In the end, Fir’oun drowned. He drowned and was killed—along with all his troops, soldiers, cavalry, equipment and weapons. His pursuit of Prophet Musa (alayh as-Salaam) and the Bani Israel ended in utter ruin and complete failure, and Allah made his horrible end an example for the world.
But why was this pagan king, Fir’oun (also known as Pharaoh), chasing Musa and his followers? What was the quarrel between the two of them? How did Allah save Musa (alayh as-Salaam) and the believers, the Bani Israel, from their enemy? To answer these questions, we need to go further back in time and look at the relationship between the people of Musa (alayh as-Salaam) and this Egyptian king, Fir’oun.
Fir’oun was a very cruel king who used to rule Egypt. He had enslaved the Bani Israel (the descendants of Prophet Yaqoob, alayh as-Salaam) and used to treat them very badly. Not only that, but Fir’oun made the claim that he was the lord and the god of the people. The Egyptians used to worship him instead of Allah. Then Allah sent Musa (alayh as-Salaam), a man from among the Bani Israel, as a messenger and prophet. Musa went to Fir’oun and told him to believe in Allah and to worship Allah alone. He also asked this king to set the Bani Israel free. He showed Fir’oun many miracles as signs of his prophethood.
Not surprisingly, Fir’oun refused to obey Musa in either of these matters, and was full of arrogance and pride. He couldn’t understand how a great king like himself, who had control over all the riches of Egypt, obey a common person like Musa, who had no power, no wealth and was not a skilled speaker either. He tried to turn the Egyptians against Musa (alayh as-Salaam) by claiming that Musa, an Israelite, was trying to take the authority away from the Egyptians and run them out of their own country. He also accused Musa (alayh as-Salaam) of being a magician and that all the miracles of Musa were just a magician’s trick.
Finally, Allah commanded Musa (alayh as-Salaam) to take the Bani Israel with him and travel out of Egypt in the darkness of the night. As the Bani Israel were making their escape, Fir’oun found out about their plans and decided to give chase. When the Israelites reached the shore of the Red Sea, Allah sent a most amazing miracle: The water in the sea parted for them, creating a dry passage right in the middle of the sea. Musa (alayh as-Salam) and the Bani Israel crossed the sea safely and were out of Fir’oun’s reach. However, when Fir’oun tried to cross the same passage, the waves swept over him and the whole army was utterly destroyed and he and all of his men drowned together.
In this way, Allah Ta’ala showed mankind how He can punish the wrong-doers and foil their evil plans. When Allah decides to destroy a group of evil people, all their strength and all their weapons cannot save them from Allah’s punishment. At the end of the day, it was Musa (alayh as-Salaam) who was successful, even though he had no great army or force, and Fir’oun was the one who was the loser, even though he was a most powerful king with a huge army and great power. The lesson is that real success only comes from following Allah’s guidance. We should never think that just being clever or powerful is sufficient to be successful.