By Ibn Taofeeq Abdul Azeez
It is widely believed that the corpse of the famous Fir’awn who lived in the time of Nabiyy Musa (alayhi salaam) is still intact. The mummy (a preserved dead body) said to be situated in the Egyptians museum.
Upon verification, we found out that the acclaimed corpse (mummy) is not that of Fir’awn of Musa; hence Fir’awn’s body (corpse) was not preserved up till now by Allah (even though He is capable of that and more). This article will prove this assertion with quranic verses, ahadeth, and scientific researches and facts.
Study the below points and evidences:
1: We must understand the meaning of the word Fir’awn. This word was originally a title for the later kings of ancient Egypt. The Egyptians did not call their rulers Fir’awn until the Twelfth Dynasty (1304-1554) BC. Until that time, the term Fir’awn was not one of the most important King titles.
In ancient times, record writers have used the word Fir’awn as a title for the king of Egypt. The word Fir’awn in the ancient Egyptian language is composed of two words: يبز and عا which means (the great house). So this word is just a title and not a name for the famous people, just like the word Kasraa Al-Faras, meaning (King of the Persians) and (Arqal) Hercules Al-Rum, meaning (King of the Romans).
2: Then, what is the name of the Fir’awn, the ruler of Egypt, who was a contemporary of Nabiyy Musa? Looking at the Islamic history books, we find a clear disagreement about determining his name. Our famous historian, Imam at-Tabari in his book تاريخ الأمم و الملوك Vol 1 pg 386 says in the context of his speech about (the lineage of Musa bn Imran):
(The Fir’awn of Egypt in his days was Qaboos bn Mus’ab bn Muaa’wiyah, the companion of Yusuf the second, and his wife was Aasiyah, the daughter of Muzaahim bn Ubaid bn ar-Rayan bn al-Waleed, the first Fir’awn of Yusuf.
When Musa was given prophethood, know that Qaboos bn Mus’ab has died, and his brother Al-Waleed bn Mus’ab rose in his place. Imam Tabari said: It is said that Al-Waleed married Asiyah, daughter of Muzaahim after his brother, and Imran was one hundred and thirty-seven years old, and Nabiyy Musa was born.
Likewise, our historian, Ibn Al-Atheer mentioned it shortly from what was previously mentioned in his book الكامل في التاريخ 1-95. Although there is another narration reported by at-Tabari as well.
As for Ibn Ishaq, according to what Ibn Hamid reported, he said: Salamah told us, on the authority of Ibn Ishaq, he said: When Allah decreed upon Yuusuf what He decreed, and the king who was with him was destroyed by Rayan bn al-Waleed. As he mentioned to me – in a marble box in a part of the Nile in the depths of the water, the children of Israel were still under the hands of the Fir’awns and they were on the remnants of their religion from what Yusuf, Ya’quub, Ishaaq and Ibrahim started with them from Islam, clinging to it, until the Fir’awn of Musa, whom Allah sent to him, and there was no Fir’awn that was more brutal, wicked, pompous, longer in his reign than this Fir’awn. His name was – as they mentioned to me – Al-Waleed bn Mus’ab, and there was no one of the Fir’awns who was more ruthless, nor hardier in heart, nor worse a king for the Children of Israel than him. And he married a woman called Asiyah bint Muzaahim, one of the best of the few women among them, so he lived among them and they were under his hands for a long life and they would suffer severe torment.
There is a narration close to it on the authority of Ibn Abbas and others, which you can find in al-Kamil of Ibn Atheer.
3: As for the name of the Fir’awn in English, as in Tawrah: Some researchers have concluded that the name of the Fir’awn of Egypt at that time is Ramses II, because during his reign he mocked the children of Israel by making bricks, and they built the cities of (Pithom) and (Ramses) as stated in paragraph 11 of the first chapter of the Book of Exodus. And they linked this to the story of Fir’awn when he said to his minister Haman: (Oh Haman, build me an edifice so that I may see the God of Moses, and I think that he is a liar).
On the other hand, we find that Dr. Abdul-Wahhab Al-Najjar says that Nabiyy Musa was a contemporary of two rulers, namely Ramses II, the Fir’awn who persecuted the Children of Israel, and Musa was born in his time, and was raised in his house, and Nabiyy Musa, was a contemporary of the Fir’awn of Egypt. And who received the throne of Egypt after his brother, and his end was in pain.
