The Qur’an (part 8 of 10)

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Another Qur’an book-burning row is currently underway in Afghanistan, with at least 12 dead so far. Keep that in mind as you continue perusing the material the Qur’an contains.

Personally, I’ll be only too glad when the final installment of this series is complete. The Qur’an certainly has some lovely poetry in it, and some solid pieces of good advice, but these things are rare amid the threats and authoritarianism.

Here’s the latest sura-by-sura commentary:

========== sura 70

Short exposition on Judgment Day

========== sura 78

  • Allah created all things.
  • Threats to unbelievers, and promises of reward to believers.

========== sura 79

  • Short exposition on Judgment Day
  • A return to the Moses and Pharaoh story.
  • More of the usual material on Judgment Day.

========== sura 82

Same general form as sura 70, just shorter.

========== sura 84

Same general form as sura 70, just shorter.

========== sura 30

  • The Roman Empire has been defeated but “within a few years” it will be victorious (Judgment Day?).
  • Warnings to believers about Judgment Day.
  • It is a sign to us that Allah created all things.
  • Believers are called to give what is due to “kindred, the needy, and the wayfarer”.
  • More on the things Allah has created.

========== sura 29

  • Threats to unbelievers.
  • The usual account of rejected messengers, from Noah to Lut.
  • Believers are told to recite the Qur’an.
  • Threats to unbelievers.

========== sura 83

The usual discussion of Judgment Day, with threats to unbelievers and promise of reward to the faithful. It is also stated that there are special record books, one for the names (and deeds?) of the unbelievers, and one for the faithful.

========== sura 2

  • A smattering of references to Genesis and Exodus, including some of the Ten Commandments. Adam is made out to be a bit of a god before he sinned: angels bow before him.
  • Near the end, a reference to David and Goliath.
  • Jesus and the Torah are both described as messengers from Allah (which were not properly revered by the people).
  • Interest on loans is forbidden.
  • The month of Ramadhan is when the Qur’an was revealed. Some rules are given about Ramadhan and the Hajj. However, these guidelines come across as general views on traditions that are already assumed to be familiar to the reader. The Hajj, for instance, is not actually defined or described.
  • A very hard line is taken against enemies: “And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you”
  • This sura speaks plainly against slavery: “True righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, …, and for freeing slaves”(2:177). This is quite odd, since in other suras (e.g. sura 4), slavery is taken for granted in various discussions about marriage and other contractual obligations.
  • Proof and evidence are supposedly held in high regard. To those who say that only Jews and Christians will enter Paradise, the Qur’an asks for proof. Proof is again mentioned in 2:209: “But if you deviate after clear proofs have come to you, then know that Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.”. Then, in 2:211, evidence is mentioned: “Ask the Children of Israel how many a sign of evidence We have given them. And whoever exchanges the favor of Allah [for disbelief] after it has come to him – then indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.”
  • It’s OK to eat pork if you’re really desperate – Allah is merciful, after all.
  • Judgment day is repeatedly referred to as the Day of Resurrection.
  • Fasting is good, but if you have trouble doing it, then feed the poor as a substitute.
  • Bribery is bad.
  • It’s better to give to charity anonymously (of course, this comes with a dangled carrot – the forgiveness of some of your sins – rather than the idea that giving anonymously should be done on its own merits).
  • As in the Bible, menstruation is considered to be something harmful and unclean, and menstruating women are to be avoided.
  • Women are described as a tool for men to use to have children: “Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for yourselves” (2:223). In other words, have your way with them as you please.
  • Men, we are told, “have a degree over [women] in responsibility and authority” (2:228). There are several more verses on how women should be kept or released (a bit like fish).

========== sura 8

  • More choice words for unbelievers: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”
  • Praise for believers, and advice to them about how to handle unbelievers.
  • Muhammad tries to secure his portion of the spoils of war, although fortunately he commands that some go to the needy also:: “And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah,- and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer”.
  • Some rules about prisoners of war.

========== sura 3

  • More rambling prose, mostly praising Allah and, as usual, condemning nonbelievers.
  • The virgin birth of Jesus is very briefly discussed. Jesus is described as the Messiah, and as one capable of performing miracles. Allah says to Jesus, “I will take you and raise you to Myself”.
  • Abraham was a Muslim, apparently.
  • Much is said against “people of the Scripture”, which refers, I think, to Jews and Christians.
  • Satan is mentioned here and in later suras, so clearly he’s part of the supernatural pantheon of Islam.
  • Martyrs are glorified.

========== sura 33

  • Family is more important than friends, but look after your friends too.
  • Threats to unbelievers.
  • Female believers are told to stay quietly in their houses and not make a “dazzling display”.
  • Believers are warned not to disobey Allah and his Messenger.
  • If your adopted son gets divorced, it’s OK to marry his ex-wife.
  • Muhammad seems to set about making some laws for himself alone. For instance, It’s OK for him to marry slaves who are prisoners of war. He also doesn’t want visitors to make small talk, but have their meal and leave.
  • Women should wear their outer garments when abroad, lest they be molested.
  • The usual threats of hell to unbelievers.


Jump to:     Main Menu     Part 9


One Response to The Qur’an (part 8 of 10)

  1. L.Long says:

    I plowed my way thru the buyBull a few times but the Qur’an & the BoM are just too much and give forth nothing really new or meaningful. Your intestinal fortitude is strong. I am enjoying the series.

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