This is the 43rd part of this series, reading The Qur’an; A New Translation by Abdel Haleem. We’ll occasionally compare that to other translations and with tafsirs for clarification. We’re also reading each “chapter” [surah] in order of revelation [mostly] rather than the order in which they are typically printed. If you missed some of this series, you can see:
my 1st post on surahs 1 & 2.
my 2nd post on surahs 96, 68 & 73.
my 3rd post on surahs 74, 111 & 81.
my 4th post on surahs 87, 92, 89, 93, 94 & 103.
my 5th post jumping to surah 18.
my 6th post on surahs 100, 108, 102, 107, 109 & 105
my 7th post was on surahs 113, 114, 112 & 53.
my 8th post on surahs 80, 97, 91, 85, 95 & 106.
my 9th post on surahs 101, 75, 104 & 77.
my 1oth post on surahs 50, 90 & 86.
my 11th post on surah 54,
my 12th post on surah 38,
my 13th post on surah 7,
my 14th post on surah 72,
my 15th post on surah 36,
my 16th post on surah 25,
my 17th post on surah 43,
my 18th post on surah 35.
my 19th post on surah 19.
my 20th post on surah 20,
my 21st post on surah 56.
my 22nd post on surah 26.
my 23rd post on surah 27.
my 24th post on surah 28.
my 25th post on surah 17.
my 26th post on surah 10.
my 27th post on surah 11.
my 28th post on surah 12.
my 29th post on surah 15.
my 30th post on surah 6.
my 31st post on surah 37.
my 32nd post on suras 31 & 34.
my 33rd post on surah 39.
my 34th post on surah 40.
my 35th post on surah 41.
my 36th post on surah 42.
my 37th post on surah 44.
my 38th post on suras 45 & 46.
my 39th post of suras 51 & 88.
my 40th post on surah 16.
my 41st post post on suras 71 & 14.
and my 42nd post on surah 21.
Sūrah 23 (Al-Mu’minun) The Believers
1[How] prosperous are the believers! 2Those who pray humbly, 3who shun idle talk, 4who pay the prescribed alms, 5who guard their chastity 6except with their spouses or their slaves ––with these they are not to blame,
This surah opens with a reference to something akin to Prosperity Gospel, the empty promise that if you believe what we tell you, you’ll receive good fortune in the form of wealth or other, more vague “blessings”. How many religious charlatans have pulled that scam? It doesn’t even matter how often or how completely that promise fails. MY life has been more “blessed” than that of most of the believers I’ve ever known.
The 2nd verse promotes humility, but only because the goal is get believers to submit, to believe what they’re told and to obey the leaders of their religion without question or contest. This applies especially to the 4th verse, where everyone must turn over a significant portion of their income to fund the continued operation of the world’s oldest confidence scam.
The 3rd verse is funny, because, if these people shunned idle talk, then they wouldn’t listen to prophets either.
The 5th verse is just sad, because all Abrahamic religions—if not all religions in general—have an unhealthy aversion to, and mistreatment of, sexuality. This includes violent and wholly immoral overreactions to feminism or anything gender queer.
Then the 6th verse simultaneously endorses both rape and slavery. Translator, Abdel Haleem put a footnote here, referring to Surah 4, verse 2, where God supposedly says that if you can’t “marry a believing free woman, then marry a believing slave.” Either verse confirms that the god of Islam not only endorses the subjugation and molestation of women but he also endorses slavery too, proving that Allah is not a moral character.
7but anyone who seeks more than this is exceeding the limits.
The Qur’an says that you should not wish for more than to be fooled by liars and to give away 10% of your income to them for the rest of your life, while pleading for mercy from a psychic psycho. You’re also prohibited from healthy sexual expression, but you’re allowed to sexually violate your prisoners and not be blamed.
8who are faithful to their trusts and pledges 9and who keep up their prayers, 10will rightly be given 11Paradise as their own, there to remain.
Trapped forever, for all eternity, with no end or escape ever even possible. As Christopher Hitchens noted when he referred to Heaven as a celestial North Korea, “At least you can die and leave North Korea”, where there is no escape from Heaven.
12We created man from an essence of clay,
When the Qur’an said that God made all life out of water, we argued that life as we know it is based on carbon, not water. But religious apologists are forbidden from admitting any error in the scriptures, no matter how obvious or plentiful those errors are. So defenders of the faith argue that the fact that we are mostly water by volume means that the Qur’an isn’t necessarily wrong.
