This is the 51st 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.
my 47th post on suras 30 & 29.
my 48th post on sura 83
my 49th post on surah 8
and my 50th post on surah 3.
Sūrah 33 (Al-Ahzab) The Confederates
1Prophet, be mindful of God and do not give in to the disbelievers and the hypocrites: God is all knowing, all wise. 2Follow what your Lord reveals to you: God is well aware of all your actions. 3Put your trust in God: God is enough to trust.
One alternate name for this surah is “The Confederates”. Once again, translator Abdel Haleem understands that the Qur’an is too provincial for western readers to understand, being written by Medieval Arabs for Medieval Arabs; while we outsiders we do not know all these old that those authors did. Thus he explains that this surah refers to a trench battle, wherein various tribes of disbelievers besieged Medina. The believers dug a ditch, which the disbelievers were unable to cross, and eventually the enemy retreated in disarray, and the fact that the believers built such a bad bridge is presented as a glory to God.
4God does not put two hearts within a man’s breast. He does not turn the wives you reject and liken to your mothers’ backs into your real mothers; nor does He make your adopted sons into real sons. These are only words from your mouths, while God speaks the truth and guides people to the right path.
Haleem offers a footnote here, explaining that “In pre-Islamic Arabia the husband sometimes said to his wife, ‘From now on, you are to me like my mother’s back,’ by which he meant that he refused to have further conjugal relations with her, yet did not divorce her and so give her the freedom to remarry”. So pre-Islamic Arabs were reportedly awful people who treated their women even worse than stereotypical Muslims.
5Name your adopted sons after their real fathers: this is more equitable in God’s eyes––if you do not know who their fathers are [they are your] ‘brothers-in-religion’ and protégés. You will not be blamed if you make a mistake, only for what your hearts deliberately intend; God is most forgiving and merciful.
Instead of protégés, other translations say friends, allies, associates or companions.
6The Prophet is more protective towards the believers than they are themselves, while his wives are their mothers. In God’s Scripture, blood-relatives have a stronger claim than other believers and emigrants, though you may still bestow gifts on your protégés. All this is written in the Scripture.
Notice that the scripture says what is written in the scripture. Haleem adds what is not written therein, that the Prophet’s wives were given the title ‘Mothers of the Believers’.
7We took a solemn pledge from the prophets– from you [Muhammad], from Noah, from Abraham, from Moses, from Jesus, son of Mary– We took a solemn pledge from all of them:
At least half of those people never existed, and maybe none of them did, at least not as described.
8God will question [even] the truthful about their sincerity, and for those who reject the truth He has prepared a painful torment. 9You who believe, remember God’s goodness to you when mighty armies massed against you: We sent a violent wind and invisible forces against them. God sees all that you do.
So God saw all those believers of the faith dying for him. Where you would think that an omnipotent uber-galactic overlord wouldn’t need people to fight each other over belief in him. If only he didn’t require belief based on fact rather than fact. If God was real, there would be no unbelievers and no religious wars.
10They massed against you from above and below; your eyes rolled [with fear], your hearts rose into your throats, and you thought [ill] thoughts of God. 11There the believers were sorely tested and deeply shaken: 12the hypocrites and the sick at heart said, ‘God and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusions!’
That’s right, and your accidental victory in any case doesn’t change that. But the wanna believers will still praise their favorite god even when the enemy brings iron chariots and defeats them.
13Some of them said, ‘People of Yathrib, [The pre-Islamic name for Medina] you will not be able to withstand [the attack], so go back!’ Some of them asked the Prophet’s permission to leave, saying, ‘Our houses are exposed,’ even though they were not– they just wanted to run away: 14had the city been invaded from all sides, and the enemy invited them to rebel, they would have done so almost without hesitation. 15Yet they had already promised God that they would not turn tail and flee, and a promise to God will be answered for.
Not as often as you might imagine.
16[Prophet], say, ‘Running away will not benefit you. If you manage to escape death or slaughter, you will only be permitted to enjoy [life] for a short while.’ 17Say, ‘If God wishes to harm you, who can protect you? If God wishes to show you mercy, who can prevent Him?’ They will find no one but God to protect or help them.
