July 14, 2024

An Infidel Reads Sūrah 3

This is the 50th 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.
my 42nd post on surah 21,
my 43rd post on surah 23
my 44th post on suras 32 & 52
my 45th post on suras 67, 69 & 70.
my 46th post on suras 78, 79, 82 & 84.
and my 47th post on suras 30 & 29.m
my 48th post on sura 83
and my 49th post on surah 8.

Sūrah 3 (Al-i’Imran) the family of

1Alif Lam Mim

Surah 2 began with Alif Lam Mim as well, which leads me to think that I might be right about these initials being a means of categorizing these suras into sections.

2God: there is no god but Him, the Ever Living, the Ever Watchful. 3Step by step, He has sent the Scripture down to you [Prophet] with the Truth, confirming what went before: He sent down the Torah and the Gospel 4earlier as a guide for people and He has sent down the distinction [between right and wrong]. Those who deny God’s revelations will suffer severe torment: God is almighty and capable of retribution. 5Nothing on earth or in heaven is hidden from God: 6it is He who shapes you all in the womb as He pleases. There is no God but Him, the Mighty, the Wise: 7it is He who has sent this Scripture down to you [Prophet]. Some of its verses are definite in meaning–these are the cornerstone of the Scripture–and others are ambiguous. The perverse at heart eagerly pursue the ambiguities in their attempt to make trouble and to pin down a specific meaning of their own: only God knows the true meaning. Those firmly grounded in knowledge say, ‘We believe in it: it is all from our Lord’–only those with real perception will take heed– 8‘Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us. Grant us Your mercy: You are the Ever Giving. 9Our Lord, You will gather all people on the Day of which there is no doubt: God never breaks His promise.’

Not only does the Qur’an repeat these same claims in nearly every surah, but it’s even repeating most these empty assertions twice just just in this one paragraph. It’s almost as if they paraphrased this paragraph and put both versions together into one. I wouldn’t expect this much redundancy from a supreme intelligence.

10Neither their possessions nor their children will be any use to the disbelievers against God. The disbelievers will be fuel for the Fire, 11just as Pharaoh’s people and their predecessors denied Our revelations, and God punished them for their sins: God is severe in punishing. 12[Prophet], say to the disbelievers, ‘You will be defeated and driven together into Hell, a foul resting place. 13You have already seen a sign in the two armies that met in battle, one fighting for God’s cause and the other made up of disbelievers. With their own eyes [the former] saw [the latter] to be twice their number, but God helps whoever He will. There truly is a lesson in this for all with eyes to see.’

Remember that this story also said that God played both sides of the battlefield, giving them all similar hallucinations and still letting a good number of his side die, just so they could keep thieving from commercial caravans. Also the idea that both sides saw an illusion that the other side was a smaller group makes me wonder how much this story has been embellished or exaggerated before it got into the Qur’an.

14The love of desirable things is made alluring for men– women, children, gold and silver treasures piled up high, horses with fine markings, livestock, and farmland– these may be the joys of this life, but God has the best place to return to.

If you’ve read the Qur’an with me so far, then you know better than that by now.

15[Prophet], say, ‘Would you like me to tell you of things that are better than all of these? Their Lord will give those who are mindful of God Gardens graced with flowing streams, where they will stay with pure spouses and God’s good pleasure– God is fully aware of His servants– 16those who say, “Our Lord, we believe, so forgive us our sins and protect us from suffering in the Fire,” 17those who are steadfast, truthful, truly devout, who give [in God’s cause] and pray before dawn for forgiveness.’ 18God bears witness that there is no god but Him, as do the angels and those who have knowledge. He upholds justice. There is no god but Him, the Almighty, the All Wise.

So God testifies as his own witness? I would actually be satisfied with that if he really did. But he doesn’t, and his angels don’t either.

19True Religion, in God’s eyes, is Islam: [devotion to Him alone]. Those who were given the Scripture disagreed out of rivalry, only after they had been given knowledge– if anyone denies God’s revelations, God is swift to take account–

Well most religions claim to be the one true faith, complete with the revealed word of [different versions of] the one true god, don’t they?

20if they argue with you [Prophet], say, ‘I have devoted myself to God alone and so have my followers.’ Ask those who were given the Scripture, as well as those without one, ‘Do you too devote yourselves to Him alone?’ If they do, they will be guided, but if they turn away, your only duty is to convey the message. God is aware of His servants.

Here it says to let the unbelievers go about their way. Remember that when we get to Surah 9.

21Give news of agonizing torment to those who ignore God’s revelations, who unjustifiably kill prophets, who kill those who command that justice is done:

This is interesting. The Qur’an says to put the fear of Hell into the unbelievers, just like Christians do too. But then it assumes that unbelievers are killing prophets. How many prophets do y’all have anyway? Why does it have to specify the “unjustified” killing of prophets? If a prophet stole your Arabian mare, then you’re killing a horse thief, not a prophet. Why would anyone need to kill prophets? Instead, try to lead them to reason. And if you can’t do that, lead them to medication to help them.

22the deeds of such people will come to nothing in this world and in the next and no one will help them. 23Have you considered those who were given a share of the Scripture? When they are asked to accept judgement from God’s Scripture, some of them turn their backs and walk away, all because they declare, 24‘The Fire will only touch us for a limited number of days.’ The lies they have invented have led them astray in their own religion.

The lies, right? They should have answered with the truth, that there obviously is no Hell, and that we shouldn’t use that threat to manipulate people.

25How will they fare when We gather them together for a Day of which there is no doubt, when every soul will be paid in full for what it has done, and they will not be wronged?

The Qur’an says “when” when it doesn’t even qualify as an “if”.