Then when the Qur’an said we were created from a drop of fluid, without acknowledging the contribution of the female egg, which only God could have known about in the 7th century, apologists again make excuses; one being that God could only tell us so much without confusing us. They say this knowing that they also read in what they imagine to be hints of big bang cosmology and other modern scientific concepts that could only be interpreted that way by acts of cognitive contortion, and that those same passages were previously understood entirely differently, and incorrectly. God could have prevented that confusion, and he would have if he were real.
Even when the Qur’an says that this “drop of fluid” is between the backbone and the ribs, apologists still refuse to admit that seminal fluid is in the groin area, not between the backbone and the ribs, and that neither semen in the man nor the fetus in woman ever rises near those coordinates. The Qur’an is indefensibly wrong about this, but believers refuse to ever admit that.
So now the Qur’an says that we are made out of clay. Not only does that contradict the earlier claims of being made of semen (amino acids and proteins) and of being made of H2O, now it says that we are made of a fine-grained soil of mostly silicates, of which we are not made.
Every version of the Qur’an that I’ve seen says “clay”, using the Arabic word, tin. Although NobelQuran takes liberties, redefining clay as “an extract of earth and water”. But if you extract anything out of clay, it’ll be silicates or aluminum. For example, montmorillonite clay has been shown to be conducive to the catalysis of ribonucleotides. So that should be the closest form of clay to us, and its molecular formula is Al2H2O12Si4. Notice the aluminum and silicon? We are not made of those.
The Geologic Society of London says, “The term ‘clay’ refers to a naturally occurring material composed primarily of fine-grained minerals, which is generally plastic at appropriate water contents and will harden when dried or fired.” That ain’t us either. According to Pottery Crafters, the four types of clay are earthenware, stoneware, ball clay and porcelain. We are none of those.
We must remember that the Qur’an was written by medieval Arabs who didn’t know about molecular structures. So their word for clay likely referred to any form of moldable mud, including what the Bible calls “dust” in the story of Adam being created as a magically animated clay/mud golem, as the JewishVirtualLibrary explains:
“In Jewish tradition, the golem is most widely known as an artificial creature created by magic, often to serve its creator. The word “golem” appears only once in the Bible (Psalms139:16). In Hebrew, “golem” stands for “shapeless mass.” The Talmud uses the word as “unformed” or “imperfect” and according to Talmudic legend, Adam is called “golem,” meaning “body without a soul” (Sanhedrin 38b) for the first 12 hours of his existence. The golem appears in other places in the Talmud as well. One legend says the prophet Jeremiah made a golem. However, some mystics believe the creation of a golem has symbolic meaning only, like a spiritual experience following a religious rite.”
So Adam was a clay figurine magically-animated by a golem spell. That’s why the Qur’an says we’re made of clay, because of this well known folk tale. But it’s only a fable and a silly one at that. It never really happened, not even in a figurative sense. The fact is that we are not and were not made of clay.
13then We placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place,
Someone teach Muhammad about fertilization, so that he’ll stop referring to sperm as a drop of fluid, and he’ll remember to mention the female ovum.
14then We made that drop into a clinging form, and We made that form into a lump of flesh, and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We made him into other forms ––glory be to God, the best of creators!
This reminds me of the very first time I ever argued with Muslim apologists.
Ten years ago, a handful of Muslim extremists called the iERA crashed the World Atheist Convention in Dublin Ireland. One of them, Adnan Rashid, the same guy who told me the Qur’an doesn’t talk about Noah’s flood (which it does over and over again in several surahs, including this very one) also said that the Qur’an describes the embryo growing bones and then later covering them over with flesh. Then when an actual embryologist (developmental biologist) corrected him on this, saying that both develop simultaneously, Adnan said the Qur’an is still right because the Arabic word “thumma” can mean that too. Except that no, it doesn’t ever mean that. Instead it always means a succession of “this then that”, NOT both at the same time. Because whoever wrote the Qu’ran copied Galen or someone else from that time who didn’t yet know any better.
So Adnan Rashid simply lied about that, as the iERA famously do. Because apologists can never admit when their sacred fables are wrong, no matter how obviously demonstrated. Add this the already impressive list of scientific errors in the Qur’an.
15then you will die 16and then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be raised up again.
Nonsense. Every religion wants to pretend that we can survive death somehow, usually by believing “hard enough” (pretending) but they all have different stories that can’t all be true and all of them can be—and evidently are—completely false.
17We created seven levels above you: We are never unmindful of Our creation.
So says some rando who obviously didn’t know anything about what he mistakenly calls “creation”, yet he pretends to speak for his imaginary god. There are not seven Heavens in the expanse of the firmament like they used to believe back then. If there were seven levels of anything in the sky, we would have some way to verify that by now. Because people back then thought these were material things, like the fictitious firmament and the “shooting stars” being lobbed at sneaky devils who get too high up in the sky.
