoh) said to the High Council round about him, "This

certainly is a skilled magician who desires by his magic to expel you

from your land, so what do you recommend?" (Qur'an, 26: 34-35)

The mentality exemplified here is typical of those who deny the truth.

In many stories related in the Qur'an, there are numerous examples of

similar people and their responses evidencing a flawed rationale. This

condition of mind, blindly committed to following the faith of their

ancestors, and rejecting the truth despite clear signs, was not particular

only to Pharaoh and his inner circle. Throughout history, deniers always

sought a similar way out. The mindset of the arrogant is conveyed in the

Qur'an as follows:

I will divert from My Signs all those who are arrogant in the earth

without any right. If they see every Sign, they will not believe in it. If

they see the way of right guidance, they will not take it as a way. But if

they see the way of error, they will take that as a way… (Qur'an, 7: 146)

Pharaoh and his inner circle clearly preferred taking the route of

denial and evil rather than choosing to be rightly guided. Despite these

miracles, they decided to defy Musa. To this purpose, they sought out

would-be opponents to Musa, who they believed to be a "magician":

They said, "Detain him and his brother and send out marshals to the

cities, to bring you all the skilled magicians." (Qur'an, 7: 111-112)

Pharaoh claimed the miracles of Musa were a magician's tricks, and

believed that they could be undone by his own magicians. Therefore, he

planned to defeat Musa to regain his leverage. He could have killed Musa

and Harun. However, in hopes of a greater and longer lasting victory, he

took the advise of those around him. It seemed to make sense to him. In

reality, however, they were doomed to an all-out defeat by God. Moreover,

their defeat came from the least expected source.

Certain of their ultimate victory, they allowed Musa to appoint the

time and place for the confrontation:

He said, "Have you come to us to expel us from our land by means of

your magic, Musa? We will bring you magic to match it. So fix a time

between us and you which neither we nor you will fail to keep at a

place where we can meet halfway."

He (Musa) said, "Your time is the day of the festival. The people should

gather in the morning." (Qur'an, 20: 57-59)

Musa chose "the day of the festival" so that all the people could

witness the encounter. This was a truly wise choice indeed; in this way, all

the people would hear the message of Musa and witness the defeat of

Pharaoh and his magicians. Pharaoh accepted the appointed time:

So Pharaoh went away and concocted his scheme and then he arrived.

Musa said to them, "Woe to you! Do not fabricate lies against God or

He will annihilate you with His punishment. Fabricators of lies are

bound to fail."

They argued among themselves about the matter and had a secret


They said, "These two magicians desire by their magic to expel you

from your land and abolish your most excellent way of life, so decide

on your scheme and then arrive together in force. He who gains the

upper hand today will definitely prosper." (Qur'an, 20: 60-64)


23:07 Gepost door Assalamu aleykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh in Algemeen | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

De commentaren zijn gesloten.