The final post of the series is here at last. This has been a laborious journey!
Little did I suspect that reading the Qur’an would give me a renewed sense of respect for the Bible. The Bible is to the Qur’an what The Lord of the Rings is to a Twitter feed.
As I’ve said before, there is some great stuff in the Qur’an, stuff that is often quite forward thinking (for the Middle East, at least). Yet much of this is lost in verbosely worded rambles and rants that repeat themselves again and again and again.
Most surprising of all, the Qur’an is not a foundational document, in the conventional sense of the term. It does not lay out a cohesive historical narrative; it does not describe basic traditions or rites that should be performed. It reads instead like multiple versions of a sermon bundled into a single portfolio. And it’s the fire-and-brimstone sort of sermon.
I think it will be some time before I attempt to read another “holy” book.
Here is the final sura-by-sura commentary:
========== sura 24
- Adulterers should be flogged with 100 stripes – no compassion must be had for them.
- Adulterers are not to marry (there’s some asymmetry between the sexes here, but I don’t understand the relevant grammar).
- Those who bring charges against a “chaste woman” with fewer than four witnesses must be flogged with eighty stripes.
- Witnesses should invoke a curse on themselves to be meted out by Allah if it is found they are lying.
- Some words against those who love to sew scandal.
- Don’t enter other people’s houses without asking first (what profound wisdom!)
- Women should hide their beauty from everyone except family, slaves, and servants. Old women who have no chance of marriage may lay aside their outer garments, provided they don’t look sexy.
- No sex before marriage.
- Don’t force your maids into prostitution.
- Allah created all things as a sign of his existence.
- Allah promises his followers land (sounds a bit like Yahweh and the Jews).
- Slaves and children should ask permission to be near you while you have your clothes off.
========== sura 22
- Allah created all beings from sperm, and is the cause of everything that happens to.them throughout life.
- Threats to unbelievers and promises of reward to believers.
- Maces of iron are added to the torture devices set aside for nonbelievers.
- Some details of the hajj is mentioned, including the way believers walk around the Sacred Mosque. As with the other reference to the hajj, though, this is not a set of directions about how it should be done, but a description of something that the author appears to assume is already going on.
- Mention is made of sacrificial camels.
- Another mention of rejected prophets, and a mention of all the populations that Allah has destroyed because they weren’t following him properly.
- More threats to unbelievers.
- Allah created all things.
========== sura 63
- Allah will not forgive hypocrites – those who claim to believe in Allah but do not..
- Don’t let your riches or your children distract you from your rememberance of Allah.
========== sura 58
- A rather confusing passage about men who divorce their wives by “calling them mothers”. If they recant, then they can touch their wives again as long as they free a slave. If they have no slaves, they should fast for two months. If they’re unable to do that, they should feed 60 indigent people.
- Some words against gathering in secret.
- Before consulting the Messenger in private, spend some money on charity.
- The usual threats to unbelievers.
========== sura 49
- Don’t raise your voice above that of the Prophet, and don’t even speak to him.
- If believers have a disagreement, they should settle it peacefully. Unless it gets really bad, in which case those in the right should go ahead and fight those in the wrong until they submit.
- Don’t laugh at one another, don’t be sarcastic, and don’t call one another offensive names.
- Don’t spy on one another.
========== sura 66
- This sura focuses on the idea that wives should behave well.
- A “consort” is better if she submits her will to her husband.
- Noah’s wife and Lot’s wife are both in hell, whereas the wife of Pharaoh is an example to others.
========== sura 64
- Allah created all things, and knows all things.
- The usual threats to unbelievers and promises of reward to believers.
========== sura 61
- Do not say one thing and do another.
- Remember that both Moses and Jesus were prophets, but were rejected.
- Promises of reward to believers.
========== sura 62
- Those who failed to follow the Mosaic law are like donkeys carrying large books, but not understanding them.
- Jews who think they are the chosen ones of God, should seek death.
- When the Friday call to prayer is made, drop everything and make haste.
========== sura 48
- Allah is all powerful, and will reward believers and punish unbelievers.
- Some words are spoken about desert Arabs lagging behind, but I’m not sure what the gist of the message is.
- A rare mention of the Muhammad’s name is made.
========== sura 5
- Some repetition, apparently verbatim, of laws that were introduced in previous suras.
- Thieves hands must be amputated.
- All seafood is allowed.
- Don’t break oaths. Don’t commit perjury.
- Don’t drink alcohol, gamble, or worship other gods. Don’t use “divining arrows”.
- Reparation for sinning often involves helping others.
- Prohibitions on eating certain animals, and animals killed in certain ways.
- A lot more against Jews and Christians, again with the idea that the Torah and the Gospel are revelations of Allah, but have been misinterpreted or disobeyed by Jews and Christians. (Quite a gutsy strategy: adopt other religions’ texts as your own, and condemn their adherents for not following them properly!)
- Jesus is not a deity.
========== sura 9
- A call for pagans to repent.
- Give pagans a four month respite and if at the end of this period they do not repent, then put them to death.
- Those highest in the sight of Allah are those who suffer for their beliefs.
- Fight those who do not believe in Allah.
- Those who say Christ is the son of Allah are deluded.
- If you bury your gold and silver, rather than spend it as Allah desires, you’ll go to hell and be branded on your back, legs, and forehead.
- Strive actively in the cause of Allah. Don’t be a slacker!
- Allah will not look favorably on those who ask for exemptions to their duties.
- A fairly lengthy diatribe against hypocrisy.
- More words against those (like the desert Arabs) who decided that fighting for the cause of Allah was too much hard work.
========== sura 110
Praise Allah when he is victorious and brings help.
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