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A Reminder for the Children of Israel of

Allah's Favors upon Them Allah reminds of His tremendous favors upon the Children of Israel and His numerous blessings. He saved them from their enemy, Fir`awn, and He relieved their eyes by drowning him and his hosts all at one time while they watched. Allah said,

﴿ وَأَغۡرَقۡنَآ ءَالَ فِرۡعَوۡنَ وَأَنتُمۡ تَنظُرُونَ

(And We drowned Fir`awn people while you were looking.) (2:50) Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "When the Messenger of Allah came to Al-Madinah, he found the Jews fasting the day of `Ashura'. Therefore he asked them about it and they said, `This is the day that Allah gave Musa victory over Fir`awn.' Then, the Prophet said,

« نَحْنُ أَوْلَى بِمُوسَى فَصُومُوه »

(We have more right to Musa (than them), so fast it.) Muslim also recorded this narration in his Sahih. Then, Allah made a covenant with Musa and the Children of Israel on the right side of the Mountain, after the destruction of Fir`awn. This is the Mountain upon which Allah spoke to Musa and He told Musa's people to look at it when they requested to see Allah. It is also the same Mountain upon which Musa was given the Tawrah, while at the same time the Children of Israel began worshipping the (statue of a) calf, as Allah relates in the forth coming Ayat. The manna and quails have previously been discussed in Surah Al-Baqarah and other Surahs. Manna was a sweet substance that descended upon them from the sky and the quail (Salwa) was a type of bird that would fall down to them. They would fill every pot with them as ample provisions until the following day. This was a kindness and a mercy from Allah upon them. It was a manifestation of Allah's good treatment of them. For this reason Allah says,

﴿ كُلُواْ مِن طَيِّبَـٰتِ مَا رَزَقۡنَـٰكُمۡ وَلَا تَطۡغَوۡاْ فِيهِ فَيَحِلَّ عَلَيۡكُمۡ غَضَبِى‌ۖ

(Eat of the Tayyibat wherewith We have provided you, and commit no transgression or oppression therein, lest My anger should justly descend on you.) This means, "Eat from this sustenance which I have provided for you, and do not transgress against My sustenance by taking it without necessity or you will be opposing what I have commanded you.''

﴿ فَيَحِلَّ عَلَيۡكُمۡ غَضَبِى‌ۖ

(lest My anger should justly descend on you.) This means, "I will become angry with you.''

﴿ وَمَن يَحۡلِلۡ عَلَيۡهِ غَضَبِى فَقَدۡ هَوَىٰ

(And he on whom My anger descends, he is indeed perished.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah related that Ibn `Abbas said, "This means that he will indeed be made miserable.'' Concerning Allah's statement,

﴿ وَإِنِّى لَغَفَّارٌ۬ لِّمَن تَابَ وَءَامَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَـٰلِحً۬ا

(And verily, I am indeed forgiving to him who repents, believes and does righteous good deeds,) meaning, "Whoever turns to Me in repentance, then I will accept his repentance regardless of whatever sin he did.'' Allah, the Exalted, even accepts the repentance of the Children of Israel who worshipped the calf. Concerning Allah's statement,

﴿ تَابَ

(who repents,) This means to turn away from what one was involved in of disbelief, associating partners with Allah, disobedience of Allah or hypocrisy. Concerning Allah's statement,

﴿ وَءَامَنَ

(and believes) This means the person's belief in his heart.

﴿ وَعَمِلَ صَـٰلِحً۬ا

(and does righteous deeds,) his action with his bodily limbs. Concerning Allah's statement,

﴿ ثُمَّ ٱهۡتَدَىٰ

(and then Ihtada.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah related that Ibn `Abbas said, "This means that he then does not doubt.'' Qatadah said,

﴿ ثُمَّ ٱهۡتَدَىٰ

(and then Ihtada.) "This means he adheres to Islam until he dies.'' We see here that there is a specific order in which these things are presented. This is similar to Allah's saying,

﴿ ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَتَوَاصَوۡاْ بِٱلصَّبۡرِ وَتَوَاصَوۡاْ بِٱلۡمَرۡحَمَةِ

(Then he became one of those who believed and recommended one another to perseverance and patience and recommended one another to pity and compassion.) (90:17)