26Say, ‘God, holder of all control, You give control to whoever You will and remove it from whoever You will; You elevate whoever You will and humble whoever You will. All that is good lies in Your hand: You have power over everything. 27You merge night into day and day into night; You bring the living out of the dead and the dead out of the living; You provide limitlessly for whoever You will.’

This reminds me of a favorite scene out of the original Terminator. Our human hero is trying to explain to a psychiatrist that he had to travel through time naked, chasing a robot clothed in living human flesh. The psychiatrist says to his associates, “You see how clever his part is? How it doesn’t require a shred of proof? Most paranoid delusions are intricate, but this is brilliant!”

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28The believers should not make the disbelievers their allies rather than other believers– anyone who does such a thing will isolate himself completely from God– except when you need to protect yourselves from them. God warns you to beware of Him: the Final Return is to God.

Because maintaining delusion requires rigid “us vs them” politics.

29Say [Prophet], ‘God knows everything that is in your hearts, whether you conceal or reveal it; He knows everything in the heavens and earth; God has power over all things.’ 30On the Day when every soul finds all the good it has done present before it, it will wish all the bad it has done to be far, far away. God warns you to beware of Him, but God is compassionate towards His servants.

Are we just repeating the first paragraph again? You know, if God really wrote this book, there is SO much he could have told us, even keeping the book as short as it is. But he left out all the information that might have been useful and interesting, and instead just keeps repeating this empty threat against all reason.

31Say, ‘If you love God, follow me, and God will love you and forgive you your sins; God is most forgiving, most merciful.’ 32Say, ‘Obey God and the Messenger,’ but if they turn away, [know that] God does not love those who ignore [His commands]. 33God chose Adam, Noah, Abraham’s family, and the family of Imran, over all other people, 34in one line of descent– God hears and knows all.

Then he should know better than that, shouldn’t he?

35Imran’s wife said, ‘Lord, I have dedicated what is growing in my womb entirely to You; so accept this from me. You are the One who hears and knows all,’

This as yet unborn child was dedicated to the parents’ religion? Obviously without consent. Children have no say in what their parents religion does to them.

36but when she gave birth, she said, ‘My Lord! I have given birth to a girl’– God knew best what she had given birth to: the male is not like the female–‘ I name her Mary and I commend her and her offspring to Your protection from the rejected Satan.’

Everyone understands that this story was made-up centuries after the alleged fact, right? Is that obvious to everyone? Or just me? Oh darn, I had such high hopes for my child, but it’s “just” a girl. The male is not like the female? In the vast majority of senses, yes, they are alike, and not just because they both have nipples.

37Her Lord graciously accepted her and made her grow in goodness, and entrusted her to the charge of Zachariah. Whenever Zachariah went in to see her in her sanctuary, he found her supplied with provisions. He said, ‘Mary, how is it you have these provisions?’ and she said, ‘They are from God: God provides limitlessly for whoever He will.’

So completely random.

38There and then Zachariah prayed to his Lord, saying, ‘Lord, from Your grace grant me virtuous offspring: You hear every prayer.’

Except the believers down the street who prayed for their sons’ life and he died anyway. But I’m sure God will still help you with much less important matters.

39The angels called out to him, while he stood praying in the sanctuary, ‘God gives you news of John, confirming a Word from God. He will be noble and chaste, a prophet, one of the righteous.’

So Mary is going to give birth to Jesus, the “word from God”. The footnote is that God commanded Jesus to be conceived rather than bringing him about by sex. But the story about that says that “the spirit of God” came to Mary in the physical body of a “perfected” man. What was the purpose of that if there was no sex involved? She then asked how she is to get pregnant if no man has touched her? To which, the perfected man replied “that’s easy”. Is the apparent explanation not obvious enough?

40He said, ‘My Lord, how can I have a son when I am so old and my wife is barren?’ [An angel] said, ‘It will be so: God does whatever He will.’

Just like rolling the dice, and assuming that God did whatever would have happened that way anyway.

41He said, ‘My Lord, give me a sign.’ ‘Your sign,’ [the angel] said, ‘is that you will not communicate with anyone for three days, except by gestures. Remember your Lord often; celebrate His glory in the evening and at dawn.’

How is that a sign? Why would any actual deity “communicate” in such a ridiculous way?

42The angels said to Mary: ‘Mary, God has chosen you and made you pure: He has truly chosen you above all women. 43Mary, be devout to your Lord, prostrate yourself in worship, bow down with those who pray.’ 44This is an account of things beyond your knowledge that We reveal to you [Muhammad]: you were not present among them when they [the priests] cast lots to see which of them should take charge of Mary, you were not present with them when they argued [about her].

Yeah Muhammad, you weren’t there, ‘cuz that was like 600 years earlier. Where were you?

45The angels said, ‘Mary, God gives you news of a Word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, who will be held in honour in this world and the next, who will be one of those brought near to God.

Except that he isn’t a Messiah in any sense, not according to the Jews and not even according to Islam. Muslims don’t even believe that Jesus died on the cross, and the Jews point out a long list of things their Messiach was supposed to do, and Jesus never did any of them. Believing in Jesus as your messiah will even get you damned in Islam. So this passage makes no sense.

46He will speak to people in his infancy and in his adulthood. He will be one of the righteous.’

Remember that the Qur’an has Jesus speaking only hours after his own birth, when the larynx is still in the “ape” position, and it is not yet physically possible for such a young infant to even make the sounds of speech, much less mentally so.

47She said, ‘My Lord, how can I have a son when no man has touched me?’ [The angel] said, ‘This is how God creates what He will: when He has ordained something, He only says, “Be”, and it is.

Sure, God can use incantation, except when he needs to animate a golem and then transform a rib from within that golem or impregnate a girl. Then he uses different spells. Of course he didn’t need to impregnate a girl, did he? He could have just made Jesus as another golem, or he could have just said “Jesus Be!”

