Shared Prophets

Moses II

Moses vs. the Bad Samaritan

Shared ProphetsThe Bad Samaritan story is somewhat atypical of tales from the Bible that have made into the Koran in one respect: the transposition is in both place and time. The Good Samaritan of the New Testament becomes the Bad Samaritan of the Koran during the Exodus.

The Samaritans emerged as “an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant peoples… after the Assyrian conquest of the Israelite Kingdom of Israel in approximately 721 BCE” (Wiki) at least two thousand years after Moses. The idea that a Samaritan would be part of the Hebrew exodus out of Egypt is not realistic to say the least. The story of Moses and the Bad Samaritan reads a bit like a play from antiquity, so I will present it that way (the Koran as a play—now, there’s an idea!). It begins with God asking Moses what he is doing, rushing headlong ahead of his people?

Allah: 20:83 “What has led you to go ahead of your people, O Moses?”

Moses: 20:84 He said: “Those people are on my tracks, so I have hastened towards You, O Lord, that you may be well-pleased."

Allah: 20:85 He said: “We have tried your people after you left and the Samaritan has led them astray.”

Hearing this, Moses decides to go back and give his people a piece of his mind.

20:86 So, Moses went back to his people furious and sorrowful. He said: “O my people, has not your Lord made a fair promise to you? Has the promise, then, been protracted for you? Or did you want your Lord’s anger to overtake you, and so you broke your promise to me?”

It was all the Samaritan’s fault.

The People: 20:87 They said: “We have not broken the promise to you by our choice, but we have been forced to carry loads of the people’s finery and so we threw them away, as the Samaritan also did.”

That finery was obviously not thrown away but used by the Samaritan to make that infuriating calf of gold.

Allah 20:88 Then he produced for them a calf – a mere body which lowed; and so they said: “This is your god and the god of Moses, but he has forgotten.”

Allah: 20:89 Do they not see that it does not return any reply to them and does not have the power to harm or profit them?

Aaron: 20:90 Aaron had said to them before: “O my people, you have been tried by it and your Lord is truly the Compassionate. Follow me, then, and obey my order.”

The People: 20:91 They said: “We will not stop worshipping it, till Moses comes back to us.”

Moses seizes his brother by the beard.

Moses: 20:92 He said: “O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray,

Moses: 20:93 “From following me. Have you, then, disobeyed my order?

Aaron: 20:94 He said: “Son of my mother, do no seize me by the beard or the head, I feared that you would say: ‘You have caused division among the Children of Israel and did not observe my words.’”

Moses then turns his attention to the Samaritan.

Moses: 20:95 He said: “What is the matter with you, O Samaritan?”

Samaritan: 20:96 He said: “I perceived what you did not perceive, and so I grasped a handful of dust from the messenger’s trail (Gabriel[52]) and threw it down. That is what my soul prompted me to do."

Moses: 20:97 He said: “Begone; it shall be given you in your lifetime to say: ‘Do not touch’[53] and you shall be given a promise which you shall not break. Look then at your god, whom you continued to worship. We shall burn him; then We shall scatter his ashes in the sea.”

Moses (or Allah): 20:98 Surely, your God is only Allah; there is no god but He. He has knowledge of all things.

Allah: 20:99 That is how We relate to you some of the stories of things past; and We have imparted to you a reminder from Us (this Qur’an).

20:100 Whoever turns away from it will bear a heavy burden on the Day of Resurrection;

20:101 Abiding therein (in this state) forever. And what a wretched burden they will bear on the Day of Resurrection!


[52] In Islamic traditions, God did not mean for the home of His greatest Messenger to be mostly a vast desert of sand. This was the Devil’s doing. After Allah created the heavens and the earth, He noticed something was missing; that something was sand. He sent His do-it-all angel, Gabriel, with a bag of sand to spread evenly over His creation. As Gabriel was flying over present-day Arabia, the Devil came up behind him and ripped open his bag, causing most of the sand to drop onto the Peninsula. Therefore, what the Samaritan threw down was probably a handful of sand.

[53] “The words (‘Do not touch’) show that he was not only made an outcast for life but was made to inform the people himself that he was an outcast. We conclude from this that either he was inflicted with leprosy as a scourge by Allah; or the punishment inflicted on him was that, being a moral leper." Moududi