﴿ وَمَآ أَعۡجَلَكَ عَن قَوۡمِكَ يَـٰمُوسَىٰ قَالَ هُمۡ أُوْلَآءِ عَلَىٰٓ أَثَرِى وَعَجِلۡتُ إِلَيۡكَ رَبِّ لِتَرۡضَىٰ قَالَ فَإِنَّا قَدۡ فَتَنَّا قَوۡمَكَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِكَ وَأَضَلَّهُمُ ٱلسَّامِرِىُّ فَرَجَعَ مُوسَىٰٓ إِلَىٰ قَوۡمِهِۦ غَضۡبَـٰنَ أَسِفً۬ا‌ۚ قَالَ يَـٰقَوۡمِ أَلَمۡ يَعِدۡكُمۡ رَبُّكُمۡ وَعۡدًا حَسَنًا‌ۚ أَفَطَالَ عَلَيۡڪُمُ ٱلۡعَهۡدُ أَمۡ أَرَدتُّمۡ أَن يَحِلَّ عَلَيۡكُمۡ غَضَبٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ فَأَخۡلَفۡتُم مَّوۡعِدِى قَالُواْ مَآ أَخۡلَفۡنَا مَوۡعِدَكَ بِمَلۡكِنَا وَلَـٰكِنَّا حُمِّلۡنَآ أَوۡزَارً۬ا مِّن زِينَةِ ٱلۡقَوۡمِ فَقَذَفۡنَـٰهَا فَكَذَٲلِكَ أَلۡقَى ٱلسَّامِرِىُّ فَأَخۡرَجَ لَهُمۡ عِجۡلاً۬ جَسَدً۬ا لَّهُ ۥ خُوَارٌ۬ فَقَالُواْ هَـٰذَآ إِلَـٰهُڪُمۡ وَإِلَـٰهُ مُوسَىٰ فَنَسِىَ أَفَلَا يَرَوۡنَ أَلَّا يَرۡجِعُ إِلَيۡهِمۡ قَوۡلاً۬ وَلَا يَمۡلِكُ لَهُمۡ ضَرًّ۬ا وَلَا نَفۡعً۬ا

(83. "And what made you hasten from your people, O Musa) (84. He said: "They are close on my footsteps, and I hastened to You, O my Lord, that You might be pleased.'') (85. (Allah) said: "Verily, We have tried your people in your absence, and As-Samiri has led them astray.'') (86. Then Musa returned to his people in a state of anger and sorrow (Asif). He said: "O my people! Did not your Lord promise you a fair promise Did then the promise seem to you long in coming Or did you desire that wrath should descend from your Lord on you, that you broke your promise to me'') (87. They said: "We broke not the promise to you, of our own will, but we were made to carry the weight of the ornaments of the people, then we cast them, and that was what As-Samiri suggested.'') (88. Then he took out for them a calf which was mooing. They said: "This is your god, and the god of Musa,'' but he had forgotten.) (89. Did they not see that it could not return them a word (for answer), and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good)

Musa goes to the Appointment with Allah and the Children of Israel succumb to worship the Calf

Allah relates what happened when Musa traveled with the Children of Israel after Fir`awn's destruction.

﴿ فَأَتَوۡاْ عَلَىٰ قَوۡمٍ۬ يَعۡكُفُونَ عَلَىٰٓ أَصۡنَامٍ۬ لَّهُمۡ‌ۚ قَالُواْ يَـٰمُوسَى ٱجۡعَل لَّنَآ إِلَـٰهً۬ا كَمَا لَهُمۡ ءَالِهَةٌ۬‌ۚ قَالَ إِنَّكُمۡ قَوۡمٌ۬ تَجۡهَلُونَ
﴿ إِنَّ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ مُتَبَّرٌ۬ مَّا هُمۡ فِيهِ وَبَـٰطِلٌ۬ مَّا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُونَ

(And they came upon a people devoted to some of idols. They said: "O Musa! Make for us god as they have gods.'' He said: "Verily, you are a people who know not. Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged in. And all that they are doing is in vain.'') (7:138-139) Then, Allah made a covenant with Musa of thirty nights after which He added to them ten more nights. Thus, they were forty nights in all. The covenant was that he was to fast these number of days, during both the day and night. Thus, Musa made haste to go to the Mountain and he left his brother, Harun, in charge over the Children of Israel. This is why Allah says,

﴿ وَمَآ أَعۡجَلَكَ عَن قَوۡمِكَ يَـٰمُوسَىٰ
﴿ قَالَ هُمۡ أُوْلَآءِ عَلَىٰٓ أَثَرِى

("And what made you hasten from your people, O Musa'' He said: "They are close on my footsteps.'') These means that they have arrived and are settled near the Mountain.

﴿ وَعَجِلۡتُ إِلَيۡكَ رَبِّ لِتَرۡضَىٰ

(and I hastened to You, O my Lord, that You might be pleased.) meaning, "So You will be more pleased with me.''