48He will teach him the Scripture and wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel, 49He will send him as a messenger to the Children of Israel: “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I will make the shape of a bird for you out of clay, then breathe into it and, with God’s permission, it will become a real bird; I will heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead back to life with God’s permission; I will tell you what you may eat and what you may store up in your houses. There truly is a sign for you in this, if you are believers.

In a sense, I guess the Qur’an is one of the non-canonical gospels, unless it is just copying from the apocryphal infancy gospel.

50I have come to confirm the truth of the Torah which preceded me, and to make some things lawful to you which used to be forbidden. I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. Be mindful of God, obey me:

“Believe in my God and obey me”. Isn’t that what we hear every religious leader?

51God is my Lord and your Lord, so serve Him– that is a straight path.”’

An infallible omniscient omnipotent being wouldn’t need any of our services, and we would be insufficient to provide for it.

52When Jesus realized they [still] did not believe, he said, ‘Who will help me in God’s cause?’ The disciples said, ‘We will be God’s helpers; we believe in God– witness our devotion to Him. 53Lord, we believe in what You have revealed and we follow the messenger: record us among those who bear witness [to the Truth].’ 54The [disbelievers] schemed but God also schemed; God is the Best of Schemers.

Then why does he keep sending prophets who always fail and maybe get “unjustifiably” killed?

55God said, ‘Jesus, I will take you back and raise you up to Me: I will purify you of the disbelievers. To the Day of Resurrection I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieved. Then you will all return to Me and I will judge between you regarding your differences. 56I will make the disbelievers suffer severely in this world and the next; no one will help them.’ 57God will pay those who believe and do good deeds their reward in full; God does not love evildoers.

I am literally yawning as I read this empty threat endlessly repeated.

58We relate to you [Muhammad] this revelation, a decisive statement. 59In God’s eyes Jesus is just like Adam: He created him from dust, said to him, ‘Be’, and he was.

Adam wasn’t a messiah either.

60This is the truth from your Lord, so do not be one of those who doubt. 61If anyone disputes this with you now that you have been given this knowledge, say, ‘Come, let us gather our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, and let us pray earnestly and invoke God’s rejection on those of us who are lying. 62This is the truth of the matter: there is no god but God; God is the Exalted, the Decider.’

It is so irritating to me to see every demonstrable fact that believers don’t like dismissed as if they’re all lies, while they tout every unsupported assertion as truth with a capital T. It is as if neither word has any meaning anymore, not if every lie is the truth and every fact is a lie.

63If they turn away, [know that] God is well aware of anyone who causes corruption. 64Say, ‘People of the Book, let us arrive at a statement that is common to us all: we worship God alone, we ascribe no partner to Him, and none of us takes others beside God as lords.’ If they turn away, say, ‘Witness our devotion to Him.’

I was told that “the people of the book” refers to Jews, Christians and Muslims collectively, the big three Abrahamic faiths.

65People of the Book, why do you argue about Abraham when the Torah and the Gospels were not revealed until after his time? Do you not understand? 66You argue about some things of which you have some knowledge, but why do you argue about things of which you know nothing? God knows and you do not.

Isn’t that what religion is all about? Arguing about things for which you know nothing, and pretending to know what you don’t and can’t really know?

67Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian. He was upright and devoted to God, never an idolater, 68and the people who are closest to him are those who truly follow his ways, this Prophet, and [true] believers– God is close to [true] believers.

Importantly, Abraham wasn’t a Muslim either. Jews claim him and Christians claim him just as Muslims do too. Yet the Qur’an also says that you’re doomed if you’re Jewish and damned if you’re Christian.

69Some of the People of the Book would dearly love to lead you [believers] astray, but they only lead themselves astray, though they do not realize it.

Yes, everyone is mislead except the people wandering lost in the desert for 40 years.

70People of the Book, why do you deny God’s revelations when you can see they are true?

I am not “of the book”, but I can see that these “revelations” are not true.

71People of the Book, why do you mix truth with falsehood? Why do you hide the truth when you recognize it?

Again, I can’t answer for them, having no religion myself. But isn’t that what religion is all about?

72Some of the People of the Book say, ‘At the beginning of the day, believe in what has been revealed to these believers [the Muslims], then at the end of the day reject it, so that they too may turn back, 73but do not sincerely believe in anyone unless he follows your own religion’– [Prophet], tell them, ‘True guidance is the guidance of God’– [they say], ‘Do not believe that anyone else could be given a revelation similar to what you were given, or that they could use it to argue against you in your Lord’s presence.’ [Prophet], tell them, ‘All grace is in God’s hands: He grants it to whoever He will– He is all embracing, all knowing– 74and He singles out for His mercy whoever He will. His grace is infinite.’

Here again, every religion pretends that everyone else is misguided, all except for themselves, for they and they alone have the TRUE guidance of the REAL god.

75There are People of the Book who, if you [Prophet] entrust them with a heap of gold, will return it to you intact, but there are others of them who, if you entrust them with a single dinar, will not return it to you unless you keep standing over them, because they say, ‘We are under no obligation towards the gentiles.’ They tell a lie against God and they know it.

That’s another thing religion does. Every believer is a liar when they claim facts and knowledge they can’t really show or possess, but they all accuse everyone else of doing the same, even when they can’t defend that allegation enough to show that something said that wasn’t true.

76No indeed! God loves those who keep their pledges and are mindful of Him, 77but those who sell out God’s covenant and their own oaths for a small price will have no share in the life to come. God will neither speak to them nor look at them on the Day of Resurrection– He will not cleanse them [of their sins]– agonizing torment awaits them.

The moral of this story is, if you’re going to sell out God’s covenant, make sure you charge a hefty price.

