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The Debate between the Might and the Truth within a Quranist Vision (2):
Moses' Pharaoh Monopolized Might and the Claim of Possessing the Truth

 

The Debate between the Might and the Truth within a Quranist Vision (2): Moses' Pharaoh Monopolized Might and the Claim of Possessing the Truth

Published in December 15, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

Introduction:

1- Within our topic ofthe debate between the might and the Truth, the story of Moses and Moses' Pharaoh occupies a very prominent position.The self-deified Moses' Pharaoh monopolized might and the claim of possessing the truth; in contrast, Moses conveyed the message of the Truth from God. Within the criteria of the transient, tangible, realistic world, Moses appeared as powerless and without might before the eyes of Pharaoh, when he came to his palace to deliver his people from the severe persecution inflicted on them by Pharaoh. This lack of might of Moses, before the eyes of Pharaoh, reflected the weakness of his oppressed people, the Israelites.     

2- How did Moses and Aaron, who conveyed the Truth, deal with the self-deified tyrant who monopolized might and the claim of possessing the truth?

3- Let us begin with the stances of Moses' Pharaoh.

 

Firstly:Moses' Pharaoh monopolized might and the claim of possessing the truth:

1- Assuming this false position led Pharaoh at first to massacre the male children of the Israelites to punish them, as he doubted their devotion in worshipping him (their worshipping him was to a certain extent, as they retained some vestiges of the religion of Abraham, their ancestor), as Pharaoh wanted their full loyalty derived from their taking him as their only god; this means they used to worship them, as we infer from these words of Pharaoh and his retinue members and courtiers: "They said, "Are we to believe in two mortals like us, and their people are worshipping us?"" (23:47).

2- The fact that Pharaoh monopolized might made him spread intimidation and terror all over Egypt; this is expected from a mad, self-deified tyrant who massacred children.

2/1: The princes of the Pharaonic dynasty were so terrified of Moses' Pharaoh to the extent that the believing prince was concealing his monotheistic faith; the self-deified Pharaoh would not allow anyone to worship God beside him; yet, this believing prince had to preach his people when he heard that Pharaoh intended to kill Moses: "A believing man from Pharaoh's family, who had concealed his faith, said, "Are you going to kill a man for saying, 'My Lord is God,' and he has brought you clear proofs from your Lord? If he is a liar, his lying will rebound upon him; but if he is truthful, then some of what he promises you will befall you. God does not guide the transgressing imposter." (40:28). 

2/2: This terror and intimidation inflicted by Pharaoh reached his bedchamber; Pharaoh's wife was a believer and she implored God for deliverance from her husband's crimes and injustices; God has made her a great example for all male and female believers: "And God illustrates an example of those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, "My Lord, build for me, with you, a house in Paradise, and save me from Pharaoh and his works, and save me from the unjust people."" (66:11).

 

Secondly: Moses' Pharaoh used intimidation and terror to impose his claim of possessing the truth:      

 Within his monopoly of might, Pharaoh used terror and intimidation to impose his claim of possessing the truth; hence, he felt that Moses' call posed a veritable threat to his authority; if it would spread, this call would put an end to the myth of Pharaoh's self-deification and his assumed monopoly of the truth, resulting inevitably that he would lose his monopoly of might. Hence, it was a struggle for existence; Pharaoh would either continue his imposing himself as a deity on all people, or he would lose his throne, power, and life. We infer this from the following points.  

1- How Pharaoh dealt with the Egyptian magicians: it was common among Egyptians at the time to believe in magic and sorcery; this influenced Moses himself. The miracle of Moses was that he defeated the Egyptian magicians who at first took the side of Pharaoh. Pharaoh assumed that his Egyptian magicians, brought from all over Egyptian cities into the palace of Pharaoh, would defeat Moses, and when they asked beforehand for being rewarded by Pharaoh if they would defeat Moses, Pharaoh promised to reward them and to make them among his nearest courtiers and retinue members: "The retinue members among Pharaoh's people said, "This is really a skilled magician." "He wants to evict you from your land, so what do you recommend?" They said, "Put him off, and his brother, and send heralds to the cities." "And let them bring you every skillful magician." The magicians came to Pharaoh, and said, "Surely there is a reward for us, if we are the victors." He said, "Yes, and you will be among my nearest ones."" (7:109-114). The magicians believed in the God of Moses and Aaron because they knew that Moses was no magician; his staff miraculously turned into a real serpent that gulped their ropes and canes. The reaction of Pharaoh shows that he assumed to monopolize the truth: "Pharaoh said, "Did you believe in Him before I have given you permission? This is surely a conspiracy you schemed in the city, in order to expel its people from it. You will surely know." "I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides; then I will crucify you all."" (7:123-124); "He said, "Did you believe in him before I have given you permission? He must be your chief, who has taught you magic. I will cut off your hands and your feet on alternate sides, and I will crucify you on the trunks of the palm-trees. Then you will know which of us is more severe in torment, and more lasting."" (20:71). We notice the repetition of the phrase (Did you believe in him before I have given you permission?); this means that Pharaoh assumed as if he controlled their hearts and beliefs, within his assuming to monopolize the truth. Thus, Pharaoh did not punish the magicians for being defeated but because they proclaimed before his retinue members that they believed in the God of Moses, which means they cast doubt on the so-called 'truth' propounded by the self-deified Pharaoh. Moses' Pharaoh, within his mentality of conspiracy, assumed that Moses and his people were scheming to turn the Egyptians against him as they would join Moses; he accused the Egyptian magicians of being taught magic by Moses as their leader. Hence, Pharaoh crucified the Egyptian magicians and cut their limbs off in order to terrorize and intimidate his retinue members and all Egyptians in general; he felt that Moses had cast doubt on his assumed monopoly of the truth and, of course, his monopoly of might. Hence, it was a struggle for existence; Pharaoh would either continue his imposing himself as a deity on all people, or he would lose his throne, power, and life.      

