Titles of Egyptian rulers in the Quran


Musa was not the only prophet to have lived in ancient Egypt. The

Prophet Yusuf had also lived in Egypt long before the time of Musa.

In the stories of Musa and Yusuf in the Qur'an, we come across a

detail which is worth mentioning. To refer to the Egyptian ruler at the time

of Yusuf, the word "malik" (the King) is used in the Qur'an:

The King (Malik) said, "Bring him (Yusuf) to me straight away! So I

may draw him very close to me." When he had spoken with him, he

declared, "Today you are trusted, established in our sight." (Qur'an,

12: 54)

In the time of Musa, however, the Egyptian ruler is referred to as the


We gave Musa nine Clear Signs. Ask the tribe of Israel about when he

came to them and Pharaoh said to him, "Musa, I think you are

bewitched." (Qur'an, 17: 101)

Historical records now available provide the reasons for the different

names used to refer to these two rulers of Egypt. In ancient Egypt, the

term "pharaoh" originally referred to the royal palace. During the reign of

the ancient kingdoms, the rulers did not hold such a title. The word

"pharaoh" came to be used as a synonym for the Egyptian king under the

New Kingdom (starting in the 18th dynasty, 1539-1292 B.C.), and by the

22nd dynasty (c. 945-c. 730 B.C.) it had been adopted as an epithet of


Here again, the miraculous qualities of the Qur'an are evidenced once

again: because the Prophet Yusuf lived much before the New Kingdom, the

Qur'an refers to the Egyptian king who was comtemporary of Yusuf with

the word "malik" and not "pharaoh." Musa, on the other hand, lived during

the time of the New Kingdom, and, therefore, the Egyptian ruler who was

contemporary of Musa was referred to in the Qur'an as "pharaoh."

Clearly, such a distinction implies a certain knowledge of the history of the

ancient Egypt. However, as mentioned earlier, the history of Ancient Egypt was

completely forgotten by the 4th century, since hieroglyphic writing was not

deciphered until the 19th century. Therefore, during the period the Qur'an was

revealed, no in-depth knowledge of Egyptian history was available. This fact is yet

another piece of evidence, among countless of others, proving the fact that Qur'an is

the word of God.

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