اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ بِجَمِیعِ مَحَامِدِه کُلِّهَا عَلَی جَمِیعِ نِعَمِهِ کُلِّهَا… اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ مالِکِ الْمُلْکِ مُجْرِی الْفُلْکِ مُسَخِّرِ الرِّیاحِ فالِقِ الاْصْباحِ دَیّانِ الدّینِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمینَ اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی حِلْمِهِ بَعْدَ عِلمِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی عَفْوِهِ بَعْدَ قُدْرَتِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی طُولِ اَناتِهِ فی غَضَبِهِ وَهُوَ قادِرٌ عَلی ما یُریدُ
All praise be to Allah with full gratitude for all His bounties. … All praise be to Allah: the master of the sovereignty, Who allows arks to flow [on seas], Who controls the winds, Who causes the day to break, Who administers the authority, and Who is the Lord of the worlds. All praise be to Allah for His forbearance despite His full knowledge. All praise be to Allah for His amnesty despite His full power. All praise be to Allah for the length of His respite during His wrath, while He is able to do whatever He wills.
و نشهد أن لا اله الا الله وحده لا شریک له، و أَنَّ محمداً عبده و رسوله ارسله بالهدی و دین الحق لیظهره علی الدین کله و لو کره المشرکون
We bear witness that there is no god but Allah. He is one and has no partners. We bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He may make it prevail over all religions, though the polytheists should be averse.
اوصیکم عبادالله و نفسی بتقوی الله و اتباع امره و نهیه، و اخوفکم من عقابه
I enjoin you, servants of Allah and myself, to have fear of God and comply with His commands and forbiddances, and warn you against His retribution.
Israelites’ Worship of the Golden Calf
As Moses’s return from Mount Sinai was delayed by ten days, the Israelites accused him of failing to fulfil his promise. According to the Bible, the people then gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him” (Exodus 32:1).
This paved the way for the malicious intentions and deceitful actions of a man named Samiri. Taking advantage of Moses’s absence and the inclination idolatry among the Children of Israel, he collected the gold and jewelry that the Israelite women had brought from Egypt, melted them down in fire, and fashioned a golden calf. The statue had a unique feature: whenever the wind blew through it, it emitted a sound reminiscent of that of a calf.
فَأَخْرَجَ لَهُمْ عِجْلًا جَسَدًا لَهُ خُوَارٌ، فَقَالُوا: هَذَا إِلَهُكُمْ وَإِلَهُ مُوسَى، فَنَسِيَ
Then he produced for them a calf—a [lifeless] body with a low—and they said, This is your god and the god of Moses, so he forgot! (Ta-Ha: 88).
In this manner, the unenlightened individuals within the Israelite community strayed from the path of monotheism and instead turned to the worship of a calf. Although Aaron advised them against worshiping the calf, they ignored his words and even became hostile towards him, nearly resorting to violence.
وَلَقَدْ قَالَ لَهُمْ هَارُونُ مِنْ قَبْلُ: يَا قَوْمِ إِنَّمَا فُتِنْتُمْ بِهِ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ الرَّحْمَنُ فَاتَّبِعُونِي وَأَطِيعُوا أَمْرِي؛ قَالُوا: لَنْ نَبْرَحَ عَلَيْهِ عَاكِفِينَ حَتَّى يَرْجِعَ إِلَيْنَا مُوسَى
Aaron had certainly told them earlier, ‘O my people! You are only being tested by it. Indeed your Lord is the All-beneficent. So follow me and obey my command!’ They had said, ‘We will keep on clinging to it until Moses returns to us.’ (Ta-Ha: 90-91)
The Quran recounts that when Moses was on Mount Sinai, God informed him that the Israelites had gone stray:
وَمَا أَعْجَلَكَ عَنْ قَوْمِكَ يَا مُوسَى؟؛ قَالَ: هُمْ أُولَاءِ عَلَى أَثَرِي وَعَجِلْتُ إِلَيْكَ رَبِّ لِتَرْضَى؛ قَالَ: فَإِنَّا قَدْ فَتَنَّا قَوْمَكَ مِنْ بَعْدِكَ وَأَضَلَّهُمُ السَّامِرِيُّ
[God said,] ‘O Moses, what has prompted you to hasten ahead of your people?’ He said, ‘They are close upon my heels, and I hurried on to You, my Lord, that You may be pleased.’ He said, ‘Indeed We tried your people in your absence, and the Samiri has led them astray.’ (Ta-Ha: 83-85)
Moses returned from the mountain to his people in state of anger and remorse. He reproached them for turning to worship of the calf despite all the blessings that God had given them and all the displays of power they had witnessed from God. The Children of Israel denied breaching their pledges willfully, insisting that they were led stray and deceived by Samiri:
فَرَجَعَ مُوسَى إِلَى قَوْمِهِ غَضْبَانَ أَسِفًا، قَالَ: يَا قَوْمِ أَلَمْ يَعِدْكُمْ رَبُّكُمْ وَعْدًا حَسَنًا؟ أَفَطَالَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْعَهْدُ أَمْ أَرَدْتُمْ أَنْ يَحِلَّ عَلَيْكُمْ غَضَبٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُمْ مَوْعِدِي؟؛ قَالُوا: مَا أَخْلَفْنَا مَوْعِدَكَ بِمَلْكِنَا، وَلَكِنَّا حُمِّلْنَا أَوْزَارًا مِنْ زِينَةِ الْقَوْمِ فَقَذَفْنَاهَا فَكَذَلِكَ أَلْقَى السَّامِرِيُّ
Thereupon Moses returned to his people, indignant and grieved. He said, ‘O my people! Did your Lord not give you a true promise? Did the period [of my absence] seem too long to you? Or did you desire that your Lord’s wrath should descend on you and so you failed your tryst with me?’ They said, ‘We did not fail our tryst with you of our own accord, but we were laden with the weight of those people’s ornaments, and we cast them [into the fire] and so did the Samiri.’ (Ta-Ha: 86-87)
Moses turned to his brother Aaron with anger written on his face, grabbing his beard and hair as he reprimanded him. He asked why Aaron had not kept the people away from deviating and why he failed when he was entrusted with the Children of Israel. Moses reminded Aaron of their conversation before he went to the mountain, when he had said,
اخْلُفْنِي فِي قَوْمِي وَأَصْلِحْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ
Be my successor among my people, and set things right and do not follow the way of the agents of corruption. (Al-Aʿraf: 142)
When Aaron saw his brother’s grief, he attempted to pacify him and convey his regrets by saying that the idolaters had intentions of killing him. He was concerned that if he had fought against them, it could have caused a significant rift among the Israelites, leading to Moses questioning, upon return, why he had created such division and ignored his advice:
وَأَلْقَى الْأَلْوَاحَ وَأَخَذَ بِرَأْسِ أَخِيهِ يَجُرُّهُ إِلَيْهِ قَالَ: ابْنَ أُمَّ إِنَّ الْقَوْمَ اسْتَضْعَفُونِي وَكَادُوا يَقْتُلُونَنِي، فَلَا تُشْمِتْ بِيَ الْأَعْدَاءَ وَلَا تَجْعَلْنِي مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ
He threw down the tablets and seized his brother by the head, pulling him towards himself. He said, ‘Son of my mother, indeed this people thought me to be weak, and they were about to kill me. So do not let the enemies gloat over me, and do not take me with the wrongdoing lot.’ (Al-Aʿraf: 150)
قَالَ يَا ابْنَ أُمَّ لَا تَأْخُذْ بِلِحْيَتِي وَلَا بِرَأْسِي، إِنِّي خَشِيتُ أَنْ تَقُولَ فَرَّقْتَ بَيْنَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَلَمْ تَرْقُبْ قَوْلِي
He said, ‘O son of my mother! Do not grab my beard or my head! I feared lest you should say, ‘‘You have caused a rift among the Children of Israel and did not heed my word [of advice].’’’ (Ta-Ha: 94)
Moses accepted Aaron’s apologies and asked God for his forgiveness:
قَالَ: رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِأَخِي وَأَدْخِلْنَا فِي رَحْمَتِكَ وَأَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ
He said, ‘My Lord, forgive me and my brother, and admit us into Your mercy, for You are the most merciful of the merciful. (Al-Aʿraf: 151)
Moses addressed Samiri, who had misguided the Israelites. He rebuked him for his actions, but Samiri retorted that he initially believed in some aspects of Moses’s religion. However, he later began to harbor doubts and ultimately abandoned it, instead gravitating towards idolatry, which he found more alluring!
قَالَ: فَمَا خَطْبُكَ يَا سَامِرِيُّ؟؛ قَالَ: بَصُرْتُ بِمَا لَمْ يَبْصُرُوا بِهِ فَقَبَضْتُ قَبْضَةً مِنْ أَثَرِ الرَّسُولِ فَنَبَذْتُهَا، وَكَذَلِكَ سَوَّلَتْ لِي نَفْسِي؛ قَالَ: فَاذْهَبْ فَإِنَّ لَكَ فِي الْحَيَاةِ أَنْ تَقُولَ لَا مِسَاسَ، وَإِنَّ لَكَ مَوْعِدًا لَنْ تُخْلَفَهُ، وَانْظُرْ إِلَى إِلَهِكَ الَّذِي ظَلْتَ عَلَيْهِ عَاكِفًا لَنُحَرِّقَنَّهُ ثُمَّ لَنَنْسِفَنَّهُ فِي الْيَمِّ نَسْفًا
He said, ‘What is your business, O Samiri?’ He said, ‘I saw what they did not see. I took a handful [of dust] from the messenger’s trail and threw it. That is how my soul prompted me.’ He said, ‘Begone! It shall be your [lot] throughout life to say, ‘‘Do not touch me!’’ Indeed, there is a tryst for you which you will not fail to keep! Now look at your god to whom you went on clinging. We will burn it down and then scatter it[s ashes] into the sea. (Ta-Ha: 95-97)