78There are some who twist the Scripture with their tongues to make you [people] think that what they say is part of the Scripture when it is not; they say it is from God when it is not; they attribute lies to God and they know it.

No, they don’t. I know Christians who do all of that every day, but they can’t seem to understand what a lie is or why that matters. Then they accuse me of lying too, even when what I said is verifiably true and factually accurate. It’s all a bunch of finger-pointing accusations from people who think that truth is subjective, whatever you want to believe that it is.

79No person to whom God had given the Scripture, wisdom, and prophethood would ever say to people, ‘Be my servants, not God’s.’ [He would say], ‘You should be devoted to God because you have taught the Scripture and studied it closely.’

But according to the gospels, Jesus did that, saying that none could come to the father but through him, as if Jesus is “the decider” of who gets into Heaven with “the father”.

80He would never command you to take angels and prophets as lords. How could he command you to be disbelievers after you had devoted yourselves to God? 81God took a pledge from the prophets, saying, ‘If, after I have bestowed Scripture and wisdom upon you, a messenger comes confirming what you have been given, you must believe in him and support him. Do you affirm this and accept My pledge as binding on you?’ They said, ‘We do.’ He said, ‘Then bear witness and I too will bear witness.’

That’s another thing religious people do, claim to “witness” things no one’s ever actually seen.

82Those who turn away after this are the ones who break pledges. 83Do they seek anything other than submission to God? Everyone in the heavens and earth submits to Him, willingly or unwillingly; they will all be returned to Him. 84Say [Muhammad], ‘We [Muslims] believe in God and in what has been sent down to us and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes. We believe in what has been given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their Lord. We do not make a distinction between any of the [prophets]. It is to Him that we devote ourselves.’ 85If anyone seeks a religion other than [islam] complete devotion to God, it will not be accepted from him: he will be one of the losers in the Hereafter. 86Why would God guide people who deny the truth, after they have believed and acknowledged that the Messenger is true, and after they have been shown clear proof? God does not guide evildoers:

But you haven’t received “clear proof” that anything your “messenger” says is true. And even if you assume the authority of the scriptures, you’d still have to admit that neither Moses nor Jesus were Muslims.

87such people will be rewarded with rejection by God, by the angels, by all people, 88and so they will remain, with no relief or respite for their suffering. 89Not so those who afterwards repent and mend their ways– God is most forgiving and merciful–

What a lie, to say that this god is “forgiving and merciful” when the entirety of his character is described as seeking vengeance on anyone who isn’t credulous or foolish enough to believe in him, by savagely and relentlessly brutalizing the unbelievers for all eternity.

90[although] the repentance of those who, having believed, then increase in their disbelief, will not be accepted. They are the ones who have gone [far] astray:

There it is, the same unforgivable sin, that even if you repent and believe, God will still never forgive that moment of mental clarity when you no longer believed at all. In Christianity, the unforgivable sin is blaspheming the holy spirit, which Christians describe as conscious and hardened opposition to the truth, “because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6). But if you don’t believe that the lies in the Bible are truth, if instead you think that the truth is what the facts are, then you have the same opposition to all extraordinary claims made without any defensible support.

Blasphemy is commonly defined as speaking irreverently about God or sacred things. Once you’re no longer afraid to speak critically of God in an analytical manner, then you’re a blasphemer. If you’re an outsider who never believed, then you can be forgiven for that—if you come to believe before you die. But if you were already accepted as a believer, and then decide you no longer believe, that’s it for you. Once you say that the holy spirit of God isn’t real after all, you become an apostate, and can never be forgiven in either religion. Even if you decide to believe later on and beg your god for forgiveness, you’re still damned according to the words of both Christian and Muslim scribes pretending to speak for their respective gods.

91those who disbelieve and die disbelievers will not be saved even if they offer enough gold to fill the entire earth. Agonizing torment is in store for them, and there will be no one to help them.

Here is another admission that it doesn’t matter how charitable someone is, all that matters is your submission to credulity; that’s it. Nothing else counts for anything. This isn’t about morality; it’s about gullibility, absolute submission and obedience, body and mind, that is all.

92None of you [believers] will attain true piety unless you give out of what you cherish: whatever you give, God knows about it very well.

So it doesn’t matter how much the unbeliever donates to any charity, but if you are a believer, then you have to show your conviction by giving out of what is most precious to you. Christians claim the same practice.

93Except for what Israel made unlawful for himself, all food was lawful to the Children of Israel before the Torah was revealed. Say, ‘Bring the Torah and read out [the relevant passage] if you are telling the truth.

Translator, Abdel Haleem has a footnote here that “The commentators explain that Israel/Jacob (Abraham’s grandson) vowed to give up camel flesh and camel milk if he were relieved of his sciatica, and the Jews in Medina argued with Muhammad: ‘You claim to be following the religion of Abraham. If this were so you would not be eating camel meat and drinking its milk, as these are forbidden in Abraham’s religion.’ This verse answers this argument.”

94Those who persist in making up lies and attributing them to God after this are the wrongdoers.’

Then all the scribes writing any scriptures are in trouble.

95[Prophet], say, ‘God speaks the truth, so follow Abraham’s religion: he had true faith and he was never an idolater.’ 96The first House [of worship] to be established for people was the one at Mecca. It is a blessed place; a source of guidance for all people; 97there are clear signs in it; it is the place where Abraham stood to pray; whoever enters it is safe. Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to God by people who are able to undertake it. Those who reject this [should know that] God has no need of anyone. 98Say, ‘People of the Book, why do you reject God’s revelations? God witnesses everything you do.’ 99Say, ‘People of the Book, why do you turn the believers away from God’s path and try to make it crooked, when you yourselves [should be] witnesses to the [truth]? God is not heedless of anything you do.’

I think it would be nice if, once in a while, someone would explain how we know this or that. But this is religion. So no one really knows anything they pretend. There is just “believe whatever I say just ‘cuz I said so”.