18We sent water down from the sky in due measure and lodged it in the earth––We have the power to take it all away if We so wish––
Sure you do. Uh-huh. Bluff called.
19with it We produced for you gardens of date palms and vines, with many fruits there for you to eat, 20and a tree, growing out of Mount Sinai, that produces oil and seasoning for your food.
Just one single tree?
21There is a lesson for you in livestock: We produce milk for you to drink from their bellies. And they have many other benefits: you eat them 22and you ride on them, as you do in ships.
I guess the “lesson” is that we’re supposed to thank God for our being able to subjugate some animals?
23We sent Noah to his people. He said, ‘My people, serve God, for He is your only god. Will you not heed Him?’ 24But the leading disbelievers among his people said, ‘He is merely a mortal like you, trying to gain some superiority over you. God would have sent down angels if He had wished; besides, we never heard of anything like this from our forefathers. 25He is just a madman, so let’s wait and see what happens to him.’ 26Noah said, ‘My Lord, help me! They call me a liar,’ 27and so We revealed to him: ‘Build the Ark under Our watchful eye and according to Our revelation. When Our command comes and water gushes up out of the earth, a take pairs of every species on board, and your family, except for those on whom the sentence has already been passed– do not plead with me for the evildoers: they will be drowned– 28and when you and your companions are settled on the Ark, say, “Praise be to God, who delivered us from the wicked people,” 29and say, “My Lord, let me land with Your blessing: it is You who provide the best landings”.’
Remember, I told the Islamic apologist Adnan Rashid that we couldn’t take the Qur’an seriously because it talked about a global flood that we know never happened. That’s when Adnan said the Qur’an didn’t say any of what you just read above. Other Muslim apologists have since argued that yeah, it does talk about Noah, but that it doesn’t say the flood was global. That’s wrong too, because why else would Noah (or Nuh) need to “take pairs of every species” on board. Notice that it doesn’t say every species in Turkey or Iraq or Arabia, but two of EVERY species, period; which can only mean every species on earth.
Then, notice also that the Qur’an classifies all unbelievers as “evil-doers”, even if they’re not evil at all, they just don’t believe in this particular doctrine. So here, and in previous surahs too, the Qur’an makes clear that the flood was to drown EVERY unbeliever, and that everyone alive today is a descendant of Noah. So Adnan lied about that too.
30There are signs in all this: We have always put [people] to the test. 31Then We raised another generation after them, 32and sent one of their own as a messenger: ‘Serve God, for He is your only god. Will you not heed Him?’ 33But the leading disbelievers among his people, who denied the Meeting in the Hereafter, to whom We had granted ease and plenty in this life, said, ‘He is just a mortal like you– he eats what you eat and drinks what you drink– 34and you will really be losers if you obey a mortal like yourselves. 35How can he promise you that after you die and become dust and bones you will be brought out alive? 36What you are promised is very farfetched. 37There is only the life of this world: we die, we live, but we will never be resurrected. 38He is just a man making lies up about God. We will never believe in him.’
I was under the impression there were no words of wisdom in the Qur’an at all. It turns out there is, but only in quotes like these. Otherwise it seems that every surah keeps repeating this list of stories about Noah and Moses and Thammud, as if we needed to hear that again in every single chapter.
39The prophet said, ‘My Lord, help me! They call me a liar,’ 40and so God said, ‘Soon they will be filled with regret.’ 41The blast justly struck them and We swept them away like scum. Away with the evildoers!
These are clearly neither the words nor actions of an actual god that might exist. Any actual deity should be above and beyond such petty, vengeful and inexplicably insecure misjudgment and vengeance over nothing.
42We raised other generations after them– 43no community can advance or delay its time– 44and We sent Our messengers in succession: whenever a messenger came to a community they invariably called him a liar, so We destroyed them one after the other and made them into cautionary tales. Away with the disbelievers!
You’d think that an omniscient being wouldn’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and never learn from his constant failures. But this god just isn’t that smart. Nor does he care at all about his creations. Because even a god this stupid would have realized by now that all these unnecessary and indefensible deaths on his hands are all his fault, and that he shouldn’t punish other people over his inability to communicate effectively. Of course if there really was a god, it wouldn’t care if we believed in him or not, and it would never expect us to believe in him on faith.
45Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron, with Our signs and clear authority, 46to Pharaoh and his prominent leaders, but they responded with arrogance: they were a haughty people.
