Rebuttal to Answering Islam's Article "Qur'an Contradiction: Pharaoh's Magicians - Muslims or Rejecters of Faith?"


Bassam Zawadi

NOTE: Readers are strongly advised to read this article first and then read this article to understand and grasp what this article is talking about.

There is a possible explanation to make this alleged contradiction go away.

Commentators are unsure whether the word "Qawmihee" in Surah 10:83 refers to the people of Pharaoh or the people of Israel. 

A possible explanation is that it refers to the people of Pharaoh.

Great scholars like Suyuti believed that it referred to the people of Pharaoh.

Al Jalalayn says:

"فَمَا آمَنَ لِمُوسَى إلَّا ذُرِّيَّة" طَائِفَة "مِنْ" أَوْلَاد "قَوْمه" أَيْ فِرْعَوْن

None believed in Moses except a 'Dhurriya', "a small number from" the offspring "of his peoplethat is Pharaoh... (Jalal ud-Din Siyuti, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 10:83, Source)

 It is also possible that Ibn Abbas believed that it referred to the people of Pharaoh as well.

Ibn Kathir has in his commentary:

قَالَ الْعَوْفِيّ عَنْ اِبْن عَبَّاس " فَمَا آمَنَ لِمُوسَى إِلَّا ذُرِّيَّة مِنْ قَوْمه عَلَى خَوْف مِنْ فِرْعَوْن وَمَلَئِهِمْ أَنْ يَفْتِنهُمْ " قَالَ فَإِنَّ الذُّرِّيَّة الَّتِي آمَنَتْ  لِمُوسَى مِنْ أُنَاس غَيْر بَنِي إِسْرَائِيل مِنْ قَوْم فِرْعَوْن                                                                                                                                         

Al Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas: "NONE believed in Moses except some of the children of HIS people in fear of Pharoah and his people harming them"  He (Al Awfi) said that the offspring that believed in Moses are from people besides the people of Israel, they are the people of Pharaoh. (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Commentary on Surah 10:83, Source

Tabari has it in his commentary:

حَدَّثَنِي مُحَمَّد بْن سَعْد , قَالَ : ثَنِي أَبِي , قَالَ : ثَنِي عَمِّي , قَالَ : ثَنِي أَبِي , عَنْ أَبِيهِ , عَنْ اِبْن عَبَّاس : { فَمَا آمَنَ لِمُوسَى إِلَّا ذُرِّيَّة مِنْ قَوْمه عَلَى خَوْف مِنْ  فِرْعَوْن وَمَلَئِهِمْ أَنْ يَفْتِنَهُمْ } قَالَ : كَانَتْ الذُّرِّيَّة الَّتِي آمَنَتْ لِمُوسَى مِنْ أُنَاس غَيْر بَنِي إِسْرَائِيل مِنْ  قَوْم  فِرْعَوْن                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Muhammad ibn Sa'ad informed me...(the whole chain of narration). that Ibn Abbas said: The "Dhurria" that believed in Moses were from people other than Bani Israel, they were from the people of Pharaoh.

  وَقَدْ رُوِيَ عَنْ اِبْن عَبَّاس خَبَر يَدُلّ عَلَى خِلَاف هَذَا الْقَوْل                                                                          

There was another reported narration from Ibn Abbas that contradicted this view. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 10:83, Source)

As we see, it is possible that Ibn Abbas might have said this. As I showed above, this was also the opinion of Suyuti. Scholars are not unanimous on which people the word "Qawmihee" refers to. However, it is possible that it is the people of Pharaoh since Surah 10:85 shows that all or the majority of the people of Israel believed in Moses.

Answering Islam presents some arguments to try and show that not all the people of Israel believed.

They show verses from the Quran where the people of Israel made a calf and worshipped it, therefore showing that they were disbelievers. This occurred after they proclaimed faith in Surah 10:85. But this shows no problem. Isn't it possible that they believed in Surah 10:85 and then disbelieved (apostatized) later on when they worshipped the calf? Maybe they truly believed in Allah as their God at the time when they were desperate to be saved (10:86), but then once they were saved, they went back to their old ways. Isn't that a possibility? 

Answering Islam also presents Surah 28:76-82 to show that Qarun (was from the people of Israel) was a disbeliever. However, we do not know exactly when the earth swallowed up Qarun. 

This story of Qarun might have taken place before they get out of Egypt for

Allah the Almighty says: {So, We caused the earth to swallow him and his

dwelling place}, or it might have taken place after that during the Diaspora.

Allah knows best! (Ibn Kathir, Stories of the Quran, Chapter 6: The Story of Qarun (Korah): Translated by Ali As-Sayed Al Halawani) 

 But either way, we do not have a problem. If it was before they left Egypt, then Qarun was already dead when the people of Israel said they believed in Surah 10:85. Or if it was after they left Egypt, then it's possible that he became an apostate like the other Jews who worshipped the calf. 

Answering Islam also presents Surah 40:28-35, 38-46 to show that only one man from the people of Pharaoh believed, thus disproving that some believed according to Surah 10:83. However, anyone who reads the verses cannot see that. The verse no longer states that only one person ever believed in Moses from the people of Pharaoh. It is about the story of one man who believed in Moses and tried to warn Pharaoh and his followers to stop their ways and worship Allah. It does not in any way indicate that he was the only follower. When verse 46 says that the people of Pharaoh will be cast into the fire, it only refers to the believers in Pharaoh.

 Qurtubi says in his commentary:

وَآل فِرْعَوْن : مَنْ كَانَ عَلَى دِينه وَعَلَى مَذْهَبه

And the followers of Pharaoh are those who followed his religion and his ways... (Abu 'Abdullah Al-QurtubiTasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 46:40, Source) 

Answering Islam, try to present Surah 43:46-56 to show that all of Pharaoh's people were disbelievers. However, we must understand that the believer (from Surah 40:28) was hiding his faith all this time and made it seem like he believed in Pharaoh.

 But Ibn Kathir has it in his commentary...

Narrated by Ibn Hatim and there person used to conceal his faith from his Coptic people and he did not disclose it until the day Pharaoh said, "Let me kill Moses" (Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Commentary on Surah 40:28, Source)


It is most likely that the people in Surah 10:83 refer to the people of Pharaoh. This is because some of the people of Pharaoh did indeed believe in Moses.

 Surah 10:85 shows that all or the majority of the people of Israel believed in Moses at a particular point in time, and then after they were saved, they apostatized. Surah 10:85 did not state that they remained believers forever.

 Maybe another potential explanation is that Surah 10:83 only refers to the people who believed in Moses at that specific point in time (during the magic show) and that maybe the magicians were from the people of Israel. We have no evidence to suggest that the magicians were necessarily from the people of Pharaoh. Maybe they were from the people of Israel but supporters of Pharaoh. Maybe they supported Pharaoh and went against their people so that they could be safe. So, the pharaoh would just use them because they were really good at magic.

 Now, we have two possible explanations. If there is a possible explanation, Answering Islam cannot provide 100% evidence that the Quran contradicts itself. For them to do so, they would have to refute all possible explanations.

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