So how did that work out in the so-called “holy wars”? When Christians and Muslims both had the same god on each side and we fighting over the land God “promised” to both of them?
18God knows exactly who among you hinder others, who [secretly] say to their brothers, ‘Come and join us,’ who hardly ever come out to fight, 19who begrudge you [believers] any help. When fear comes, you [Prophet] see them looking at you with eyes rolling like someone in their death throes; when fear has passed, they attack you with sharp tongues and begrudge you any good. Such men do not believe, and God brings their deeds to nothing– that is all too easy for God.
If that was true, then God wouldn’t need human armies, would he?
20They think the joint forces have not gone, and if the joint forces did come again they would wish they were in the desert, wandering among the Bedouin and seeking news about you [from a safe distance]. Even if they were with you [believers], they would hardly fight at all. 21The Messenger of God is an excellent model for those of you who put your hope in God and the Last Day and remember Him often. 22When the believers saw the joint forces, they said, ‘This is what God and His Messenger promised us: the promise of God and His Messenger is true,’ and this only served to increase their faith and submission to God. 23There are men among the believers who honoured their pledge to God: some of them have fulfilled it by death, and some are still waiting. They have not changed in the least. 24[Such trials are ordained] so that God may reward the truthful for their honesty and punish the hypocrites, if He so wills, or He may relent towards them, for God is forgiving and merciful.
If they REALLY had faith, they wouldn’t go to all this trouble, knowing that God could turn his enemies all into hermit crabs, and that God doesn’t need men to defend him. Unless we’re all just pawns and God is playing both sides of the chessboard, or if there is no god on either side.
25God sent back the disbelievers along with their rage– they gained no benefit– and spared the believers from fighting. He is strong and mighty.
Haleem says “This refers to the sandstorm that caused the disbelievers to go back without success.” That at least is the sort of thing a Medieval Arab should expect his god to do, at a minimum every time. Of course if God had chosen to reveal his “truth” to the unbelievers directly and personally, that would have been a far better strategy.
26He brought those People of the Book who supported them down from their strongholds and put panic into their hearts. Some of them you [believers] killed and some you took captive. 27He passed on to you their land, their houses, their possessions, and a land where you had not set foot: God has power over everything.
I’m told that “the people of the book” refers to the Jews. So this ayah is saying that God took the land and possessions away from his chosen people and gave it to the Arabs. Because the authors of every scripture believe that they’re the chosen ones with the secret truth, that theirs is the god of loving forgiveness and mercy, and that’s why they have to kill and rob everyone else.
28Prophet, say to your wives, b ‘If your desire is for the present life and its finery, then come, I will make provision for you and release you with kindness, 29but if you desire God, His Messenger, and the Final Home, then remember that God has prepared great rewards for those of you who do good.’ 30Wives of the Prophet, if any of you does something clearly outrageous, she will be doubly punished– that is easy for God– 31but if any of you is obedient to God and His Messenger and does good deeds, know that We shall give her a double reward and have prepared a generous provision for her. 32Wives of the Prophet, you are not like any other woman. If you are truly mindful of God, do not speak too softly in case the sick at heart should lust after you, but speak in an appropriate manner; 33stay at home, and do not flaunt your finery as they used to in the pagan past; keep up the prayer, give the prescribed alms, and obey God and His Messenger. God wishes to keep uncleanness away from you, people of the [Prophet’s] House, and to purify you thoroughly. 34Remember what is recited in your houses of God’s revelations and wisdom, for God is all subtle, all aware.
Tell me about it. Here we are reading what is supposed to be dictation of what reads like an on-going conversation, that never needed to be recorded after the fact, as if there was one. Because God is advising the wives of a prophet now long dead, and who were probably already dead or irrelevant before this text was even written.
35For men and women who are devoted to God– believing men and women, obedient men and women, truthful men and women, steadfast men and women, humble men and women, charitable men and women, fasting men and women, chaste men and women, men and women who remember God often– God has prepared forgiveness and a rich reward.
God is willing to forgive what are described as good deeds?
