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The Story of the Golden Calf

I read that that Israeli Military forces closed the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron (Khaleel) in the West Bank on Tuesday, October 4th 2011, and only allowed Israeli settlers to enter it. The occupation intends to close all the corridors and courtyards of the Ibrahim Mosque, while preventing the call to prayer, on Saturday, 8 October, in connection with the Yom Kippur holiday. [Majd Qumsieh – IMEMC & Agencies] Other than the unfairness of the apartheid state of Israel, my mind went to why Yom Kippur is actually celebrated. According to the Yahoodiyy, the Jewish Day of atonement Yom Kippur, commemorates the day that God “forgave” the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf. Which brings us to the true story…

Moses (Moosa ‘Alayhis Salaam) had been gone for thirty days for purification before he could meet His Lord. He fasted and after thirty days used a piece of branch (miswaak) to clean his teeth and mouth because of the odour of his breath due to fasting. Allah then increased his time for a further ten days, which made it forty days. In his absence he had left his brother Aaron (Haroon ‘Alayhis Salaam) to keep watch of the affairs of the Bani Israeel (Children of Israel). The people of Moosa (‘Alayhis Salaam) were becoming restless, for they did not know that Allah had extended his time by a further ten days. Saamiri, a man who was inclined towards evil, suggested that they find themselves another guide. He said to them: “In order to find true guidance, you need a god, and I shall provide one for you.”
So he collected all the gold jewellery that was actually owned by Egyptian women which was now in the possession of the Bani Israeel. The Bani Israeel had felt guilt that in their escape from Egypt, they had brought along with them the gold of the Egyptians. So Saamiri’s offer didn’t seem so bad. After all they would dispose of the gold and they would gain nearness to their Lord by means of this idol (which they had sought before and were refused by Moosa ‘Alayhis Salaam). Saamiri placed it in a hole, and lit a fire to melt the gold.

Saamiri was given the ability to see the angel Jibraeel and from the footstep or hoofprint of his horse, he picked up the sand as it is believed that vegetation sprouted from the beneath the footstep of the the horses of angels. Knowing this, he picked up this earth and kept it. During the casting, he threw a handful of this dust, making actions like a magician’s to impress the ignorant. From the molten metal he fashioned a golden calf. It was hollow, and the wind passing through it produced a sound- “khuwaar” or a “lowing sound” is how the Qur’aan explains it.
وَاتَّخَذَ قَوْمُ مُوسَىٰ مِن بَعْدِهِ مِنْ حُلِيِّهِمْ عِجْلًا جَسَدًا لَّهُ خُوَارٌ ۚ أَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّهُ لَا يُكَلِّمُهُمْ وَلَا يَهْدِيهِمْ سَبِيلًا ۘ اتَّخَذُوهُ وَكَانُوا ظَالِمِينَ
The calf of course was dead and could not make a sound, but to the ignorant this was magical indeed. Since superstition was imbedded in their past, they quickly linked the strange sound to something supernatural, as if it were a living god. Some of them accepted the golden calf as their god.

Nabi Haroon (‘Alayhis Salaam) said “0 my people! You have been deceived. Your Lord is the Most Beneficent. Follow and obey me.”
They replied: “We shall stop worshipping this god only if Moosa returns.” Those who had remained steadfast in belief separated themselves from the idolaters. On his return Moosa (‘Alayhis Salaam) saw his people singing and dancing around the golden calf statue. In shock and fury of what he had observed, Moosa (‘Alayhis Salaam) dropped the sacred Tablets and he pulled the beard and hair of his brother Nabi Haroon (‘Alayhis Salaam) crying: “What held you back when you saw them going astray? From following me? Didst thou then disobey my order?” Surah Taw-haa 92-93
Haroon (‘Alayhis Salaam) replied: “0 son of my mother, Seize (me) not by my beard nor by (the hair of) my head! Truly I feared lest thou shouldst say, ‘Thou has caused a division among the children of Israel, and thou didst not respect my word!’
Moosa’s (‘Alayhis Salaam) anger began to subside when he understood the helplessness of his brother, and he began to handle the situation calmly and wisely.
Looking for answers, he turned to the people. 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 (Pharaoh’s) people, then we cast them (into the fire), and that was what Saamiri suggested.”
Then he took out (of the fire) for them a statue of a calf which seemed to low. They said: “This is your ilaah (god), and the ilaah (god) of Moosa, but (Moosa) has forgotten (his god).”
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?
And Haaroon indeed had said to them beforehand: “0 my people! You are being tried in this, and verily, your Lord is (Allah) the Most Beneficent, so follow me and obey my order.”
They said: “We will not stop worshipping it (i.e. the calf), until Moosa returns to us.” Surah Qasas: 87-91

“What then is thy case, O Saamiri?”, asked Moosa (‘Alayhis Salaam). He replied: “I saw what they saw not: so I took a handful (of dust) from the footprint of the Apostle, and threw it (into the calf): thus did my soul suggest to me.” Moosa (‘Alayhis Salaam) said “Get thee gone! but thy (punishment) in this life will be that thou wilt say, ‘touch me not’; and moreover (for a future penalty) thou hast a promise that will not fail: Now look at thy god, of whom thou hast become a devoted worshipper: We will certainly (melt) it in a blazing fire and scatter it broadcast in the sea!”

The punishment imposed upon the calf worshippers was severe- death. And (remember) when Moosa said to his people: “0 my people! Verily, you have wronged yourselves by worshipping the calf. So turn in repentance to your Creator and kill yourselves (the innocent kill the wrong-doers among you), that will be better for you in the Sight of your Creator.” Then He accepted your repentance. Truly, He is the One Who accpets repentance, the Most Merciful. Surah Baqarah: 54
The crime of worshipping the calf did not go unpunished. Allah had to teach the Bani Israeel a lesson. they would have to sacrifice indeed for their repentance to be accepted. Moosa (‘Alayhis Salaam) commanded the elite of the children of Israel to pray to Allah for forgiveness and demonstrate their repentance. He chose seventy men out of them and ordered them: “Rush towards Allah and repent for what you did and ask His forgiveness for what you left.”

Moosa (‘Alayhis Salaam) returned to Mount Sinai with the seventy elders and there he communicated with Allah. The elders heard him speak with his Lord. (Allah spoke to Moosa (‘Alayhis Salaam) directly earning him the title “Kaleemullah”) This was, perhaps, the last miracle that they would seeOne would think that such a sight would etch belief in their hearts for eternity, however their ingratitude and pride surfaced. They said: “0 Moosa! We shall never believe in you till we see Allah plainly. ” Surah Baqarah: 35
What a tragedy. How much had Allah not given the Chosen Ones of Israeel? All they cared about was their nafs, their dunyaa. Their silly demand was rewarded with lightning bolts and a violent quaking that left them dead in an instant.

Their are several similarities in the Bani Israeel and us. Not that we worship golden calf statues, but it is evident in our ingratitude and longin g desire for dunyaa, our jealousy and our small minds focused on petty, trifling issues.
May Allah purify our hearts and increase in us true faith. may we take lesson from this real life, true story and not consider it is a story of old or fable that once was.

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