Sunday, September 26, 2010

Koran: The Family of the Imran, Part 2

[3.31] Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful
[3.32] Say: Obey Allah and the Apostle; but if they turn back, then surely Allah does not love the unbelievers.
[3.33] Surely Allah chose Adam and Noah and the descendants of Ibrahim and the descendants of Imran above the nations.
[3.34] Offspring one of the other; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

Surely we are special because we believe in this story.

[3.35] When a woman of Imran said: My Lord! surely I vow to Thee what is in my womb, to be devoted (to Thy service); accept therefore from me, surely Thou art the Hearing, the Knowing.
[3.36] So when she brought forth, she said: My Lord! Surely I have brought it forth a female-- and Allah knew best what she brought forth-- and the male is not like the female, and I have named it Marium, and I commend her and her offspring into Thy protection from the accursed Shaitan.

Here we have the birth of the Virgin Mary.

[3.37] So her Lord accepted her with a good acceptance and made her grow up a good growing, and gave her into the charge of Zakariya; whenever Zakariya entered the sanctuary to (see) her, he found with her food. He said: O Marium! whence comes this to you? She said: It is from Allah. Surely Allah gives to whom He pleases without measure.
[3.38] There did Zakariya pray to his Lord; he said: My Lord! grant me from Thee good offspring; surely Thou art the Hearer of prayer.
[3.39] Then the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: That Allah gives you the good news of Yahya (John)  verifying a Word from Allah, and honorable and chaste and a prophet from among the good ones.
[3.40] He said: My Lord! when shall there be a son (born) to me, and old age has already come upon me, and my wife is barren? He said: even thus does Allah what He pleases.
[3.41] He said: My Lord! appoint a sign for me. Said He: Your sign is that you should not speak to men for three days except by signs; and remember your Lord much and glorify Him in the evening and the morning.

So Mary is entrusted to the care of “Prophet” Zachariah.  She receives food magically.   And for whatever reason, this makes Zachariah want to ask for a child.  Angels respond.  He is told he will have a son despite his old age and his wife being barren.  Sound familiar?  Hints of Abraham, no?  What I like the most about this passage is the “sign” that is given to Zachariah: he will not speak for 3 days.  Self-fulfilling prophecy much?  

[3.42]. And when the angels said: O Marium! surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of of the world.
[3.43] O Marium! keep to obedience to your Lord and humble yourself, and bow down with those who bow.
[3.44] This is of the announcements relating to the unseen which We reveal to you; and you were not with them when they cast their pens (to decide) which of them should have Marium in his charge, and you were not with them when they contended one with another.

So Allah has chosen Mary for a special role and must decide upon her “guardianship.”

[3.45] When the angels said: O Marium, surely Allah gives you good news with a Word from Him (of one) whose name is the '. Messiah, Isa son of Marium, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near (to Allah).
[3.46] And he shall speak to the people when in the cradle and when of old age, and (he shall be) one of the good ones.
[3.47] She said: My Lord! when shall there be a son (born) to I me, and man has not touched me? He said: Even so, Allah creates what He pleases; when He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, Be, and it is.

And it has been decided that Mary shall bear a son, Jesus.  She (rightfully) questions how this is possible, since she has not been with a man.  The Angel tells her: “When He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, Be, and it is.”  This last statement reminds me of the Godfather for some reason.  

[3.48] And He will teach him the Book and the wisdom and the Tavrat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel).

Allah will teach Jesus.  And Jesus will perform the following miracles:

[3.49] And (make him) an apostle to the children of Israel: That I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I determine for you out of dust like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with Allah's permission and I heal the blind and the leprous, and bring the dead to life with Allah's permission and I inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses; most surely there is a sign in this for you, if you are believers.

Reading through these passages it is important to remember the haphazard way in which the Koran is organized.  The lack of linear structure is due to: 1) Mohammed supposedly memorizing the pieces as they were revealed to him 2) Others deciding what order to put them down in once it was decided that they should be written down.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t explain the lack of common sense.  

[3.50] And a verifier of that which is before me of the Taurat and that I may allow you part of that which has been forbidden t you, and I have come to you with a sign from your Lord therefore be careful of (your duty to) Allah and obey me.  
[3.51] Surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore serve Him; this is the right path.

From these statement, we are to ascertain that Jesus is speaking to the Jews and telling them to follow Allah.

[3.52] But when Isa perceived unbelief on their part, he said Who will be my helpers in Allah's way? The disciples said: We are helpers (in the way) of Allah: We believe in Allah and bear witness that we are submitting ones.
[3.53] Our Lord! we believe in what Thou hast revealed and we follow the apostle, so write us down with those who bear witness.
[3.54] And they planned and Allah (also) planned, and Allah is the best of planners.

