Friday, 1 July 2016

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 Verse 267 - 273

Last week we started delving into the financial aspect of charity. todays reading and next weeks reading continues along this theme marking the importance of this subject. Naturally we should not be surprised that a religion deals extensively with the money giving aspect, after all this is a great way to get funds for the church (bad) as well as a way to take care of others (good).  Now I am not  an authority on charity in Islam, but from the Koran so far it does seem that charity is something that is reserved for other Muslims. This is not surprising that a community wants to take care of itself first, but it does show an us versus them mentality which is not overall beneficial to society.

Verse 267 is a really good verse, as it says that Muslims should not give anything bad to others instead the should focus on giving good things.
"O you who have faith! Spend of the good things you have earned, and of what We bring forth for you from the earth, and do not be of the mind to give the bad part of it, for you yourselves would not take it, unless you overlook it. And know that Allah is all-sufficient, all-laudable."
So apparently all these Islamic terrorist groups think it is good to bring death and destruction, although that said we are infidels and so they should not be giving to us in the first place probably. Back on topic however, I do believe this verse contains a very good sentiment that we should be kind to others and demonstrate care.

 (Source)

So why would anything bad ever happen to humans? The answer is simple we create a evil force and then we can blame anything bad happening on this evil force. This is succinctly laid out in verse 268.
"Satan frightens you of poverty and prompts you to [commit] indecent acts. But Allah promises you His forgiveness and grace, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing."
So basically if you are poor or you do anything wrong, just blame it on Satan.... sounds strangely familiar to some other Abrahamic religion in taking away personal responsibility.

Verse 269 is  a very weird verse as it seems to suggest that education is a bad thing in some ways. In fact it can be argued that there is no reason for education as Allah is the one who give wisdom to specific people that he chooses.
"He gives wisdom to whomever He wishes, and he who is given wisdom, is certainly given an abundant good. But none takes admonition except those who possess intellect."
It says the only people that warn against Islamic wisdom are those with intellect. So the Koran is saying that superior moral standards other than the Koran can never be attained, after all those that propose such ideas or systems are intellectuals that are doing it to combat Islam. This verse is a dangerous idea, as it effectively is saying that reform in Islam is something that should never take place. So how is Islam meant to reform away from the barbaric when it is prohibited by the Koran? My only answer is that this will happen when people become cultural Muslims, like cultural Christians and Jews, i.e. lack of belief and celebrate the holidays.

The next three verse deal with giving to charity in a altruistic way so that no one knows you are giving to charity. However it also places a big red flag on the reason for giving to charity if it is meant to be for the good of others.
"If you disclose your charities, that is well, but if you hide them and give them to the poor, that is better for you, and it will atone for some of your misdeeds, and Allah is well aware of what you do."
So we have here an idea similar to pardons that the Catholic church used to sell up until the late 16th century. according to the Koran you can buy away your sins, what a great reason to give to charity? Additionally, we see a testable claim presented in the Koran.
"It is not up to you to guide them; rather it is Allah who guides whomever He wishes. And whatever wealth you spend, it is for your own benefit, as you do not spend but to seek Allah’s pleasure, and whatever wealth you spend will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged."
If you give to charity you will not be wronged. As such any Muslim that has ever given to charity and has subsequently been wronged has proven the Koran inaccurate. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I think the Koran just on this point has been disproven billions of times.

Lastly, the Koran elaborates on whom we should give charity too
"[The charities are] for the poor who are straitened in the way of Allah, not capable of moving about in the land [for trade]. The unaware suppose them to be well-off because of their reserve. You recognize them by their mark; they do not ask the people importunately. And whatever wealth you may spend, Allah indeed knows it."
The first group is the people that are doing everything for Allah, and as such have no time to earn incomes. This can include people like clergy, jihad fighters or missionaries. The second group that we can give too are the beggars that do not beg, in other words the homeless that are not going around asking for money.

So there you have it, give to charity and get sins removed, never be wronged and get back what you give. Simple.

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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