﴿ قَالَ فَإِنَّا قَدۡ فَتَنَّا قَوۡمَكَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِكَ وَأَضَلَّهُمُ ٱلسَّامِرِىُّ

((Allah) said: "Verily, We have tried your people in your absence, and As-Samiri has led them astray.'') Allah informs His Prophet, Musa, of what happened to the Children of Israel after he left them, and their deification of the calf that As-Samiri had made for them. During this time period, Allah wrote for Musa the Tablets, which contained the Tawrah. Allah said,

﴿ وَڪَتَبۡنَا لَهُ ۥ فِى ٱلۡأَلۡوَاحِ مِن ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ مَّوۡعِظَةً۬ وَتَفۡصِيلاً۬ لِّكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ فَخُذۡهَا بِقُوَّةٍ۬ وَأۡمُرۡ قَوۡمَكَ يَأۡخُذُواْ بِأَحۡسَنِہَا‌ۚ سَأُوْرِيكُمۡ دَارَ ٱلۡفَـٰسِقِينَ

(And We wrote for him on the Tablets the lesson to be drawn from all things and the explanation for all things (and said): "Hold unto these with firmness, and enjoin your people to take the better therein. I shall show you the home of evildoers.'') (7:145) This means, "I will show you the final outcome of what will happen to those who abandon My obedience and oppose My command.'' Concerning Allah's statement,

﴿ فَرَجَعَ مُوسَىٰٓ إِلَىٰ قَوۡمِهِۦ غَضۡبَـٰنَ أَسِفً۬ا‌ۚ

(Then Musa returned to his people in a state of anger and sorrow (Asif).) This means that after Allah informed him of what they were doing, he became extremely angry and upset with them. He was very worried for them. During this time he received the Tawrah, which contained their Shari`ah (Law), this was a great honor for them. For they were a people who used to worship other than Allah. Every person with sound reason and good sense could see that what they were doing was false and foolish. This is why Allah said that he (Musa) returned to them in a state of anger and sorrow. The word for sorrow used here is Asif, which is used to emphasize to the severity of his anger. Mujahid said, "In a state of anger and sorrow means worried.'' Qatadah and As-Suddi said, "Asif here means in a state of sadness because of what his people had done after him.''

﴿ قَالَ يَـٰقَوۡمِ أَلَمۡ يَعِدۡكُمۡ رَبُّكُمۡ وَعۡدًا حَسَنًا‌ۚ

(He (Musa) said: "O my people! Did not your Lord promise you a fair promise...'') This means, "Did He not promise you in that which I have spoken to you, every good in this life and in the Hereafter, and the good end in the final outcome of things You have already witnessed how He helped you defeat your enemy (Fir`awn) and He made you victorious over him and He blessed you with other bounties as well through His help.''

﴿ أَفَطَالَ عَلَيۡڪُمُ ٱلۡعَهۡدُ

(Did then the promise seem to you long in coming) meaning, `in waiting for what Allah had promised you and forgetting His previous favors and the covenant that He made with you before.'

﴿ أَمۡ أَرَدتُّمۡ أَن يَحِلَّ عَلَيۡكُمۡ غَضَبٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ

(Or did you desire that wrath should descend from your Lord on you, ) The word `Or' here means `Nay, but.' It is used here to separate between a previous item and a coming item. It is as if it is saying, "Nay, but you want to make permissible the anger of your Lord upon you by what you have done. Therefore, you have broken your promise to me.'' The Children of Israel said in reply to Musa's blame and rebuke,

﴿ مَآ أَخۡلَفۡنَا مَوۡعِدَكَ بِمَلۡكِنَا

(We broke not our promise to you of our own will,) Meaning by our power and our choice. Then, they began making lame excuses and they told him how they got rid of that which they were carrying of Coptic jewelry that they had borrowed from them (the Egyptian Copts) when they left Egypt. Therefore they cast it, meaning that they threw it away. Thus, it became a calf that made a moaning sound that would gradually rise in pitch. This calf was an ordeal, a hindrance and test. This is why Allah said,

﴿ فَكَذَٲلِكَ أَلۡقَى ٱلسَّامِرِىُّ فَأَخۡرَجَ لَهُمۡ عِجۡلاً۬ جَسَدً۬ا لَّهُ ۥ خُوَارٌ۬

("...that was what As-Samiri suggested.'' Then he took out (of the fire) for them (a statue of) a calf which was mooing.) Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas said,

