Friday, 8 July 2016

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 Verse 274 - 281

The amazing thing about todays Koran reading is probably more about the translation I am using than the actual reading. For some bizarre reason Sura 2 in my Koran hardcopy only contains 277 verses, but the online Rodwell translation as well as the commentary contains 286 verses. Amazingly I can find no good reason why this is so, so I will use the online version as well as my text and forever wonder why. If you happen to know please leave a comment below. However, I am pretty sure the Koran is meant to have 286 verses in Sura 2 as other online translations all contain 286 verses, i.e. The Noble Koran translation, or Quran in Today's English. Clear and Easy to Read.
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The reading today starts with verse 274 reiterating what we learned last time about giving in an altruistic way so that no one may know. Naturally we also get told that Allah will bless those that give and they will have no fear or grieve. So if you have given money to charity and have grieved or felt fear after that , then clearly you were doing something wrong.
"Those who give their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve."

Verse 275 requires a lot of unpacking as it shows how world economies and finances in general should work. It also shows that the Koran was written in a time that is so far away from the Capitalistic society we live in today, as none of the principles can be applied without a total collapse of the system.
"Those who exact usury will not stand but like one deranged by the Devil’s touch."
You should never lend money at an elevated rate, as such we would have to essentially do away with banking systems to live according to the Koran. But with no banks how can people with no money even try buy a house or start a business. I bring this up as the next part of the verse explains to us that it is okay to make profit from a business, but it is not okay to make a profit from lending money.
"That is because they say, ‘Trade is just like usury.’ While Allah has allowed trade and forbidden usury."
So, again we have the Koran setting a system in place which does not allow the middle and lower classes to move up as they cannot lend money from others if interest is required. Granted they could lend with no interest from another business, but what business is going to shoot themselves in the foot by allowing more competition for products? Perhaps my explanation of the incompatibility of Islam with any form of capitalism is too simplistic, but it is true. The last part of verse 275 says the following and it is an unforgivable law so it is rather interesting.
"Whoever, on receiving advice from his Lord, relinquishes [usury], shall keep [the gains of] what is past, and his matter shall rest with Allah. As for those who resume, they shall be the inmates of the Fire and they shall remain in it [forever]"
So anyone that loaned money before this law was written in the Koran is capable of escaping Hell. However, anyone after this law was written is going to burn baby burn. Perhaps a positive thing to think about next time you have to visit your bank manager.

Verse 276 is worth mentioning for the fact that it shows that Allah has not done yet what he promised to do.
"Allah brings usury to naught, but He makes charities flourish. Allah does not like any sinful ingrate."
People are still lending money, so either Allah has not performed this "miracle" yet, or the Koran has lies in it. Simple options, what do you think is the likely reason for this incoherency?

The next three verse reguirgitate that you should be a good person and be wise with your money by giving to charity and the work of the faith. Interestingly, verse 279 drives home a very strong point to those that do not want to give according to Allah.
"And if you do not, then be informed of a war from Allah and His apostle. And if you repent, then you will have your principal, neither harming others, nor suffering harm."
Thats right you will be at war with Allah and Muhammad if you do not do finances correctly. Allah the tax man :)



Verse 280 is interesting as it teaches a very good moral lesson. Unfortunatelly it is also one that is incompatible with Capitalism and peoples natural instincts.
"And if [the debtor] is in straits, let there be a respite until the time of ease; and if you remit [the debt] as charity, it will be better for you, should you know."
You should be lenient to those that cannot pay their debts, this is a great idea. But, lets be honest it is incompatible with life, also it contradicts earlier about borrowing money.

In closing this section, we get one more verse warning us that Allah will judge us on our actions on judgement day.
"And beware of a day in which you will be brought back to Allah. Then every soul shall be recompensed fully for what it has earned, and they will not be wronged"
I think this is a good way to close this section of the Koran as it is showing that Allah deals with our lives like an accountant deals with financial transactions. everything gets tallied up and then you get judged by the tax man.

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