Friday, 28 August 2015

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 verse 40-66

After dealing with the fall, the Koran moves onto a section dedicated to Allah's chosen people. Now it may surprise you if you have never read the Koran, but Allah's chosen people, as in the Bible, are the Israelite's.
"O children of Israel! remember my favour wherewith I shewed favour upon you, and be true to your covenant with me"
and
"O children of Israel! remember my favour wherewith I shewed favour upon you; for verily to you above all human beings have I been bounteous."
Now anyone that has actually read the Bible will know that this can be taken in two ways as Allah is bountiful and an asshat towards the Israelite's. Additionally, it can be argued that Allah is anything but bountiful to the Israelite's through history, although now they do get special leeway in the Middle East.

This part of the Koran deals largely with the Israelite's obeying and disobeying of Allah's laws and being faithful to Allah. Now while this may seem to be a but premature as the Koran has not made any rules so far (except revere and fear), it is not surprising as we get reference to the Israelite book or the Torah and its laws.
"Yet ye read the Book: will ye not understand?"
Additionally, it references the Bible stories from Exodus, with some added details, showing how awesome Allah was to the Israelite's. It tells us how Allah saved them from the evil Pharaoh, how the sea was parted and Pharaoh's armies were drowned, as well as references telling us that Allah gave Moses the stories of pre-Exodus and the ten commandments. If you need to understand these stories I would recommend you go read Genesis and Exodus, as this is not about the Bible I am not going to elaborate too much except for the stories with additional information.

The one story that needs comment is the story of the Golden calf worship when Moses was in the wilderness receiving Allah's word. in this story we see Allah not only commanding the killing of those that worshiped the calf, but also we see that Allah killed all those that were not slayed by the faithful using a thunderbolt. However, Allah was not a fool killing all his followers as he actually then raised them from the dead.
"And when ye said, "O Moses! we will not believe thee until we see God plainly;" the thunderbolt fell upon you while ye were looking on: Then we raised you to life after ye had been dead, that haply ye might give thanks:"
As such Allah used this as a demonstration that he truly was the one and only god, remarkably we do not see these simple demonstrations anymore. This could be attributed to Allah not wanting to show anyone but his chosen people, yet we do not see these miracles happening to the Israelite's either and well there are still many Jews.

Allah also reminds the Israelites that he sent manna, water and that he opened cities to them so that they got many rewards for being faithful. What we are told however that is different to the Bible again is that those people that do no want to worship Allah and changed the word of Allah received a wrath from heaven. These Israelites were sent back to Egypt to toil by the wrath of God, but to be fair they were not only just disobeying the laws but killing people.
"Get ye down into Egypt; - for ye shall have what ye have asked:" Vileness and poverty were stamped upon them, and they returned with wrath from God: This, for that they disbelieved the signs of God, and slew the Prophets unjustly: this, for that they rebelled and transgressed!"
As such so far we have learned that Allah can be considered just to some degree, although like all gods Allah is not willing to actually prove themselves. Amazingly Allah only proves himself to those that he wants to, its almost as if those who claim to have evidence are in the game for some other reason like money, sex or power.

The next part of the Koran that I find fascinating and very different to what most Muslims claim is that it is very adamant, that is that any believer can go to Heaven and be with Allah.
"Verily, they who believe (Muslims), and they who follow the Jewish religion, and the Christians, and the Sabeites - whoever of these believeth in God and the last day, and doeth that which is right, shall have their reward with their Lord: fear shall not come upon them, neither shall they be grieved."
I think this is a vitally important part of the Koran to remember when we consider that many of the so called Islamic extremists are adamant that the Koran is truly the only way to get to know god and live by his laws.

The one verse that absolutely blows my mind is the verse that says those Israelite's that transgressed on the Sabbath got turned into or treated as apes.
"Ye know too those of you who transgressed on the Sabbath, and to whom we said, "Be changed into scouted apes:"
Now I have seen multiple apologetics showing that this verse does not in fact refer to actual conversion to apes but rather to mean that these people were to be treated as sub human. Either way, what happened is rather extreme and we get to see that it is probably meant to be taken as literal when it is expounded that this punishment was meant as a caution to those that feared Allah.
"And we made them a warning to those of their day, and to those who came after them, and a caution to the God-fearing:"

Lastly, a part that I found confusing is that the Koran is always referring to "We" and not "Allah" or he. From a quick search I found that the use of We is meant to be applied as the royal we, or one person doing it but referring to themselves as we to make others feel inclusive. This is important as the Koran refers to Allah as a single entity and so this we has to be a singular. Bizarrely, this "we" is also used in Arabic so it is not a translation error but from my understanding an artifact of the language.

Just or extremely unjust, Allah is pretty much like every other lunatic monotheistic god. This is really to be expected when one considers that they are all meant to be the same person but in different forms. See you next time.

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The version of the Koran I am reading is the John Meadows Rodwell translation. An online version can be found at the al-quran.info website