﴿ هَـٰذَآ إِلَـٰهُڪُمۡ وَإِلَـٰهُ مُوسَىٰ

(This is your god, and the god of Musa.) "So they became religiously devoted to it (the calf) and they loved it with a love that they had never loved anything else with before. '' Allah then says,

﴿ فَنَسِىَ

(but he had forgotten.) This means that he abandoned what he was following of the religion of Islam. This is referring to As-Samiri. Allah says in refuting them and rebuking them, and also explaining to them their folly and foolishness in that which they had done,

﴿ أَفَلَا يَرَوۡنَ أَلَّا يَرۡجِعُ إِلَيۡهِمۡ قَوۡلاً۬ وَلَا يَمۡلِكُ لَهُمۡ ضَرًّ۬ا وَلَا نَفۡعً۬ا

(Did they not see that it could not return them a word (for answer), and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good) This is about the calf. `Do they not see that it does not respond to them when they ask it and when they speak to it'

﴿ وَلَا يَمۡلِكُ لَهُمۡ ضَرًّ۬ا وَلَا نَفۡعً۬ا

(and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good) Meaning in their worldly affairs and matters of the Hereafter. Ibn `Abbas said, "Nay, by Allah, the moaning sound of the calf was nothing but wind that would enter into its behind and come out of its mouth, thus causing it to make a sound.'' In a Hadith of Al-Fitun recorded from Al-Hasan Al-Basri, it is mentioned that this calf's name was Bahmut. In reference to the excuse of these ignorant people, they claimed that they were merely ridding themselves of the jewelry of the Copts. In the process of doing so, they cast the jewelry (into the pit of fire) and ended up worshipping the calf. Thus, they were seeking to rid themselves of something detestable, but wound up doing something even worse. This is similar to an authentic narration reported from `Abdullah bin `Umar. A man from `Iraq asked him about the ruling of mosquitoes' blood if it get on one's garment. The man wanted to know if it is permissible to pray in such a garment or not. Ibn `Umar replied by saying, "Look at the people of `Iraq. They killed the grandson of the Messenger of Allah , Al-Husayn, and yet they're asking about the blood of the mosquito.''

﴿ وَلَقَدۡ قَالَ لَهُمۡ هَـٰرُونُ مِن قَبۡلُ يَـٰقَوۡمِ إِنَّمَا فُتِنتُم بِهِۦ‌ۖ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنُ فَٱتَّبِعُونِى وَأَطِيعُوٓاْ أَمۡرِى قَالُواْ لَن نَّبۡرَحَ عَلَيۡهِ عَـٰكِفِينَ حَتَّىٰ يَرۡجِعَ إِلَيۡنَا مُوسَىٰ

(90. And Harun indeed had said to them beforehand: "O my people! You are being tried in this, and verily, your Lord is (Allah) the Most Gracious, so follow me and obey my order.'') (91. They said: "We will not stop worshipping it, until Musa returns to us.'')

Harun prohibits them from worship of Calf and the Persistence of the Children of Israel in doing so

Allah, the Exalted, informs of Harun's attempt to prohibit them from worshipping the calf and his telling them that this was only a test for them. He told them that their Lord was the Most Beneficent, Who created everything and decreed for everything its just measure. He is the Owner of the Mighty Throne, the One Who does whatever He wants.

﴿ فَٱتَّبِعُونِى وَأَطِيعُوٓاْ أَمۡرِى

(so follow me and obey my order.) Meaning, "Follow me in that which I am commanding you with and leave that which I forbid you from.''

﴿ قَالُواْ لَن نَّبۡرَحَ عَلَيۡهِ عَـٰكِفِينَ حَتَّىٰ يَرۡجِعَ إِلَيۡنَا مُوسَىٰ

(They said: "We will not stop worshipping it, until Musa returns to us.'') meaning, "We will not cease in our worship of this calf until we hear what Musa has to say about it.'' So they opposed Harun in this matter and they fought against him, nearly killing him.

﴿ قَالَ يَـٰهَـٰرُونُ مَا مَنَعَكَ إِذۡ رَأَيۡتَهُمۡ ضَلُّوٓاْ أَلَّا تَتَّبِعَنِ‌ۖ أَفَعَصَيۡتَ أَمۡرِى قَالَ يَبۡنَؤُمَّ لَا تَأۡخُذۡ بِلِحۡيَتِى وَلَا بِرَأۡسِىٓ‌ۖ إِنِّى خَشِيتُ أَن تَقُولَ فَرَّقۡتَ بَيۡنَ بَنِىٓ إِسۡرَٲٓءِيلَ وَلَمۡ تَرۡقُبۡ قَوۡلِى

(92. (Musa) said: "O Harun! What prevented you when you saw them going astray;'') (93. "That you followed me not (according to my advice to you) Have you then disobeyed my order'') (94. He (Harun) said: "O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard, nor by my head! Verily, I feared lest you should say: `You have caused a division among the Children of Israel, and you have not respected my word!''')

