Moses - Strange But True!
The Hidden Believer at Pharaoh’s Court
Of all the strange stories told by Allah about the meeting between Moses and Pharaoh none is stranger than the one about the hidden believer (an Egyptian we must assume) at Pharaoh’s Court.
Allah will use this variation of the story to, in effect, invite civil disobedience should your leaders listen to their own council instead of that of His Messengers, and why this is better for you.
40:23 We have indeed sent Moses forth with Our Signs and a manifest authority,
40:24 Unto Pharaoh, Haman and Korah* but they said: “A lying sorcerer.”
* What Korah is doing here is anyone’s guess (see Moses vs. Karoon a.k.a. Korah).
40:25 When he brought them the Truth from Us, they said: “Slay the sons of those who have believed with him, but spare their women.” However, the cunning of the unbelievers is in error.
The hidden believer will reveal himself by coming to the defence of Moses after Pharaoh has threatened to kill him.
40:26 And Pharaoh said: “Let me kill Moses, and let him call upon his Lord. I fear that he may change your religion and cause corruption to spread in the land.”
40:27 Moses said: “I seek refuge with my Lord and your Lord from every arrogant one who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning.”
40:28 Then a believing man of Pharaoh’s folk, who kept hidden his belief, said: “Will you kill a man for saying: ‘My Lord is Allah’, and he has brought you the clear proofs from your Lord? If he is a liar, his lying will recoil upon him, but if he is truthful, you will be smitten with some of what he is promising you. Allah will not guide one who is an extravagant imposter.
He follows his defence of Moses with the old scare tactic about Allah being quick to anger when His Messengers are denied.
40:29 “O my people, yours is the dominion today, supreme in the land; but who will protect us against Allah’s Might, if it should smite us?...”
Pharaoh tells the hidden believer that he does not accept his idea of a bogeymen and that he considers himself a righteous ruler.
40:29 …Pharaoh said: “I do not show you except what I see, and I do not guide except in the path of rectitude.”
When hearing this, the hidden believer may have been reminded of a battle that will take place at least two thousand years into the future, the Battle of the Ditch during the siege of Medina in 627 CE where desert tribes, the Confederates in the following verse, allied with the Meccans fought the Muslims to a standstill, or about the Confederates meeting Allah on Judgement Day.
40:30 Then the one who had believed said: “O my people, I fear for you the like of the day of the Confederates.
He reminds them of people and cities Allah has destroyed, including Thamud, whose existence was known from “the 1st millennium BC to near the time of Muhammad” therefore may not have even existed, let alone been destroyed, when Moses met Pharaoh.
40:31 “Like the wont of the people of Noah, ‘Ad, Thamud and those who came after them. Allah does not intend wronging the servants.
A reference to the Day of Altercation i.e. Judgement Day:
40:32 “And, O my people, I fear for you the Day of Altercation.
40:33 “The Day you will turn away in flight, having no defender against Allah. Whomever Allah leads astray will have no one to guide him.
A reference to Joseph, whom people thought was the last Messenger because that is what Allah wanted them to believe.
40:34 “Joseph brought you the clear proofs before, but you continued to doubt what he brought you. Then, when he perished you said: ‘Allah will never send forth a Messenger after him.’ This is how Allah leads astray whoever is extravagant and suspicious.
40:35 “Those who dispute concerning Allah’s Signs without any authority given to them – how hateful is that in the sight of Allah and the believers. That is how Allah places a seal on the heart of every arrogant bully.”
The hidden believer's long-winded Messenger-like exhortation is interrupted by Pharaoh who again asks his top administrator Haman to build him a tower.
40:36 And Pharaoh said: “O Haman, build me a tower that I may perchance reach the pathways,
40:37 “The pathways of heaven; and then look upon the God of Moses. For I think he is a liar.” That is how embellished for Pharaoh was his evil deed and how he was barred from the Path. Pharaoh’s guile was only destined to fail.
The hidden believer is not flustered in any way by Pharaoh’s rudeness in interrupting him in full rhetorical flight and returns to his incitement to submit. The only surprise being that he asks his audience, which has to include Moses, to follow him and not the man for whom he revealed his identity.
40:38 Then he who had believed said: “O my people, follow me and I will guide you to the path of rectitude.
40:39 “O my people, this present life is a fleeting pleasure, but the world to come is the abode of permanence.
40:40 “Whoever does an evil deed will only be rewarded its like; but whoever does a righteous deed, whether male or female, being a believer – those shall enter Paradise receiving therein provision without measure.
The hidden believer ends his insistent refrain with the familiar reminder of Allah’s Fire.
40:41 “And, O my people, do I call you unto salvation, while you call me unto the Fire?
40:42 “You call me to disbelieve in Allah and associate with Him that whereof I have no knowledge, while I call you unto the All-Mighty, the All-Pardoner.
40:43 “No wonder that what you call me unto has no callers in this world, nor in the Hereafter; and that our ultimate return is unto Allah; and that the extravagant are the true companions of the Fire.
40:44 “You will remember what I am saying to you. I entrust my fate to Allah. Allah is surely Well Aware of the servants.”
Allah cleverly follows the story of the hidden believer with one about Hell and the fate of "Pharaoh’s folk", and why the weak will not be forgiven for believing in their leaders instead of His Messengers.
40:45 Then, Allah guarded him against the evils of their scheming; and the evil punishment encompassed Pharaoh’s folk;
40:46 The Fire to which they shall be exposed morning and evening. And the Day the Hour shall come to pass, it will be said (to the angels): “Admit Pharaoh’s folk to the worst punishment.”
40:47 And while they dispute in the Fire, and the weak will say to those who waxes proud: "We were followers of yours. Will you, then, withhold from us part of the Fire?”
40:48 Those who waxed proud will say: “We are truly all in it. Allah has judged between the servants.”
40:49 Those in the Fire will say to the keepers of Hell: “Call on your Lord that He may remit a day of punishment for us.”
40:50 They will reply: “Did not your Messengers bring you clear proofs?” They will say: “Yes indeed.” They will reply: “Call then, although the call of the unbelievers is in vain.”
40:51 We shall support Our Messengers and the believers in the present life and on the Day the witnesses shall arise;
40:52 The Day when their excuses will not profit the wrongdoers, and the curse will be upon them and they will have the worst dwelling.
In case you missed it the first, second … time:
40:53 We have indeed given Moses the guidance and bequeathed to the Children of Israel the Book,
40:54 As a guidance and a reminder to people of understanding.
40:55 So stand fast; Allah’s Promise is true. Seek the forgiveness of your sin and proclaim the praise of your Lord evenings and mornings.
Pharaoh will never attain "grandeur", at least, not in heaven.
40:56 As for those who dispute regarding Allah’s Signs without any authority given to them, there is nothing in their breasts but the desire for grandeur, which they will never attain. So, seek refuge with Allah; for He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.