"Today, we live in a world ruled and inhabited by many Fir'auns, and we are the only inheritors of Islam. They are trying very hard to keep people from thinking rationally, and to keep us from taking over public opinion. Thus, we must learn from the examples given to us in the Qur'an, and know that there is no one to take this message to the world but us. We should expect these allies of Fir'aun to follow the footsteps of their master and work to prevent us, and we should also know that our victory is a promise, same as it was promised to Musa (Alayhi Salam) and to the last Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu Alayhi Wasallam)."
The actions of Fir'aun are not restricted to one time, place or era, or to one person or tribe. Rather it is a pattern of thinking that exists in many Kuffar and followers of Shaytan. Even some Muslims unknowingly use it.
The Fir'aun personality is distinct and clearly visible to those who study it. Some people have a small number of its characteristics, some people have many, and some people might even have them all.
When we look into the Qur'an, we find Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) giving us story after story of Fir'aun and Musa (as), and we often mistake these Ayat as simple stories for us to read and enjoy, or for us to admire the actions of Prophets and Messengers. But this is not correct. These verses are also guidance for the da'wa carriers in their discussions, and an exposing of the tricks of the enemies of Allah (Subhana Wata’ala).
These characteristics would take hours to explain, so to keep things brief, we will go into a small number of these characteristics, and explain them in detail inshaAllah.
Fir'aun had some very dirty tactics to get what he wanted, or keep people from turning against him. One of these tricks was to corrupt the natural criteria for rational thought.
A person's rational criteria (method of judgment) is the very basis upon which he knows truth from falsehood. And the rational criteria for truth is that the subject at hand must fully conform to reality (i.e. must be proven through the sensed reality via our five senses).
Now, when we look at verses from the Qur'an, we can see the followers of Fir'aun attempt to change the criteria of rational thinking to that of irrational thinking:
فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ مُوسَى بِآيَاتِنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ قَالُوا مَا هَذَا إِلاّ سِحْرٌ مُفْتَرًى وَمَا سَمِعْنَا بِهَذَا فِي آبَائِنَا الْأَوَّلِينَ
"So when Musa (as) came to them with our clear signs, they said 'this is nothing but fake magic, and we did not hear of this from our forefathers' " [Al-Qasas:36].
What do their forefathers sayings have to do with Musa (as) being a Prophet? What kind of rational thought is this? According to this logic, this would mean: whatever does not come via their forefathers is not truth. This is despite that reality and truth are not proven through forefathers, or parents, or a Shaykh, or some organization, rather it is proven by the sensed reality and rational proof.
Keeping People From Thinking:
Another dirty tactic, employed by the followers of Fir'aun, is keeping people's minds from thinking, using the excuse that there is someone else to think on their behalf. Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) tells us:
قَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ مَا أُرِيكُمْ إِلَّا مَا أَرَى وَمَا أَهْدِيكُمْ إِلَّا سَبِيلَ الرشاد
"Fir'aun said: I do not show you except what I see, and I do not guide you except to the path of correct judgment" [Ghaafir: 29]
and Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) tells us that Fur'aun also said:
مَا عَلِمْتُ لَكُمْ مِنْ إِلَهٍ غَيْرِي"
I do not know of another Lord for you other than myself" [Al-Qasas 38]
So Fir'aun has no refutation to the words of a Believer, and therefore he is forced to say to the people: "Do not think or look into this matter, for I will think on your behalf, and I have thought, and now see that Musa (as) is corrupting the earth, and that my path is the path of correct judgment". And like this, Fir'aun tries to keep people from thinking.
Even though this tactic is very old, but it is still actively used today: Some parents will tell their children not to do certain Islamic actions because they "have tried it before", and offer no proof that the work is wrong. In other cases there are some groups, where their followers are taught to not think and that looking into Islamic evidences is much too hard and complex for their little brains, rather they should just follow their Shaykh. On other levels, Muslims are told that such-and-such groups are "bad" and have "corrupt 'Aqeedas" and should be avoided, without offering any proof for such accusations. Governments teach their people that certain groups are "terrorist" groups or "illegal" and so they should not even enquire about them at all. And so on, the Kuffar and even Muslims use these tactics, knowingly or unknowingly, and cause great harm to the carriers of truth. Therefore, no Muslim should ever allow himself to use such false and dirty tactics at all.
Violence and Fear:
And a third tactic employed by the likes of Fir'aun is fear and violence to prevent the da'wa carriers from continuing their path, and even uses them as examples for anyone else who is considering following them. Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) says:
فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ بِالْحَقِّ مِنْ عِنْدِنَا قَالُوا اقْتُلُوا أَبْنَاءَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ وَاسْتَحْيُوا نِسَاءَهُمْ وَمَا كَيْدُ الْكَافِرِينَ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ وَقَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ ذَرُونِي أَقْتُلْ مُوسَى وَلْيَدْعُ رَبَّهُ إِنِّي أَخَافُ أَنْ يُبَدِّلَ دِينَكُمْ أَوْ أَنْ يُظْهِرَ فِي الْأَرْضِ الْفَسَادَ
"And when he (Musa) came to them (after being sent by) Us, they said 'Kill the children of those who follow him, and rape their women'. But the planning of the Kafireen is nothing but in vain. Fir'aun then said 'Leave me to kill Musa (as), and let him pray to his Lord (to try to stop me). I am afraid that he will change your religion, or will spread corruption on the earth" [Ghaafir: 25-26]
Here we find that before Fir'aun goes through with trying to kill Musa (as), he first begins will a media smear campaign, in order to gain the public opinion behind him, using the excuse of wanting to protect the people and the system of life from Musa's (as) corrupt ideas. War on Terror anyone?