What happened between Musa and Harun after Musa returned

Allah informs of what happened when Musa returned to his people and saw the great matter that had taken place among them. With this he became filled with anger and he threw down the Divine Tablets that he had in his hand. Then, he grabbed his brother Harun by his head and pulled him towards himself. We expounded upon this previously in Surat Al-A`raf, where we mentioned the Hadith,

« لَيْسَ الْخَبَرُ كَالْمُعَايَنَة »

(Information is not the same as observation.) Then, he began to blame his brother, Harun, by saying,

﴿ مَا مَنَعَكَ إِذۡ رَأَيۡتَهُمۡ ضَلُّوٓاْ أَلَّا تَتَّبِعَنِ‌ۖ

(What prevented you when you saw them going astray; that you followed me not) meaning, "You should have informed me of this matter as soon as it happened.''

﴿ أَفَعَصَيۡتَ أَمۡرِى

(Have you then disobeyed my order) "In that which I entrusted to you,'' referring to Musa's statement,

﴿ ٱخۡلُفۡنِى فِى قَوۡمِى وَأَصۡلِحۡ وَلَا تَتَّبِعۡ سَبِيلَ ٱلۡمُفۡسِدِينَ

(Replace me among my people, act in the right way and follow not the way of the mischief-makers.) (7:142)

﴿ قَالَ يَبۡنَؤُمَّ

(He (Harun) said: "O son of my mother!'') This mentioning of the mother was Harun's attempt to soften Musa's anger, because he was Musa's biological brother and they had the same parents. The mentioning of the mother here is more delicate and profound in bringing about gentleness and mildness. This is why he said,

﴿ يَبۡنَؤُمَّ لَا تَأۡخُذۡ بِلِحۡيَتِى وَلَا بِرَأۡسِىٓ‌ۖ

(O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard, nor by my head!) This was Harun's excuse to Musa for being delayed from coming to him and informing him of the great mishap that took place. He said,

﴿ إِنِّى خَشِيتُ

(Verily, I feared) meaning, "I was afraid to come after you and inform you of this, because I thought you might accuse me of leaving them alone and causing division between them.''

﴿ وَلَمۡ تَرۡقُبۡ قَوۡلِى

(and you have not respected my word!) This means, "And you did not take care of what I commanded you to do when I left you in charge of them.'' Ibn `Abbas said, "Harun was respectful and obedient to Musa.''

﴿ قَالَ فَمَا خَطۡبُكَ يَـٰسَـٰمِرِىُّ قَالَ بَصُرۡتُ بِمَا لَمۡ يَبۡصُرُواْ بِهِۦ فَقَبَضۡتُ قَبۡضَةً۬ مِّنۡ أَثَرِ ٱلرَّسُولِ فَنَبَذۡتُهَا وَڪَذَٲلِكَ سَوَّلَتۡ لِى نَفۡسِى قَالَ فَٱذۡهَبۡ فَإِنَّ لَكَ فِى ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ أَن تَقُولَ لَا مِسَاسَ‌ۖ وَإِنَّ لَكَ مَوۡعِدً۬ا لَّن تُخۡلَفَهُ ۥ‌ۖ وَٱنظُرۡ إِلَىٰٓ إِلَـٰهِكَ ٱلَّذِى ظَلۡتَ عَلَيۡهِ عَاكِفً۬ا‌ۖ لَّنُحَرِّقَنَّهُ ۥ ثُمَّ لَنَنسِفَنَّهُ ۥ فِى ٱلۡيَمِّ نَسۡفًا إِنَّمَآ إِلَـٰهُكُمُ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِى لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ‌ۚ وَسِعَ ڪُلَّ شَىۡءٍ عِلۡمً۬ا

(95. (Musa) said: "And what is the matter with you. O Samiri'') (96. (Samiri) said: "I saw what they saw not, so I took a (Qabdah) handful (of dust) from the (hoof) print of the messenger and threw it. Thus my inner self suggested to me.'') (97. Musa said: "Then go away! And verily, your (punishment) in this life will be that you will say: `Touch me not;' and verily, you have a promise that will not fail. And look at your god to which you have been devoted. We will certainly burn it, and scatter its particles in the sea.'') (98. Your God is only Allah, there is no God but Him. He has full knowledge of all things.)