36When God and His Messenger have decided on a matter that concerns them, it is not fitting for any believing man or woman to claim freedom of choice in that matter: whoever disobeys God and His Messenger is far astray.
Whoever disobeys God and his messenger might be living thousands of miles away, many centuries years later and may not be as primitive, unjust, cruel or stupid as either of them are, according to this scripture.
37When you [Prophet] said to the man who had been favoured by God and by you, ‘Keep your wife and be mindful of God,’ you hid in your heart what God would later reveal: you were afraid of people, but it is more fitting that you fear God. When Zayd no longer wanted her, We gave her to you in marriage so that there might be no fault in believers marrying the wives of their adopted sons after they no longer wanted them. God’s command must be carried out:
The footnote here explains that “The Prophet married Zayd, his adopted son, to Zaynab, his own cousin. Zayd later divorced her and the Prophet took her as his own wife. This sura shows the marriage to be lawful since adoption does not create blood relations that preclude marriage.” Of course if the Qur’an really was as clear and complete as it claims to be, we wouldn’t need these footnotes. All that would be explained in the text, or left out, since it’s not important or relevant that Muhammad married his cousin.
38the Prophet is not at fault for what God has ordained for him. This was God’s practice with those who went before– God’s command must be fulfilled–
Then why are the unbelievers at fault when God causes us not to believe?
39[and with all] those who deliver God’s messages and fear only Him and no other: God’s reckoning is enough. 40Muhammad is not the father of any one of you men; he is God’s Messenger and the seal of the prophets: God knows everything. 41Believers, remember God often 42and glorify Him morning and evening: 43it is He who blesses you, as do His angels, in order to lead you out of the depths of darkness into the light. He is ever merciful towards the believers–
No. There is no god. You’re talking to yourselves and effectively hypnotizing yourselves into believing what is not there. Instead, you should learn how to think rationally and how to decide reasonably.
44when they meet Him they will be greeted with ‘Peace’– and He has prepared a generous reward for them.
No thanks. I would literally rather die.
45Prophet, We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of good news and warning, 46as one who calls people to God by His leave, as a light-giving lamp. 47Give the believers the good news that great bounty awaits them from God. 48Do not give in to the disbelievers and the hypocrites: ignore the harm they cause you and put your trust in God. God is enough to trust.
No, he really isn’t, honestly. But as this verse explains, you’ve been conditioned such that you will not listen to reason.
49Believers, you have no right to expect a waiting period when you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them: make provision for them and release them in an honourable way. 50Prophet, We have made lawful for you the wives whose bride gift you have paid, and any slaves God has assigned to you through war, and the daughters of your uncles and aunts on your father’s and mother’s sides, who migrated with you. Also any believing woman who has offered herself to the Prophet and whom the Prophet wishes to wed– this is only for you [Prophet] and not the rest of the believers: We know exactly what We have made obligatory for them concerning their wives and slave-girls– so you should not be blamed: God is most forgiving, most merciful.
But not to the slave-girls. So not only does the god of the Qur’an never prohibit slavery, as any just god would, instead he endorses slavery and assigns slaves. Yet believers imagine him as just and righteous, when this and so many other verses prove he is not.
51You may make any of [your women] wait and receive any of them as you wish, but you will not be at fault if you invite one whose turn you have previously set aside: this way it is more likely that they will be satisfied and will not be distressed and will all be content with what you have given them. God knows what is in your hearts: God is all knowing, forbearing.
Your harem of wives and slave-girls have to take turns with one man, and that guy thinks they’ll all be satisfied that way? Seriously? How little consideration went into this Qur’an.
52You [Prophet] are not permitted to take any further wives, nor to exchange the wives you have for others, even if these attract you with their beauty. But this does not apply to your slave-girls: God is watchful over all.
You’re only allowed to have so many wives at once, but slave-girls are cheap receptacles with no rights. Does that sound justified when we follow such injustice with a phrase like “God is watchful over all”? Does that phrase mean we are to ignore what was just said?
