Worshipping Site of Golden Calf

This is supposed to be the site where, in the absense of Hz. Musa عليه اسلام, Bani Israel worshipped the Golden Calf on an altar

Jabal al-Lawz, Saudi Arabia

Coordinates: 28.373211, 35.785157

This is said to be the site where Bani Israel worshipped the Golden Calf in the absense of Hz. Musa عليه اسلام. This site is closer to Jabal al-Lawz mountain range

The incident of the worship of the golden calf is narrated in the second chapter of the Quran, and other Islamic literature. The Quran narrates that after they refused to enter the sacred land (Al-Aqsa), Allah decreed that as punishment Bani Israel would wander for forty years.

The Story of Golden Calf – Hz. Musa عليه اسلام’ People Turn to Idolatry (Narrated by Ibn Kathir)

Hz. Musa عليه اسلام continued to lead Bani Israel to Mount Sinai for divine guidance. According to Islamic literature, Allah ordered Hz. Musa عليه اسلام to fast for thirty days, and upon the near completion of the thirty days, Hz. Musa عليه اسلام ate a scented plant to improve the odour of his mouth.

Allah commanded Hz. Musa عليه اسلام to fast for ten more days, before receiving the guidance for Bani Israel.

When Hz. Musa عليه اسلام completed the fasts, he approached Allah for guidance. During this time, Hz. Musa عليه اسلام had instructed Bani Israel that Hz. Harun عليه اسلام was to lead them.

Hz. Musa عليه اسلام had been gone for forty days and his people were becoming restless, for they did not know that Allah had extended his time by a further ten days.

Samiri, a man who was inclined towards evil, suggested that they find themselves another guide, as Hz. Musa عليه اسلام had broken his promise. He said to them: “In order to find true guidance, you need a god, and I shall provide one for you.” So he collected all their gold jewelry, dug a hole in which he placed the lot, and lit a huge fire to melt it down.

During the casting, he threw a handful of dust, making actions like a magician’s to impress the ignorant. From the molten metal he fashioned a golden calf.

It was hollow, and the wind passing through it produced a sound. Since superstition was imbedded in their past, they quickly linked the strange sound to something supernatural, as if it were a living god. Some of them accept the golden calf as their god.

Hz. Harun عليه اسلام Tries to Reason with the Idolaters

Hz. Musa عليه اسلام’s brother Hz. Harun عليه اسلام, who acted as their leader in Hz. Musa عليه اسلام’ s absence, was grieved and spoke up: “O my people! You have been deceived. Your Lord is the Most Beneficent. Follow and obey me.” They replied: “We shall stop worshipping this god only if Hz. Musa عليه اسلام returns.” Those who had remained steadfast in belief separated themselves from the pagans.

Hz. Musa عليه اسلام Sees the Idolaters

On his return Hz. Musa عليه اسلام saw his people singing and dancing around the calf statue. Furious at their paganistic ritual, he flung down the Tablet of the Law he was carrying for them. He tugged Hz. Harun’s عليه اسلام beard and his hair, crying: “What held you back when you saw them going astray? Whey did you not fight this corruption?”

Hz. Harun عليه اسلام replied: “O son of my mother, let go of my beard! The fold considered me weak and were about to kill me. So make not the enemies rejoice over me, nor put me among the people who are wrong-doers.” Hz. Musa’s عليه اسلام anger began to subside when he understood Hz. Harun’s عليه اسلام helplessness, and he began to handle the situation calmly and wisely.

Almighty Allah narrated:

“They said: “We broke not the promise to you, of our own will, but we were made to carry the weight of the ornaments of the Pharaoh’s people, then we cast them into the fire, and that was what As-Samiri suggested.”

Then he took out of the fire, for them a statue of a calf which seemed to low. They said: “This is your ilah (god), and the ilah (god) of Musa, but Musa has forgotten (his god).” Did 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?

And Aaron indeed had said to them beforehand: “O my people! You are being tried in this, and verily, your Lord is Allah the Most Beneficent, so follow me and obey my order.” They said: “We will not stop worshipping it (the calf) until Hz. Musa عليه اسلام returns to us.”

(Ch 20:87-91 Quran)

The Idolaters’ Punishment

However, the punishment which was imposed upon the calf worshippers was severe, death.

“Remember when Hz. Musa عليه اسلام said to his people: “O my people! Verily, you have wronged yourselves by worshipping the calf. So turn in repentance to your Creator and kill yourselves (the innocent kill the wrong doers among you), that will be better for you in the Sight of your Creator.” Then He accepted your repentance. Truly, He is the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.

(Ch 2:54 Quran)

As punishment, Allah struck the delegates with lightning and killed them with a violent earthquake. Hz. Musa عليه اسلام prayed to Allah for their forgiveness. Allah forgave and resurrected them and they continued on their journey.

In the Islamic view, the calf-worshipers sin had been shirk, the sin of idolatry or polytheism.

Shirk is the deification or worship of anyone or anything other than Allah, or more literally the establishment of “partners” placed beside Allah, a most serious and unforgivable sin, with the calf-worshipers being ultimately forgiven being a mark of special forbearance by Allah.