The Qur’an (part 6 of 10)

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At this point, I’m truly appreciating the need for the hadith, the set of teachings (attributed to Muhammad) that have been built up around the Qur’an. The Qur’an simply doesn’t contain very much information. It is excessively repetitive.

In fact, in my reading, I’ve been tempted to record only those pieces of information that are new: this would save me a lot of time. But I’ve committed myself to recording a brief summary of each sura’s contents, so I find myself writing the same things over and over. So be it, I guess.

There are one or two little nuggets from my latest reading that are worth mentioning. For instance, self-defense is described as morally sound.

Here is the sura-by-sura summary.

========== sura 39

A repetition of some of the usual themes: warnings to unbelievers, Allah created everything, do not worship other gods, Allah did not have a son.

========== sura 40

Basically, an 85-ayah rant against unbelievers.

========== sura 41

  • Allah created all things, including some thoroughly incorrect cosmology. This includes seven firmaments about the earth, the lowest of which contains all the stars.
  • We sent messengers but they were rejected by the unbelievers.
  • The usual threats to unbelievers.

========== sura 42

  • Praises to Allah, who gave us the Qur’an.
  • Allah created all things.
  • Very clearly states that Allah’s religion is the same as that of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, and that this religion demands no internal divisions (boy, have we messed up big time!).
  • Any bad things that happen to us are our own fault (“Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought” (42:30).
  • Proportional punishment is held up to be fair, but forgiveness without punishment is also lauded.
  • Self-defense is fine.

========== sura 43

  • We destroyed the people who mocked our prophets.
  • Allah created all things.
  • A warning against those who amass wealth.
  • Moses and Jesus were sent as prophets but were ignored.
  • The usual threats for unbelievers.

========== sura 44

  • Smoke will descend on the people, then be withdrawn. They will not change their wicked ways, and will be met with a mighty “onslaught”.
  • Another recounting of the Israeilites’ exodus.
  • Another description of the torture that awaits unbelievers, and the gardens, fancy clothes, fruit, and young “companions” (with “lustrous eyes”) that await the faithful.

========== sura 45

  • The fact that animals are scattered all over the earth is supposed to be a sign of Allah. So also are things like day and night.
  • The usual scorn for arrogant unbelievers, and the usual gloating over their fate.

========== sura 46

  • We are exhorted to be kind to our parents.
  • The usual warnings to unbelievers.

========== sura 51

  • The usual warnings to unbelievers and promises of paradise to the faithful.
  • Another recounting of Abraham’s wife’s pregnancy in old age.
  • A repeat of the list of messengers whose people rejected them and suffered dire consequences.
  • Allah created everything.

========== sura 88

  • A description of the torture awaiting unbelievers, and the paradise awaiting the faithful.
  • Allah created everything.

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2 Responses to The Qur’an (part 6 of 10)

  1. Ruedi says:

    Keith, I’ve been told (though I’ve never checked it out myself) that – chronologically read – the suras reflect Mohamed’s increasing frustration with unbelievers/Christians who at first supported him but then turned against him as it became more obvious that his teachings were incompatible with the Bible’s teachings. Hence his more and more strident tone and condemnation of unbelievers. Hence also the fact that abrogated verses tend to be milder, and their final versions tend to be more extreme and beliigerent. Are you finding anything like that?

    • Keith says:

      Hi Ruedi

      The tone seems to have remained reasonably constant over the first half of the Qur’an. It’s the sort of pattern I might expect if someone were touring the country giving a stump speech: the same themes occur repeatedly, with the same tone, but not exactly the same wording.

      Perhaps things will change in the latter half.

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