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The Debate between the Might and the Truth within a Quranist Vision (11):
The Disobedience of the Israelites during the Absence of Moses at Mount Al-Tur

The Debate between the Might and the Truth within a Quranist Vision (11):

The Disobedience of the Israelites during the Absence of Moses at Mount Al-Tur

Published in December 29, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

About the vast majority of human beings in general:

 In fact, the vast majority of human beings, in all eras till the end of days, are both misguided and misguiding and never believe in God except within polytheism: "If you were to obey most of those on earth, they would divert you from God's Path. They follow nothing but assumptions, and they only conjecture." (6:116); "But most people, for all your eagerness, are not believers." (12:103); "And most of them do not believe in God unless they associate others." (12:106).  

 

The vast majority and the minority among the people of Muhammad:

1- The Quranic pattern/discourse addresses the vast majority as if they were all people within a given community; e.g., about Qorayish tribe, the people of Muhammad, we read that they denied the Quran: "But your people rejected it, though it is the Truth..." (6:66). This does NOT mean that there were no real believers among the Qorayish tribe; rather, the verse 6:66 refers to the vast majority of them, as there was a minority among them who immigrated to Yathreb while leaving behind their homes, possessions, assets, and money in Mecca and suffered poverty in Yathreb; God has dedicated for them money shares from the money entering into the Treasury of the Yathreb city-state in times of peace (i.e., not spoils): "To the poor refugees who were driven out of their homes and their possessions, as they sought the favor of God and His approval, and came to the aid of God and His messenger. These are the sincere." (59:8). Thus, God has praised this sincere and believing minority among the people of Muhammad. 

2- God says in the Quran: "The Desert-Arabs are the most steeped in disbelief and hypocrisy, and the most likely to ignore the limits that God revealed to His messenger..." (9:97). This does not indicate all of the Desert-Arabs, but the majority of them. Proof: God says the following about some of them (who are a minority): "Yet among the Desert-Arabs are those who believe in God and the Last Day, and consider their contribution to be a means towards God, and the prayers of the messenger. Surely it will draw them closer, and God will admit them into His mercy. God is Forgiving and Compassionate." (9:99).

 

The vast majority and the minority among the Israelites:

1- The same applies to the Quranic discourse about the people of Moses' Pharaoh; i.e., the term ''people'' here indicates the vast majority and NOT every single one of them: "Thus he fooled his people, and they obeyed him. They were sinning people." (43:54). Proof: there were believing people among the people of Moses' Pharaoh like the Pharaonic prince who preached the retinue members and Pharaoh's wife who is mentioned as an exemplary believer in the Quran. 

2- The same applies to the Quranic discourse about the Israelites: "In his absence, the people of Moses adopted a calf - a body which bellowed. Did they not see that it could not speak to them, nor guide them in any way? They took it for worship. They were unjust ones." (7:148). This does not mean all members of the Israelites; rather, this indicates the vast majority among the Israelites, because there were a believing minority among the Israelites during Moses' lifetime who preached the Truth and judged fairly and justly: "Among the people of Moses is a community that guides by truth, and thereby does justice." (7:159).

3- Within the Israelite men, there was a frantic treasure-hunting as everyone tried to amass and hoard as much as possible from the wealth of the Egyptians, after the destruction of Pharaoh and his people, Quaroon emerged as a 'national hero' as the most affluent person among them with power and authority; yet, some believing Israelite men (and not Moses or Aaron) preached Quaroon: "...His people said to him, "Do not exult; God does not love the exultant. But seek, with what God has given you, the Home of the Hereafter, and do not neglect your share of this world. And be charitable, as God has been charitable to you. And do not seek corruption in the land. God does not like the seekers of corruption." He said, "I was given all this on account of knowledge I possess." Did he not know that God destroyed many generations before him, who were stronger than he, and possessed greater riches? But the guilty will not be asked about their sins. And he went out before his people in his splendor. Those who desired the worldly life said, "If only we possessed the likes of what Quaroon was given. He is indeed very fortunate." But those who were given knowledge said, "Woe to you! The reward of God is better for those who believe and do righteous deeds." Yet none attains it except the patient ones." (28:76-80). 

4- Yet, all of the Israelites passed the test of adversity successfully as they bore patiently with the severe persecution of Moses' Pharaoh, who eventually drowned along with his arrogant, sinful retinue members, whereas the Israelites became successors in the land of Egypt temporarily before being commanded to march to the Promised Land. Earlier, Moses advised the Israelites to be patient: "...Seek help in God, and be patient. The earth belongs to God. He gives it in inheritance to whomever He wills of His servants, and the future belongs to the righteous." (7:128). The Israelites were rewarded for their patience: "And We made the oppressed people inherit the eastern and western parts of the land, which We had blessed. Thus the fair promise of your Lord to the Israelites was fulfilled, because of their endurance. And We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people had built, and what they had harvested." (7:137). The believing ones among the Israelites were made by God as imams/leaders of guidance because of their adhering to patience and faith: "And We appointed imams from among them, guiding by Our command, as long as they persevered and were certain of Our Verses." (32:24).   

