|To Moo Or Not To Moo, That Is The Question!|
|Written by mquran.org|
|Monday, 20 November 2006|
some people have claimed that the Qur'an contains a historically impossible narration when it mentions the name al-Samiri which some translate as the "Samaritan" (Qur'an 20:85, 87 and 95). They claim that:
We have already discussed the origins of the Samaritans in the paper The "Samaritan" Error in the Qur'an. We had mentioned that until the middle of the 20th century it was commonly believed that the Samaritans originated from a mixed race people living in Samaria at the time of the Assyrian conquest (722 BCE). In recent years however, new research based on a more careful study of the Samaritan Chronicle has led to a re-evaluation of their origins. The Samaritans are the direct descendants of the Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, and until the 17th century C.E. they possessed a high priesthood descending directly from Aaron through Eleazar and Phinehas.
The Qur'anic mention of the name al-Samiri sometimes translated as the "Samaritan" (Qur'an 20:85, 87 and 95) is entirely consistent with modern investigations into the origin of the Samaritan sect.
This paper responds to a different allegation, that the Qur'anic story mentioned in surah 20: 85-95 was in fact based on Jewish myths and fables.
The Christian missionary Tisdall attempts to explain the origin of the "Samaritan" story in his book The Original Sources Of The Qur'an:
He believes that the story is entirely Jewish in origin, and furthermore, he also mentions the "amusing anachronism" in the Qur'an concerning the mistaken usage of the term "Samaritan". This "amusing anachronism" has already been refuted.
Now, concerning the Jewish origins of the story, Tisdall would like us to believe that Muhammad lifted this material from a Rabbinical source called Pirke De-Rabbi Eli'ezer. Tisdall presumably used Abraham Geiger's book, Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen? as his source. Concerning the golden calf Abraham Geiger writes:
Not surprisingly, Geiger also uses the rabbinical source called Pirke De-Rabbi Eli'ezer to support his theory that Muhammad copied this story (or 'legend' as Tisdall prefers to call it) from Jewish sources. Similar claims have been made by Robert Morey, `Abdallah `Abd al-Fadi and N. A. Newman.
Thus, Tisdall proposes that Muhammad used the source Pirke De-Rabbi Eli'ezer to compose the account found in surah 20:85-95.
2. The Case Against Pirke De-Rabbi Eli'ezer
But Tisdall's explanation is probably the most inaccurate and inexcusable suggestion he has yet put forward. An examination of the another contemporary source of Tisdall's time reveals the answer. The Jewish Encyclopaedia published in 1905, in the same year as the publication of Tisdall's book, states under "Pirke De-Rabbi Eli'ezer":
Thus, according to Tisdall, Muhammad composed the account found in surah 20: 85-95 using a source that had not yet been compiled until hundreds of years after his death! Long before Tisdall wrote The Original Sources Of The Qur'an, Jewish scholars had already mentioned that Pirke De-Rabbi Eli'ezer post-dated Islam. But surprisingly the famous Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall was oblivious to this fact!
Abraham Geiger's book Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen? has also been subject to recent criticisms by scholars such as Norman Stillman:
This view of late compilation of Pirke De-Rabbi Eli'ezer (as well as Midrash Tanhuma!) is also echoed in Encyclopaedia Of Islam:
Since Tisdall lifted most of his material from his master Abraham Geiger, it is not at all surprising to find that Tisdall's sense of poor chronology matches greatly with Geiger's. Other examples of Tisdall's poor and embarrassing scholarship are exposed in his discussions concerning the Prophet's wives teaching him stories from the Bible, Salman the Persian and the story of Cain & Abel as possible Judeo-Christian sources of the Qur'an.
Finally, Stillman advises us in his conclusion:
some people would of course choose to ignore this advice as "The Promotion Of Christian Knowledge" by any means is sometimes more important than accuracy and truth!
3. To Moo Or Not To Moo?
The some people seem to also have a problem with the golden calf: Did the golden calf moo? They write:
We will simply reply by saying that Christians themselves report the idols or statues of Virgin Mary performing "miracles" for believers. This has been reported in both Europe and Latin America. Does that now mean that their (Trinitarian) god has given these idols the power to perform miracles, even though idolatry is so much detested by God?
It is quite clear in the Qur'an that God will test people:
Some of these trials will expose the hypocrisy and falsehoods in the hearts of those who claim to believe; and for others it will strengthen their faith and resolve - for they are indeed the true believers. This whole life is but a test for the true believer. Just as the Children of Israel were tested, other nations were also tested. The people of Thamud for example were tested by the she-camel.
There's no such thing as a free ticket to Paradise!
And Allah knows best!
 Rev. W. St. Clair Tisdall, The Original Sources Of The Qur'an, 1905, Society For The Promotion Of Christian Knowledge, London, pp. 112-113.
 ibid., pp. 7.
 A. Geiger, Judaism And Islam (English Translation Of Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen?), 1970, Ktav Publishing House Inc., New York, pp. 132.
 ibid., See footnotes on p. 132.
 R. Morey, The Islamic Invasion: Confronting The World's Fastest Growing Religion, 1992, Harvest House Publishers: Eugene (OR), p. 150.
 `Abdallah `Abd al-Fadi, Is The Qur'an Infallible?, 1995, Light of Life: Villach (Austria), p. 316.
 N. A. Newman, Muhammad, The Qur'an & Islam, 1996, Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute: Hatfield (PA), p. 367.
 "Pirke De-Rabbi Eli'ezer", The Jewish Encyclopaedia, 1905, Volume X, Funk & Wagnalls Company, p. 59.
 N. A. Stillman, "The Story Of Cain & Abel In The Qur'an And The Muslim Commentators: Some Observations", Journal Of Semitic Studies, 1974, Volume 19, p. 231.
 "Al-Samiri", Encyclopaedia Of Islam, 1993, Volume VIII, E. J. Brill: Leiden, p. 1046.
 ibid., p. 239.
Elias Karim, M S M Saifullah & Muhammad Ghoniem
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