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In the Name of God بسم الله

Surah Ta Ha: "Samiri" as role or ethnicity?

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Salaam brothers and sisters,

Bismillah

I'm in a discussion with a Christian who is challenging me on the "fallacies" of the Qur'an, and has picked out Surah Ta Ha 20:85-95 with regards to the word Samiri. His understanding is that it means Samaritan and I see in some English translations of the Qur'an it is mostly as Samiri. His point is that Israelites led astray by a "Samaritan" is a fallacy because the Samaritans as people did not exist until 500 years after Moses (عليه السلام) when the city of Samara was founded. By implication he means that this points out that the Qur'an is false and that Muhammad(عليه السلام) has gotten this wrong.

My thoughts are that the Word of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) are not fallacious and can only be considered Truth as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (عليه السلام). I'm still learning and reading the Qur'an on my own - and nowhere near an expert but I believe the Revelations to Prophet Muhammad (عليه السلام) to be True. I do not know Arabic very well. I do understand however the Qur'an was specifically revealed to the Prophet (عليه السلام) in Arabic and that what was revealed was always intended to be there by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). I was reading "Stories of the Prophets (Peace be upon them)" by Imam Imaduddin Abul-Fida Isma'il Ibn Kathir Ad-Dimashqi where its commentary states page 418 regarding Musa(عليه السلام) and the Israelites being led astray:

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A man from among the Israelites, whose name was Aaron Samiri, came forth and took all the jewelry which had been borrowed from the Egyptians, and moulded it into a calf.

I am wondering if the name Samiri is by coincidence just happens to be similar to the word Samaritan? From my own understanding the Samaritans were a people who through the passage of time since Moses(عليه السلام) were themselves Jewish but intermingled with other Kingdoms of their time and took polytheists for their spouses. When they were brought together again they were told that in order to be accepted in the religion of Moses (عليه السلام) they had to leave their spouses, but it also seems that they never fully seemed to integrate themselves back into the Jewish way of life. They remain observant only of the Pentateuch (and none of the Prophetic Writings), and considered to be non-Jewish by the rest of the Jews and inhabited the region known as Samara. So Samaritan practices were not the same as Judaic practicices but still maintained that they were keepers of original Mosaic Law. I am wondering if Samiri then is more of a descriptive adjective to describe a role rather than to describe as an ethnicity as a thread on Imam Ali (عليه السلام) and Hasan al-Basri seems to suggest: Imam Ali (عليه السلام) and Hasan al-Basri (ie someone who comes in the name of something, in this case the follower of Musa(عليه السلام), but in deed a corrupter of religion) I hardly know anything about Hasan al-Basri so please forgive any and all my ignorance on the matter. 

Anyone have any thoughts on Samiri? Thank you again for your time and patience. Alhamdulilah!

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54 minutes ago, Joshua Bin Medellin said:

Salaam brothers and sisters,

Bismillah

I'm in a discussion with a Christian who is challenging me on the "fallacies" of the Qur'an, and has picked out Surah Ta Ha 20:85-95 with regards to the word Samiri. His understanding is that it means Samaritan and I see in some English translations of the Qur'an it is mostly as Samiri.

Walaykum as Salam,

Seems like nowadays everyone and everybody is an expert in religions, incredible.. There’s no consensus among Islamic scholars on who the as-Samiri exactly was. Some consider him to be a Samaritan, others that he was the Zimri, while others reject both interpretations. For example, Yusuf Ali in his commentary on the Holy Quran denied any link between the Samaritans and the Quranic Samiri. There is no consensus among Islamic scholars on which, if any, of these identifications is correct. So, from Islamic perspective, an automatic assumption that Samiri was a Samaritan is false. 

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His point is that Israelites led astray by a "Samaritan" is a fallacy because the Samaritans as people did not exist until 500 years after Moses (عليه السلام) when the city of Samara was founded. By implication he means that this points out that the Qur'an is false and that Muhammad(عليه السلام) has gotten this wrong.

So based on his personal beliefs he established that Islam got “something wrong”. The whole argument fails at the start because there’s no clear methodology to this debate. Is he debating you based off Jewish, Christian or Islamic beliefs? Samaritans themselves believe that they were around long before the Prophet Musa ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)) was even born. Jews consider them to be younger confirming the Assyrian accounts of them. I don’t know what’s the Christian position on that, if they accept Samaritan or Jewish stance, and as for Islam, I doubt we really spend considerable amount of historical time pondering about the Samaritanism. It’s an internal Jewish conflict that has not much to do with our eventual salvation. 

1 hour ago, Joshua Bin Medellin said:

I was reading "Stories of the Prophets (Peace be upon them)" by Imam Imaduddin Abul-Fida Isma'il Ibn Kathir Ad-Dimashqi

Ibn Kathir wasn’t an Imam, he was a student of Ibn Taymiyyah and al-Dhahabi, both of them being nawasib. We don’t take their interpretations of the Holy Quran as authoritative in any way. 