Jesus has found his disciples.

[3.55] And when Allah said: O Isa, I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend unto Me and purify you of those who disbelieve and make those who follow you above those who disbelieve to the day of resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, so l will decide between you concerning that in which you differed.
[3.56] Then as to those who disbelieve, I will chastise them with severe chastisement in this world and the hereafter, and they shall have no helpers.
[3.57] And as to those who believe and do good deeds, He will pay them fully their rewards; and Allah does not love the unjust.
[3.58] This We recite to you of the communications and the wise reminder.

Allah decides to cute Jesus’ stay on earth short.  Belief in Jesus will be another measuring stick for entrance into heaven and hell.  

[3.59] Surely the likeness of Isa is with Allah as the likeness of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, Be, and he was.
[3.60] (This is) the truth from your Lord, so be not of the disputers.
[3.61] But whoever disputes with you in this matter after what has come to you of knowledge, then say: Come let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women and our near people and your near people, then let us be earnest in prayer, and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars.
[3.62] Most surely this is the true explanation, and there is no god but Allah; and most surely Allah-- He is the Mighty, the Wise.
[3.63] But if they turn back, then surely Allah knows the mischief-makers.

Every story in the Koran seems to focus on pointing out some aspect of Allah and how, of course it is all true, because Allah said so.  In “The Cow” there was some discussion regarding moral behavior, however this chapter has yet to focus on anything beyond believers vs. disbelievers.  There are about 200 more lines to go so we will see if this changes.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Koran: The Family of Imran, Part 1

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
[3.1] Alif Lam Mim.
[3.2] Allah, (there is) no god but He, the Everliving, the Self-subsisting by Whom all things subsist
[3.3] He has revealed to you the Book with truth, verifying that which is before it, and He revealed the Tavrat and the Injeel aforetime, a guidance for the people, and He sent the Furqan.

Allah, through divine revelation (of course), authored the Torah (tavrat), the Gospel, and the Koran.

[3.4] Surely they who disbelieve in the communications of Allah they shall have a severe chastisement; and Allah is Mighty, the Lord of retribution.

Lest one forget, Allah "the lord of retribution" will punish those disbelievers.

[3.5] Allah-- surely nothing is hidden from Him in the earth or in the heaven.
[3.6] He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He likes; there is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise

I’ve grown so weary of the notion that God created man in his image or that Allah crafted us each personally in the womb.  We won’t even get into what that means for those born with deformities, heart conditions, disabilities, etc; the idea itself is so egotistical and patently ridiculous.   

[3.7] He it is Who has revealed the Book to you; some of its verses are decisive, they are the basis of the Book, and others are allegorical; then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity they follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. but none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord; and none do mind except those having understanding.

So, if Allah is the only one who knows the interpretation of the Koran, what is the point of reading it and trying to understand?  Are we to believe that Allah illuminates some with the knowledge to understand?  

[3.8] Our Lord! make not our hearts to deviate after Thou hast guided us aright, and grant us from Thee mercy; surely Thou art the most liberal Giver.
[3.9] Our Lord! surely Thou art the Gatherer of men on a day about which there is no doubt; surely Allah will not fail (His) promise.

How does one trust a text that continually offers praise and plentiful adjectives for a supposed creator/being who supposedly authored it?  Allah/God- the original narcissist.  

[3.10] (As for) those who disbelieve, surely neither their wealth nor their children shall avail them in the least against Allah, and these it is who are the fuel of the fire.
[3.11] Like the striving of the people of Firon and those before them; they rejected Our communications, so Allah destroyed them on account of their faults; and Allah is severe in requiting (evil).
[3.12] Say to those who disbelieve: You shall be vanquished, and driven together to hell; and evil is the resting-place.

Nothing can save one from the wrath of Allah; he taught Pharaoh a lesson and he will vanquish disbelievers to hell.  I feel that sura 3.10 is especially interesting: “and these it is who are the fuel of the fire.”  That is much more disturbing imagery than what is typically authored. I can just see limbs and bodies as the kindling in this mythical place.  Certainly an image worthy of Goya.

[3.13] Indeed there was a sign for you in the two hosts (which) met together in encounter; one party fighting in the way of Allah and the other unbelieving, whom they saw twice as.many as themselves with the sight of the eye and Allah strengthens with His aid whom He pleases; most surely there is a lesson in this for those who have sight.

Well, if you are going to tell one group of people that they are better than another, you have to give them ammunition and Allah does it in spades.  Not only is Allah so merciful, beneficent, powerful, all-knowing, etc, but his followers are quite special, too, wink wink.  

