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The Debate between the Might and the Truth within a Quranist Vision (5):
"But Speak to him Mildly. Perhaps he Will Remember, or Have Some Fear." (Quran 20:44)


The Debate between the Might and the Truth within a Quranist Vision (5):

"But Speak to him Mildly. Perhaps he Will Remember, or Have Some Fear." (Quran 20:44)

Published in December 19, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy


  How did Moses deal with Pharaoh while both men were at the two opposite extremes? Moses had the Message of Truth and the Divine Might and Power on his side, whereas Pharaoh monopolized the transient might and the claim to monopolize the truth. This entails us to explore the scope of the might granted by God to Moses and the scope of knowledge of Pharaoh about the Divine Truth, as this is the basis of how Moses dealt with Egypt's Pharaoh. 

Firstly: the scope of the might granted by God to Moses:

1- God granted Moses the miracle of his staff turning into a serpent and to divine the Red Sea water during the exodus; yet, Moses was NOT free to use this staff whenever he liked; this was up to God's commands and inspiration to him.

1/1: At first, God inspired the following to Moses, who was the first one to witness this sign/miracle and to feel very much frightened by it: "Throw down your staff." But when he saw it quivering, as though it were a demon, he turned around not looking back. "O Moses, do not fear; the messengers do not fear in My presence." (27:10).  

1/2: God inspired Moses to throw his staff before the Egyptian magicians inside the palace of Pharaoh: "And We inspired Moses: "Throw your staff." And at once, it swallowed what they were faking." (7:117).

1/3: When Moses and the Israelites faced the Red Sea and saw Pharaoh and his troops behind them and about to catch up with them, God inspired Moses to use his staff to strike the Red Sea: "We inspired Moses: "Strike the sea with your staff." Whereupon it parted, and each part was like a huge hill." (26:63).

1/4: Moses was also inspired by God to strike a rock with his staff to provide water wells for the twelve tribes wandering in Sinai: "...And We inspired Moses, when his people asked him for something to drink: "Strike the rock with your staff." Whereupon twelve springs gushed from it. Each group recognized its drinking-place..." (7:160).

2- Thus, Moses did not use his staff as per his free will; besides, God's commands for him to use this staff were not so frequent; only when necessary at certain occasions. Thus, Moses used his special abilities when he dealt with Pharaoh. 

Secondly: the scope of knowledge of Pharaoh about the Divine Truth:

1- Moses' special abilities are mentioned in this verse: "And when he reached his maturity, and became established, We gave him wisdom and knowledge. Thus do We reward the virtuous." (28:14). Among knowledge imported to Moses by God is God's command to Moses and Aaron about how to talk to Pharaoh: "But speak to him mildly. perhaps he will remember, or have some fear." (20:44). Such divine command implies that inside the mind/soul of Pharaoh was a seed of goodness and some measure of knowledge about the Divine Truth, but Pharaoh denied and rejected this by his arrogance, pride, injustice, and tyranny as well as assumed superiority; all these elements drove Pharaoh to proclaim himself as a deity/god. God says the following about Pharaoh and his people who rejected goodness and the knowledge about the Divine Truth: "And they rejected them, although their souls were certain of them, out of injustice and pride..." (27:14). 

2- Such rejection of goodness and the knowledge about the Divine Truth by Pharaoh did not prevent his mentioning and acknowledging angels during his conference with all his people to assert his self-deification and to ridicule Moses: "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?"" (43:52-53). Since Pharaoh knew about the angels, he knew about God the Creator of Angels Who sent Moses to him; Pharaoh mentioned that God should have sent angels to support Moses. 