100You who believe, some of those who were given the Scripture would turn you into disbelievers if you were to yield to them. 101How can you disbelieve when God’s revelations are being recited to you and His Messenger is living among you? Whoever holds fast to God will be guided to the straight path.

I translate this as: Rational people will try to reason you out of your delusion. How can you disbelieve our lies when we are lying to you, and the liars live among you?

102You who believe, be mindful of God, as is His due, and make sure you devote yourselves to Him, to your dying moment. 103Hold fast to God’s rope all together; do not split into factions. Remember God’s favour to you: you were enemies and then He brought your hearts together and you became brothers by His grace; you were about to fall into a pit of Fire and He saved you from it– in this way God makes His revelations clear to you so that you may be rightly guided.

And that’s where there are different subgroups of Sunni and Shia today?

104Be a a community that calls for what is good, urges what is right, and forbids what is wrong: those who do this are the successful ones.

This doesn’t match any of the atrocities that I see in the news coming out of Shariah countries.

105Do not be like those who, after they have been given clear revelation, split into factions and fall into disputes: a terrible punishment awaits such people.

And yet there are now Sunni and Shia and multiple other subsets, proving that Muslims don’t follow their own religion. It’s just like when the Old Testament said not to add to or subtract from these scriptures, and they did both anyway. Then the Christian New Testament said the same thing, and they still did both again.

106On the Day when some faces brighten and others darken, it will be said to those with darkened faces, ‘How could you reject your faith after believing? Taste the torment for doing so,’ 107but those with brightened faces will be in God’s grace, there to remain. 108These are God’s revelations: We recite them to you [Prophet] with the Truth. God does not will injustice for His creatures.

Yes, he definitely does, according to the sacred fables. He set the trap in the Garden of Eden. He created Hell for unbelievers like myself, and the Qur’an says a number of times that the only reason I don’t believe is because God decided to close my ears, eyes and heart to his so-called “truth”. So he is the one who decided that I would be damned.

109Everything in the heavens and earth belongs to God; it is to Him that all things return. 110[Believers], you are the best community singled out for people: you order what is right, forbid what is wrong, and believe in God. If the People of the Book had also believed, it would have been better for them. For although some of them do believe, most of them are lawbreakers– 111they will not do you much harm: even if they come out to fight you, they will soon turn tail; they will get no help– 112and, unless they hold fast to a lifeline from God and from mankind, they are overshadowed by vulnerability wherever they are found. They have drawn God’s wrath upon themselves. They are overshadowed by weakness, too, because they have persistently disbelieved in God’s revelation and killed prophets without any right, all because of their disobedience and boundless transgression.

The Qur’an keeps saying that it’s so clear, so I must have missed something important. I had to reach out to friends to find out, who are “the people of the book”? I thought that meant the people who believed in the Qur’an, but that can’t be correct, especially since the Qur’an hasn’t even been written yet while it’s talking about them, and it says they don’t believe in it. So they must be the people of a different book, and I somehow missed what that book was supposed to be. Turns out, I guess, it is more the Old Testament, or at least the Pentateuch, which would be the common bond of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

113But they are not all alike. There are some among the People of the Book who are upright, who recite God’s revelations during the night, who bow down in worship, 114who believe in God and the Last Day, who order what is right and forbid what is wrong, who are quick to do good deeds. These people are among the righteous 115and they will not be denied [the reward] for whatever good deeds they do: God knows exactly who is conscious of Him. 116As for those who disbelieve, neither their possessions nor their children will help them against God– they will be companions in the Fire, there to remain– 117and whatever they give away in this life will be nullified: a frosty wind strikes and destroys the harvest of people who have wronged themselves. It was not God who wronged them; they wronged themselves.

Here again we see that morality is not determined by good or bad deeds. Instead believing is a good deed, and somehow the lack of belief is a bad “deed”. Charitable donations are expected from believers, because being good is never good enough. But it doesn’t matter how charitable infidels are for the same reason, that being good is never good enough.

118You who believe, do not take for your intimates such outsiders as spare no effort to ruin you and want to see you suffer: their hatred is evident from their mouths, but what their hearts conceal is far worse. We have made Our revelations clear for you; will you not use your reason?

Another irony. I use reason to try and help believers, yet they always accuse me of reasoning with them out of hatred. I think irrational beliefs must have their own defense programs running in the human psyche.

119This is how it is: here you are, you love them, but they do not love you; you believe in all the Scriptures and when they meet you, they say, ‘We believe,’ but when they are alone, they bite their fingertips in rage at you. [Prophet], say, ‘Die of rage [if you wish]!’ God knows exactly what is in everyone’s hearts.

If you love, actual factual truth as I do, the believers who embrace and spread lies will accuse you of hatred against them.

120They grieve at any good that befalls you [believers] and rejoice at your misfortunes. But if you are steadfast and conscious of God, their scheming will not harm you in the least: God encircles everything they do.

Remember, we’re talking about those unbelievers you brought into your home as friends. That is who this propaganda of hate is aimed at. This is how faith projects its own hatred even onto friends.

121[Prophet], remember when you left your home at dawn to assign battle positions to the believers: God hears and knows everything. 122Remember when two groups of you were about to lose heart and God protected them– let the believers put their trust in God– 123God helped you at Badr when you were very weak. Be mindful of God, so that you may be grateful.

How many on our side still died, despite the fact that we were supposed to be aided by a thousand angels?

124Remember when you said to the believers, ‘Will you be satisfied if your Lord reinforces you by sending down three thousand angels?

Will they be visible this time? Will they actually do anything this time to help?