[3.14] The love of desires, of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well bred horses and cattle and tilth, is made to seem fair to men; this is the provision of the life of this world; and Allah is He with Whom is the good goal (of life).

Religion loves to pander to the poor; I wonder if there are any passages in the Koran that would allow for a “Mosque of Affluence” similar to the Christian “Churches of Affluence.”  If you haven’t heard about them, basically the message is that God wants you to be rich, so be happy.  

[3.15] Say:Shall I tell you what is better than these? For those who guard (against evil) are gardens with their Lord, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and pure mates and Allah's pleasure; and Allah sees the servants.

Ahh, yes, I’d rather have the pleasure of Allah over worldly comfort any day!

[3.16] Those who say: Our Lord! surely we believe, therefore forgive us our faults and save us from the chastisement of the fire.
[3.17] The patient, and the truthful, and the obedient, and those who spend (benevolently) and those who ask forgiveness in the morning times.
[3.18] Allah bears witness that there is no god but He, and (so do) the angels and those possessed of knowledge, maintaining His creation with justice; there is no god but He, the Mighty, the Wise.
[3.19] Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam, and those to whom the Book had been given did not show opposition but after knowledge had come to them, out of envy among themselves; and whoever disbelieves in the communications of Allah then surely Allah is quick in reckoning.

Allah has already boasted through Mohammed about his amazing allegories and how us common folk are unable to  understand them.  So far it seems he is refraining from using them and is clearly stating the same old argument that he reiterated throughout the previous chapter: “believers go to heaven, non-believers go to hell” and “it is true because I said so!”

[3.20] But if they dispute with you, say: I have submitted myself entirely to Allah and (so) every one who follows me; and say to those who have been given the Book and the unlearned people: Do you submit yourselves? So if they submit then indeed they follow the right way; and if they turn back, then upon you is only the delivery of the message and Allah sees the servants.

Allah is for proselytizing; spread the faith.  Especially to the Jews and Christians.

[3.21] Surely (as for) those who disbelieve in the communications of Allah and slay the prophets unjustly and slay those among men who enjoin justice, announce to them a painful chastisement.
[3.22] Those are they whose works shall become null in this world as well as the hereafter, and they shall have no helpers.

And if they don’t believe you, tell them they are going to hell!  Their lives mean nothing!  

[3.23] Have you not considered those (Jews) who are given a portion of the Book? They are invited to the Book of Allah that it might decide between them, then a part of them turn back and they withdraw.
[3.24] This is because they say: The fire shall not touch us but for a few days; and what they have forged deceives them in the matter of their religion.
[3.25] Then how will it be when We shall gather them together on a day about which there is no doubt, and every soul shall be fully paid what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly?

And those silly Jews think they will only burn in hell for a few days, little do they know what Allah had planned for them.  I’m sure passages like these have nothing to do with the vitriolic conflicts in the middle east.  

[3.26] Say: O Allah, Master of the Kingdom! Thou givest the kingdom to whomsoever Thou pleasest and takest away the kingdom from whomsoever Thou pleasest, and Thou exaltest whom Thou pleasest and abasest whom Thou pleasest in Thine hand is the good; surety, Thou hast power over all things.
[3.27] Thou makest the night to pass into the day and Thou makest the day to pass into the night, and Thou bringest forth the living from the dead and Thou bringest forth the dead from the living, and Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou pleasest without measure.

Let me hear you sing my praises.  Really, though, I’m Allah and I can’t get enough.

[3.28] Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.

Wow, don’t even be friends with non-Muslims.  Does this also mean that there should not be business dealings between believers and non-believers?

[3.29] Say: Whether you hide what is in your hearts or manifest it, Allah knows it, and He knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth, and Allah has power over all things.
[3.30] On the day that every soul shall find present what it has done of good and what it has done of evil, it shall wish that between it and that (evil) there were a long duration of time; and Allah makes you to be cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and Allah is Compassionate to the servants.

I really can’t imagine growing up with the Koran as “my book.”  I was raised Catholic and while I know there are plenty of passages in the Bible dealing with praying to God and how to offer sacrifices, I feel the Koran calls for so much adulation and trust.  How do people raised under its umbrella not question its veracity?  Is it simply because the book tells them not to?  Isn’t that more reason to ask questions?  As I work my way through the Bible, I’ll be sure to pay attention to the Judeo-Christian God’s need for praise.  


Sorry for the long break.  I'm back at it, albeit more slowly.  I'm 7 months pregnant and have my hands full with a young child as well.  I feel it is important to read these religious books to better understand believers, so I will posting when I can.