 

The vast majority of the Israelites between Moses and Aaron:

1- We note that after God has answered their prayers, God has warned Moses and Aaron against following the path of the misguided ones who did not know the True Faith: "He said, "Your prayers have been answered, so go straight, and do not follow the path of those who do not know."" (10:89). Moses deputized Aaron before going to receive the Torah Tablets at Mount Al-Tur in Sinai, and he advised him as follows: "...And Moses said to his brother Aaron: "Take my place among my people, and be upright, and do not follow the way of the corrupters."" (7:142).

2- Moses said the following to the Israelites when they were suffering the severe persecution inflicted on them by Pharaoh: "...Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy, and make you successors in the land; then He will see how you behave." (7:129). All of the Israelite people passed the test of adversity successfully by their faith, patience, and steadfastness. Yet, the vast majority has lost the test of prosperity when the Israelites inherited the treasures of Egypt as successors in the land; Quaroon the affluent, corrupt one emerged and other corrupters/sinners emerged after him. This is why Moses warned Aaron against obeying the corrupters among the Israelites; once Moses left them for his appointment with the Lord God at Mount Al-Tur to receive the Torah Tablets, the misguided ones among the Israelites (i.e., the majority of the people of Moses) worshiped a golden calf, which is the Pharaonic god the Apis (which was in the form of a calf or an ox).     

 

Between Moses and Aaron in relation to the Israelites:

1- Pondering on the story of Moses, we infer that Moses passed the early years of his life in Egypt within the society of Pharaoh and his people – relatively away from the Israelites who were his real people. Moses ran away and settled in Madian, where he lived for about 10 years away from Egypt and from the persecution and plight inflicted on the Israelites, and he probably forgot the language of the Ancient Egyptians partially upon his return to Egypt, in contrast to his brother Aaron who never left Egypt at this point in time and remained closer to the Israelites. This is why Moses implored God for making Aaron as a messenger/prophet to help him with his eloquence: "And my brother Aaron, he is more eloquent than me, so send him with me, to help me, and to confirm my words, for I fear they will reject me."" (28:34).  

2- Moses was brought up inside the palace of Pharaoh while knowing about his Israelite origin, and this made him apprehensive, as he anticipated dangers and threats all the time, and very nervous, as he  got furious and violent easily; this is why he was not very much of a favorite among the Israelites, unlike his brother Aaron. In fact, Aaron lived and was brought up among the Israelites and he suffered the Pharaonic persecution like them in submission and patience. Thus, Aaron was nearer to the Israelites and very much like them, especially because he was easily dominated and controlled, and this appeared clearly when the Israelites were successors in the land and some of them grew in might, power, and wealth as corrupters/sinners who harmed Moses and threatened Aaron.      

3- The vast majority of the Israelite men (not all of them, as we have explained above) verbally harmed Moses though they knew he was the messenger of God sent to them. This is used in the Quranic warning which has been addressed to the people/companions of Muhammad: "O you who believe! Do not be like those who harmed Moses; but God cleared him of what they said. He was distinguished with God." (33:69); "When Moses said to his people, "O my people, why do you harm me, although you know that I am God's messenger to you?" And when they swerved, God swerved their hearts. God does not guide the sinful people." (61:5). 

4- Aaron has remained popular within the Israelite or Hebrew heritage and culture, and his name has been used by many generations within the contexts of praise or reproach using the expressions (O brother of Aaron! / O sister of Aaron!); e.g., because she was unmarried, Mary carried Jesus as a baby and her people felt astonished and rebuked her using this expression: "Then she came to her people, carrying him. They said, "O Mary, you have done something terrible. O sister of Aaron! Your father was not an evil man, and your mother was not a whore."" (19:27-28).  

 

The Israelites worshipped the golden calf (the Pharaonic god Apis) during the absence of Moses in his appointment with God at Mount Al-Tur of Sinai:

1- The vast majority of the Israelites were relieved temporarily from the sternness, firmness, and fury of Moses when he left them to head for Mount Al-Tur to receive the Torah Tablets; they were so deeply and negatively influenced by the religion of the Ancient Egyptians, despite their belief in God – this is because most human beings who claim to be believers never believe in God except within polytheism.   

2- Quaroon emerged with his treasures as a 'national hero' or a popular leader among the Israelites, and after the ground caved in on him as a penalty for his sins and his corruption, another popular leader, but this time a 'religious hero', emerged during the absence of Moses. This man was surnamed as Al-Samiri, who gathered all the golden ornaments that were with the Israelites (who took them from the Egyptians) to melt this gold to fashion the golden calf (or the Pharaonic god Apis) to make most Israelites worship it. This means that the larger parts of ornaments, gold, and treasures of Pharaoh and of his retinue members and family members were hunted, dug, and confiscated by Quaroon who owned such treasures and then, because of his sins and corruption, God caused the ground to cave in on him, along with such treasures and his mansion. The tiny remaining part was the ornaments that were taken by the Israelites who stole them from the corpses of Pharaoh and his troops after they drowned when the waves had thrown their dead bodies to the shore. Al-Samiri convinced the vast majority of the Israelites – who were polytheists – to give him the gold ornaments to fashion the golden calf, and he told him that this golden calf was their god and the god of Moses! Such an act of polytheism occurred during the absence of Moses.    