And before we continue, let us stop for a moment and contemplate a small point: Why would Fir'aun, the man who believes he is a God, and who has hundreds of thousands of worshipping slaves, even give excuses for his actions? Why would he even need to give a reason for killing Musa (as), if he is an omnipotent God? Essentially, the reality here is that he is asking permission from the public opinion to kill Musa (as)!
The reason he is asking is because he realizes the importance of public opinion. He knows that public opinion is what is controlling the people. And he knows that he needs to continue controlling it if he is to keep his throne.
We will go into more detail about the struggle for public opinion between Musa (as) and Fir'aun in the Ayat of the Qur'an a little later in the article.
The Verbal Battle Between Musa (as) and Fir'aun:
Now we can go to Surat Ash-Shu'araa' and see how these tactics were used in a discussion between Musa and Fir'aun that Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) narrated to us through the Qur'an.
The debate starts with Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) telling Musa and Haroon (as) to go to Fir'aun and say to them
فَأْتِيَا فِرْعَوْنَ فَقُولَا إِنَّا رَسُولُ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
"I am the Messenger of the Lord of the worlds, and you must send Bani Israa'eel with me".
Fir'aun uses the first tactic, and ignores the rational aspect of this message, attempting to attack the credibility of Musa and make people emotional, where:
قَالَ أَلَمْ نُرَبِّكَ فِينَا وَلِيدًا وَلَبِثْتَ فِينَا مِنْ عُمُرِكَ سِنِينَ وَفَعَلْتَ فَعْلَتَكَ الَّتِي فَعَلْتَ وَأَنْتَ مِنَ الْكَافِرِينَ
"he (Fir'aun) said: Did we not raise you amongst us, and you lived with us for many years? And did you not commit that crime you committed, and you were amongst the ingrates?"
Here Fir'aun attempts to agitate Musa's emotions, by reminding him of what favors Fir'aun has on him, and drag him into an argument of self-defense revolving around his personality "flaws". If anyone was speaking to make himself famous, or wanted recognition, this trap would be all too easy to fall into, since he would do anything to keep his reputation safe. This is how the Fir'aun personality tries to turn the discussion away from the rational argument and keep it meaningless and circular.
What does any of what Fir'aun gave to Musa have to do with Musa being a Messenger of Allah? Does it matter if he raised Musa, or that Musa killed someone? None of this has anything to do with the rational proof that Musa was sent by the Creator of the Universe. This is a common tactic practiced by many Kuffar and Muslims today to attack the person of the da'wa carrier, and turn people's attention away from the message he is conveying, where questions such as "then why are you in this country enjoying their wealth?" or "where is your beard" or "have you even convinced your family of this?" arise. None of this is related to the truthfulness of the message carried by the da'wa carrier. Even if the most corrupt human on earth came to you and said "Fasting Ramadan is obligatory", then he is right, regardless of his personality.
Musa (as) avoided this trick of Fir'aun, and went straight back to the rational discussion, where:
قَالَ فَعَلْتُهَا إِذًا وَأَنَا مِنَ الضَّالِّينَ فَفَرَرْتُ مِنْكُمْ لَمَّا خِفْتُكُمْ فَوَهَبَ لِي رَبِّي حُكْمًا وَجَعَلَنِي مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ وَتِلْكَ نِعْمَةٌ تَمُنُّهَا عَلَيَّ أَنْ عَبَّدْتَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ
"he (Musa) said: I did what I did and I was misguided. So I fled from you out of fear, and now my Lord has given me wisdom and made me a Messenger. And is this your favor on me that you have taken Bani Israa'eel as your slaves?"
So he does not get caught in the trap of defending his personality or becoming apologetic, rather he made his position clear, and immediately returned to the point: "Now I am a Messenger of Allah, and what you gave me is no excuse for you to reject this message and enslave Bani Isra'eel".
Thus, Fir'aun's first card falls from his hand. Now he is forced to enter into a rational discussion with Musa (as), where:
قَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ وَمَا رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ
"Fir'aun asks: so what is this Lord of the worlds?"
and Musa replies with crystal clarity:
قَالَ رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُوقِنِينَ
"The Lord of the skies and the earth, and all that is between them, if you seek to be convinced with certainty"
Fir'aun interrupts Musa and attempts to use his second tactic, saying to the people around him:
قَالَ لِمَنْ حَوْلَهُ أَلَا تَسْتَمِعُونَ
"Do you hear this??(mockingly)"
Fir'aun is now trying to make people think: "this man is saying something so ridiculous that you don't even need to think about it. It is far too absurd to even consider it". Even though everything Musa said was completely correct and rational, Fir'aun is desperately trying to keep the public opinion on his side. He tries to make people's emotions move before their minds do. This is what many people today try to do. They will laugh at the da'wa carriers openly to make it seem as if they are too illogical to even consider. They will call them idealists, impractical and foolish. But again, none of these accusations have anything to do with arguments for or against the goals of the da'wa carriers. We must make sure that we do not become amongst those who unwittingly follow the example of Fir'aun.
