Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

Response to: A clear Quranic contradiction in Ta-Ha surah 20 verses 83-97
By: C.L. Edwards from Calling Muslims website.
The ill reputed author, Mr. Edwards is at it again. This time he is claiming a contradiction in the Qur’aan and quite funnily, borrows the argument of Abraham Geiger which most Orientalists have used against Islam, since some 200 odd years ago. His argument isn’t new or is it of any academic value. However in the name of exposing his indecent affinity towards absurdity, we shall engage his argument step by step and refute him. He begins by asserting that these verses supposedly have a contradiction:
“(When Moses was up on the Mount, Allah said:) “What made thee hasten in advance of thy people, O Moses?”He replied: “Behold, they are close on my footsteps: I hastened to thee, O my Lord, to please thee.” (Allah) said: “We have tested thy people in thy absence: the Samiri has led them astray.” So Moses returned to his people in a state of indignation and sorrow. He said: “O my people! did not your Lord make a handsome promise to you? Did then the promise seem to you long (in coming)? Or did ye desire that Wrath should descend from your Lord on you, and so ye broke your promise to me?” They said: “We broke not the promise to thee, as far as lay in our power: but we were made to carry the weight of the ornaments of the (whole) people, and we threw them (into the fire), and that was what the Samiri suggested. “Then he brought out (of the fire) before the (people) the image of a calf: It seemed to low: so they said: This is your god, and the god of Moses, but (Moses) has forgotten!” Could they not see that it could not return them a word (for answer), and that it had no power either to harm them or to do them good? Aaron had already, before this said to them: “O my people! ye are being tested in this: for verily your Lord is (Allah) Most Gracious; so follow me and obey my command.” They had said: “We will not abandon this cult, but we will devote ourselves to it until Moses returns to us.” (Moses) said: “O Aaron! what kept thee back, when thou sawest them going wrong, “From following me? Didst thou then disobey my order?” (Aaron) replied: “O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard nor by (the hair of) my head! Truly I feared lest thou shouldst say, ‘Thou has caused a division among the children of Israel, and thou didst not respect my word!’” (Moses) said: “What then is thy case, O Samiri?” He replied: “I saw what they saw not: so I took a handful (of dust) from the footprint of the Messenger, and threw it (into the calf): thus did my soul suggest to me.” (Moses) said: “Get thee gone! but thy (punishment) in this life will be that thou wilt say, ‘touch me not’; and moreover (for a future penalty) thou hast a promise that will not fail: Now look at thy god, of whom thou hast become a devoted worshipper: We will certainly (melt) it in a blazing fire and scatter it broadcast in the sea!” – Suratul Ta-Ha (20) : 83 – 97.
So what is his argument? In summation:
“There are many details in the Quran that differ or are missing from the original account in the Bible, one of which is a person named al Samari. Now the name as-Samari literally means “The Samaritan a person who comes from Samaria”……..The problem in all this is this event in the history of the nation Israel happened over 600 years before the area of Samaria came into existence. To add to this colossal blunder early Muslims(the Salaf) are recorded as explaining that this as-Samari came from a Israelite tribe called Samaria…no such tribe has ever existed.“
To begin with, he implies that the original account is from the Bible, one must point out that he is referring to the Old Testament, therefore that begs the question, which Canon or Codex of the Old Testament is he appealing to this time? Here’s a short list for him to choose from:
(1) Samaritan Scrolls.
(2) Qumran/ Essene’s Scrolls.
(3) Greek Septuagint (LXX).
(4) Masoretic Text.
(5) Massorah Oral Tradition.
(6) Eastern Orthodoxy’s varying Canon’s (Coptic Canon versus Ethiopian Canon….etc).

