English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 20: Ta Ha — Ta Ha (Revealed at Makkah: 8 sections, 135 verses)

Section 5 (Verses 20:90–20:104): The End of Calf-worship


وَ لَقَدۡ قَالَ لَہُمۡ ہٰرُوۡنُ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ یٰقَوۡمِ اِنَّمَا فُتِنۡتُمۡ بِہٖ ۚ وَ اِنَّ رَبَّکُمُ الرَّحۡمٰنُ فَاتَّبِعُوۡنِیۡ وَ اَطِیۡعُوۡۤا اَمۡرِیۡ ﴿۹۰﴾

20:90 And Aaron indeed had said to them before: My people, you are only tried by it, and surely your Lord is the Beneficent God, so follow me and obey my order.1

قَالُوۡا لَنۡ نَّبۡرَحَ عَلَیۡہِ عٰکِفِیۡنَ حَتّٰی یَرۡجِعَ اِلَیۡنَا مُوۡسٰی ﴿۹۱﴾

20:91 They said: We shall not cease to keep to its worship until Moses returns to us.

قَالَ یٰہٰرُوۡنُ مَا مَنَعَکَ اِذۡ رَاَیۡتَہُمۡ ضَلُّوۡۤا ﴿ۙ۹۲﴾

20:92 (Moses) said: Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray,

اَلَّا تَتَّبِعَنِ ؕ اَفَعَصَیۡتَ اَمۡرِیۡ ﴿۹۳﴾

20:93 that you did not follow me? Have you, then, disobeyed my order?

قَالَ یَبۡنَؤُمَّ لَا تَاۡخُذۡ بِلِحۡیَتِیۡ وَ لَا بِرَاۡسِیۡ ۚ اِنِّیۡ خَشِیۡتُ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلَ فَرَّقۡتَ بَیۡنَ بَنِیۡۤ اِسۡرَآءِیۡلَ وَ لَمۡ تَرۡقُبۡ قَوۡلِیۡ ﴿۹۴﴾

20:94 He said: Son of my mother, do not seize me by my beard, nor by my head. Surely I was afraid you would say: You have caused division among the Children of Israel and not waited for my word.

قَالَ فَمَا خَطۡبُکَ یٰسَامِرِیُّ ﴿۹۵﴾

20:95 (Moses) said: What was your object, Sāmirī?

قَالَ بَصُرۡتُ بِمَا لَمۡ یَبۡصُرُوۡا بِہٖ فَقَبَضۡتُ قَبۡضَۃً مِّنۡ اَثَرِ الرَّسُوۡلِ فَنَبَذۡتُہَا وَ کَذٰلِکَ سَوَّلَتۡ لِیۡ نَفۡسِیۡ ﴿۹۶﴾

20:96 He said: I perceived what they did not perceive, so I took a handful from the footprints of the messenger then I threw it away. Thus did my soul entice me.2

قَالَ فَاذۡہَبۡ فَاِنَّ لَکَ فِی الۡحَیٰوۃِ اَنۡ تَقُوۡلَ لَا مِسَاسَ ۪ وَ اِنَّ لَکَ مَوۡعِدًا لَّنۡ تُخۡلَفَہٗ ۚ وَ انۡظُرۡ اِلٰۤی اِلٰـہِکَ الَّذِیۡ ظَلۡتَ عَلَیۡہِ عَاکِفًا ؕ لَنُحَرِّقَنَّہٗ ثُمَّ لَنَنۡسِفَنَّہٗ فِی الۡیَمِّ نَسۡفًا ﴿۹۷﴾

20:97 He said: Go away then! It is (the punishment) for you in this life to say, Do not touch (me). And surely for you is a promise which shall not fail. And look at your god to whose worship you have kept. We will certainly burn it, then we will scatter it in the sea.3

اِنَّمَاۤ اِلٰـہُکُمُ اللّٰہُ الَّذِیۡ لَاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّا ہُوَ ؕ وَسِعَ کُلَّ شَیۡءٍ عِلۡمًا ﴿۹۸﴾

20:98 Your Lord is only Allah, there is no God but He. He comprehends all things in (His) knowledge.

کَذٰلِکَ نَقُصُّ عَلَیۡکَ مِنۡ اَنۡۢبَآءِ مَا قَدۡ سَبَقَ ۚ وَ قَدۡ اٰتَیۡنٰکَ مِنۡ لَّدُنَّا ذِکۡرًا ﴿ۖۚ۹۹﴾

20:99 Thus We relate to you some news of what has happened before. And indeed We have given you a Reminder from Ourselves.

مَنۡ اَعۡرَضَ عَنۡہُ فَاِنَّہٗ یَحۡمِلُ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ وِزۡرًا ﴿۱۰۰﴾ۙ

20:100 Whoever turns away from it, he will surely bear a burden on the day of Resurrection,

خٰلِدِیۡنَ فِیۡہِ ؕ وَ سَآءَ لَہُمۡ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ حِمۡلًا ﴿۱۰۱﴾ۙ

20:101 abiding in this (state). And evil will be their burden on the day of Resurrection —

یَّوۡمَ یُنۡفَخُ فِی الصُّوۡرِ وَ نَحۡشُرُ الۡمُجۡرِمِیۡنَ یَوۡمَئِذٍ زُرۡقًا ﴿۱۰۲﴾ۚۖ

20:102 the day when the trumpet is blown; and We shall gather the guilty, blind,4 on that day,

یَّتَخَافَتُوۡنَ بَیۡنَہُمۡ اِنۡ لَّبِثۡتُمۡ اِلَّا عَشۡرًا ﴿۱۰۳﴾

20:103 consulting together secretly: You stayed only ten (days).5

نَحۡنُ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَا یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ اِذۡ یَقُوۡلُ اَمۡثَلُہُمۡ طَرِیۡقَۃً اِنۡ لَّبِثۡتُمۡ اِلَّا یَوۡمًا ﴿۱۰۴﴾٪

20:104 We know best what they say when the fairest of them in course would say: You stayed only a day.6


  1. From this it is clear that not only had Aaron no part in making the calf, but he even enjoined his people to give up its worship. The Quran here con­tradicts the Bible.
  2. The stories which many commentators have related under this verse are all baseless. The messenger is evidently Moses himself, and his footprints (athar) signify his sunnah, i.e., his practices and sayings, a significance to which all authorities agree, the word being well known in Muslim religious literature. The taking a handful means a small part of it. The man who made the calf thus asserts that he had a clearer perception of things than the Israelites, that he accepted the teachings of Moses only partially, and confesses that he now threw off even that part and made a calf for worship.
  3. This shows that the ashes of the calf were thrown into the sea, and the story of the Israelites being made to drink of water mixed with the ashes of the calf is not, therefore, credited by the Quran, which here again contradicts the Bible. The punishment given to the Sāmirī is that of an outcast in society, who is prohi­bited from having any relations with the Israelite people.
  4. The word zurq means blue-eyed, but may signify blind, in reference to the guilty being raised up blind in the Resurrection, as in v. 124.
  5. The object of “ten” is omitted, and what may be indicated here is that they will have enjoyed ten centuries of great prosperity.
  6. Because a day is equal to a thousand years; see 22:47. It is the man who reminds them of this Divine promise who is called the fairest of them in course.