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Allah is Merciful; Why Did He Refuse Pharaoh’s Repentance?

Compiled by Reading Islam Team.

Allah accepts repentance from whomever realizes his sins, turns to Him and repents. And Allah gives us chance after chance to turn to Him; He, the Most Merciful, tirelessly accepting our repentance from sin after sin, again and again.

However, the last minute repentance, when we are in our deathbeds seeing angels of death coming to take our souls, realizing that we should turn to Allah in repentance, is not accepted.

Prophet Muhammad said:

“Whoever repents before the death rattle reaches his throat, Allah will accept it from him” (Ahmad) 

And this was the case of Pharaoh. He was given message after message, warning after warning, threatening after threatening, all doors of repentance were wide open for him if he chose to repent but his arrogance prevented him from repenting and he didn’t repent until he was facing death.

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Allah says in the Quran:

{And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, “I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims.”

Now? And you had disobeyed [Him] before and were of the corrupters?” (10: 90-91)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“When Allah drowned Pharaoh, he said: I believe in the one in whom the children of Israel believe. Gabriel said: ‘O Muhammad! If you could only have seen me, while I was taking (the mud) from the sea, and filling his mouth out of fear that the mercy would reach him.’” (At-Tirmidhi)

The Pharaoh did not believe in Allah until he was drowning and saw death; so his last minute repentance was not accepted because it was too late.

So any repentance at the face of death is not accepted. Allah says:

{The repentance accepted by Allah is only for those who do wrong in ignorance [or carelessness] and then repent soon after. It is those to whom Allah will turn in forgiveness, and Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

 And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: “Now I repent;” nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.} (4:17-18)

Pharaoh’s lifeless body is saved as a sign for those who come afterwards. Allah says in the Quran:

{So today We will save you in body that you may be to those who succeed you a sign. And indeed, many among the people, of Our signs, are heedless.} (10:92)