An effort in f a c i l i t a t i o n

Is it right to use the word ‘Samaritan’ for a good person?

While teaching/reading the story of Prophet Musa, this question always crosses my mind: Is it right for Muslims to use the word ‘Samaritan’ to mean or refer to a good-natured person? The Oxford Dictionary mentions that ‘a good samaritan’ is an idiom which means ‘a person who gives sympathy and help to people’.

Language is built up upon culture and values. The people who use this word have taken it from their culture and religion. How can a Muslim use this word to refer to someone doing a good act? There are two versions to the story. 

One, when Prophet Musa alaihis salam was away on a mission from Allah, he had left his place making his brother, Haroon, as his deputy. While Musa was away, As-Samiriyy (translated as Samaritan) a Bani Israeeli man created havoc among the great Prophet’s followers and created a golden calf (Baqarah) to be worshipped. Was he doing a good thing? Motivating people into idol-worship is a good act?

Two, there is this Parable of the Good Samaritan which again is not drawn from Islamic sources.

In either case we Muslims must avoid using the word ‘Samaritan’ to mean or refer to any act of goodness done by any person.

Of course some of us will justify saying that it’s all in the intention. Yes, everything depends on intention but we need to take care of other things in order to make our intention better. Wallahu ‘Alam!


March 11, 2013 - Posted by | Muqeet's (assorted) | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Thank you for this interesting piece. I believe that we as Muslim should avoid using the language of the Jews and Christians. The Allah subhanna wa ta ala said it best from
    Surah 59: ayat 7-(And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad) gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain from it. And fear Allah, verily, Allah is Severe in Punishment.

    Comment by Bilal | March 11, 2013 | Reply

    • Brother, I think there is no need to go the extreme of avoiding a language as such. All languages are from Allah and it is through language we learn and understand each other. The Prophet (sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam) used to encourage his companions to learn other languages so that he/they can perform dawah. The Qur’an says that the variation of languages and colours are nothing but Allah’s signs for people of understanding.
      The point made in the post discusses a particular thing: about using some terms which are SPECIFICALLY used by other communities to denote a PARTICULAR concept, which we Muslims need to avoid.

      Comment by MuQeet | March 12, 2013 | Reply

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