3- Such rejection of goodness and the knowledge about the Divine Truth by Pharaoh made Pharaoh intentionally ignore faith/belief, inside his heart/soul, in God the Creator and he asked Moses: "...Who is your Lord, O Moses?" (20:49), as if he did not know the God of Moses and Aaron. Moses replied: "...Our Lord is He who gave everything its existence, then guided it." (20:50), and Pharaoh asked Moses again: "...What about the first generations?" (20:51). Moses replied: "...Knowledge thereof is with my Lord, in a Book. My Lord never errs, nor does He forget." (20:52); yet, eventually, Pharaoh arrogantly rejected the signs/miracles he witnessed: "We showed him Our signs, all of them, but he denied and refused." (20:56). Pharaoh and his people rejected the signs and refused to believe out of pride, arrogance, tyranny, and injustice. "Yet when Our enlightening signs came to them, they said, "This is obvious sorcery." And they rejected them, although their souls were certain of them, out of injustice and pride. So, see how the outcome was for the corrupters." (27:13-14).  

4- Such rejection and disbelief were avoided by Pharaoh's wife who believed in the Lord God and sought refuge in Him against the evil and injustices of Pharaoh and his retinue members; God has made her a model of deep faith for all male and female believers in all eras: "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).

5- Such rejection and disbelief were avoided by the Pharaonic prince who was a believer who concealed his faith at first out of fear of Pharaoh's savagery and brutality, but he preached his people to remind them of God the Creator Whom they knew; this prince had knowledge of the Last Day and of ancient nations as well that were destroyed by God because of disbelief. This Pharaonic prince knew that polytheism and disbelief are exact synonyms in his response to temptations of his people, and he knew about Joseph and how the Egyptians believed his message despite their worshipping other gods at the same time, and eventually, by the end of his speech, he despaired regarding introducing reform to his people: we leave it to readers to count how many times this prince mentions the name of God, Allah; if his people did not know Allah, he would not have used this Holy Name in particular: "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 Allah,' 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. Allah does not guide the extravagant imposter. O my people! Yours is the dominion today, supreme in the land; but who will help us against Allah's might, should it fall upon us?"..."O my people, I fear for you the like of the day of the confederates. Like the fate of the people of Noah, and Aad, and Thamood, and those after them. Allah wants no injustice for the servants. O my people, I fear for you the Day of Calling Out. The Day when you will turn and flee, having no defender against Allah. Whomever Allah misguides has no guide." Joseph had come to you with clear signs, but you continued to doubt what he came to you with. Until, when he perished, you said, "Allah will never send a messenger after him." Thus, Allah leads astray the outrageous skeptic." (40:28-34); "...O my people, follow me, and I will guide you to the path of guidance." "O my people, the life of this world is nothing but fleeting enjoyment, but the Hereafter is the Home of Permanence. Whoever commits a sin will be repaid only with its like. But whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, and is a believer-these will enter Paradise, where they will be provided for endlessly. O my people, how is it that I call you to salvation, and you call me to the Fire? You call me to reject Allah, and to associate with Him what I have no knowledge of, while I call you to the Mighty Forgiver. Without a doubt, what you call me to has no say in this world, or in the Hereafter; and our turning back is to Allah; and the transgressors are the dwellers of the Fire. You will remember what I am telling you, so I commit my case to Allah. Allah is Observant of the servants."" (40:38-44).

6- Ironically, the Egyptian magicians who took the side of Pharaoh at first and served him while hoping to be richly rewarded by him were the ones to declare their faith/belief in the God in public and before Pharaoh, in outspoken defiance of his authority and might: "And the magicians fell to their knees. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of the Worlds." The Lord of Moses and Aaron."" (7:120-122); "And the magicians fell down prostrate. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of Aaron and Moses."  He said, "Did you believe to 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."" (20:70-71). More ironically still is the reaction of the Egyptian magicians when they were threatened by the savage, brutal Pharaoh to be crucified after having their limbs cut off, and their response indicates clearly a measure of knowledge about God and the Last Day: "They said, "We will not prefer you to the proofs that have come to us, and Him who created us. So issue whatever judgment you wish to issue. You can only rule in this lowly life. We have believed in our Lord, so that He may forgive us our sins, and the magic you have compelled us to practice. God is Better, and more Lasting." Whoever comes to his Lord guilty, for him is Hell, where he neither dies nor lives. But whoever comes to Him a believer, having worked righteousness-these will have the highest ranks. The Gardens of Perpetuity, beneath which rivers flow, dwelling therein forever. That is the reward for him who purifies himself." (20:72-76); "Pharaoh said, "Did you believe to 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." They said, "It is to our Lord that we will return." "You are taking vengeance on us only because we have believed in the signs of our Lord when they have come to us." "Our Lord! Pour out patience upon us, and receive our souls in submission."" (7:123-126).  

