PROPHET MUSA (AS) AND SEA'S SPLITTING IN TWO
The kings of Egypt-known as "Pharaohs" (or "Fir'awn" in the Arabic
of the Qur'an)-regarded themselves as divine in the polytheistic,
superstitious religion of ancient Egypt. At a time when the people
of Egypt favoured a superstitious belief system over a divine belief
system-the same era in which when the Children of Israel were enslaved-Allah
sent the Prophet Musa (as) as a messenger to the tribe of Egypt.
Pharaoh and his court, and the people of Egypt in general, almost
universally refused to abandon their idolatrous beliefs when the
Prophet Musa (as) called them to divine religion and the Oneness
of Allah. The Prophet Musa (as) revealed to Pharaoh and his courtiers
that they should avoid false worship, warning them of Allah's wrath.
In response to this, they rose up and slandered the Prophet Musa
(as): They accused him of being mad, of being a sorcerer and of
falsehood. Pharaoh and his people refused to submit to the Prophet
Musa (as) even though many troubles were visited upon them. They
refused to accept Allah as the only God. They even held the Prophet
Musa (as) responsible for what had befallen them and sought to exile
him from Egypt. In the Qur'an, Allah makes this reference to the
Prophet Musa (as) and the believers with him:
We revealed to Musa: "Travel with Our servants
by night. You will certainly be pursued." Pharaoh sent marshals
into the cities: "These people are a small group and we find them
irritating and we constitute a vigilant majority." We expelled
them from gardens and springs, from treasures and a splendid situation.
So it was! And We bequeathed them to the tribe of Israel. So they
pursued them towards the east. (Qur'an, 26:52-60)
The map shows the route taken by the
Prophet Musa (as) after leaving Egypt and the estimated
location of the site where the sea divided.
The diagram shows the shallow and deeper areas. It is at
this point that the Sinai Peninsula and Arabia approach
each other most closely.
As revealed in the Qur'an, the two communities met at the edge
of the sea following this pursuit. Allah divided the sea and saved
the Prophet Musa (as) and the believers with him, destroying Pharaoh
and his people. This aid from Allah is revealed thus:
So We revealed to Musa, "Strike the sea with
your staff." And it split in two, each part like a towering cliff.
And We brought the others right up to it. We rescued Musa and
all those who were with him. Then We drowned the rest. There is
certainly a Sign in that yet most of them are not believers. Truly
your Lord is the Almighty, the Most Merciful. (Qur'an, 26:63-68)
In connection with this subject, the following account has recently
been found in papyruses from the time of Pharaoh:
From Amenamoni, head of the protective books
of the white room of the palace, to the scribe Penterhor:
When this letter reaches you and has been read point by point,
surrender your heart to the sharpest pain, like a leaf before
the storm, when you learn of the sorrowful disaster of
the drowning in the whirlpool
Calamity struck him suddenly and inescapably. Depict
the destruction of the lords, the lord of the tribes, the king
of the east and the west. The sleep in the waters has made something
helpless out of something great. What news can compare
to the news I have sent you?202
This miracle, experienced by the Prophet Musa (as) and the Children
of Israel as they crossed the Red Sea, has been the subject of many
studies. Archaeological investigations have established not only
the path taken to the Red Sea after leaving Egypt, but also that
the place where Pharaoh and the Prophet Musa (as) and his tribe
met was one surrounded by mountains. (Allah knows best.)
The mountain known as
Jabal-al Musa is generally regarded as being in the Sinai
Peninsula. However, recent findings have shown that it is
actually on the Arabian shore of the Red Sea.
Following a long and
difficult journey for the Prophet Musa (as) and the Israelites,
a passage out between the mountains could be seen.
That part of the Sinai
Peninsula opening onto the Gulf.
Following a great deal of study and investigation taking this as
the starting point, scientists came to striking conclusions with
regard to how the sea was divided into two. These conclusions are
in full agreement with those revealed in the Qur'an. The way that
historical events described in the Qur'an are today illuminated
by historical records is without doubt an important miracle of the
book of Islam.
Pharaoh’s royal chariot is on display in a museum in Egypt.
A similar example was found during excavations in the location
where the sea divided.
Naum Volzinger and Alexei Androsov, two Russian mathematicians,
proved that the Prophet Musa (as) could indeed have parted the sea.
Unlike those scientists who concentrated on the probability of such
a miracle, the Russian mathematicians investigated the conditions
that might have led to the miracle. In turn, this led to the confirmation
of the miracle itself.
According to the study which
was published in the Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
there was a reef, which was close to the surface in the Red Sea
at that time. From there, the scientists set about establishing
the speed of the wind and the strength of the storm needed to leave
the reef high and dry at low tide. As a result, it became apparent
that a wind speed of 30 metres per second would have caused the
sea to retract, leaving the reef exposed. Naum Volzinger, of the
Institute of Oceanography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stated
that "if the [east] wind blew all night at a speed of 30 metres
per second then the reef would be dry." He also said that "it would
take the Jews-there were 600,000 of them-four hours to cross the
7 kilometre reef that runs from one coast to another
then, in half
an hour, the waters would come back."203
In addition, Volzinger said that he and his colleague Androsov studied
the issue strictly from Isaac Newton's point of view. As he put
it, "I am convinced that God rules the Earth through the laws of
It must not be forgotten that there is always a possibility of
this natural phenomenon taking place. If Allah so desires, this
miracle can take place again when the requisite conditions-such
as windspeed, time and place-are met. However, the truly miraculous
aspect here is the fact that these events took place just when the
Prophet Musa (as) and his tribe were about to be vanquished. The
fact that the waters withdrew just as the Prophet Musa (as) and
the community with him were about to cross them-not to mention the
way that the waters returned just as Pharaoh and his army were crossing-is
a clear example of the aid that Allah gives to the faithful. Indeed,
the way that the Prophet Musa (as) relied on and trusted in Allah
is an example of the most pleasing moral values:
And when the two hosts came into sight of one
another Musa's companions said, "We will surely be overtaken!"
He said, "Never! My Lord is with me and He will guide me." (Qur'an,
202. British Museum, Egyptian Papyri
203. Galina Stolyarova, "City Scientists Say Red-Sea Miracle
Can Be Explained," The St. Petersburg Times, 20 January 2004,
www.sptimes.ru/archive/times/936/top/t_11445.htm; Galina Stolyarova,
"Mathematicians Dissect a Miracle," The Moscow Times,
21 January 2004, www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2004/01/21/003.html.