Islamic Prophecies: The preservation of Pharaoh's body

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As we shall see later on, Pharaoh regarded himself as a deity and responded with slanders and threats to Prophet Musa's (as) calls for him to believe in Allah. This arrogant attitude lasted until he was faced with the threat of death through drowning. The Qur'an relates that Pharaoh immediately turned to belief when faced with Allah's punishment:

We brought the tribe of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his troops pursued them out of tyranny and enmity. Then, when he was on the point of drowning, he [Pharaoh] said: "I believe that there is no god but Him in Whom the tribe of Israel believes. I am one of the Muslims." (10:90)

However, this last-minute conversion was not accepted, for it was not sincere. According to the Qur'an, Allah exclaimed:

"What, now! When previously you rebelled and were one of the corrupters? Today we will preserve your body so you can be a Sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our Signs." (10:91-92)

The information that Pharaoh's corpse would serve as a sign for later generations may be regarded as an indication that his body would not decay. On display in the Royal Mummies Chamber of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is a mummified body believed to be that of this tyrant. In all likelihood, Pharaoh's body floated to shore after being drowned, was found and mummified by the Egyptians, and then carried to a previously prepared burial chamber.

Rebuttal[edit]

Looking at these verses all together shows:


“And We made the children of Israel to pass through the sea, then Firon and his hosts followed them for oppression and tyranny; until when drowning overtook him, he said: I believe that there is no god but He in Whom the children of Israel believe and I am of those who submit now! and indeed you disobeyed before and you were of the mischief-makers. But We will this day deliver you with your body that you may be a sign to those after you, and most surely the majority of the people are heedless to Our communications.“

Again to the tafsir's for explanation:


[وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ وَجُنُودُهُ بَغْيًا وَعَدْوًا حَتَّى إِذَآ أَدْرَكَهُ الْغَرَقُ قَالَ ءَامَنتُ أَنَّهُ لا إِلِـهَ إِلاَّ الَّذِى ءَامَنَتْ بِهِ بَنواْ إِسْرَءِيلَ وَأَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ - ءَالَنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ - فَالْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ ءَايَةً وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ النَّاسِ عَنْ ءايَـتِنَا لَغَـفِلُونَ ]

(90. And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Fir`awn with his hosts followed them in oppression and enmity, till when drowning overtook him, he (Fira`wn) said: "I believe that none has the right to be worshipped but He in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am one of the Muslims.) (91. Now (you believe) while you refused to believe before and you were one of the mischief-makers. ) (92. 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.)

Allah tells us how He caused Fir`awn and his soldiers to drown. The Children of Israel left Egypt in the company of Musa. It was said that there were six hundred thousand soldiers, plus offspring. They borrowed a lot of ornaments from the Coptics and took that with them. Fir`awn became very angry with them. So he sent heralds to all the cities to send their soldiers. He embarked, following behind them, filled with great pride and with massive armies. Allah wanted this to happen for He had a plan for them. No one that had any authority or power remained behind in Fir`awn's kingdom. They were all together and caught the Children of Israel at sunrise.

[فَلَمَّا تَرَآءَا الْجَمْعَانِ قَالَ أَصْحَـبُ مُوسَى إِنَّا لَمُدْرَكُونَ ]

(And when the two hosts met each other, the companions of Musa said: "We are sure to be overtaken.) (26:61) They said that because when they got to the seashore Fir`awn was behind them. The two groups met face to face. The people with Musa kept asking, "How can we be saved today Musa replied, "I have been commanded to come this way. Musa said:

[كَلاَّ إِنَّ مَعِىَ رَبِّى سَيَهْدِينِ]

(Nay, verily, with me is my Lord. He will guide me.) (26:62) It had been so difficult, but it suddenly became easy. Allah commanded him to strike the ocean with his staff. He did and the sea was cleft asunder, each part stood like a mighty mountain. The sea was split into twelve paths, each route for each Israelite tribe. Allah then commanded the wind and the path was dry for them.