Then, there is a research study by Dr. Hussein Abdul Baseer, an Egyptian archaeologist, who explained that the Fir’awn of Musa is not specifically known and he is not Ramses II as some people think. You can read the study here: https://www.shorouknews.com/mobile/columns/view.aspx?cdate=15052020&id=1e08bd83-ed5a-482a-8488-f0ad1a61afe5
Another documentary actually concludes that it was not Ramses II that was a contemporary of Nabiyy Musa, but Merneptah (Minftah) who chased Nabiyy Musa and got drowned. See the documentary here: https://youtu.be/8Elan6Qplhc
By the way, do not forget the archaeologists claim the corpse (mummy) in the Egyptians Museum is that of Ramses II. So we need to actually ascertain if Ramses II was the Fir’awn of Musa.
Another study reveals that the timeline for Ramses II doesn’t fit. Ramses II died of old age well into his nineties. This incident most probably happened a few years after the hyksos were expelled from Egypt. The Hyksos were invader kings during the time of Prophet Yusuf. After their expulsion is when the leaders of Egypt started calling themselves Fir’awns.
Interestingly, according to the Egyptian hieroglyphs writings, it is established that the (Fir’awn) Ramses II had many wives and children, which is in contrary to that of Fir’awn of Nabiyy Musa. Likewise, his influence extended beyond Egypt to the south of the Levant, where he reached Kadesh at the city of Homs in the Levant. This means that Palestine was also under his influence. Which are all in contrary to that of Fir’awn of Nabiyy Musa.
The famous scientist who was selected for doing research of Mummys, Dr Maurice Bucaille, mentioned about Merneptah and Ramses II done forensic in his books. 1: Moses and pharaoh in the Bible, Quran and History. 2: Mummies of the Pharaoh and modern medical investigations.
Note: Dr Bucaille was not an orientalist. His work is phenomenon as it led him to Allah, and he accepted Islam.
In these 2 books, Dr. Bucaille has clearly explained and concluded that Rameses II was the Fir’awn who ‘started the oppression on the Israelites’ and died of old age at 90. He died while Nabiyy Musa was still in exile. After him, his son Merneptah ascended to the throne and ‘continued the oppression on the Israelites’ until he met his death by drowning. In other words, Merneptah was the pharaoh of the Exodus, but Ramesses II started it.
The Quran in some verses also mention “Aal Fir’awn آل فرعون” which would mean the offspring of Fir’awn. So, which Fir’awn the Qur’an talks about depends on which verse the word Fir’awn occurs, because “Aal Fir’awn” would mean Ramses II as the “Fir’awn” and Merneptah as his “Aal”.
As well, Archaeologists claim that Ramses II died at age of 90+. The Fir’awn that drowned, chasing Nabiyy Musa, was a much younger Fir’awn. On the other hand, a 90 yr old Ramesses, which was his age before he died, would never personally chase the Israelites sitting on a bumpy chariot in the desert.
And excavation of Egyptian tombs began in late 19th century, There are still alot of Fir’awns and Kings buried in valley of the kings, thousands of years of history yet to be excavated. The Ramses II mummy claimed to be that of the Fir’awn of Nabiyy Musa has no evidence to be traced to the Fir’awn. These are just a few scientific facts.
Thus, we see the difference and confusion in determining the name and background of the Fir’awn, who was a contemporary of Nabiyy Musa, between the books of Islamic history, the heavenly books and scientific researches.
Even the narrations and sayings in each of them are in dispute. Is it Al-Waleed bn Musab or Ramses II or Minftah?
Thus, the essential point here is that non of them was able to prove his name with certainty, so how about a corpse covered with dust for thousands of years!!
4: There is a particular verse of the Qur’an whereby Allah talked about the preservation of the dead body of the Fir’awn of Musa. Some Muslims get confused by this verse, thus holding to the famous fallacy that Fir’awn’s body was preserved and still intact till now.