3- God says in the Quran: "In his absence, the people of Moses adopted a calf made from their ornaments - a body which bellowed. Did they not see that it could not speak to them, nor guide them in any way? They took it for worship. They were unjust ones. Then, when they regretted, and realized that they had erred, they said, "Unless our Lord extends His mercy to us, and forgives us, we will be among the losers."" (7:148-149). Moses was told by God during the second appointment at Mount Al-Tur, after he received the Torah, of the grave sin committed by the Israelites: ""And what made you rush ahead of your people, O Moses?" He said, "They are following in my footsteps; and I hurried on to You, my Lord, that you may be pleased." He said, "We have tested your people in your absence, and Al-Samiri misled them."" (20:83-85).

4- Feeling extremely furious, Moses returned to his people and he vented his anger on Aaron at first: "And when Moses returned to his people, angry and disappointed, he said, "What an awful thing you did in my absence. Did you forsake the commandments of your Lord so hastily?" And he threw down the tablets; and he took hold of his brother's head, dragging him towards himself. He said, "Son of my mother, the people have overpowered me, and were about to kill me; so do not allow the enemies to gloat over me, and do not count me among the unjust people."" (7:150); "He said, "O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray? Are you following me? Did you disobey my command?" He said, "Son of my mother, do not seize me by my beard or my head. I feared you would say, `You have caused division among the Israelites, and did not regard my word.'"" (20:92-94).

5- Moses addressed the Israelites in an angry manner as he rebuked them: "So Moses returned to his people, angry and disappointed. He said, "O my people, did your Lord not promise you a good promise? Was the time too long for you? Or did you want wrath from your Lord to descend upon you, so you broke your promise to me?" They said, "We did not break our promise to you by our choice, but we were made to carry loads of the people's ornaments, and we cast them in. That was what Al-Samiri suggested."" (20:86-87).

6- Thus, the Israelites felt afraid of Moses' fury and blamed Al-Samiri who tempted them to worship the golden calf: "So he produced for them a calf - a mere body which bellowed. And they said, "This is your god, and the god of Moses, but he has forgotten." Did they not see that it cannot return a word to them, and has no power to harm them or benefit them?" (20:88-89). The Israelites never heeded Aaron's preaching addressed to them, as he in vain tried to guide them but they never listened: "Aaron had said to them before, "O my people, you are being tested by this. And your Lord is the Dominant Lord, so follow me, and obey my command." They said, "We will not give up our devotion to it, until Moses returns to us."" (20:90-91).

7- Moses interrogated Al-Samiri who responded with lame excuses as a person who focused on the transient world and never took heed of the Hereafter and the Last Day: "He said, "What do you have to say, O Al-Samiri?" He said, "I saw what they did not see, so I grasped a handful from the messenger's traces, and I flung it away. Thus my soul prompted me."" (20:95-96).

8- Moses supplicated to God and invoked His wrath against Al-Samiri; i.e., he implored God to cause a strange, severe illness to Al-Samiri, that he would suffer pains if he was touched by someone or if he touched someone, this is apart from Hell for eternity in the Hereafter; he cannot evade such a fate. Moses burned the golden calf and threw its remnants into the sea. God says in the Quran: "He said, "Be gone! Your lot in this life is to say, 'No contact.' And you have an appointment that you will not miss. Now look at your god that you remained devoted to-we will burn it up, and then blow it away into the sea, as powder." Surely your god is God, the One besides whom there is no other god. He comprehends everything in knowledge." (20:97-98).  

9- As Moses destroyed the golden calf, this act had fulfilled the prayers of Moses and Aaron about the obliteration of the wealth and treasures of Pharaoh and his people: "Moses said, "Our Lord, you have given Pharaoh and his retinue members splendor and wealth in the worldly life. Our Lord, for them to lead away from Your Path. Our Lord, obliterate their wealth, and harden their hearts, they will not believe until they see the painful torment." He said, "Your prayer has been answered, so go straight, and do not follow the path of those who do not know."" (10:88-89). The larger part of such wealth and treasures of Pharaoh and his people were lost as the ground caved in on them along with Quaroon and his mansion/palace. The remnants of such ornaments/splendor (stolen by the Israelites from the corpses of Pharaoh and his troops thrown by the sea waves and from the treasure hunting within palaces and edifices of Pharaoh) were made into the golden calf destroyed by Moses and thrown into the sea. 


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