So, Musa continues explaining his message, after being interrupted, to the people in the court, where:
قَالَ رَبُّكُمْ وَرَبُّ آبَائِكُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ
"(Musa) said: Your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers".
Fir'aun interrupts him again:
قَالَ إِنَّ رَسُولَكُمُ الَّذِي أُرْسِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ لَمَجْنُونٌ
"(Fir'aun) said: Your Messenger that has been sent to you is insane!"
But Musa (as) continues his explanation of the proof:
قَالَ رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
"he said: the Lord of the East and the West and all that is between them,
if you really do think rationally"
At this point, Fir'aun is defeated and cannot keep mocking him, since not only is Musa giving more and more rational proof to the people who are listening, but he is also pointing out things that Fir'aun clearly has no authority over (clearly Fir'aun does not control the clouds, the birds, the sun or the moon, etc), so Fir'aun finally resorts to his third tactic, and:
قَالَ لَئِنِ اتَّخَذْتَ إِلَهًا غَيْرِي لَأَجْعَلَنَّكَ مِنَ الْمَسْجُونِينَ
"he said: If you take anything else as a God other than me, I will imprison you!".
From here, Musa (as) shows his miracles, since discussion has failed at achieving the goal, which increases Fir'aun in fear and aggression towards Musa. After the experts in the field of magic tricks come and see that Musa is not performing magic, rather he has miracles, they immediately believe in Allah and Musa, and Fir'aun is forced to use violence, where he says:
قَالَ آمَنْتُمْ لَهُ قَبْلَ أَنْ آذَنَ لَكُمْ إِنَّهُ لَكَبِيرُكُمُ الَّذِي عَلَّمَكُمُ السِّحْرَ فَلَسَوْفَ تَعْلَمُونَ لَأُقَطِّعَنَّ أَيْدِيَكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ مِنْ خِلَافٍ وَلَأُصَلِّبَنَّكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
"he (Fir'aun) said: Did you believe in him before I gave you permission? He is your teacher who has taught you magic. And I will show you! I will cut your hands and feet on opposite sides and crucify you all!"
And so Fir'aun sets an example for all tyrants and enemies of Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) to use violence against the da'wa carriers when all other attempts to stop them fail. Today we can see those who follow Fir'aun's personality visible all over the world.
An interesting side note to think about: Why would someone need "permission" to believe in Allah (Subhana Wata’ala)? This point is relevant to our lives today, where governments and mosques tell us that we need permission to call to Islam and perform our da'wa, as if the orders of Allah require their personal authorization and approval. Did Musa (as), and those magicians who believed in him, ask for permission to believe in Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) and follow His message? No. Rather they ignored all barriers and all fear tactics and said:
قَالُوا لَا ضَيْرَ إِنَّا إِلَى رَبِّنَا مُنْقَلبون
"(your threat is) no problem. To our Lord is our return".
The final point, which is very important, is that we must notice the nature of the debate between Fir'aun and Musa in these Ayat. Upon close inspection, we see that the real debate is not with the aim of convincing each other at all. Rather the aim is clearly targeted at gaining the audience's support. Looking at the words used in the Ayat, we see that Musa is addressing a group, not an individual. The rational proofs given by Musa (as) were directed at the audience. The mocking replies given by Fir'aun were also directed at the audience, and not at Musa. It was a highly visible struggle for public opinion. Musa was trying to make people think rationally, and Fir'aun was desperately trying to keep him from succeeding. In the end, Fir'aun failed and was forced to resort to violence to keep anyone from thinking of changing the status quo, as this would mean the end of his rule.
So from all this, we, as da'wa carriers, can see that we have been given a very great blessing from Allah (Subhana Wata’ala). We have been given a guidebook defining what to expect from our enemies. We know what they will say before they say it, and we know what we must face when they reject our message.
Today, we live in a world ruled and inhabited by many Fir'auns, and we are the only inheritors of Islam. They are trying very hard to keep people from thinking rationally, and to keep us from taking over public opinion. Thus, we must learn from the examples given to us in the Qur'an, and know that there is no one to take this message to the world but us. We should expect these allies of Fir'aun to follow the footsteps of their master and work to prevent us, and we should also know that our victory is a promise, same as it was promised to Musa (as) and to the last Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).
May Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) give us the strength and courage to follow the example of our beloved Prophet Musa (as), to carry the message handed down to us by the best of mankind, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). We ask Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) to grant us the company of those who we love the most and give us what is more precious than that: the everlasting pleasure of Allah (Subhana Wata’ala) upon us.