125Well, if you are steadfast and mindful of God, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand swooping angels if the enemy should suddenly attack you!’ and God arranged it so, 126as a message of hope for you [believers] to put your hearts at rest– help comes only from God, the Mighty, the Wise– 127and in order to cut off the flanks of the disbelievers’ army and frustrate them, to make them withdraw in total defeat.

Can five thousand of these angels all dance on the head of the same pin at the same time? Is that why we couldn’t see them doing anything during the battle?

128Whether God relents towards them or punishes them is not for you [Prophet] to decide: they are wrongdoers.

Here again, believing = good deeds; Disbelief = wrongdoing. Beyond that, it doesn’t much matter what you do.

129Everything in the heavens and earth belongs to God. He forgives whoever He will and punishes whoever He will: God is most forgiving and merciful. 130You who believe, do not consume usurious interest, doubled and redoubled. Be mindful of God so that you may prosper–

And if you send me a thousand dollar vow of faith, it will be a seed offering for my new jet—I mean for your blessings.

131beware of the Fire prepared for those who ignore [Him]– 132and obey God and the Prophet so that you may be given mercy.

Obey God and the prophet, Muhammad says. Since God is never around, do whatever I, the prophet command of you. That’s a sweet racket you got there, Mo.

133Hurry towards your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth prepared for the righteous, 134who give, both in prosperity and adversity, who restrain their anger and pardon people– God loves those who do good– 135those who remember God and implore forgiveness for their sins if they do something shameful or wrong themselves– who forgives sins but God?– and who never knowingly persist in doing wrong.

Who forgives sins? Well, if by “sins” you mean transgressions, that has always been up to us humans, and we’ve always done a better job of that than the god of Abraham.

136The reward for such people is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens graced with flowing streams, where they will remain. How excellent is the reward of those who labour!

Not that great, really, not when you give it some thought. No thanks. I’d rather just die and stay dead forever, if it’s all the same to you.

137God’s ways have operated before your time: travel through the land, and see what was the end of those who disbelieved. 138This is a clear lesson to people, and guidance and teaching for those who are mindful of God. 139Do not lose heart or despair– if you are true believers you have the upper hand– 140if you have suffered a blow, they too have suffered one like it. We deal out such days among people in turn, for God to find out who truly believes, for Him to choose martyrs from among you– God does not love evildoers–

He doesn’t like competition.

Haleem has a footnote here, that “This part of the sura refers to the Battle of Uhud, where the Muslims were defeated, having disobeyed the Prophet’s orders.”

The Battle of Uhud :The second important war in Islamic history – ZAAHARA

141for Him to cleanse those who believe and for Him to destroy the disbelievers. 142Did you think you would enter the Garden without God first proving which of you would struggle for His cause and remain steadfast? 143Before you encountered death, you were hoping for it. Well, now you have seen it with your own eyes.

Nope, not yet. The Qur’an is so “clear” that I have no idea what it’s talking about here. Luckily, translator Haleem guessed that western readers like myself wouldn’t understand this. So his footnote reads, “The noun shahid is much more complex than the term ‘martyr’ chosen to render it in this context. The root sh–h–d conveys ‘to witness, to be present, to attend’, but also ‘to testify’ or ‘to give evidence’. Thus the ‘martyrs’ here are chosen by God to witness Him in heaven, are given the opportunity to give evidence of the depth of their faith by sacrificing their worldly lives, and will testify with the prophets on the Day of Judgement.”

Somehow the clarification actually made it worse.

144Muhammad is only a messenger before whom many messengers have been and gone. If he died or was killed, would you revert to your old ways? If anyone did so, he would not harm God in the least. God will reward the grateful.

Another footnote says that it was rumored that Muhammad died in the referenced battle of Uhud.

145No soul may die except with God’s permission at a predestined time.

Remember that when you’re praying that your child will survive that awful disease or injury. When they die, it is because God ignored your prayers and literally permitted that child to die anyway.

If anyone strives for the rewards of this world, We will give him some of them. If anyone strives for the rewards of the Hereafter, We will give him some of them: We will reward the grateful. 146Many prophets have fought, with large bands of godly men alongside them who, in the face of their sufferings for God’s cause, did not lose heart or weaken or surrender: God loves those who are steadfast.

Of course if there really was a god, one monotheistic uber-cosmic overlord who gave a damn about humanity, then there wouldn’t be any prophets fighting in the desert over which version of God was the most endowed.

147All they said was, ‘Our Lord, forgive us our sins and our excesses. Make our feet firm, and give us help against the disbelievers,’

You want help? OK, how about I give you some actual evidence? That would certainly do the trick, right? No, I’m not going to do that, because I’m God, and I’m only imaginary. So cover for me by making up some excuse about how mysterious my ways are.

148and so God gave them both the rewards of this world and the excellent rewards of the Hereafter: God loves those who do good.

Those who do good = those who believe. It doesn’t matter if you regularly rape your sister or beat your dog. All that really matters is whether you bought into the right collection of fables and associated unsupported assumptions.

149You who believe, if you obey the disbelievers, they will make you revert to your old ways and you will turn into losers. 150No indeed! It is God who is your protector: He is the best of helpers.

We might revert to our old ways? Remember that the Arab world was the leader in science before Islam assumed complete control over everything.

151We will strike panic into the disbelievers’ hearts because they attribute partners to God although He has sent no authority for this: their shelter will be the Fire– how miserable is the home of the evildoers!

Funny how earlier in this very surah, we were warned not to argue with these other Abrahamic religions, right? But now it clearly says that Christians are “evildoers” simply because they believe differently. Some of them have lived lives of charity and generosity, dedicating themselves to the god they feel they know personally. So they’re all going to Hell. That’s how “forgiving” God is.

152God fulfilled His promise to you: you were routing them, with His permission, but then you faltered, disputed the order, and disobeyed, once He had brought you within sight of your goal – some of you desire the gains of this world and others desire the world to come– and then He prevented you from [defeating] them as a punishment. He has now forgiven you: God is most gracious to the believers.

