Friday, 4 September 2015

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 verse 67-82

The next section of the Koran is the first weird part that we encounter, as it is where Moses is talking about the sacrifice of a clean cow to Allah. However, he is not only giving Allah's message to the Jews (that are arguing against killing this cow) he is channeling Allah in a style that would make John Edward the fraud psychic medium blush. I would really suggest that you go read this exchange in verse 67-71, as it is worth it. Now, I wanted to understand the point of this exchange so I digged a bit deeper and apparently the only reason it is included is to warn about the Israelite's and their obsession with cow worship. The Jews did not want to kill the cow, but through Moses they did and this pleased Allah immensely as effectively they were killing off a god that they used to worship.

Verse 72-82 of the Cow (Sura 2) is extremely important as it deals with Islam and religious tolerance, as well as reasons why we should be taking our knowledge from the Koran and not other holy books. Mostly, these versus are to be taken as a criticism of the other Abrahamic religions i.e. Christianity and Judaism, and this makes sense as they all derived from the same roots.

Happily for Christians, the Koran points out that the Jews are culpable for the death of Jesus. Although, it is not that Muslims consider Jesus as the Messiah but rather they consider him another prophet with knowledge from God. The issue is more the killing of the prophet Jesus and as such the loss of knowledge which Allah then had to enlighten us with anyways as we discovered this truth about Jesus.
"And when ye slew a man, and strove among yourselves about him, God brought to light what he had hidden:"
Importantly, Jesus did not die when he was on the cross. As such the Islamic narrative does not deny the "resurrection" in the Bible as Jesus actually never died and so he was just recuperating before going out again to his disciples.
"For we said, "Strike the corpse with part of her." So God giveth life to the dead, and sheweth you his signs, that haply ye may understand."
The phrase "strike the corpse with part of her" is meant to be translated as strike him to death partially which is the way we can get around acceptance of the Biblical narrative while at the same time staying with the acceptance of Jesus as a prophet and not the Messiah. Also, by accepting that Jesus did not die and get brought to life again we are not breaking any natural laws that this has never been observed.

I think the next part of this narrative can be best be summed up with the following Koranic verses.
"But there are illiterates among them who are unacquainted with the Book, but with lies only, and have but vague fancies. Woe to those who with their own hands transcribe the Book corruptly, and then say, "This is from God," that they may sell it for some mean price! Woe then to them for that which their hands have written! and, Woe to them for the gains which they have made!"
Basically, this illustrates to us the message that we get from all religions and that is that we are right and your are wrong. In fact it is very adamant that the Jews and Christians particularly have corrupted the Bible (the Book) and as such made profit from it. This is interesting as belief then according to the Koran should have nothing to do with making profit which then explains the concept adopted by many Muslims that their bank accounts do not make interest and that loans should not have interest attached to them. Ironically the Islamic states of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates among others are very wealthy states and we see their disgusting abuse of foreign workers never mind the fact that these countries have high poverty rates according to CIA statistics. I should note here that these countries conveniently have no statistics of their own poverty rates, but in Saudi Arabia it is accepted as 33% and U.A.E as 19.5 %. My guess is that these words from the Koran can be liberally be interpreted, just like the prosperity theology interpretation of the Bible.

One thing we see with clarity in the Koran is the explicit concepts of Hell and Heaven. We see that those that corrupt the scriptures, i.e. other religious, will burn in Hell for ever. We also get told that the idea of purgatory is an absurd concept as this is not mentioned anywhere in the Koran or the Bible, so those pesky Catholics should watch out as there is no such thing and its just straight to hell.
"But they whose only gains are evil works, and who are environed by their sins, - they shall be inmates of the fire, therein to abide for ever:"
However, those that obey the laws will be able to go to Heaven.
"But they who have believed and done the things that be right, they shall be the inmates of Paradise, - therein to abide for ever."
Perhaps some of the modern concepts of hell that Christians like to promote in fact come from a wayward preacher that decided to borrow some mythology from the Koran, after all it would not be the first time that a religion borrows from mythology.

So we come to the end of an interesting section in the Koran, one which gives perspective why Muslims do not reject Jesus as a prophet as well as showing us why they have such a distaste for the Jews that corrupted the word of God.

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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
Additionally, for commentary I am utilizing the commentary of Maulana Muhammad Ali which is available at muslim.org/english-quran/quran.htm