Islamic Perspectives

The Pharaoh lives on

It’s amazing how Allah (swt) repeatedly mentions the Pharaoh and his evil character in the Holy Qur’an. What’s more amazing is the reason Pharaoh’s character is emphasized and concentrated on in the Qur’an in comparison to many other evil characters. There’s no doubt that it’s more than just a story to be mentioned as everything in the Qur’an has a great lesson for everyone to learn from.

There are so many things in life that are not understood until other experiences in life take place. The recent uprisings in the Muslim world starting with Tunisia, then Egypt and now, in Libya, Yemen and other countries (may Allah give them quick victory), you can see the reflection of Pharaoh’s character in many of those tyrant rulers who continue to rule with the same policy and nature of the Pharaoh. Subhanallah, it is as if Allah almighty is telling us that the character and the path of all oppressive and tyrant rulers reflect one another, as Pharaoh used to be. Furthermore, Pharaoh’s policies in ruling his nation reflect on the policies carried out with the current tyrant rulers. Let’s look into some of those characteristics that Allah mentions about this cursed Pharaoh.

The character of dictating people’s thoughts and minds by enforcing their corrupt thoughts and policies over others: Allah (swt) says about Pharaoh: “Fir’aun (Pharaoh) said: “I show you only that which I see (correct), and I guide you only to the path of right policy” (40: 29). This is evident with the current leaders believing they are always correct and everyone else is wrong. They don’t allow anyone to express their thoughts or opinions over any policy which in turn leads to persecution, torture, imprisonment and much more.

Then you find that Pharaoh’s character will escalate to planting fear and terror in the hearts and minds of his people so much so that they refuse to listen to anyone beside him or follow any other path than the one that’s set for them by the Pharaoh. Allah (swt) says: “Fir’aun (Pharaoh) said: “Leave me to kill Musa (Moses), and let him call his Lord (to stop me from killing him)! I fear that he may change your religion, or that he may cause mischief to appear in the land!” (40: 26). Once again, this is reflected in the character of the current leaders - they cast fear and terror in the hearts of their nations by creating shadows of fear that don’t exist. This forces people to grasp and hold tight onto their leaders due to the fear that has been planted in their hearts including the notion that “if I go then chaos will dominate the country,” and other foolish comments such as “if I step down, Islamists will take over,” or that “this country needs me”.

 Although Pharaoh has physically gone, his personality survives through those who continue to follow him. This is evident through the manipulative strategies and policies in place today duplicated by tyrant leaders. Allah says: “Thus he [Fir’aun (Pharaoh)] befooled (and misled) his people and they obeyed him. Verily, they were ever a people who were Fasiqun (disobedient to Allah). (43: 54).

Befooling his people is exactly what Pharaoh did, and that’s what these tyrant leaders are doing. They deny the truth, treating their own nations like sheep and goats, but realistically, not everyone accepts to being a sheep and a goat. A true Muslim denies this concept and refuses to be a blind follower - how much can someone fool their own people? To what extent can someone befool someone? Or maybe they are fooling their own selves, especially when they deny the demonstrations and protests of their own people by saying “there’s no demonstration” and if there are demonstrations, they will say, “they are demonstrating for me - my people love and will die for me!” It’s time for the duplicate Pharaohs to ask the question: “Who is the real fool now?” The Pharaoh did not stop at fooling his own people - he would call them names, defaming and abusing them, turning people away from them, as well as deceiving, lying, misleading and making mockery of his people. Allah says: “Then Fir’aun (Pharaoh) sent callers to (all) the cities, (saying): “Verily! These indeed are but a small band. “And verily, they have done what has enraged us” (26: 53-55). He also said about prophet Musa: “[Fir’aun (Pharaoh)] said: “Verily, your Messenger who has been sent to you is a madman!” (26;27).

 It’s always known that one of the strongest campaigns against an opponent is to defame and label him, especially with labels which people dislike and fear. Pharaoh did this to Musa and his followers and today we see the same thing happening with deceptive leaders defaming their opponents who want justice and freedom for their people. They label them as “drug addicts” or “Al-Qaeda” or “rats”, “traitors” and accuse them of having hidden agendas or working for foreign powers.

 The final stage following Pharaoh’s deception of his people, fooling them and making mockery of his opponents was the threat of punishment and torture. Anyone who turned against the orders of the Pharaoh was to face a severe inhuman punishment. These styles have been passed on from one tyrant regime to succeeding tyrant regimes - torture and punishments to silence those who oppose injustice and oppression, those who expose the reality of their rulers. In most cases, this leads to death, exile or life imprisonment. But for what? and why? Because they spoke the truth and opposed injustice. Because they exercised their human rights or expressed their thoughts or beliefs. Allah says about Pharaoh when the sorcerers submitted to Allah at the hands of Musa: “And the sorcerers fell down prostrate, saying: “We believe in the Lord of the worlds; The Lord of Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron). [Fir’aun (Pharaoh)] said: “You have believed in him before I permit you. Surely, he indeed is your chief, who has taught you magic! So verily, you shall come to know. Verily, I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you all.” (26:46-49).

The final ending of Pharaoh was full disgrace and humiliation; after being so high in this world to so low a position, from being so powerful to being so weak, from a leader to a criminal, from honour to shame, and from a lavish and luxury life to punishment in the grave and the hell-fire. Allah says: “While an evil torment encompassed Fir’auns (Pharaoh) people. The Fire - they are exposed to it, morning and afternoon, and on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): “Cause Fir’auns (Pharaoh) people to enter the severest torment!” (40:45-46), 

The same ending will follow those who followed the Pharaoh and his path. The same will come unto them and those who are like them as Allah had determined that for as long as falsehood will rule, there must come a time when the truth will prevail. As long as they may rule with injustice, there must be a time when justice will dominate. After humiliation and disgrace in this world, they will continue to be a lesson of disgrace and proof of humiliation until the Day of Judgment; as Allah says: “So this day We shall deliver your (dead) body (out from the sea) that you may be a sign to those who come after you! And verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our Ayat (proofs, signs, revelations, etc.). (10:92).

 Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman

Sydney, Australia

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 September 2011 on page no. 28

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