[فَاضْرِبْ لَهُمْ طَرِيقاً فِى الْبَحْرِ يَبَساً لاَّ تَخَافُ دَرَكاً وَلاَ تَخْشَى]

(And strike a dry path for them in the sea, fearing neither to be overtaken [by Fir`awn] nor being afraid (of drowning in the sea).)(20:77) The water in between the paths appeared as windows and every tribe was able to see the other so they would not think that others were destroyed. The Children of Israel crossed the sea. When the last one crossed, Fir`awn and his soldiers had arrived at the edge of the other shore. They were one hundred thousand black horses in addition to horsemen of other colors. When Fir`awn saw the sea he was frightened. He wanted to turn back, but it was too late. Allah's decree prevailed and the prayer of Musa was answered. Jibril came on a war stallion. He passed by Fir`awn's horse. Jibril's horse whinnied at Fir`awn's and then Jibril rushed into the sea, and Fir`awn did the same behind him. Fir`awn no longer had any control over matters. He wanted to sound strong before his chiefs, so he said: "The Children of Israel do not have more right in the sea. So they rushed into the sea. Mika'il was behind their army pushing them all to join. When they all were in the sea and the first of them was about to emerge on the other side, Allah, the All-Powerful, commanded the sea to strand them. The sea closed over them and none was saved. The waves took them up and down. The waves accumulated above Fir`awn and he was overwhelmed by the stupors of death. While in this state, he said:

[ءَامَنتُ أَنَّهُ لا إِلِـهَ إِلاَّ الَّذِى ءَامَنَتْ بِهِ بَنواْ إِسْرَءِيلَ وَأَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ]

(I believe that none has the right to be worshipped but He (Allah) in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am one of the Muslims.) He believed at a time when he couldn't benefit from his faith.

[فَلَمَّا رَأَوْاْ بَأْسَنَا قَالُواْ ءَامَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ وَكَـفَرْنَا بِمَا كُنَّا بِهِ مُشْرِكِينَ - فَلَمْ يَكُ يَنفَعُهُمْ إِيمَـنُهُمْ لَمَّا رَأَوْاْ بَأْسَنَا سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِى قَدْ خَلَتْ فِى عِبَادِهِ وَخَسِرَ هُنَالِكَ الْكَـفِرُونَ ]

(So when they saw Our punishment, they said: "We believe in Allah Alone and reject (all) that we used to associate with Him as (His) partners. Then their faith could not avail them when they saw Our punishment. (Like) this has been the way of Allah in dealing with His servants. And there the disbelievers lost utterly (when Our torment covered them).)(40:84-85) Therefore Allah said, as a response to Fir`awn,

[ءَالَنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ]

(Now (you believe) while you refused to believe before) do you say that just now when you have disobeyed Allah before that.

[وَكُنتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ]

(And you were one of the mischief-makers.) You were among the makers of mischief on the earth who misled the people.

[وَجَعَلْنَـهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَدْعُونَ إِلَى النَّارِ وَيَوْمَ الْقِيـمَةِ لاَ يُنصَرُونَ ]

(and We made them leaders inviting to the Fire: and on the Day of Resurrection, they will not be helped.) (28:41) These facts about Fir`awn and his status at that time were among the secrets of the Unseen that Allah revealed to His Messenger, Muhammad . Similarly Abu Dawud At-Tayalisi recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that Allah's Messenger said;

«قَالَ لِي جِبْرِيلُ: لَوْ رَأَيْتَنِي وَأَنَا آخِذٌ مِنْ حَالِ الْبَحْرِ فَأَدُسُّهُ فِي فَمِ فِرْعَونَ مَخَافَةَ أَنْ تُدْرِكَهُ الرَّحْمَة»

(Jibril said to me, "If you could have seen me while I was taking black mud from the sea and placing into the mouth of Fir`awn out of fear that the mercy would reach him.) Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir also recorded it. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Gharib Sahih. About Allah's statement,

[فَالْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ ءَايَةً]

(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!) Ibn `Abbas and others from among the Salaf have said: "Some of the Children of Israel doubted the death of Fir`awn so Allah commanded the sea to throw his body -- whole, without a soul -- with his known armor plate. The body was thrown to a high place on the land so that the Children of Israel could confirm his death and destruction. That is why Allah said,

[فَالْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ]

("So this day We shall deliver your..) meaning that We will put your body on a high place on the earth. Mujahid said,

[بِبَدَنِكَ]

(your (dead) body) means, `your physical body. "

[لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ ءَايَةً]

(that you may be a sign to those who come after you!) meaning, so that might be a proof of your death and destruction for the Children of Israel. That also stood as a proof that Allah is All-Powerful, in Whose control are all the creatures. Nothing can bear His anger. Fir`awn and his people were destroyed on the day of `Ashura', as recorded by Al-Bukhari, Ibn `Abbas said, "When the Prophet arrived at Al-Madinah, the Jews fasted the day of `Ashura'. So he asked,

«مَا هَذَا الْيَومُ الَّذِي تَصُومُونَهُ؟»

(What is this day that you are fasting) They responded `This is the day in which Musa was victorious over Fir`awn.' So the Prophet said,

«أَنْتُمْ أَحَقُّ بِمُوسَى مِنْهُمْ فَصُومُوه»

(You have more right to Musa than they, so fast it.)

[وَلَقَدْ بَوَّأْنَا بَنِى إِسْرَءِيلَ مُبَوَّأَ صِدْقٍ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ فَمَا اخْتَلَفُواْ حَتَّى جَآءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَقْضِى بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ فِيمَا كَانُواْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ ]

(93. And indeed We settled the Children of Israel in an honorable dwelling place, and provided them with good things, and they differed not until the knowledge came to them. Verily, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection in that in which they used to differ.)
{ وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِيۤ إِسْرَائِيلَ ٱلْبَحْرَ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ وَجُنُودُهُ بَغْياً وَعَدْواً حَتَّىٰ إِذَآ أَدْرَكَهُ ٱلْغَرَقُ قَالَ آمَنتُ أَنَّهُ لاۤ إِلِـٰهَ إِلاَّ ٱلَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنوۤاْ إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَاْ مِنَ ٱلْمُسْلِمِينَ }

And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea; and Pharaoh pursued them, he caught up with them, together with his hosts, in insolence and transgression (baghyan wa-‘adwan: these constitute the [direct] object denoting reason), until, when the [fate of] drowning overtook him, he said, ‘I believe that (annahu is [to be understood as] bi-annahu; a variant reading has innahu, ‘truly it is …’ indicating a new sentence) there is no god save Him in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of those who submit [to Him]’: he reiterated this [his submission to God] so that it might be accepted from him, but it was not; and Gabriel thrust mud from the sea into his mouth, lest [God’s] mercy embrace him. And he [Gabriel] said to him:


{ آلآنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنتَ مِنَ ٱلْمُفْسِدِينَ }

‘Now, do you believe, when hitherto you have disobeyed and been of those who do corruption?, on account of your being astray and your leading [others] astray, away from belief.


{ فَٱلْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ آيَةً وَإِنَّ كَثِيراً مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا لَغَافِلُونَ }

'But this day We shall save you, We shall bring you out of the sea, in your body, your lifeless corpse, that you may be, for those after you a sign, a lesson', that they might come to know your servitude and not venture upon deeds like yours. According to Ibn ‘Abbās, 'some of the Children of Israel doubted his death and so he was brought out [of the sea] for them to see.' And truly most people, that is, the people of Mecca, are heedless of Our signs’, not learning the lesson therefrom.


