Some of Pharaoh's Court Embrace Faith
The confrontation between the Prophet Moses (pbuh) and those opposing him resulted in a completely unexpected end for Pharaoh, the magicians and the spectators alike. The people in subject, who had been so self-assured and arrogant of their superiority, were defeated. Furthermore, this total defeat took place right before the eyes of the people of Egypt. The impact of the defeat was even greater for the those opposing the Prophet Moses (pbuh). Their spectacle, which was merely an illusion, they knew very well not to have been real. They had devised tricks to deceive people into believing that their system—and consequently Pharaoh's system—was allegedly divinely powerful (Allah is beyond that). However, the Prophet Moses (pbuh) appeared with an obvious miracle. The staff of the Prophet Moses (pbuh) had actually devoured their trickery. These people, therefore, grasped that this was a real miracle, and a sign of the existence of Allah, and an evidence of Allah's support to the Prophet Moses (pbuh). Thereupon, they embraced faith:
The magicians threw themselves down in prostration. They said, "We have faith in the Lord of all the worlds, the Lord of Moses and Aaron." (Surat al-A'raf: 120-122)
Pharaoh, who openly challenged the Prophet Moses (pbuh), being so overly confident that he would win, was in fact defeated, with people who had used to be close to him finally believing in the Prophet Moses (pbuh). Pharaoh could not accept the decision of these people. According to his perverted rationale, he was the sole owner of the land—even of the people—, and thought himself entitled to authorize whether or not people be allowed to convert to another belief:
Pharaoh said, "Have you believed in him before I authorised you to do so? This is just some plot you have concocted in the city to drive its people from it." (Surat al-A'raf: 123)
Deluded by his own distorted mind, Pharaoh tried to rationalize the situation. Followed by an ignominious defeat, those who had served him came to believe in the Prophet Moses (pbuh). What should have been expected of Pharaoh then was to openly admit the occurrence of a miracle and to accept to be rightly guided. On the contrary, however, he offered himself false interpretations, fabricating scenarios which he himself knew were imaginary. Thus, he, with his distorted mind, convinced himself that these people who had used to be close to him and the Prophet Moses (pbuh) were conspiring to seize power over Egypt. Pharaoh, with this crooked logic, made very wicked slanders. Allah relates in the verse:
"…He is your chief, the one who taught you magic…" (Surah Ta-Ha: 71)
That is how Pharaoh witnessed the irrefutable signs and miracles of Allah but, witlessly resisted and denied the truth. In fact, his behaviour was typical of all those who deny the truth. Those people, resolved to remain in disbelief, adhere to it no matter how incontrovertible are the signs put forth to them. They resort foolishly to any form of delusion in order to, supposedly legitimise their denial. In every society and in every age, we will find countless disbelievers infected with the resolute obstinacy of Pharaoh, who have denied the existence, oneness and the righteousness of Allah's religion.
Nevertheless, Pharaoh knew that his obstinacy would not save him. The defeat of his people and their acceptance of faith in our Lord greatly destabilised his authority. In one way or another, he would have to defuse the situation and re-establish his power. For this purpose, he resorted to violence, threatening the believing people with torture and death. However, already cognisant of the truth of the message of Allah, they turned to Allah in submission. Allah relates in the verses:
"…I will cut off your hands and feet alternately and have you crucified on palm trunks. Then you will know for certain which of us has the harsher and longer lasting punishment."
They said, "We will never prefer you to the Clear Signs which have come to us nor to Him Who brought us into being. Decide on any judgement you like. Your jurisdiction only covers the life of the earth." (Surah Ta-Ha: 71-73)
They said, "We are returning to our Lord. You are only avenging yourself on us because we had faith in our Lord's Signs when they came to us. Our Lord, pour down steadfastness upon us and take us back to You as Muslims." (Surat al-Araf: 125-126)
They said, "We do not care! We are returning to our Lord. We remain hopeful that our Lord will forgive us our mistakes for being the first of the believers." (Surat ash-Shu'ara: 50-51)
As is explained in the above verses, these people of faith did not yield to the threats of Pharaoh, or submit to him, because they believed wholeheartedly that if they were to be killed, they would return to Allah, Who is the Creator of everything. All the while, they dearly hoped that Allah would forgive their former morality and attitude. Because Allah is the Forgiver and the Merciful.
From then on, Pharaoh's rule over the people became increasingly malicious. He sought to steer the people through his power. Due to the oppression he meted out, no one, except for a small group of young people from the people of the Prophet Moses (pbuh), followed the Prophet Moses (pbuh). Only these few people showed the like of the courage and sincerity shown by those who came to believe despite previously being close to Pharaoh. The majority of people living in that period, on the other hand, did not appreciate the power of the Almighty Allah, and, having no fear of Him, rejected faith. This is conveyed in the Qur'an as follows:
No one believed in Moses, except for a few of his people, out of fear that Pharaoh, and the elders, would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty in the land. He was one of the profligate. (Surah Yunus: 83)
One of those to have put her faith in the Prophet Moses (pbuh) was the spouse of Pharaoh. This noble woman, who previously shared so many worldly favours with Pharaoh, not only dared to leave all such riches behind, but also to make herself the object of Pharaoh's violence. Her choice is clearly the sign of a very profound and sincere faith. Indeed, along with Maryam (Mary) (pbuh), the Qur'an refers to the spouse of Pharaoh as a faithful woman whose conduct was exemplary:
Allah has made an example for those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh when she said, "My Lord, build a house in Paradise for me in Your Presence and rescue me from Pharaoh and his deeds and rescue me from this wrongdoing people." (Surat at-Tahrim: 11)
The sincere devotion of Pharaoh's spouse to Allah is a great example for all Muslims. This true believer abandoned the riches of this world, and acknowledged that the real life would be in the hereafter. She preferred the blessings of the hereafter over the benefits of this short, though deceptively dazzling life. She prayed to Allah only for a house in Paradise. Without a doubt, such a sincere prayer, filled with a spiritual devotion towards the hereafter, is a fine example for all those who believe.