Moses - Strange But True!
Moses v. the Bad Samaritan
The claim that the Koran was sent down to correct errors in the Bible would be more believable if that holy book was not so full of inconsistencies and contradictions of the type not found in the other holy book, and if Allah’s varied retellings of stories found in the Bible were more consistent.
The Prophet’s contemporaries, as Allah reminds us in numerous verses accused His Greatest Messenger of:
1) fabrications [25:4],
2) plagiarizing stories from the ancient i.e. the Bible [6:25 16:24 25:5] and
3) believing everything he hears [9:61].
In reading verses about these accusations you have to wonder who was the better informed, the skeptics who could claim some empirical knowledge of past events, and looked for evidence of what had allegedly transpired, and the Prophet who insisted he was better informed because his information came directly from God.
The story about Moses and the bad Samaritan combines all three of his detractors’ accusations. See if you agree, as you struggle with the storyteller to tell a coherent story from his remembrances of oral traditions, from disparate periods of history, together with mythical characters separated by time and space.
The story of Jonas (or Jonah) who misses the boat, and Allah having to provide alternate means of transportation, if He is to save this prophet from being drowned in His Flood, is one example where the storyteller brings together characters from different millenniums. The story of Moses and the Samaritan is another.
The Samaritan story is somewhat atypical in one respect. In the transposition in place and time, the Good Samaritan of the New Testament becomes the Bad Samaritan of the Koran.
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 mixing of verses about disparate characters from different eras may not be Allah’s doing, but it is further evidence of the pell-mell fashion in which the Koran was probably thrown together.
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 all begins with Allah 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 hasten 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 to 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 is back and 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) and threw it down. That is what my soul prompted me to do."
According to Moududi, Moses, in revelation 20:97, transforms the Samaritan into a leper:
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" …
Moses: 20:97 He said: “Begone; it shall be given you in your lifetime to say: ‘Do not touch’ 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!
In Islamic traditions, Allah did not mean for the home of His greatest Messenger to be mostly a vast desert of sand. It was the Devil’s doing.
After Allah created the heavens and the earth He noticed that something was missing – that something was sand. So He sent His right-hand do-it-all angel, the Archangel Gabriel with a bag of sand to spread evenly over his creation. As Gabriel was flying over present day Arabia spreading his sand the Devil came up behind him and rip open his bag causing most of the sand to drop on the Peninsula.
Therefore, what the Samaritan probably threw down was a handful of sand.