2- How Pharaoh dealt with the Israelites after killing the Egyptian magicians: the Israelites feared Pharaoh more than anyone else who was afraid of Pharaoh, even after Moses emerged to save them. In fact, Pharaoh went into extremes in inflicting harm and persecution on the Israelites after he put the Egyptian magicians to death. The fright of the Israelites increased when Pharaoh announced his intention to massacre their children, but they complained to Moses who tried to allay their fears and he advised them to adhere to patience: "..."We will kill their sons, and spare their women. We have absolute power over them." Moses said to his people, "Seek help in God, and be patient. The earth belongs to God. He gives it in inheritance to whomever He wills of His servants, and the future belongs to the righteous." They said, "We were persecuted before you came to us, and after you came to us." He said, "Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy, and make you successors in the land; then He will see how you behave."" (7:127-129). The Israelites feared Pharaoh so much and most of them did not trust Moses as they were very much frightened by Pharaoh's spies who spread in every corner in Egypt: "But none believed in Moses except some children of his people, for fear that Pharaoh and his chiefs would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty in the land. He was a tyrant." (10:83). Pharaoh feared that people would cast doubt on his assumed godhead; his losing the assumed monopoly of truth would inevitably lead to his loss of his monopoly of might. Hence, it was a struggle for existence; Pharaoh would either continue his imposing himself as a deity on all people, or he would lose his throne, power, and life.

3- How Pharaoh did not allow Moses and the Israelites to leave Egypt: Pharaoh chased the Israelites during their exodus, until he and his troops, retinue members, and viziers drowned in the Red Sea. This terrible, redoubtable Pharaoh used to have his own fears; he feared that his self-deification myth would be dispelled because of Moses' call. The might of Pharaoh was based on the cult of his being worshipped as deity and his control of the religious life in Egypt. The might of Pharaoh, which he feared to lose, depended on his monopoly of the truth, and this is why he told his people about his intention to kill Moses and accused him of being a corrupter: "Pharaoh said, "Allow me to kill Moses, and let him appeal to his Lord. I fear he may change your religion, or spread corruption on earth."" (40:26). In fact, Pharaoh assumed that Moses sought to cause sedition by changing the religion/cult of his self-deification and monopoly of the truth, and the 'corruption' in the eyes of Pharaoh was that his cult/religion would be rejected and he would lose his might and power, and the solution for him was to kill Moses.   

 

Thirdly: Moses' Pharaoh's monopolization of might and the claim of possessing the truth made him an expert in media and propaganda: since Pharaoh monopolized the might and the claim of possessing the truth, he controlled his media people who propagated his self-deification and his cult of being worshipped as the only deity. Pharaoh used his logistical power to mobilize people and manipulating them within what has come to be known later on as brainwash, and this served his monopoly of might and the truth as a self-deified tyrant. Thus, Pharaoh used might to claim to possess the truth, and he used the monopoly of truth (i.e., his self-deification cult) to reinforce his might and power. We provide examples of this in the points below.

1- After the plagues inflicted on Pharaoh to humiliate and torment him (flood, blood, locusts, lice, frogs, etc.), he held a conference by mobilizing his troops and his people to assert his logistical power and to ridicule Moses in public: "But when We lifted the torment from them, they immediately broke their promise. Pharaoh proclaimed among his people, saying, "O my people, do I not own the Kingdom of Egypt, and these rivers flow beneath me? Do you not see? Am I not better than this miserable wretch, who can barely express himself? Why are bracelets of gold not dropped on him, or they angels came with him in procession?"" (43:50-54). This means that Moses' Pharaoh was a genius in using media and propaganda to influence and control his people.  

2- This same occurred when he announced his being the god of all Egyptians; he made them gather in one place to proclaim his self-deification as the 'truth' imposed on all of them: "And gathered and proclaimed. He said, "I am your Lord, the most high."" (79:23-24).

