In the Quran, the most cited villain after the devil is the Pharoah of Moses.
Why did Allah put so much emphasis on this persona?
Because will have to deal with the kinds of the Pharoah.
Their tactics of oppression are so efficient that Allah had to warn His Messenger against them:
“So be patient, for the promise of Allah certainly is true: do not let those with no firm beliefs discourage you.” [Quran 30:60]
It is also a warning for us.
Pharoah’s tactics will be used over and over again.
And they are so powerful that they can weaken an entire nation to an unprecedented level.
Which level of weakness we’re talking about?
The level where someone can come to your home regularly, kill your boys, and you won’t do anything about it.
Yeah, it’s not a bedtime story!
But how do we become an efficient oppressor and an example for the ones to come?
First, Set The Stage
In “Ordinary Men”, Christopher Browning shows that the Holocaust happened at the hands of average Germans.
Before becoming the cold-blooded killers, they went through a psychological transformation.
To reach this level where people’s ability to think and behave rationally is broken, the leader needs to divide the population.
It’s hard to keep control of one unified group. They become too strong to manage.
A respectable oppressor divides the people into different classes that don’t mix.
You can do so by highlighting the differences. Constantly.
This is how you have proximity between people without commonality.
It becomes then easier to treat differently a fraction of society.
One group is isolated and weakened. The other group is busy taking advantage of them.
Meanwhile, the leader has control of both and remains powerful.
Second, Increase The Intensity
William Shakespeare wrote:
O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
When you are strong, you don’t resort to extreme force.
You do that only when you are insecure.
And this is what oppressors try to hide.
To do so, they need to create the perception of weakness in the other part.
The Pharoah was old but pretending strength.
The Israelites were numerous but easy to step on them.
Oppressors rely on psychological weapons first.
They want you to feel weak and worthless.
They agitate you and calm you down.
This alternation keeps the oppressed emotionally unstable and thus easy to control.
Then you can remove their civil rights just like you remove the petals of a flower. One at a time.
Kick them out of their homes, isolate them from the rest of the society, reduce their job options, and so on so forth.
Do this for a while until the oppressed are dehumanized, then you can safely remove their human rights.
In general, revolts are carried by young men.
So the Pharaoh’s strategy makes sense. If he kills the Israelites’ male children, he crushes any possibility of a future uprising.
That’s why he resorted to the ultimate control tactic.
But there’s only one thing he didn’t consider. Allah.
“Pharoah made himself high and mighty in the land and divided the people into different groups: one group he oppressed, slaughtering their sons and sparing their women—he was one of those who spread corruption—but We wished to favor those who were oppressed in the land, to make them leaders, the ones to survive, to establish them in the land, and through them show Pharoah, Haman, and their armies the very thing they feared.” [Quran 28:4]
The Israelites couldn’t be the inheritors by any stretch of the imagination.
All you could see is killings and beatings.
How that’s going to happen?
Just as Allah wanted it to happen.
Our minds are narrow and unable to conceive solutions for extreme situations.
But Allah’s possibilities are infinite.
In the end, He makes the fear of the oppressor comes true.
Final Thoughts On the Pharoah’s Legacy
There is no shortage of oppressors’ stories. They lose everything they’ve tried so hard to build.
As Mark Twain said:
“History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, but It Often Rhymes.”
Unfortunately, today’s oppressors are as dumb as those who preceded them.
I’m sure you’ll find parallels with the situation of many Muslims.
Depending on the country, they’re going through different stages of oppression.
But just as Allah reminded His messenger, we need to remain confident and have faith.
Bad times carry the seeds of good times.
After the devastation of the Mongols came the Ottoman empire.
We can’t conceive what we can’t imagine. But it doesn’t mean help won’t come.
“When will Allah’s help come? Indeed, Allah’s help is always near.” [Quran 2:214]
Article published: May 25, 2022
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