Āshūrā, Karbalā and the Signs of the End-time Part



Shaykh Faheem of the Islamic Lifestyle Solutions, Durban, South Africa


In the previous article, we discussed the parallels between Āshūrā and the tragedy at Karbalā. In the following excerpt, we aim to highlight to the reader the significance of the Āshūrā from the perspective of Islāmic Eschatology with focus on the drowning and discovery of the body of the Pharaoh. We had asserted that the Pharaoh was drowned when the first sign of Nabī Mūsā u functioned as the tenth sign. Is it a coincidence that we too were told about 10 signs in the build up to the ultimate cataclysmic event known as ‘As-Sā’ah’ (The Final Hour)? There are no coincidences when the evidence at hand is so compelling. The narration detailing those 10 signs from a single narration explains,


Sayyidunā Huzhayfah bin Usayd Ghifārī رَضِیَ اللّٰہُ عَنْہُ reported, Allāh’s Messenger صَلَّی اللّٰہُ عَلَیْہِ وَسَلَّمَ came to us all of a sudden whilst we were in a discussion. He asked, ‘What are you (all) discussing?’ They (the companions) said, ‘We are discussing the Last Hour.’ Thereupon he said: ‘It (the Final Hour) will not come to pass until you see before it ten signs’. He mentioned,

  1. The Smoke (Ad-Dukhān)
  2. Dajjāl
  3. The Beast of the land (Dābbatul Ardh)
  4. The Rising of the Sun from the West,
  5. The Return of Son of Mary,
  6. Gog & Magog, (Ya’jūj and Ma’jūj)
  7. Three earthquakes (or landslides), one in the East,
  8. One in the West,
  9. One in the Arab Peninsula
  10. The last of which (he mentioned) was a Fire which will burn from Yemen and would drive the people to their Mahshar (place of assembly).[1]

For more information on the implications of these signs, kindly follow the below link:

The Ten Major Signs


The Discovery of the Body of Pharaoh as a Sign

Of the approximate one hundred and twenty four thousand Prophets u to have graced this earth, only twenty five are mentioned in the Qur’ān by name. Of those twenty five, the overwhelming majority is dedicated to the stories of the Israelite prophets. Of the Israelite prophets, Nabi Mūsa’s u story is one which occupies the majority of the space in the Qur’ān. This is by no means a coincidence as the Qur’ān is an inerrant book wherein no doubt resides (2:2).

   The verses concerning the story of Mūsa u are not located in chronological order as per the current sequence of the chapters of the Qur’ān. When we locate the chronological order of those verses and study them, it becomes clear that Allāh Y is directing our attention to the history of the Israelites, and particularly to the relationship between Nabi Mūsa u and the Pharaoh.

    Allāh Y sent Mūsa u and his brother Hārūn u to the Pharaoh with nine signs (7:133). The Pharaoh rejected each of those signs until Allāh Y inspired Mūsa u (10:87) who assembled the Banū Israīl and fled. The Pharaoh, sensing the losses he would incur at the fleeing of his Jewish slaves, decided to track them down and caught up with them at the Red Sea.

    At this moment in time, the 10th sign was revealed in the form of the Nabi Mūsa’s u striking his staff in the sea, causing it to split and in the process creating an exit across the Red Sea for the Israelites (2:50)

   The faltering Pharaoh decided to pursue them but Allāh Y had caused the pathway to close upon him and his army, causing them to drown (10:90).

   Nobody at the time was aware of the final moments of the Pharaoh until the Prophet r revealed the verses of the Qur’ān which stated that the Pharaoh (in his state of powerlessness) accepted the religion of Mūsa u (10:90), but his claim was rejected by Allāh Y on the basis of his obstinate rejection.

At that juncture Allāh Y declared,

فَالْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ آيَةً ۚ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِنَ النَّاسِ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا لَغَافِلُونَ


“This day shall We preserve you in body, that you may be a sign to those who come after you! But verily, many among humankind are heedless of Our Signs”[2]


The body of the Pharaoh could only function as a sign after it is discovered, hence when it is discovered, it will subsequently function as a ‘sign’.

The preservation and eventual discovery of the body of the Pharaoh as a sign


   The Pharaoh was the most powerful ruler of the Egyptians (who were famous for mummifying their nobles). Not only did the Qur’ān indirectly discuss the mummification of the body of the Pharaoh (as this is what was meant by preservation), but it also prophesized that his body would be discovered, and this discovery would be a sign. It can only be regarded as a sign if it is apparent for all to witness. Hence its emergence was prophesized, and its discovery foretold.

   It must have been reinvigorating for the scholars of the Qur’ān in 1881 when the body of the Pharaoh (Ramesses II) was discovered. It remained on display in the Egyptian museum until 1974 when Egyptologists noticed that the mummy’s condition was rapidly deteriorating and flew the body to Paris.

   It was here that Dr.Maurice Bucaille who was a member of the French Society of Egyptology examined the body. The body was returned to, and remains to this in the Egyptian museum for all to see.

   Three points of discussion emerge from the above verse prophesizing its emergence,

  1. The preservation and eventual discovery of the body of the pharaoh as a sign.
  1. Who was this sign intended for? Was this sign for the Christians who came after the Jews, or was it for the Muslims?
  1. Humankind’s heedlessness towards the signs.

Was this sign for the Christians who came after the Jews, or was it for the Muslims?

   Many have argued that since the people of the Pharaonic era were the Jews, that the sign would be one for the world of Christianity because they emerged as the next Ummah after the Jews. Whilst that may be true, one cannot ignore the facts which are indicative that this sign was in all probability for the attention of the Muslims, as it was first mentioned in the Qur’ān.