3- This mechanism of Pharaoh to mobilize his people is shown again as he gathered all magicians from all over Egyptian cities (this means that Egypt at the time was filled with megacities) at the mid-morning of a festival/feast day to defeat Moses. Such precision indicates the full control of Pharaoh of all Egypt and Egyptians as well as means of transportations (by land and by the river) and communication to gather any people in the same time and place very fast. Moreover, spies and agents of Pharaoh spread the news beforehand of the imminent victory of magicians expected by everyone. We understand this about 'media men' of Pharaoh, who served him by asserting his monopoly of the truth, from these verses: "They said, "Put him off, and his brother, and send heralds to the cities." "And let them bring you every skillful magician."" (7:111-112); "He said, "Your appointment is the day of the festival, so let the people be gathered together at mid-morning." Pharaoh turned away, put together his plan, and then came back." (20:59-60); "They said, "Delay him and his brother, and send recruiters to the cities. To bring you every experienced magician." So the magicians were gathered for the appointment on a specified day. And it was said to the people, "Are you all gathered? That we may follow the magicians, if they are the winners."" (26:36-40).      

4- Pharaoh had military might and troops and his name is lined to them in many Quranic verses; this shows him as a military leader of soldiers; his vizier Haman was the supervisor of building of edifices and the military leader serving Pharaoh: "Has there come to you the story of the troops? Of Pharaoh and Thamood?" (85:17-18); "...and to show Pharaoh, Haman, and their troops, the very thing they feared...Pharaoh, Haman, and their troops were sinners..." (28:6-8); see also 28:38 and 40:36. Pharaoh felt arrogant with his military might and with his troops as he and his family and retinue members sought to be superior in the land of Egypt; Pharaoh has distributed stretches of land among his courtiers, retinue members, viziers, and family members: "He and his troops acted arrogantly in the land, with no justification..." (28:39). Pharaoh and his troops, courtiers, retinue members, viziers, and family members chased Moses and Aaron and the Israelites, but they were drowned in the Red Sea: "And We delivered the Israelites across the sea. Pharaoh and his troops pursued them, defiantly and aggressively..." (10:90); "So We seized him, and his troops, and We threw them into the sea..." (28:40); "So We seized him and his troops, and threw them into the sea, and he was to blame." (51:40); "Pharaoh pursued them with his troops, but the sea overwhelmed them, and completely engulfed them." (20:78).

5- Pharaoh had his own security apparatuses that watched and spied on the Israelites; God has predicted to Moses that they will be chased by Pharaoh and his troops during the exodus: "And We inspired Moses: "Travel with My servants by night. You will be followed."" (26:52). There were organized communications between these security apparatuses and the military troops of Pharaoh that were everywhere all over Egyptian cities, within higher abilities of mobilization; thus, Pharaoh was informed by his spies that Moses and the Israelites intended to flee from Egypt at a certain time; Pharaoh undoubtedly sent decrees to all Egyptian cities to mobilize at once all his leaders and military troops and other men of his deep state from all over Egypt, as he led them to chase the Israelites eastward, in the direction of Sinai, and the Israelites found themselves between the Red Sea (i.e., the Suez Gulf now) and troops of Pharaoh, and they felt very frightened, until God delivered them and destroyed Pharaoh and his troops who drowned: "Pharaoh sent heralds to the cities. "These are a small gang. And they are enraging us. But we are a vigilant multitude."" (26:53-56); "And they pursued them eastward.When the two groups sighted each other, the followers of Moses said, "We are being overtaken." He said, "No; my Lord is with me, He will guide me." We inspired Moses: "Strike the sea with your staff." Whereupon it parted, and each part was like a huge hill. And there We brought the others near. And We saved Moses and those with him, all together. Then We drowned the others." (26:60-66).   

6- The military troops of Pharaoh owned and managed gardens and farms; the era of the Ramses dynasty of powerful military rulers is known for distributing stretches of land within a feudal system to military leaders and soldiers while forcing peasants to work within the River Nile banks and around water wells in the desert; once such troops were drowned with Pharaoh in the Red Sea; the Israelites returned back to Egypt and temporarily inherited such agricultural, lush gardens and stretches of land: "So We drove them out of gardens and springs. And treasures and noble dwellings. So it was. And We made the Israelites inherit them." (26:57-59).

 

Lastly: the moral lesson to be drawn:

1- Ownership of media indicates the nature of a given state or country; a democracy does not control or own media but leave it as free within the hands of the nation and citizens-controlled institutions. In contrast, tyrants monopolize media in tyrannical countries to force people to praise them and to hide their monopoly of both the might and the claim of possessing  the truth.   

2- Tyrants of the Middle-East read the Quran, but they never take heed of the fate of Moses' Pharaoh, who is their imam and leader.


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