The Qur’an is supposed to be the word of a single god of the whole universe, an unchanging immortal being. So his book should a tome of timeless wisdom for all mankind. Instead, the human authors of the Qur’an obviously thought that whoever reads this will already be familiar with all these old stories. Translator Haleem knew better than God in this case. His footnote explains that “The archers disobeyed the Prophet’s order to remain in their positions until the end. They thought the Muslims had won and dashed to get the booty. This allowed their enemies to regroup and attack, so winning the battle.”

153You fled without looking back while the Messenger was calling out to you from behind, and God rewarded you with sorrow for sorrow. [He has now forgiven you] so that you may not grieve for what you missed or for what happened to you. God is well aware of everything you do. 154After sorrow, He caused calm to descend upon you, a sleep that overtook some of you. Another group, caring only for themselves, entertained false thoughts about God, thoughts more appropriate to pagan ignorance, and said, ‘Do we get a say in any of this?’ [Prophet], tell them, ‘Everything to do with this affair is in God’s hands.’ They conceal in their hearts things they will not reveal to you. They say, ‘If we had had our say in this, none of us would have been killed here.’ Tell them, ‘Even if you had resolved to stay at home, those who were destined to be killed would still have gone out to meet their deaths.’ God did this in order to test everything within you and in order to prove what is in your hearts. God knows your innermost thoughts very well.

1. An omniscient being would never need to test anything.

2. Destiny isn’t a thing.

3. Give the people a say in their fate, even if they believe differently from you.

155As for those of you who turned away on the day the two armies met in battle, it was Satan who caused them to slip, through some of their actions. God has now pardoned them: God is most forgiving and forbearing.

Poor Satan, catching all the blame whenever things would have worked out poorly anyway. Whenever it works out well, then God gets the credit again, even when neither entity was ever involved.

156You who believe, do not be like those who disbelieved and said of their brothers who went out on a journey or a raid, ‘If only they had stayed with us they would not have died or been killed,’ for God will make such thoughts a source of anguish in their hearts. It is God who gives life and death; God sees everything you do.

Elsewhere, the Qur’an also says that God MAKES us do whatever we do. As if, we’re not even in control of our own selves; He is.

157Whether you are killed for God’s cause or die, God’s forgiveness and mercy are better than anything people amass.

How can you be killed for God’s cause? Doesn’t he see all things? Doesn’t he love us? Is he powerless to help us? Doesn’t he want to?

158Whether you die or are killed, it is to God that you will be gathered.

No, you really won’t, because there is no god. Don’t believe everything you read.

159By an act of mercy from God, you [Prophet] were gentle in your dealings with them– had you been harsh, or hard-hearted, they would have dispersed and left you– so pardon them and ask forgiveness for them. Consult with them about matters, then, when you have decided on a course of action, put your trust in God: God loves those who put their trust in Him. 160If God helps you [believers], no one can overcome you; if He forsakes you, who else can help you? Believers should put their trust in God.

Yet, both the Qur’an and the Bible talk about battles where God helped but they lost anyway. And if you are “godforsaken”, I know plenty of people who can still help you when he won’t or can’t.

161It is inconceivable that a prophet would ever dishonestly take something from the battle gains. Anyone who does so will carry it with him on the Day of Resurrection, when each soul will be fully repaid for what it has done: no one will be wronged.

It is not “inconceivable”. So-called prophets are infamous for doing that sort of stuff all the time.

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162Can the man who pursues God’s good pleasure be like the man who has brought God’s wrath upon himself and whose home will be Hell– a foul destination?

Yes, they can be exactly alike in every respect, including everything that they do for other people, except that only one of them believes. So that one is deemed good and the other is damned as a wrongdoer.

163They are in a different class in God’s eyes; God sees exactly what they do.

Obviously not.

164God has been truly gracious to the believers in sending them a Messenger from among their own, to recite His revelations to them, to make them grow in purity, and to teach them the Scripture and wisdom– before that they were clearly astray.

Next time, don’t send a messenger, especially not one who is seeking wealth and power and everyone else’s expense. Speak for yourself, God.

165Why do you [believers] say, when a calamity befalls you, even after you have inflicted twice as much damage [on your enemy], ‘How did this happen?’? [Prophet], say, ‘You brought it upon yourselves.’ God has power over everything:

Then we didn’t bring it on ourselves. He made us do it.

166what befell you on the day the two armies met in battle happened with God’s permission and in order for Him to see who were the true believers and who were the hypocrites who, 167when it was said to them, ‘Come, fight for God’s cause, or at least defend yourselves,’ answered, ‘We would follow you if we knew there was going to be fighting.’ On that day they were closer to disbelief than belief. They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts: God knows exactly what they conceal.

Yet God permits these battles that should never have happened in the first place. They’re fighting over which belief is correct. If God was real, he could settle that in an instant any time he wanted. But he doesn’t, because he can’t, because he isn’t.

168As for those who stayed behind, and said of their brothers, ‘If only they had listened to us, they would not have been killed,’ tell them [Prophet], ‘Ward off death from yourselves, if what you say is true.’ 169[Prophet], do not think of those who have been killed in God’s way as dead. They are alive with their Lord, well provided for, 170happy with what God has given them of His favour; rejoicing that for those they have left behind who have yet to join them there is no fear, nor will they grieve;

They won’t even complain about getting a sword in the face, or trying to get the sand off their intestines to fold them back in. You know, battleground stuff that God could have and would have stopped if he was real.

