Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Koran: The Cow, Part 6

As we grow ever closer to the end of The Cow, I grow excited.  I am hoping that future suras will not be as repetitious or convoluted.  High hopes, I know. To catch up on past Koranic posts, check here.

[2.164] Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men, and the water that Allah sends down from the cloud, then gives life with it to the earth after its death and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between the heaven and the earth, there are signs for a people who understand.

We are supposed to believe there is a God because of nature?  Shouldn't there be a more compelling argument.  This is basically saying: if you believe, then everything you see will just reify (mozilla doesn't think reify is a word, buy a dictionary firefox!)your belief. 
[2.165] And there are some among men who take for themselves objects of worship besides Allah, whom they love as they love Allah, and those who believe are stronger in love for Allah and O, that those who are unjust had seen, when they see the chastisement, that the power is wholly Allah's and that Allah is severe in requiting (evil).

Don't love anything more than you love Allah or you will be punished!  Allah- better than your money, your children and your wife!
[2.166] When those who were followed shall renounce those who followed (them), and they see the chastisement and their ties are cut asunder.
[2.167] And those who followed shall say: Had there been for us a return, then we would renounce them as they have renounced us. Thus will Allah show them their deeds to be intense regret to them, and they shall not come forth from the fire.

So because those who were idolizing others got dumped by those they were idolizing, they are going to hell?  Allah seems to be short on forgiveness for mistakes.  Where's the chance for repentance?

[2.168] O men! eat the lawful and good things out of what is in the earth, and do not follow the footsteps of the Shaitan; surely he is your open enemy.
[2.169] He only enjoins you evil and indecency, and that you may speak against Allah what you do not know.

Such a mix of sentiment in ayah 168.  Eat halal (which hasn't been explained, unless we are supposed to get our cues from the Old Testament Kosher laws) and don't follow Satan.  
[2.170] And when it is said to them, Follow what Allah has revealed, they say: Nay! we follow what we found our fathers upon. What! and though their fathers had no sense at all, nor did they follow the right way.
[2.171] And the parable of those who disbelieve is as the parable of one who calls out to that which hears no more than a call and a cry; deaf, dumb (and) blind, so they do not understand.

Don't follow what your father did, I'm Allah, and I'm here to teach you the right way.  
[2.172] O you who believe! eat of the good things that We have provided you with, and give thanks to Allah if Him it is that you serve.
[2.173] He has only forbidden you what dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that over which any other (name) than (that of) Allah has been invoked; but whoever is driven to necessity, not desiring, nor exceeding the limit, no sin shall be upon him; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Here is something we don't see too often in the Koran: an explanation!  However small...  So, a believer should not eat an animal that dies naturally, should not ingest blood (no medium rare steaks!), no pork, and no food that has been blessed in the name of a different god.  Amazingly, Allah does allow that if you are starving, it is not a sin to eat whatever is at hand.  We will be hearing more about Halal eating in following Suras.  It may be the only understandable thing in the Koran!  (Please note: understandable does not mean logical.)
[2.174] Surely those who conceal any part of the Book that Allah has revealed and take for it a small price, they eat nothing but fire into their bellies, and Allah will not speak to them on the day of resurrection, nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful chastisement.
[2.175] These are they who buy error for the right direction and chastisement for forgiveness; how bold they are to encounter fire.
[2.176] This is because Allah has revealed the Book with the truth; and surely those who go against the Book are in a great opposition.

But let us not forget that this Book is the truth and if you conceal what Allah has revealed: punishment punishment punishment!
[2.177] It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteousness is this that one should believe in Allah and the last day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for (the emancipation of) the captives, and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in time of conflicts-- these are they who are {rue (to themselves) and these are they who guard (against evil).

Here we have a checklist for the faithful, nothing we haven't already come across in this never ending surah. 
[2.178] O you who believe! retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain, the free for the free, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female, but if any remission is made to any one by his (aggrieved) brother, then prosecution (for the bloodwit) should be made according to usage, and payment should be made to him in a good manner; this is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy; so whoever exceeds the limit after this he shall have a painful chastisement.
[2.179] And there is life for you in (the law of) retaliation, O men of understanding, that you may guard yourselves.

Just like the Old Testament God, Allah is all about a life fore a life.  I think it is interesting that he gives the reason that it will put in man the fear of retaliation.  Not very dissimilar from the notion of the death penalty being a deterrent. 
[2.180] Bequest is prescribed for you when death approaches one of you, if he leaves behind wealth for parents and near relatives, according to usage, a duty (incumbent) upon those who guard (against evil).
[2.181] Whoever then alters it after he has heard it, the sin of it then is only upon those who alter it; surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
[2.182] But he who fears an inclination to a wrong course or an act of disobedience on the part of the testator, and effects an agreement between the parties, there is no blame on him. Surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

So having a codicil will somehow protect against evil.  I imagine the true wish is that the wealth be left to a Mosque.
[2.183] O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil).
[2.184] For a certain number of days; but whoever among you is sick or on a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; and those who are not able to do it may effect a redemption by feeding a poor man; so whoever does good spontaneously it is better for him; and that you fast is better for you if you know.
Would the Koran make more sense if it wasn't set up into meaningless chapters?  Perhaps there should just be a couple of ayahs on a page, ones that actually go together.  It isn't like Allah decided the layout after all.  Wouldn't it be useful for the spread of Islam to lay out the text in such a way as to make it more easily decipherable to those who might want to read it?  
[2.185] The month of Ramazan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks.

