The Qur’an (part 3 of 10)

 

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My impression after the next installment of suras from the Qur’an is that there is, thus far, very little original material to speak of.

Aside from the usual fixation with unbelievers (which might be explained by the author’s description of the Qur’an as an admonition to those who fear Allah), the material is largely drawn from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

And, once again, the degree of repetition is baffling: I’m not sure why anyone would feel the need to repeat himself so much!

Finally, the language appears to be improving. There is some wonderful poetry in these suras, which stands well above the rather stilted prose of the initial suras.

Here’s the sura-by-sura breakdown:

========== sura 86

  • Allah is the protector of man.
  • There will come a day on which man will have no power or help.

========== sura 54

  • Warnings for unbelievers.
  • A reference to Noah’s flood, except in this version Noah actually calls to God for help: he wants to be rescued from the wickedness that surrounds him.
  • Muhammad admonishes people for thinking they would have to be mad to listen to him.
  • Various natural disasters were sent to tribes who rejected the Qur’an.
  • More warnings for unbelievers.

========== sura 38

  • Warnings to unbelievers.
  • The parable of the ewes told to David in 2 Samuel 12, is recounted.
  • Solomon was supposedly given supernatural powers by Allah.
  • Other figures of the Old Testament, including Job and Elisha (and, as usual, Abraham and his descendants), are praised.
  • More gloating over the terrible fate of unbelievers.
  • A discussion between God and Satan is described. Satan is cast from heaven.

========== sura 7

  • The discussion between God and Satan is repeated.
  • The story of Adam and Eve is recounted.
  • Allah forbids “sins and trespasses against truth or reason”.
  • More threats to unbelievers, and promises of heaven to believers. The occupants of heaven will have no pity for the occupants of hell.
  • Repeated here is that part of sura 54 describing the punishments that were meted out to unbelieving communities. The list is extended.
  • A large portion of Exodus is recounted, including Moses’ magic tricks for Pharaoh (such as turning a staff into a snake), the plagues, the parting of the sea, the Ten Commandments, the worshiping of the calf, the provision of manna in the desert, and the division of the twelve tribes.
  • Primates are not spoken well of: Allah says to the disobedient, “Be ye apes, despised and rejected.”
  • More warnings to unbelievers.

========== sura 72

A group of Jinns learns the error of their ways, converts to Islam, and warns unbelievers of the Fire that awaits them.

========== sura 36

  • The purpose of the Qur’an is to admonish people.
  • Allah is described as blinding people to the truth so that the message’s admonition is in vain.
  • It is, however, useful to admonish believers, but they should also be given promises of reward.
  • Nature is a sign that Allah exists.
  • Unbelievers are warned of the sudden and unexpected doom that will visit them.
  • Another mention of how Allah created us all from sperm.

========== sura 25

  • God has had no sons.
  • Muhammad again complains of all the nasty things people are saying about him, and how these people will get their just deserts.
  • Some beautiful language in this sura.
  • More general language about judgment day, as in preceding suras.

========== sura 35

  • Allah is the creator of all things (including man, from sperm of course).
  • Do not be deceived by Satan, else the Fire awaits you.
  • More warnings to unbelievers.

========== sura 19

  • This sura repeats the first chapter of Luke 1, which recounts the story of Zacharias, John the Baptist’s father, and of Gabriel’s appearance to Mary.
  • The birth of Jesus is described, and is quite different to that in the Bible: she gives birth under a palm tree. It is emphasized that Jesus is not the son of Allah.
  • Some references to Abraham and Noah are made.
  • More warnings to unbelievers.

========== sura 20

  • The Qur’an is again described as an admonition to those who fear Allah.
  • The story of Moses and the burning bush, and the turning of his staff into a snake, are recounted.
  • There is a long account of Moses’ conversation with Pharaoh and the contest of magic the two had.
  • A brief description is given of the flight from Egypt and the provision of manna, worshipping of the golden calf.
  • More warnings for unbelievers.
  • A brief retelling of the temptation of Adam and Eve.

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