The verse of the Qur’an is:
فَالْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ آيَةً ۚ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ النَّاسِ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا لَغَافِلُونَ
Meaning: “Today, We will rescue you with your body so that you may be a sign for those who succeed you; and certainly the majority of the people are heedless to our communications”. Suratu Yoonus Verse 92.
In this verse, Allah never said He will preserve the body of Fir’awn till after his time, and not till eternity. He never said the body of Fir’awn is special and will not decay as other dead bodies.
5: There is nothing in this verse to indicate that his body would be preserved until the Day of Resurrection, as some people erroneously assume. That is interpreting the Qur’aan in an incorrect manner.
If the purpose had been to preserve the body of the Fir’awn for all those people who came after him, so that they could see his dead body for themselves, then his body would have remained well known to all those who came after him and those who heard his story, so that the lesson could be learned and the sign made manifest and the promise fulfilled.
What happened to his story much that people already forgot it and for so many centuries no one remember it, until some archaeologists claimed that they had found the body of the Fir’awn who was drowned?!
6: Qur’an as a book of guidance was revealed to the prophet Muhammad solla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. The Qur’an comprises of stories of the past nations and prophets. And as Muslims, we understand the Qur’anic verses better by believing in the interpretations (Tafseer) of the prophet and his Sahaabah given to the revealed verses.
When this verse talking about the incidence which occurred during the time of a past prophet was revealed, the Sahaabah learnt its meaning from the Prophet.
Our famous and reliable scholar, Imam Ibn Kathir reported in his famous Tafseer Book, Vol 2 pg 412:
As regard the meaning of this verse 92, Abdullah bn Abbas and other Salaf said: Some of the Children of Israel doubted about the death of Fir’awn, so Almighty Allah commanded the sea to cast him with his body together without a soul and with his well-known shield on the side of the sea, and it is the high place to verify his death and doom.
“And today, We will rescue you فاليوم ننجيك” means we will rescue your body from drowning.
“with your body ببدنك” Mujahid said: With your body without soul. And Al-Hasan said: With a body without a soul. Abdullah bn Shaddad said: Together, true, that is, it was not torn apart, so that they can verify it and know it.
(So that it would be a sign for those who came after you) that is, that it would be evidence for the Children of Israel (Banuu Israa’eel) of your death and destruction, and that Allah is the Almighty, who holds the corner of every animal in His hand, and that nothing rises due to His wrath. The Israelites would not believe the “mighty god” is dead, so Allah preserved his body from going deep down so that it may be a sign and confirmation for the Israelites who succeeded him.
You could see Allah used the word لمن خلفك “those who succeed you” and not لمن بعدك “those who came after you”.
7: Actually, once a person drowned, the body stays underwater until the bacteria in the gut and chest cavity produce enough gas—methane, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide—to float it to the surface like a balloon. (The buildup of methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other gases can take days or weeks, depending on a number of factors.) and when the body will float, you won’t see it at the exact location any longer.
But by the miracle of Allah, He made Fir’awn’s body floated to the sea shore so as to be a sign and confirmation to the Israelites of his time.
8: A person who wants to argue may say the tafseer of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) is not correct because the body of Fir’awn has not been found as at then. Such a fallacy statement from such person can easily be clarified by making it clear that the prophet would explain and report matters of the future that are yet to happen.
Prophet Muhammad came after Musa, in which there was Isa between them, did we see any single or even weak hadith of the prophet telling the corpse of Fir’awn is hiding somewhere and it will be seen one day. If surely it was preserved from decaying, the prophet would have reported it because Fir’awn had lived hundreds of years before the Prophet and this verse was later revealed; the prophet would have also interpreted this verse as some people mistakenly interprete it today. We base our Islam on clear evidence and not (disputing and doubtful) scientific research.
9: Not only did the Salaf and early scholars explained the verse as said above, we see among the contemporaries who also explained this verse to mean the preservation was for those who succeed him, the children of Israel of his time. The contemporary scholars who are alive when the body was said to be found.
An example is Sheikh Muhammad Bn Saalih al-Uthaymeen who explained the above verse to mean the body of Fir’awn was preserved only for the Israelites of his time to confirm his death. In his audio clip, he also affirmed this opinion that the body of Fir’awn is no more intact, and said it doesn’t make sense to believe the dead body of Fir’awn is the one in Egypt today. That such is a fabricated lie because the title Fir’awn is an appellation and he maybe another Fir’awn and not that of Musa.