{ وَلَقَدْ بَوَّأْنَا بَنِيۤ إِسْرَائِيلَ مُبَوَّأَ صِدْقٍ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِّنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَاتِ فَمَا ٱخْتَلَفُواْ حَتَّىٰ جَآءَهُمُ ٱلْعِلْمُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَقْضِي بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُواْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ }

And verily We appointed for the Children of Israel an excellent abode, a noble [place of] residence, namely, Syria and Egypt, and We provided them with good things; and they did not differ, such that some believed while others disbelieved, until the knowledge came to them. Truly your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they used to differ.
{ وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِيۤ إِسْرَائِيلَ ٱلْبَحْرَ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ وَجُنُودُهُ بَغْياً وَعَدْواً حَتَّىٰ إِذَآ أَدْرَكَهُ ٱلْغَرَقُ قَالَ آمَنتُ أَنَّهُ لاۤ إِلِـٰهَ إِلاَّ ٱلَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنوۤاْ إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَاْ مِنَ ٱلْمُسْلِمِينَ }

(And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh with his hosts pursued them in rebellion) with their words (and transgression) with the intention of killing them, (till, when the (fate of) drowning overtook him, he exclaimed: I believe that there is no God save Him in whom the Children of Israel) Moses and his companions (believe, and I am of those who surrender (unto Him)) following their religion.


{ آلآنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنتَ مِنَ ٱلْمُفْسِدِينَ }

The Archangel Gabriel said to him: (What! Now!) will you believe now upon drowning (When hitherto) before this drowning (thou hast rebelled) disbelieved in Allah (and been of the wrong-doers) in the land of Egypt, killing, associating partners with Allah and calling for the worship of other than Allah?


{ فَٱلْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ آيَةً وَإِنَّ كَثِيراً مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا لَغَافِلُونَ }

'(But this day We save thee in your body) We save your cadaver in its armour (that thou mayst be a portent) that you may be a lesson', such that they do not claim what you claimed and know that you are not a god (for those after thee) among the disbelievers. (Lo! most of mankind) i.e. the disbelievers (are heedless of) are deniers of (Our portents) Our Scripture and Messenger.


{ وَلَقَدْ بَوَّأْنَا بَنِيۤ إِسْرَائِيلَ مُبَوَّأَ صِدْقٍ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِّنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَاتِ فَمَا ٱخْتَلَفُواْ حَتَّىٰ جَآءَهُمُ ٱلْعِلْمُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَقْضِي بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُواْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ }

(And We verily did allot unto) We verily did send to (the Children of Israel a fixed abode) a noble land: Jordan and Palestine, (and did provide them with good things) honey, quails and spoils of war (and they differed not) i.e. the Jews and Christians regarding Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur'an (until knowledge) the exposition of what is their Scriptures about the traits and description of Muhammad (pbuh) (came unto them. Lo! your Lord) O Muhammad (will judge between them) between the Jews and Christians (on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they used to differ) regarding religion.
وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ وَجُنُودُهُ بَغْيًا وَعَدْوًا حَتَّى إِذَا أَدْرَكَهُ الْغَرَقُ قَالَ آَمَنْتُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا الَّذِي آَمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُواْ إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ﴿10:90﴾

10:90) And We led the Children of Israel across the sea. Then Pharaoh and his hosts pursued them in iniquity and transgression until Pharaoh cried out while he was drowning: 'I believe that there is no god but Allah in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am also one of those who submit to Allah. Though this event is not mentioned in the Bible, it is explicitly recorded in the Talmud in the following words: 'Who is like Thee, O Lord, among the gods?' We settled the Children of Israel in a blessed land,94 and provided them with all manner of good things. They only disagreed among themselves after knowledge (of the truth had) come to them.95 Surely your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning their disagreements. آَلْآَنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنْتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ ﴿10:91﴾

10:91) (Thereupon came the response): 'Now you believe, although you disobeyed earlier and were one of the mischief-makers.

فَالْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ آَيَةً وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنَ النَّاسِ عَنْ آَيَاتِنَا لَغَافِلُونَ ﴿10:92﴾

10:92) We shall now save your corpse that you may serve as a sign of warning for all posterity, *92 although many men are heedless of Our signs. 'Even to this day the exact place where Pharaoh's dead body was found afloat on the surface of the sea is known.' Lying on the western coast of the Sinaitic peninsula, it is presently known as the Mount of Pharaoh (Jabal Fir'awn). A warm spring, situated in its vicinity, is also still called the Bath of Pharaoh (Hammam Fir'awn) after Pharaoh. Located a few miles away, Abu Zanimah is identified as the precise spot at which Pharaoh's dead body was found. If the name of the Pharaoh who died by drowning was Minpetah, as has been established by current research, his embalmed body still lies in the museum of Cairo. In 1907 when Sir Grafton Elliot Smith removed bandages from the mummified body of this Pharaoh, it was found to be coated with a layer of salt. This is clear proof of his death by drowning at sea.