Quote

I am wondering if the name Samiri is by coincidence just happens to be similar to the word Samaritan? From my own understanding the Samaritans were a people who through the passage of time since Moses(عليه السلام) were themselves Jewish but intermingled with other Kingdoms of their time and took polytheists for their spouses. When they were brought together again they were told that in order to be accepted in the religion of Moses (عليه السلام) they had to leave their spouses, but it also seems that they never fully seemed to integrate themselves back into the Jewish way of life. They remain observant only of the Pentateuch (and none of the Prophetic Writings), and considered to be non-Jewish by the rest of the Jews and inhabited the region known as Samara. So Samaritan practices were not the same as Judaic practicices but still maintained that they were keepers of original Mosaic Law. I am wondering if Samiri then is more of a descriptive adjective to describe a role rather than to describe as an ethnicity as a thread on Imam Ali (عليه السلام) and Hasan al-Basri seems to suggest: Imam Ali (عليه السلام) and Hasan al-Basri (ie someone who comes in the name of something, in this case the follower of Musa(عليه السلام), but in deed a corrupter of religion) I hardly know anything about Hasan al-Basri so please forgive any and all my ignorance on the matter. 

The Holy Quran states that Samiri led some people astray back to idolatry during the absence of the Prophet Musa ((صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)). There’s no more to it. Quranic story isn’t the same as the Biblical one and most Muslim do not claim such because our belief is that the Quran preserves original message, while Torah and Bible are corrupted books with things added/removed from them. 

As for Hassan al-Basri, Shia view of him is complex. Some Shi’ites considered him to be a Shia, other Sunni, some that he had no school. Those of ulama who reject mysticism, consider him to be a heretic who preached unorthodox beliefs. He is labeled as a “teacher of misguidance and heresy”, and people are warned to stay away from him. Because of being a Sufi, theological arguments against him include the notion that he promoted rahbaniyya  (monasticism), which clearly run contradictory to the Quranic teachings. Allamah Majilisi (may Allah increase his abode), was one of his main critics. On the other hand, other Shia scholars quoted some hadiths from him and praised him for standing up to the Umayyads. Others assert that at first he had deviant beliefs but later on repented and joined the orthodoxy. That’s in very simplified form. There’s no consensus on al-Basri. 

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Assalaam malaikum OrthodoxTruth,

Thank you for your prompt response. The discussion debate is between me (Muslim) and a Christian whose position is more of a Protestant. It's rather difficult because I sense that there is not much open heartedness to the Qur'an from him and it is hard to talk about him without him actually here on the forums. I'm sure though that in responding to one issue he may have, more will take its place. Point of the post however for my satisfaction is to get a more understanding behind Samiri and it seems it is as you say that there isn't a consensus to who he is exactly. The Qur'an states it and that's it. I thank you for the comments that The Qur'an preserves the original message. I think that is an important point.

I appreciate the information about Ibn Kathir as I hadn't realized he is not considered an authority. I typed out how his name was on the book verbatim. I'm guessing this book is Sunni. Again thank you for your thoughts and opinions on the matter. 

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I found this while checking my Qur'an Tafsir notes:

When one is not sure one is not allowed to speak on behalf of the Qur'an. 

Imam Baqir (as): Say the things you know (about the Qur'an), and regarding what you don't know say: "God knows better." Sometimes a person tries to interpret a verse and he falls from the heavens, due to his wrong interpretation. (Al-Kafi, Volume 1, p. 42)

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On 5/22/2020 at 9:04 PM, Joshua Bin Medellin said:

Anyone have any thoughts on Samiri? Thank you again for your time and patience. Alhamdulilah!

Salam,

Here is what shaykh Makarem Shirazi says about al-Samiri:

من هو السامري؟
إن أصل لفظ (سامري) في اللغة العبرية (شمري) ولما كان المعتاد أن يبدل حرف الشين إلى السين عند تعريب الألفاظ العبرية كما في تبديل " موشى " إلى " موسى "، و " يشوع " إلى " يسوع "، نفهم من ذلك أن السامري كان منسوبا إلى " شمرون "، وشمرون هو ابن يشاكر النسل الرابع ليعقوب

Who is al-Samiri?

The origin of the word Samiri in the Hebrew language is Shamiri (/Shamri?) It is customary that the letter 'sheen' turns into a 'seen' when arabising Hebrew words. Such as Moshe (Moses) to Musa and Yashu (Yeshua - Jesus) into Yasu' - we understand from this that al-Samiri is traced back to Shamrun (Simon) and Shamrun is the son of Yushakar (Issachar), the fourth generation descendent of Jacob.

Makarem Shirazi, al-Amthal fi Kitab Allah al-Manzil - v.10 p.71

Make what you will of his argument, it isn't particularly strong because he doesn't say where he is getting it from, although Issachar was present during the Exodus and he did have sons. However his linguistical argument is interesting and worth considering.

* Simon is just a guess, I'm not sure what the exact translation of that name would be in English

Edited by Ali_Hussain
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