Because they were not clear signs or any authority, and that’s why God and Moses failed here too.
47They said, ‘Are we to believe in two mortals like us? And their people are our servants?’ 48and so they called them both liars: they became another ruined people. 49We gave Moses the Scripture, so that they might be rightly guided.
You mean rightly guided to Judaism?
No, to Christianity.
No, to Islam.
No, to Joseph Smith and Baha’u’llah.
So much for the scriptures being a rightful guide.
50We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign; We gave them shelter on a peaceful hillside with flowing water.
And according to this revision of that absurd fable, you made a 15 year-old girl give birth alone in the wilderness under threat of attack by her own people due to their supposedly “righteous” perverted bigotry against various aspects of sex and procreation.
51Messengers, eat good things and do good deeds: I am well aware of what you do.
You mean like how Abraham, Noah, Lot, Moses and Muhammad all abused and/or molested their dependent children?
52This community of yours is one– and I am your Lord: be mindful of Me– they have split their community into sects, each rejoicing in their own.
Nothing will divide a community like religion will.
54So [Muhammad] leave them for a while steeped [in their ignorance]. 55Do they reckon that, by giving them wealth and sons, 56We race to give them good things? They really have no idea!
Of course not. No one expects Allah to do what only a good god would do.
57Those who stand in awe of their Lord, 58who believe in His messages, 59who do not ascribe partners to Him, 60who always give with hearts that tremble at the thought that they must return to Him, 61are the ones who race toward good things, and they will be the first to get them.
Translation: Obey the raving desert weirdo and do whatever he says and everything will be mostly alright.
62We do not burden any soul with more than it can bear–
Yes, you do, when you manipulate us, mislead us and then threaten unjust punishment of the most extreme imaginable nature for all eternity.
We have a Record that tells the truth– they will not be wronged.
Where is this record that tells the truth? And why have I been reading the Qur’an instead?
63But the disbelievers’ hearts are steeped [in ignorance of ] all this; and there are other things besides this that they do.
You mean other alien customs like tolerating other people regardless of their religion or sexuality ?
64When We bring Our punishment on those corrupted with wealth, they will cry for help: 65‘Do not cry out today: you will get no help from Us.
That’s a clever way to get people to part with their wealth, by donating it to the prophet instead.
66Time and time again My messages were recited to you, but you turned arrogantly on your heels, 67and spent the evening making fun of [the Quran].’
Well, be fair. You make it so easy to do.
68Have they not contemplated the Word of God? Has something come to them that did not come to their forefathers?
Yes, I do have many advantages that were not available to my ancestors. And yes, I have contemplated the scriptures of a few different religions that were all misrepresented as “the word of God”
69Do they not recognize their Messenger? So why do they reject him?
BECAUSE we recognize him. I know a fraud when I see one.
70Why do they say he is possessed?
We don’t, or at least I don’t. Because there is no such things as demons, and mind-body dualism isn’t real either. So possession is not even possible.
He has brought them the truth and most of them hate it,
Because your lies are not truth.
71but if the truth were in accordance with their desires, the heavens, the earth, and everyone in them would disintegrate. We have brought them their Reminder and they turn away from it.
Wrong again. The truth suits me just fine, and my reality remains demonstrable where yours is not.
72Do you [Prophet] ask them for any payment? Your Lord’s is the best payment: He is the Best of Providers.
All this god provides are empty threats, broken promises and other falsehoods.
73You call them to a straight path 74and those who do not believe in the Hereafter turn away from that path. 75Even if We were to show them mercy and relieve them of distress, they would blindly persist in their transgression.
Notice how it never even crosses God’s mind to simply show us the truth that his questionable prophets pretend to have? Instead, all “he” [they] can do is threats of punishment when they fail to make their case.
76We have already afflicted them, yet they did not submit to their Lord: they will not humble themselves 77until We open a gate to severe torment for them– then they will be plunged into utter despair.
A competent god wouldn’t let that happen.
78It is God who endowed you with hearing, sight, and hearts– how seldom you are grateful! 79It is He who made you multiply on earth. It is to Him that you will be gathered: 80it is He who gives life and death; the alternation of night and day depends on Him; will you not use your minds?
Unlike believers, I do use my mind. That’s how I see that all you can give me are lies like these.
81But, like others before them, 82they say, ‘What? When we die and turn to dust and bones, shall we really be resurrected? 83We have heard such promises before, and so did our forefathers. These are just ancient fables.’
Yep. More words of wisdom.
84Say [Prophet], ‘Who owns the earth and all who live in it, if you know [so much]?’
We do. Not you.