You can find the audio clip of the sheikh here:
10: This is just in brief. Otherwise, the rest of the scholars of Tafsir and historians like Imam at-Tabari in his history book Vol. 1 pg 421, and Sheikh Muhammad Rashid Rida in his Tafsir of al-Manar Vol 11 pg 476. This same Tafsir was also mentioned by the great scholar of al-Sham Muhammad Jamaaludeen Al-Qasimi in his Tafsir (Mahasin At-Ta’weel) Vol 6 pg 75. and etc.
The conclusion from this is that the interpretation of the verse is clear to those who contemplate the verses of the Most Merciful in a clear Arabic language, which is that when Fir’awn claimed divinity and that he was the Lord of the worlds, Allah Almighty wanted to destroy him in pain, then the water threw him to the shore with his whole body for the children of Israel to see, and they knew that Fir’awn claimed divinity, yet he was not able to keep evil away, bring good and delay for his sake, and that he is just a human being like the rest of the Children of Israel, and when they were certain of that, they buried him.
11: The purpose of revealing his body from the sea is to know his doom, and to verify it for those who doubted it among the Children of Israel, and this purpose has been fulfilled and ended, and the body of Fir’awn, like other bodies, comes to annihilation, and does not remain of it, except what remains from other than it, which is the tailbone, from which man will ride on the Day of Resurrection, as in the hadith, the body of Fir’awn has no advantage over other bodies.
12: Therefore, if Fir’awn perished in the sea and the Children of Israel did not see his destruction with their own eyes, they would have said that Fir’awn disappeared and will return again because he is a god, especially since they are recent and strange to the religion of Nabiyy Musa, and that is why Allah destroyed him in the sea and then saved his body so that it may be a convincing evidence of his destruction to those who see it.
13: Burying dead persons is compulsory in Islam. Either Muslim or non Muslim. The verses of Qur’an and ahadeeth of the prophet denote on this. The verse 31 of Suratu Ma’idah whereby Allah was narrating about Haabil and Qaabil; likewise verses 25 and 26 of Suratu Mursalaat all point to this fact. Likewise a lot of ahadeeth. The prophet instructed Ali bn Abee Taalib radiya Allahu anhu to bury his father despite being a Kaafir, Ali responded: “but he died a Mushrik”, the prophet told him to go and bury him yet.
14: Also, it is well known that either you bury a dead (being) person or not, the land will consume its body. This is to all mankind except the Prophets of Allah. The prophet Solla Allahu alayhi wa sallam made the exception that Allah has made it forbidden for the land to consume the dead bodies of the prophets.
“إن الله عز وجل حرم على الأرض أن تأكل أجساد الأنبياء”.
This hadith is authentic and recorded by Imam Nasaai, Abu Daawud, Ibn Majah, al-Haakim and authentic according to the principle of al-Bukhariy but he didn’t record it.
And Fir’awn was never a prophet of Allah.
15: It is also essential to mention that whatever happened to your body (corpse) after your death has NOTHING to do with your spiritual being. Some people do believe when a graveyard is dug and the corpse still comes neat, it typically means he or she is a spiritual person. This is a fallacy.
The condition of a body after burial has nothing to do with his spiritual position or nearness to Allah. It depends on the surrounding environment of the grave. Yet bodies of human beings, animals and plants can be preserved for millenniums. This is a simple knowledge of Fossilization.
16: Another interesting question to ask is, when was the body discovered?
The student of the history of Egypt, especially the archaeological monuments, knows full well that most of its monuments were buried in the desert sand, and only its pyramids were visible, and people looked at them as the Arabs of the island look at the stone country in the archaeological area of Al-Ula.
The French to Egypt led by Napoleon took its experts to search and investigate those archaeological areas such as (the pyramids) and (Luxor) and they began to discover the tombs and the pharaonic treasures and others.
Then successive scientific discoveries after that by German, Spanish, Dutch and French experts, and among the discoveries was a pharaonic body, which is the subject of our conversation now. Which is certainly not confirmed to be the Fir’awn of Musa.
17: What are the reasons for the fallacious and incorrect attribution of the body to Fir’awn of Musa and that he is the one concerned with the noble verse?