7- The call of Moses helped create a new atmosphere or climate that made the Egyptians knew more about Allah and the Last Day, but Pharaoh and his affluent family members, courtiers, and retinue members denied and rejected the Truth so as to preserve their might, power, authority, stature, and possessions. When they were tormented by famine and other plagues, they felt that Moses and his followers were an ill-omen and a source of jinx for them, while disregarding the fact that such torment was inflicted by God to punish them: "And We afflicted the people of Pharaoh with barren years, and with shortage of crops, that they may take heed. When something good came their way, they said, "This is ours." And when something bad happened to them, they ascribed the evil omen to Moses and those with him. In fact, their omen is with God, but most of them do not know." (7:130-131).

8- Their denying and rejecting the Truth drove them to keep to stubbornness, defiance, and challenge; they rejected the miracles and signs and took the ways of torment lightly and had to bear with them: "And they said, "No matter what sign you bring us, to bewitch us with, we will not believe in you." So We let loose upon them the flood, and the locusts, and the lice, and the frogs, and blood-all explicit signs-but they were too arrogant. They were a sinful people." (7:132-133), but they had to resort to Moses to invoke his God for deliverance, as they could not bear the plague/epidemic inflicted on their bodies: "When the plague befell them, they would say, "O Moses, pray to your Lord for us, according to the covenant He made with you. If you lift the plague from us, we will believe to you, and let the Israelites go with you."" (7:134). They remained stubborn as they did not consider Moses' God as their Lord and God and they said that they would trust Moses after being delivered and did not say they would believe in God the Creator. This stubbornness remained with Pharaoh even while he was drowning: "...Until, when he was about to drown, he said, "I believe that there is no God except the One the Israelites believe in, and I am of those who submit."" (10:90), because he did not say he believed in God the Lord of the Worlds; rather, he said upon dying, after it was too late for him, that he believed the God of the Israelites.  

Thirdly: mild discourse of Moses toward Pharaoh:

1- God addressed the seed of goodness inside Pharaoh and his people and preached them via his prophet Moses to stop their false airs of superiority and their arrogance and haughtiness; Moses told them the following: "And do not exalt yourselves above God. I come to you with clear authority." (44:19). Moses sought refuge in his and their God so as not to be stoned to death so that they let him be if they did not trust him: "I have taken refuge in my Lord and your Lord, lest you stone me. But if you do not believe to me, keep away from me."" (44:20-21); thus, Moses here used the might of weakness to face the weakness of might, and we tackle this topic in detail in a coming article.  

2- When Pharaoh threatened Moses of putting him in prison if he worship anyone instead of the self-deified Pharaoh, Moses cleverly changed the topic of conversation by dazzling Pharaoh with the miracle of the staff turned into a serpent and his hand changing its color: "He said, "If you accept any god other than me, I will make you a prisoner." He said, "What if I bring you something convincing?" He said, "Bring it, if you are being truthful." So he cast his staff; and it was a serpent, plain to see. And he pulled his hand; and it was white, for all to see. He said to the retinue members around him, "This is a skilled magician. He intends to drive you out of your land with his magic, so what do you recommend?" They said, "Delay him and his brother, and send recruiters to the cities. To bring you every experienced magician."" (26:29-37).


 All of the above points show how Moses and Aaron applied this divine command: "But speak to him mildly. perhaps he will remember, or have some fear." (20:44). 

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