85and they will reply, ‘God.’ Say, ‘Will you not take heed?’
86Say, ‘Who is the Lord of the seven heavens? Who is the Lord of the Mighty Throne?’
There isn’t one.
87and they will reply, ‘God.’ Say, ‘Will you not be mindful?’
You keep guessing my answers wrong!
88Say, ‘Who holds control of everything in His hand? Who protects, while there is no protection against Him, if you know [so much]?’
89and they will reply, ‘God.’ Say, ‘Then how can you be so deluded?’
Wrong again! How can you [Muhammad] speak for God when you can’t even speak for me?
90The fact is, We brought them the truth and they are lying.
That itself is a lie, because truth is whatever we can show to be true, and what you’re talking about is empty assertions of nonsense.
91God has never had a child. Nor is there any god beside Him– if there were, each god would have taken his creation aside and tried to overcome the others. May God be exalted above what they describe!
All gods are imaginary, even yours.
92He knows what is not seen as well as what is seen; He is far above any partner they claim for Him.
He doesn’t know squat and can’t do anything at all.
93Say, ‘Lord, if You are going to show me the punishment You have promised them, 94then Lord, do not include me among the evildoers!’
Someone is not an evil doer because of anything they do or don’t believe. They’re an evil doer when they do evil, like God does, according to these verses.
95We certainly are able to show you the punishment We have promised them.
OK. Show me. I dare you.
96Repel evil with good–
That’s what I’m doing now.
We are well aware of what they attribute to Us–
I often get accused of things I didn’t do too. But unlike God, there are also things I can do.
97and say, ‘Lord, I take refuge with You from the goadings of the evil ones; 98I seek refuge with you, Lord, so that they may not come near me.’
These wanna-pretenders sure are sensitive about their imaginary friends, seeking protection from a delusion that really needs them to defend it.
99When death comes to one of them, he cries, ‘My Lord, let me return 100so as to make amends for the things I neglected.’ Never! This will not go beyond his words: a barrier stands behind such people until the very Day they are resurrected.
Whereas, if there really was a god, it would not be that way. Because a competent god or a wise one would give us reason to believe, and literally would not give a damn if we didn’t.
101On that Day when the Trumpet is blown, the ties between them will be as nothing and they will not ask about each other: 102those whose good deeds weigh heavy will be successful, 103but those whose balance is light will have lost their souls for ever and will stay in Hell–
How many good deeds will it take for an unbeliever to be “successful”? Because thus far, the Qur’an has constantly asserted that good deeds don’t mean a damn thing. All that matters is credulity.
104the Fire will scorch their faces and their lips will be twisted in pain.
No, it won’t. None of this will ever happen, and I suspect even believers already realize this deep down.
105‘Were My messages not recited over and over to you and still you rejected them?’
Repeating a lie a bunch of times won’t make it true.
106They will say, ‘Lord, our waywardness overcame us and we went astray.
Nope. If there was a god, and it was this cruel and stupid god, then this would be his fault, not ours.
107Lord, take us away from this and if we go back to our old ways, then we shall really be evildoers.’ 108He will say, ‘Away with you! In you go! Do not speak to Me!
Which is not what any actual god would say or permit to happen.
109Among My servants there were those who said, “Lord, We believe. Forgive us and have mercy on us: You are the most merciful of all.”
How do believers not realize that the promise of eternal torture is the very opposite of mercy?
110But you kept on laughing at them: so intent were you on laughing at them that it made you forget My warning.
Of course we’re laughing. I have seen believers confess that they would still believe even if their scriptures said that 2 + 2 = 5! Even when they know it is a lie, they will still call it truth, and make-believe in it anyway.
111Today I have rewarded them for their patience: it is they who will succeed.’
Today being 1,389 years ago?
112He will say, ‘How many years were you on earth?’
Because an omniscient being still needs to ask questions like that?
113and they will reply, ‘We stayed a day or a part of a day, but ask those who keep count.’ 114He will say, ‘You stayed but a little, if you had only known.
If we had only known? What he refused to show us?
115Did you think We had created you in vain, and that you would not be brought back to Us?’
You didn’t create us at all. We created you, and it is time we grew out of imaginary friends. Or in this case, imaginary enemies.
116Exalted be God, the true King, there is no god but Him, the Lord of the Glorious Throne! 117Whoever prays to another god alongside Him– a god for whose existence he has no evidence– will face his reckoning with his Lord.
Such irony! YOUR god has no evidence. No god does.
Those who reject the truth will not prosper.
Then I have nothing to worry about.
118Say [Prophet], ‘Lord, forgive and have mercy: You are the most merciful of all.’