I mentioned previously the true meaning of the word Fir’awn, and we mentioned the inconsistency in determining his real name, due to the dated time period, especially since this date was not written, and if there are some writings, its reference depends on the Israelites, and as the Prophet solla Allahu alayhi wa sallam said:(Do not believe the People of the Book and do not deny them), but he will be comfortable with it if it agrees with the Book and the Sunnah, and the Holy Qur’an did not mention about Fir’awn except what was reported about him of his abuse of the Children of Israel and his upbringing of Nabiyy Musa alayhi salaam in his house, and his claim to divinity, and his arguments with Musa and his brother, then his destruction at sea, and what was mentioned in the Sunnah like the address of the Prophet to his people that they fast on the day of Ashura because it is the day that Allah saved Musa from Fir’awn and his aides.
And as the people of al-Jarh and at-Ta’deel would say: (the isnad is in the religion, and had it not been for the isnad, whoever wanted would have said whatever he wanted).
18: These sciences have no origins, and for this we find that some archaeologists based most of their discoveries on guesswork and not on certainty, as astronomers estimate that what is in the sky are galaxies such and such, and what geologists estimate is that the age of the earth is such and such.
I also referred to the interpretations of Sheikh Muhammad Rashid Rida, Imam Al-Qasimi, Al-Uthaymeen, Sayyid Qutb, for that verse, and non of them indicate that the body of Fir’awn existed, despite the discovery of this corpse in their time, and they are the ones who mean the interpretation of the Qur’an in a way that links with reality. As we find that clear in the writings of Sheikh Muhammad Rashid Rida and Sayyid Qutb in particular; how can they ignore it except for the incorrectness of its attribution to Fir’awn.
And this matter is not confined to the scholars of Tafsir only; even the foreign archaeologists, as well as the majority of Egyptians interested in these discoveries, do not confirm this, because while the discovery of that alleged body was in a pharaonic tomb, there was with it several other bodies, but this particular famous body was distinguished from others in terms of care and extra attention; which led the viewers think the owner of this corpse has a higher status than others.
19: For the sake of argument, if we believe that this body belongs to a ruler of Egypt – Fir’awn, then which rulers of the Fir’awns who ruled Egypt owns the body? as some encyclopedias reported that their number is eleven pharaonic rulers.
20: Likewise, there is an important note to mention: We know that Fir’awn had killed sons, captivated women, and made men servants under his authority, ordering, killing and exile, and spreading corruption in the land. Then his end would be in front of people.
Is it reasonable for the Children of Israel to embalm him and then place him in a suitable place befitting his position and in a special cemetery that distinguishes him from other corpses? and he is the one who inflicted upon the Children of Israel all kinds of torment!!
Is it conceivable that the oppressed and helpless servant would do this to his master?! Sheikh Uthaimin also mentioned this particular point in his audio clip I referenced up there.
Would Musa even be satisfied that the Children of Israel bury Fir’awn, who claimed divinity and killed the magicians who believed in Islam, in a decent and honorable place to the exclusion of others?!
21: Finally, why did this alleged image become popular with the public? How did they believe it?
The answer to this is of two classes:
1- Tourism companies, whose first and last concern is the material, and trying to exploit tourists by lying, as they do with them whenever they visit the Egyptian Museum, and everyone who has visited those places knows the truth of what is happening, by spreading rumors about that corpse and distributing brochures to them in order to ensure a suitable income for them.
2- People’s wrong interpretation of the verse 92 of Suratu Yoonus and linking it with a disputed scientific research, linking it to the archaeological discoveries that appear here and there, and that this is a scientific miracle!!
Therefore, people believed it and promoted it among themselves, and it was found in mosques, scientific places, newspapers, public periodicals and the Internet, and the honorable reader only has to enter the search engine (google) on the network and search for what was written about the alleged corpse, so that the result appears that all the links that talk about this corpse deals with the fact that it belongs to the Fir’awn concerned with that verse.
Rather, it was found in a public library that collects such pictures under the title Pictures from Reality.
In this article, I have tried to present the invalidity of the common belief as regard the famous corpse lying in the Egyptians Museum. And Allah knows best.
9th October, 2021