Fasting during Ramadan is done because that is supposedly when Allah sent down the Koran... I'm assuming that Allah is aware that he didn't send it all down at once and that it was supposedly a collection of revelations over 23 years.  Why make a statement that seems to imply that the Koran was "handed down" at one particular point in time.  
[2.186] And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.

If you pray, I will answer.
[2.187] It is made lawful to you to go into your wives on the night of the fast; they are an apparel for you and you are an apparel for them; Allah knew that you acted unfaithfully to yourselves, so He has turned to you (mercifully) and removed from you (this burden); so now be in contact with them and seek what Allah has ordained for you, and eat and drink until the whiteness of the day becomes distinct from the blackness of the night at dawn, then complete the fast till night, and have not contact with them while you keep to the mosques; these are the limits of Allah, so do not go near them. Thus does Allah make clear His communications for men that they may guard (against evil).

I don't think I've ever heard of anyone described as an apparel.  Regardless, how kind of Allah to let his followers know that they are permitted sexual relations during the nights of Ramadan.  The phrasing of this ayah is very peculiar.  It makes it seem like at some point, sexual relations were not allowed during Ramadan.  Allah, in his goodness, saw that his believers were having relations anyway, so he forgave them and said that it was fine to do so as long as it was done within his prescribed hours.  
[2.188] And do not swallow up your property among yourselves by false means, neither seek to gain access thereby to the judges, so that you may swallow up a part of the property of men wrongfully while you know.

Don't cheat or bribe.
[2.189] They ask you concerning the new moon. Say: They are times appointed for (the benefit of) men, and (for) the pilgrimage; and it is not righteousness that you should enter the houses at their backs, but righteousness is this that one should guard (against evil); and go into the houses by their doors and be careful (of your duty) to Allah, that you may be successful.

This supposedly has to do with the lunar calendar.  For me it seems to attempt to explain the importance of the lunar calendar for their pilgrimage and worship and then tack on some weird stuff about entering houses.  I guess we can say that the entering the houses may be discussing mosques or how believers should present themselves.
[2.190] And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.
[2.191] And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.
[2.192] But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
[2.193] And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.

Wow.  These few ayah have probably been used for the justification of many aggressive acts.  So Allah says that if his followers are feeling persecuted, it is fine for them to kill those whom they feel are persecuting them.  The only two exceptions are: unless they are near a mosque or if they have desisted from their actions.  After reading these ayahs repeatedly, I have been trying to determine in what manner the hijackers on the different 9/11 flights felt persecuted.  I can more or less comprehend how Muslim Iraqis may feel persecuted by what they see as a terrestrial incursion, however, what bothered the 9/11 hijackers?  What gave them cause to feel persecuted?  Was it just because they felt our culture is so hedonistic that it will corrupt good Muslims?  Was it because they were fed lies regarding Americans that they took as truth?  I wouldn't be surprised at the later.  They've already accepted enough bizarre beliefs, what's a few more?

[2.194] The Sacred month for the sacred month and all sacred things are (under the law of) retaliation; whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you and be careful (of your duty) to Allah and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).

Does that make it divine retribution?

[2.195] And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves to perdition with your own hands, and do good (to others); surely Allah loves the doers of good.

This line would make sense on it's own page.  It talks of charity, however it is much tarnished after all of the violence of the preceding ayahs. 

What follows is the call to pilgrimage, ending, as always, with the day of reckoning.
[2.196] And accomplish the pilgrimage and the visit for Allah, but if, you are prevented, (send) whatever offering is easy to obtain, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches its destination; but whoever among you is sick or has an ailment of the head, he (should effect) a compensation by fasting or alms or sacrificing, then when you are secure, whoever profits by combining the visit with the pilgrimage (should take) what offering is easy to obtain; but he who cannot find (any offering) should fast for three days during the pilgrimage and for seven days when you return; these (make) ten (days) complete; this is for him whose family is not present in the Sacred Mosque, and be careful (of your duty) to Allah, and know that Allah is severe in requiting (evil).
[2.197] The pilgrimage is (performed in) the well-known months; so whoever determines the performance of the pilgrimage therein, there shall be no intercourse nor fornication nor quarrelling amongst one another; and whatever good you do, Allah knows it; and make provision, for surely the provision is the guarding of oneself, and be careful (of your duty) to Me, O men of understanding.
[2.198] There is no blame on you in seeking bounty from your Lord, so when you hasten on from "Arafat", then remember Allah near the Holy Monument, and remember Him as He has guided you, though before that you were certainly of the erring ones.
[2.199] Then hasten on from the Place from which the people hasten on and ask the forgiveness of Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
[2.200] So when you have performed your devotions, then laud Allah as you lauded your fathers, rather a greater lauding. But there are some people who say, Our Lord! give us in the world, and they shall have no resting place.
[2.201] And there are some among them who say: Our Lord! grant us good in this world and good in the hereafter, and save us from the chastisement of the fire.
[2.202] They shall have (their) portion of what they have earned, and Allah is swift in reckoning.

No comments:

Post a Comment