Samiri (Islamic figure)

Samiri Qur'an 20:85 and also in 20:87 and 20:95) is the name given in the Qur'an to the creator of the Golden Calf. He was the man who tempted the Israelites to forsake the worship of Allah while Musa (Moses) was away for 40 days on Mount Sinai while he and the other Sahabah (companions) believed Musa (Moses) had died.[1] The Qur'an narrates that the Samiri gave the illusion that the idol was making a 'lowing' sound, and the Qur'an further expands upon this, narrating that the Samiri cast the dust which archangel Gabriel (Jibril) had tread upon onto the calf, [2] while some prominent exegesists narrate the sound was made due to the wind entering and exiting the statue, and some posit the sound was due to the use of the dust.[3] In sharp contrast to account given in the Hebrew Bible, the Qur'an does not blame Aaron (Haroun) for the creation of the calf and instead praises him for trying to stop the worship of the calf.[4]

The Hebrew Bible mentions Zimri as a chief instigator of the later Heresy of Peor, and does not mention him in connection with the Golden Calf. However, his sinful character is depicted both in the Bible and Quran.

In the Quran

Surah Al-Araaf (7):

{142} And We made an appointment with Musa (Moses) for thirty nights, and completed them with ten [more]; thus the tryst of his Lord was completed in forty nights. And Musa (Moses) said to Haroun (Aaron), his brother, ‘Be my successor among my people, do right and do not follow the way of the agents of corruption.’[5]

Surah Al-Qasas (28):

{34} "Haroun, my brother —he is more eloquent than me in speech. So send him with me as a helper to confirm me, for I fear that they will impugn me.'" {35} "He said, 'We will strengthen your arm by means of your brother, and invest both of you with such authority that they will not touch you. With the help of Our signs, you two, and those who follow the two of you, shall be the victors.'"[6]

Surah Ta Ha (20):

{85} He said, ‘Indeed We tried your people in your absence, and Samiri1 has led them astray.’ {86} Thereupon Musa (Moses) returned to his people, indignant and grieved. He said, ‘O my people! Did not your Lord 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?’ {87} They said, ‘We did not fail our tryst with you of our own accord, but we were laden with the weight of the people’s ornaments, and we cast them [into the fire] and so did the Samiri throw.’ {88} Then he produced for them a calf —a [lifeless] body with a low— and they said, This is your god and the god of Musa (Moses), so he forgot! {89} Did they not see that it did not answer them, nor could it bring them any benefit or harm? {90} Haroun (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!’[7]

95. [Moses] said, "And what is your case, O Samiri?" 96. He said, "I saw what they did not see, so I took a handful [of dust] from the track of the messenger and threw it, thus did my soul entice me." 97. [Moses] said, "Then go. And indeed, it is [decreed] for you in [this] life to say, 'No contact.' And indeed, you have an appointment [in the Hereafter] you will not fail to keep. And look at your 'god' to which you remained devoted. We will surely burn it and blow it [i.e., its ashes] into the sea with a blast. 98. Your god is only Allah, except for whom there is no deity. He has encompassed all things in knowledge." Surah Taha Ayat 95-98 Sahih international

1 He was one of the Sahabah (Companions) of the Prophet Musa (AS)

In the Baha'i Faith

The Bahá'í Faith sees Samiri as a magician who led people away from the "knowledge and justice" of Moses to ignorance. He is mentioned in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, the primary theological work of the Baha'i religion.

See also


  1. The Qur'an, Surah Ta Ha, Ayah 85
  2. The Qur'an, Surah Ta Ha, Ayah 95
  3. Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Cyril Glasse, As-Samiri
  4. The Qur'an, Surah Ta Ha, Ayah 92-23
  5. The Qur'an, Surah Al-Araf, Ayah 142
  6. The Qur'an, Surah Al-Qasas, Ayah 34-35
  7. The Qur'an, Surah Ta Ha, Ayah 85-90
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