  • Ø The Christians were not made aware of the possibility of the emergence of the body of the Pharaoh because, whilst the Bible does make reference to the drowning of the Pharaoh, it does not discuss the possibility of the discovery of his body.
  • Ø The Qur’ān discussed the preservation and the discovery of his body as fact because it clearly stated that the discovery of Pharaoh’s body would be a sign.
  • Ø The fact that the body of the Pharaoh was discovered post-proclamation of Islām is proof that God Almighty intended this sign for the Muslim faith. If his body emerged pre-Islām, then it would have clearly been a sign for the Ummah which preceded us viz. Christians. However, its discovery post-Islām, and the evidence of his body located in the Book of Islām, is further proof to suggest that the sign was decreed particularly for the Muslims.

  That being said, the Qur’ān did not specify whether the sign would be for believers or disbelievers. It merely mentioned that it would be a sign for a later time. Toward the end of the verse it mentioned the word ‘humankind’, which constitutes all theological teachings. However, we invite the non-Muslims to view this prophecy and ask a simple question.

   How could the Qur’ān have foretold such a thing 1400yrs ago? Those who submit to a higher being, and who are willing to leave aside their bias, and exercise the rational faculty by accepting that the truth of the message of the Qur’ān, will arrive at the conclusion that only God Almighty could have mentioned a significant event of the past with this amount of historical precision, and only God Almighty could have linked that past event to an event in the future. The fact that his body remains on ‘display’ is proof of the validity of the Qur’ān.

Humankind’s heedlessness towards the signs


   Not only did the Qur’ān discuss the intimate details of the submission and rejection of the Pharaoh, but it also predicted that his body would be rediscovered, but it also went on to prophesize something else, viz. humankind’s heedlessness in identifying the signs.

   Majority of humankind are, at this very moment, so engrossed on their sojourn of life and the pursuit of this mundane world, and as corollary of that pursuit, rendering them unaware of the innumerable signs around them. Of the hundreds of Muslims I have encountered and engaged in discussion regarding the discovery of the body of the Pharaoh, the usual surprised response was, ‘I did not know that’. The same applies to the majority of humankind. We are all so busy buying burgers and building mansions that the signs of the impending final hour have eluded us.

    What is even more astounding is that whilst Islāmic scholarship was far too busy issuing verdicts against each other on subsidiary issues, it seems that another group of people saw the discovery of the body of Pharaoh as providence.

   A cursory study of global events which took place shortly thereafter reveals that in 1882 (less than a year after the discovery of the body of the Pharaoh); the first wave of a series of waves of Jewish migrations to Palestine commenced.

   It seems as though the Jews realized that if the drowning of the Pharaoh signaled their return to the Holy Land at that time, then the emergence of his body may have been considered a sign for their second return.

   How else are we to explain the close proximity between the emergence of the Pharaoh’s body and the commencement of the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, if not via the hypothesis that they were connected in history for the second time as well? It cannot be regarded as coincidence when so many variables are repeated in the historical process.

   If the story of the Pharaoh and his eventual end is anything to go by, as far as Islāmic eschatology is concerned, then we can further deduce that since the Pharaoh was sent ten signs, that the Ummah of the Prophet r be weary of the commonalities between that narrative and our own.

  • Ø The Pharaoh was sent 10 signs.
  • Ø We also have a famous narration indicating 10 major signs.
  • Ø The 10th sign came to the Pharaoh at a time when the Jews were seemingly caught between a rock and hard place.
  • Ø The current situation of the Ummah seems as though Muslims are the most persecuted nation on earth, and based on Islāmic eschatology, we may deduce that the current persecution will only increase until the emergence of that 10th sign in the form of the Return of Son of Mary, which will signal the end for the armies of Dajjāl, just as how it spelt the end for the Pharaoh.
  • Ø The drowning of the Pharaoh occurred with arrival of the 10th That 10th sign resulted in his body being lost until the appropriate time decreed by Allāh Y. Hence the rediscovery of his body may have triggered the countdown for the emergence of the 10 signs which had been foretold by this Ummah. In the end, Allāh Y knows best!

Points of Interest


  1. a) The story of the freedom of the Jews from the tyranny of Pharaoh is one which Muslims recollect every year on the 10th of Muharram (aka Āshūra). It seems as though the Prophet r wanted to ensure that the narrative of the drowning of the Pharaoh remains a well-known subject throughout his Ummah, but alas, majority of the Ummah are unaware of the Prophetic reasons regarding the fast of Āshūra.
  1. b) The story of the Pharaoh revolved around two nations viz. the Egyptians (Pharaoh and his followers) and the Israelites. In the case of the Israelites, they were slaves of a man who had displayed the worst type of arrogance by declaring himself ‘God the Most High’ (79:24). Whilst the Jews were under his command, they remained submissive until Moses u confronted Pharaoh. Once the Pharaoh was drowned, and the Israelites were ‘freed’ from the shackles of slavery, the Qur’ān immediately revealed that they too had become ‘arrogant’ (5:24). Currently, the Jews remain the only people who consider themselves the ‘chosen race’ above all. Hence, we may at this point postulate –and Allāh Y knows best – that the discovery of the body of a once-arrogant man, be recognized as a sign by a people who observe all others as beneath them. Hence is it merely a coincidence that the Zionist Jews began their well long term plot to enter the Holy Land during the period shortly followed by the discovery of Pharaoh’s body? Allāh Y knows best!


[1] Sahīh Muslim – The Book of Tribulations and Portents of the Last Hour, Chapter – The Signs Which Will Appear Before The Hour, Hadīth 2901

[2] Sūrah Yūnus, 10:92