After he’s played a game of lottery with “God’s word”, the next step is to determine if the Bible’s historical accounts are valid to establish the veracity of a particular historical event. This of course is easily laid to rest with a resounding no, by consensus of most Biblical scholars, to validate this claim, here’s a few quotes:
The original copies of the NT books have, of course, long since disappeared. This fact should not cause surprise. In the first place, they were written on papyrus, a very fragile and persihable material. In the second place, and probably of even more importance, the original copies of the NT books were not looked upon as scripture by those of the early Christian communities. – (George Arthur Buttrick (Ed.), The Interpreter’s Dictionary Of The Bible, Volume 1, p 599 “Text, NT”.)
To begin with, how can it be logically sound, that if the people at the time of the Bible’s authoring, rejected it as a scripture (inspired by God, contains absolute truth), much less as a historical document (if it isn’t an absolute truth, then it’s fickle truth), how can you expect us, some 2000 years or so later to accept such historical claims?
He says: Complaints about the adulteration of texts are fairly frequent in early Christian literature. Christian texts, scriptural and nonscriptural, were no more immune than others from vicissitudes of unregulated transmission in handwritten copies. In some respects they were more vulnerable than ordinary texts, and not merely because Christian communities could not always command the most competent scribes. Although Christian writings generally aimed to express not individual viewpoints but the shared convictions and values of a group, members of the group who acted as editors and copyists must often have revised texts in accordance with their own perceptions. This temptation was stronger in connection with religious or philosophical texts than with others simply because more was at stake. A great deal of early Christian literature was composed for the purpose of advancing a particular viewpoint amid the conflicts of ideas and practices that repeatedly arose within and between Christian communities, and even documents that were not polemically conceived might nevertheless be polemically used. Any text was liable to emendation in the interest of making it more pointedly serviceable in a situation of theological controversy. – (H. Y. Gamble, Books And Readers In The Early Church: A History Of Early Christian Texts, 1995, Yale University Press: New Haven & London, pp. 123-124.)
The Bible, clearly as a historical document is said to have been emendated (improved with bias) according to each sect’s understanding of it. What’s worse is that the first person to ever canonize and codify the Bible (canonize – to say what is scripture, codify – collected to be arrange in some order) emendated his own version, enough for him and his followers to be persecuted (see: Marcion’s Canon). With the above quotes and subsequent historical lesson, there is no basis for us to accept the account of the Bible, none whatsoever. It is merely wishful thinking and an appeal to emotion that CL Edwards seeks.
His second error, is that he incorrectly, which was his purpose, defines the term: “As-Samiri” (السَّامِرِ‌يُّ).
We do ask Mr. Edwards, on what authority do you have to give the absolute definition of the term above? Are you an expert in the field of Arabic or Hebraic Etymology? From where is your certification in these fields derived? To answer on his behalf and rightly so, nowhere! Therefore we assume he’s probably appealed to the fallacy of appeal to authority (to Orientalist Christian Scholarship). In his desperation for trying to find an error in Al Qur’aan ul Kareem, he has inadvertently exposed his lack of honesty, integrity and self respect. Thus, we do request that he come to terms with these self deficiencies.
Let’s continue by trying to grasp the history of this Samiri, so we can know who he was or from where he came:

“Samiri’s name as generally believed, was Musa Ibn Zafar. Ibn Jarar has narrated from Sayiddina Ibn ‘Abbas {ra} that Samiri was born in the year when under the orders of Pharaoh all male Israili children were to be killed. His mother, fearing the worst, put him in the hallow of a cave and covered its mouth.” – Tafsir Maa’riful Qur’aan, page 144.

Now that we’ve established some form of historical context to this person, his lineage does go back to the time of Moses (Musa alayhi as salaam), so this person did exist at the time of Moses. In that context, why is he called “As Samiri”, well, there are two probablities here:
(1) It could be a place from which he came.
(2) It could be a title due to his beliefs.
Earlier Islamic sources tend to cite both (1) and (2) as their understanding of the person named As-Samiri, that being, he came from a people who were worshipers of the cows:
Sayiddina Ibn ‘Abbas {ra} says that he belonged to a nation of cow-worshippers who somehow reached Egypt and pretended to join the religion of Bani ‘Israil whereas in actual fact he was a hypocrite. (Qurtubi) – Tafsir Maa’riful Qur’aan, page 143.
Where did they come from, if they were not from around Egypt?
“According to Sayddina Sa’id ibn Jubair {ra} he was a Persian from the Kirman province.” – Tafsir Maa’riful Qur’aan, page 143.
Now this logically makes sense.

(1) The Samiri was born during the time of Moses.
(2) The Samiri was from Persian (Mesopotamia) and was brought to or near Egypt when a group of
Persians migrated.
(3) Persia is near the
Indus Valley River Civilization (known cow worshipers), in fact, they share similar cultural traits (languages, religions, dress).
Therefore it is logical to assume that the Samiri is a person who was from among a people who worshiped cows, and who had migrated to near Egypt. The entire narration from the Qur’aan makes sense when compared to basic history. Of course one had to be objective and look outside the inconsistent and incoherent Biblical tradition and really accept the historical narrative as it exists through modern historical interpretations.
The historical context is easy to grasp, the Samiri was a cow worshiper with Mesopotamian origins (from which his religion came) through the Indian peoples (Indus Valley Civilization – known cow worshipers):
In the case of Egyptian and Harappan civilizations, there exists considerable evidence that the two societies, which flanked Mesopotamia on the west and east, respectively, had continuous trade contact with the cities of Sumer and, in the case of Egypt, political and military contacts as well. So the channels for the diffusion of technology and ideas certainly were there. It should probably be stressed at this point that a certain amount of diffusion and cross-fertilization is critical to the development of any civilization and no society has developed in total isolation. Whatever the degree of borrowing, however, every civilization adapts and applies ideas, technologies and institutions to its own physical environment and cultural heritage. – (The World’s History (Volumes 1 and 2 – 2nd Edition), Chapter 3 (River Valley Civilizations), Page 11 – by Howard Spodek.)
Therefore in conclusion, the Biblical claim is that a city known as Samaria did not exist until some 700 years after Moses, therefore the Samiri people could not have existed. Whereas historical knowledge (go figure, the Bible contradicts history) indicates that the Mesopotamian, Harappan (Indus Valley Civilization) and the Egyptians all shared a common and integrated history some 1500 years before Moses (Civlizations from 3000 BCE, Moses from 1500 BCE) and the incident of Pharaoh.
We therefore propose that Mr. Edwards rescinds his absurd, infantile, petulant, irrational and ignorant arguments and perhaps, for the good will of his humanity, cease to embarrass himself and his archaic faith.
wa Allaahu Alam.

[and God knows best.]