Friday, 10 June 2016

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 Verses 258 - 260

Last week we learned a little more about Allah as a God, and what stuff he is into. This week we will learn why we can be sure Allah is real as we see some miracles that Allah performed which leave us in no doubt to his power. Needless to say like in Christianity, the miracles in Islam have also dried up but we can believe the Koran luckily.....so have no fear the truth is in these words, and only these words, and only this god.

These three verses of the Koran deal with Abraham and an argument he was having with a Sun worshiper. Now, this story is not in the Bible and as such it can be considered as an extra nugget. Interestingly, this person that Abraham is talking too could be considered as Abraham's persona before he converted to serving Allah. We can consider it like this, as Abraham was apparently a sun worshiper before his conversion, but I will state that this is not a Koranic interpretation but one I cam too as I could not find anything else about this story in any non-biblical Jewish sources.

Verse 258 says the following
"Have you not regarded him who argued with Abraham about his Lord, because Allah had given him kingdom? When Abraham said, ‘My Lord is He who gives life and brings death,’ he replied, ‘I [too] give life and bring death.’ Abraham said, ‘Indeed Allah brings the sun from the east; now you bring it from the west.’ Thereat the faithless one was dumbfounded. And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing lot."
The life and death being referred to here is apparently not only life and death, but also the rise and fall of civilizations. Firstly we see Abraham saying that Allah is the god that causes life and death, however the sun worshiper then says that he too can give life and death. Needless to say, Abraham calls this person out, and says prove it by making the Sun rise in the West. This rationalization makes sense as after all if this person can cause life and death surely they can make the sun rise in the West. As the sun not rising in the West has never happened in known human history, we can be assured that this miracle has not taken place. However, we do know that civilizations rise and fall and so we can be assured that Allah is real, granted life and death of a person has never been witnessed, but I mean civilizations.

Yes, I am not buying it, just trying my best at apologetics.

Verse 259 is meant to mimic the vision of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:1-14) and the raising of the skeletons.
"Or him who came upon a township as it lay fallen on its trellises. He said, ‘How will Allah revive this after its death?!’ So Allah made him die for a hundred years, then He resurrected him. He said, ‘How long have you remained?’ Said he, ‘I have remained a day or part of a day.’ He said, ‘Rather you have remained a hundred years. Now look at your food and drink which have not rotted! Then look at your ass! [This was done] that We may make you a sign for mankind. And look at the bones, how We arrange them and then clothe them with flesh!’ When it became evident to him, he said, ‘I know that Allah has power over all things.’"
So in this dream/visions we see Abraham getting given a message from Allah that Allah can raise not only the dead, but specifically Abraham as well. Interestingly, if we look back at Verse 258 then surely we have to ask, does that then not refer to rising up of dead people and not the fall and collapse of civilizations. Needless to say we cant read it like that, as then it would make no sense. It is lucky as such that this is a visions and not reality..... although there is no distinction why we should accept this as a vision and not reality .....well except for apologetics.

The last verse is a fun one as it shows us the Allah can perform miracles, while the sun god cannot.
"And when Abraham said, ‘My Lord! Show me how You revive the dead,’ He said, ‘Do you not believe?’ He said, ‘Yes indeed, but in order that my heart may be at rest.’ He said, ‘Take four of the birds. Then cut them into pieces, and place a part of them on every mountain, then call them; they will come to you hastening. And know that Allah is all-mighty and all-wise.’"
Basically, Abraham cuts up four birds and takes their parts to four different mountaintops. Then he calls them and the birds come to him, amazing! Now yes, I know this "miracle" is not as impressive as making the sun rise the wrong way, but hey it works. I mean there is no way that those four birds could be four different birds set free by followers of Abraham. Ok, basically I am calling this a crappy miracle. Is this really the level of evidence that is getting presented for Allah's power when so much is getting asked of a sun worshiper?

These three verses really can make your head spin, if you actually take the time to consider them properly. So, make your mind up and tell me what you think. Fact or fiction?

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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