اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ بِجَمِیعِ مَحَامِدِه کُلِّهَا عَلَی جَمِیعِ نِعَمِهِ کُلِّهَا… اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ مالِکِ الْمُلْکِ مُجْرِی الْفُلْکِ مُسَخِّرِ الرِّیاحِ فالِقِ الاْصْباحِ دَیّانِ الدّینِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمینَ اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی حِلْمِهِ بَعْدَ عِلمِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی عَفْوِهِ بَعْدَ قُدْرَتِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی طُولِ اَناتِهِ فی غَضَبِهِ وَهُوَ قادِرٌ عَلی ما یُریدُ
All praise be to Allah with full gratitude for all His bounties. … All praise be to Allah: the master of the sovereignty, Who allows arks to flow [on seas], Who controls the winds, Who causes the day to break, Who administers the authority, and Who is the Lord of the worlds. All praise be to Allah for His forbearance despite His full knowledge. All praise be to Allah for His amnesty despite His full power. All praise be to Allah for the length of His respite during His wrath, while He is able to do whatever He wills.
و نشهد أن لا اله الا الله وحده لا شریک له، و أَنَّ محمداً عبده و رسوله ارسله بالهدی و دین الحق لیظهره علی الدین کله و لو کره المشرکون
We bear witness that there is no god but Allah. He is one and has no partners. We bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He may make it prevail over all religions, though the polytheists should be averse.
اوصیکم عبادالله و نفسی بتقوی الله و اتباع امره و نهیه، و اخوفکم من عقابه
I enjoin you, servants of Allah and myself, to have fear of God and comply with His commands and forbiddances, and warn you against His retribution.
Pharaoh Chasing Moses and the Israelites
Pharaoh and his army left the city to chase Moses and the Children of Israel. The Quran says,
فَأَرْسَلَ فِرْعَوْنُ فِي الْمَدَائِنِ حَاشِرِينَ؛ إِنَّ هَؤُلَاءِ لَشِرْذِمَةٌ قَلِيلُونَ؛ وَإِنَّهُمْ لَنَا لَغَائِظُونَ؛ وَإِنَّا لَجَمِيعٌ حَاذِرُونَ
Then Pharaoh sent heralds to the cities, [proclaiming:] ‘These are indeed a small band. They have aroused our wrath, and we are alert and fully prepared. al-Shuʿaraʾ, 53-56)
The Quran goes on to say that the treasures and property of Pharaoh and his associates were left to the Israelites:
فَأَخْرَجْنَاهُمْ مِنْ جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ؛ وَكُنُوزٍ وَمَقَامٍ كَرِيمٍ؛ كَذَلِكَ وَأَوْرَثْنَاهَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ
So We took them out of gardens and springs, and [made them leave behind] treasures and stately homes. So it was; and We bequeathed them to the Children of Israel. (al-Shuʿaraʾ, 57-59)
The Children of Israel reached the coasts of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, but they were unable to pass the canal. Meanwhile, the large army of Pharaoh, which was armed to the teeth, was advancing, causing the Israelites to shiver and shriek out of fear as if their souls were departing their bodies.
At that moment, Joshua the son of Nun, a companion of Moses (peace be upon him), went to him and said: “O Moses! The army of Pharaoh is approaching and we are unable to resist and combat them. We are trapped with the sea before us and the enemy behind us. What should we do? The Quran narrates this instructive scene in this way:
فَأَتْبَعُوهُمْ مُشْرِقِينَ؛ فَلَمَّا تَرَاءَى الْجَمْعَانِ قَالَ أَصْحَابُ مُوسَى إِنَّا لَمُدْرَكُونَ
Then they pursued them at sunrise. When the two hosts sighted each other, the companions of Moses said, ‘Indeed we have been caught up.’ (al-Shuʿaraʾ, 60-61)
Moses’s response serves as guidance to all those who walk on the path of God and find themselves caught by the enemy with no apparent means of escape:
قَالَ كَلَّا إِنَّ مَعِيَ رَبِّي سَيَهْدِينِ
‘Certainly not! Indeed my Lord is with me. He will guide me.’ (al-Shuʿaraʾ, 62)
People who follow the path of God with unwavering effort and place their trust in divine power can rest assured that they will always receive the support of God and will never be abandoned by Him.
In this grave crisis, God once again revealed to Moses with His special grace, telling him to strike the sear with his staff:
فَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى مُوسَى أَنِ اضْرِبْ بِعَصَاكَ الْبَحْرَ فَانْفَلَقَ فَكَانَ كُلُّ فِرْقٍ كَالطَّوْدِ الْعَظِيمِ
Thereupon We revealed to Moses: ‘Strike the sea with your staff!’ Whereupon it parted, and each part was as if it were a great mountain. (al-Shuʿaraʾ, 63)
The Agonizing Fate of Pharaoh’s People
When Moses struck the sea with his staff, as commanded by God, the sea split, allowing Moses and the Israelites to pass through safely to the other side.
Pharaoh and his army pursued the Israelites through the newly created path in the sea. When the last of them entered, at God’s command, the water came together and the walls of water crashed own, overwhelming and drowning the entire army of Pharaoh.
At that moment, as Pharaoh saw himself facing imminent death, his pride dissipated and he realized that his life had been misguided and futile. With tearful eyes, he turned towards the Lord of the universe and professed his faith in and submission to the God of the Israelites:
وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتْبَعَهُمْ فِرْعَوْنُ وَجُنُودُهُ بَغْيًا وَعَدْوًا، حَتَّى إِذَا أَدْرَكَهُ الْغَرَقُ قَالَ: آمَنْتُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا الَّذِي آمَنَتْ بِهِ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ وَأَنَا مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
We carried the Children of Israel across the sea, whereat Pharaoh and his troops pursued them, out of defiance and aggression. When overtaken by drowning, he called out, ‘I believe that there is no god except Him in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am one of those who submit [to Him]!’ (Yunus, 90)
Of course, it is worthless to profess faith in God in such circumstances, where one has devoted their life to opposing God’s message and slaughtering believers, and only turns to God when faced with imminent death and disappointed of salvation. Such a faith is undoubtedly false. The Quran quotes God’s words in response to Pharaoh’s false profession of faith:
آلْآنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنْتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ؟ فَالْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ آيَةً، وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنَ النَّاسِ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا لَغَافِلُونَ
‘What! Now? When you have been disobedient heretofore and were among the agents of corruption?! So today We shall deliver your body so that you may be a sign for those who come after you.’ Indeed many of the people are oblivious to Our signs. (Yunus, 91-92)
Here as how the Old Testament narrate the story of this great divine miracle:
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.