وَلَقَدْ بَوَّأْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مُبَوَّأَ صِدْقٍ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ فَمَا اخْتَلَفُوا حَتَّى جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَقْضِي بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ ﴿10:93﴾

10:93)We settled the Children of Israel in a blessed land, and provided them with all manner of good things. They only disagreed among themselves after knowledge (of the truth had) come to them. Surely your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning their disagreements. God continues to confront people with instructive signs, even though most of them, in total disregard of such signs, fail to derive any lesson from them. That is, God provided an abode for them in Palestine for their exodus from Egypt.

Here reference is made to the schisms and dissensions which the Israelites caused and the ever new religious cults which they invented. It is pointed out here that they had not acted in ignorance of the truth; their actions rather emanated from mischievous designs. For they had been provided by God with the true religion and they knew its fundamental principles, its requirements, and the features which distinguish the true faith from the false ones. They were also well aware of what constitutes disobedience, on what matters man will be held to account by God, and on what principles man should fashion his life. Despite these clear directives the Israelites transformed their true faith into a multitude of religious cults, and developed them all on foundations altogether divergent from those provided by God.


First and foremost, the proof would be given to the children of Israel, and serve as a sign that Islam's "Allah" is God, and he was the one who drowned Pharaoh. This will apparently also serve as a sign that Allah will destroy the Jews for their disbelief in him. For the prophetic claim to say it would be a “sign for future generations” is incorrect, as its clearly only for the “children of Israel” (the Jews). The tafsir's also make it clear that this was (allegedly) an historic event in that it already happened before being recorded in the Qur'an. A party of the Jews disbelieved, so Allah threw Pharaoh's body up THEN and they saw it. Kathir et al also make it clear that this Pharaoh would be accompanied by an identifying item - usually mentioned as a breastplate so that positive identification could be assured.

There's a lot of "if's" and “maybe's” in the author's alleged prophecy, but let's say its all true. That would mean the identifying breastplate would be with Pharaoh. Where is it, and how do we know what Pharaoh's breastplate looked like, in order to verify this claim? This theory doesn't hold water due to this fact, and that Allah forgot to tell us (and the Jews) about the specifics.

The claim that “Pharaoh” is on display in the royal mummies chamber of the Egyptian museum in Cairo is also highly suspect. The author appears to be saying that this Pharaoh has been positively identified as being that of the Pharaoh who drowned in the Red sea. If so, where is the information to confirm this? Or is it true that the author didn't realize that "Pharaoh" was the title of the reigning leaders of Egypt, like the title "King" or "Queen".

There were many Pharaoh's, and if the author is asserting that all it takes for Allah's prediction to be true is for a mummified Pharaoh to be found, then 'Allah' may have 'drowned' hundreds and hundreds of Pharaohs, because this is a very broad definition.

Last but not least is the claim that the evidence of Pharaoh's mummified body would (or did) serve as evidence to the Jews of God's existence. After all, Exodus contains the story of the Egyptian army drowning in the Red sea after the Israelites had safely passed through. If they have the same recounting of events, including the drowning of the Egyptian army, then why would evidence of what they already believe be proof enough to convince them (or anyone) that Islam's "Allah" is God?


Conclusion[edit]

Allah nor Muhammad bothered to give us the name of the Pharaoh in question, or a description of the possessions that would accompany his corpse. The author cannot ever show this prophecy to be fulfilled as it is too vague. Furthermore, it is alleged that this 'prophecy' was already fulfilled before the Qur'an was 'revealed', in that the Qur'an claims this is further information from the story of the Biblical exodus. Since this is not mentioned anywhere but the Qur'an it cannot be called prophetic.


External Links[edit]

Muslim websites:


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