171[rejoicing] in God’s blessing and favour, and that God will not let the reward of the believers be lost. 172Those who responded to God and the Messenger after suffering defeat, who do good and remain conscious of God, will have a great reward. 173Those whose faith only increased when people said, ‘Fear your enemy: they have amassed a great army against you,’ and who replied, ‘God is enough for us: He is the best protector,’

Then you won’t be needing those weapons and armor and horses then, right?

174returned with grace and bounty from God; no harm befell them. They pursued God’s good pleasure. God’s favour is great indeed. 175It is Satan who urges you to fear his followers; do not fear them, but fear Me, if you are true believers.

I don’t remember Satan saying—in any scripture—that we should fear him. And no god worthy of worship would ever say that either.

176[Prophet], do not be grieved by those who are quick to disbelieve. They will not harm God in the least; it is God’s will that they will have no share in the Hereafter– a terrible torment awaits them. 177Those who sell their faith for disbelief will not harm God in any way; agonizing torment awaits them.

Do you see how repetitive this book is? It JUST keeps repeating the same empty threats over and over and over again. It never tells us proper stories. There’s not so much as a scrap of wisdom in there anywhere, nor useful information for people of that age. Just this stupid threat that you better believe or else. That’s it. That’s all.

178The disbelievers should not think that it is better for them that We give them more time: when We give them more time they become more sinful– a shameful torment awaits them. 179Nor was it God’s aim to leave you as you were, with no separation between the bad and the good.

Us vs Them, remember? We’re only allowed to think in terms of good or evil, black or white, binary dichotomies.

God would not show you [people] what is hidden; God chooses as His messengers whoever He will. So believe in God and His messengers: if you believe and stay mindful of God, you will have a great reward. 180Those who are miserly with what God has granted them out of His grace should not think that it is good for them; on the contrary, it is bad for them. Whatever they meanly withhold will be hung around their necks on the Day of Resurrection. It is God who will inherit the heavens and earth: God is well aware of everything you do.

You’ll take whatever I decide to give you, and you better like it!

181God has certainly heard the words of those who sneer, ‘So God is poor, while we are rich’.

Haleem says this is “A retort to 2: 245, which was often cited by the Prophet when asking for financial contributions to the cause”.

We shall record everything they say– as well as their killing of prophets in defiance of all that is right– and We shall say to them, ‘Taste the torment of the scorching fire.

What about cases of justified prophet killing? Is that how a real cosmic deity would behave? Could such a thing even be that petty?

182That is on account of what you stored up for yourselves with your own hands: God is never unjust to His servants.’

You misspelled “always”.

183To those who say, ‘God has commanded us not to believe in any messenger unless he brings us an offering that fire [from heaven] consumes,’ say [Prophet], ‘Messengers before me have come to you with clear signs, including the one you mention. If you are sincere, why did you kill them?’ 184If they reject you, so have other messengers been rejected before you, even though they came with clear evidence, books of wisdom and enlightening scripture.

Are we talking about Moses now, a guy who never really existed?

185Every soul will taste death and you will be paid in full only on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever is kept away from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have triumphed. The present world is only an illusory pleasure: 186you are sure to be tested through your possessions and persons; you are sure to hear much that is hurtful from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with God. If you are steadfast and mindful of God, that is the best course.

All of this implies men trying to convince others of a god that does not really exist.

187God took a pledge from those who were given the Scripture– ‘Make it known to people; do not conceal it’– but they tossed the pledge over their shoulders, they bartered it for a small price: what a bad bargain they made! 188Do not think [Prophet] that those who exult in what they have done and seek praise for things they have not done will escape the torment; agonizing torment awaits them.

Remember, if you’re going to sell out God’s covenant, you’re supposed to charge a high price.

189Control of the heavens and earth belongs to God; God has power over everything.

Repeat that a few more times, so that I won’t notice the lack of quality substance in this surah.

190There truly are signs in the creation of the heavens and earth, and in the alternation of night and day, for those with understanding, 191who remember God standing, sitting, and lying down, who reflect on the creation of the heavens and earth: ‘Our Lord! You have not created all this without purpose– You are far above that!– so protect us from the torment of the Fire.

No, those of us with understanding know better.

192Our Lord! You will truly humiliate those You commit to the Fire. The evildoers have no one to help them. 193Our Lord! We have heard someone calling us to faith–“ Believe in your Lord”– and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, wipe out our bad deeds, and grant that we join the righteous when we die. 194Our Lord! Bestow upon us all that You have promised us through Your messengers– do not humiliate us on the Day of Resurrection– You never break Your promise.’ 195Their Lord has answered them: ‘I will not allow the deeds of any one of you to be lost, whether you are male or female, each is like the other [in rewards].

Wait, didn’t verse 36 say that the male is NOT like the female? Some translations agree that they’re only alike ‘in reward” but ClearQuran says “whether male or female, you are one of another”, and IslamicStudies.info says “each of you is from the other”.

I will certainly wipe out the bad deeds of those who emigrated and were driven out of their homes, who suffered harm for My cause, who fought and were killed. I will certainly admit them to Gardens graced with flowing streams, as a reward from God: the best reward is with God.’

The carrot isn’t that enticing without constant reference to the stick.

196[Prophet], do not be deceived by the disbelievers’ [lucrative] trading to and fro in the land: 197this is only a brief enjoyment, after which Hell will be their home– a miserable resting place! 198But those who were mindful of their Lord will have Gardens graced with flowing streams where they will stay as a reward from God. What God has is best for those who are truly good.

Good = gullible. Being sensible, rational = evil.

199Some of the People of the Book believe in God, in what has been sent down to you and in what was sent down to them: humbling themselves before God, they would never sell God’s revelation for a small price. These people will have their rewards with their Lord: God is swift in reckoning. 200You who believe, be steadfast, more steadfast than others; be ready; always be mindful of God, so that you may prosper.

This is the 3rd time we’ve been told to charge a high price to sell out your covenant with God.

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