It is stated in verse 148 of the chapter of al-A'raf 148 that the golden calf lowed. How can a statue low?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The translation of the verse in question is as follows:

"The people of Moses made, in his absence, out of their ornaments, the image of calf, (for worship): it seemed to low: did they not see that it could neither speak to them, nor show them the way? They took it for worship and they did wrong." (al-A'raf, 7/148)

The lowing of the calf was interpreted in different ways by the Islamic scholars:  

According to some scholars, the statue of the calf was hollow. Samiri, who made it, blew through a mechanism that he hid under the calf so that people would not see; and the calf, which was hollow, produced a sound like lowing.

According to some other scholars, a mechanism was placed in the calf, which was hollow, and the calf was placed in the direction that the wind blew. When the wind blew, the mechanism produced a sound like a flute and that sound resembled the lowing of a cow. (see Razi, the interpretation of the verse in question)

Ibn Ashur states that Kananis made instruments like that. According to him, Samiri made holes in the hidden parts of the statue that resembled a calf and when the wind blew, it produced sounds like those of clarion, flute and whistle. (Ibn Ashur, the interpretation of the verse in question).

Sons of Israel asked Hz. Musa (Moses) to get them an idol to worship before but he reprimanded them and warned them severely. When Hz. Musa was in Mount Tur for forty days, they made a statue of a calf that could produce sounds like lowing and started to worship it as a god despite the insistent opposition of Hz. Harun (Aaron).  

It is claimed in the current Torah that the person who made the statue of the cow was Aaron. According to the Torah, When Moses delayed, the people gathered around Aaron and asked him to make a god for them. Aaron told them to bring the earrings in their houses and made a statue of a calf from them. (Exodus, 32/1 -2)

Such a claim, which puts forward that a prophet made an idol and served the belief of polytheism, is a big slander; it is certain that those expressions in the Torah are distortions. As a matter of fact the Quran states clearly that the one that made the golden calf was a man called Samiri and acquits Hz. Harun of such a slander. (see Taha 20/85-97)

A jeweler called Samiri made that golden calf statue but Sons of Israel themselves wanted it and probably – according to the information in the Torah – they themselves brought the material for it; therefore, the crime is attributed to all of them.

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