53Believers, do not enter the Prophet’s apartments for a meal unless you are given permission to do so; do not linger until [a meal] is ready. When you are invited, go in; then, when you have taken your meal, leave. Do not stay on and talk, for that would offend the Prophet, though he would shrink from asking you to leave. God does not shrink from the truth. When you ask his wives for something, do so from behind a screen: this is purer both for your hearts and for theirs. It is not right for you to offend God’s Messenger, just as you should never marry his wives after him: that would be grievous in God’s eyes.
So the prophet is a rude and uncourteous host. Not at all surprising at this point.
54God has full knowledge of all things, whether you reveal them or not.
God supposedly knows all my secrets, but I know one of his, and that is that he really doesn’t know anything and never did.
55The Prophet’s wives are not to blame [if they are seen by] their fathers, their sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, or their slaves. [Wives of the Prophet], be mindful of God. God observes everything.
God watches your women when they’re nekked.
56God and His angels bless the Prophet– so, you who believe, bless him too and give him greetings of peace.
I understand that blessings are magical enchantments, the opposite of curses. So how is any human supposed to bless another?
57Those who insult God and His Messenger will be rejected by God in this world and the next– He has prepared a humiliating torment for them–
An empty threat is no threat at all.
58and those who undeservedly insult believing men and women will bear the guilt of slander and flagrant sin.
Undeservedly? No worries then.
59Prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and women believers to make their outer garments hang low over them so as to be recognized and not insulted: God is most forgiving, most merciful.
Maybe you should give them a solid defense of their position, such that they would earn respect instead?
60If the hypocrites, the sick at heart, and those who spread lies in the city do not desist, We shall rouse you [Prophet] against them, and then they will only be your neighbours in this city for a short while. 61They will be rejected. Wherever they are found, they will be arrested and put to death. 62This has been God’s practice with those who went before. You will find no change in God’s practices.
Because God doesn’t learn from his own mistakes. That’s why he keeps sending prophets to speak for him, knowing how his dubious messengers always causes religious violence.
63People ask you about the Hour. Say, ‘God alone has knowledge of it.’ How could you [Prophet] know? The Hour may well be near.
Here is a voice from the distant future to assure you that you got plenty of time. Jesus never came back when he promised he would, and the day of Brahma ended many millions of years ago.
64God has rejected the disbelievers and prepared a blazing fire for them.
Here is an admission that God created Hell. Christians refuse to admit this, pretending as if Hell is the one thing their god didn’t create, as if it’s not even God’s fault if we don’t believe and are damned by ourselves rather than by him.
65There they will stay permanently, with no one to befriend or support them. 66On the Day when their faces are being turned about in the Fire, they will say, ‘If only we had obeyed God and the Messenger,’
Correction: The intended threat is “if only we had believed God’s MESSENGERS, those who pretend to speak for God, and who have no actual knowledge or authority.
67and ‘Lord! We obeyed our masters and our chiefs, and they led us astray.
So did your prophets, all of them.
68Lord! Give them a double punishment and reject them completely.’
2(∞) = 2 ω, which is still technically infinity, and still much too much absolute torture for any god pretending to be just.
69Believers, do not be like those who insulted Moses– God cleared him of their allegations and he was highly honoured in God’s eyes.
Nice to know that fictional characters can admire each other.
70Believers, be mindful of God, speak in a direct fashion and to good purpose, 71and He will put your deeds right for you and forgive you your sins. Whoever obeys God and His Messenger will truly achieve a great triumph.
A posthumous reward is an empty promise.
72We offered the Trust to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains, yet they refused to undertake it and were afraid of it; mankind undertook it– they have always been inept and foolish.
This is the heavens, the earth and the mountains being anthropomorphized, as if these things had conscious minds and could make choices.
73God will punish the hypocrites and the idolaters, both men and women, and turn with mercy to the believers, both men and women: God is most forgiving, most merciful.
Not as described in this nor any other Abrahamic scripture.
Sūrah 60 Al-Mumtahinah (Women Tested)
Alternate titles include “Woman to be Examined”
1You who believe, do not take My enemies and yours as your allies, showing them friendship when they have rejected the truth you have received, and have driven you and the Messenger out simply because you believe in God, your Lord ––not if you truly emigrated in order to strive for My cause and seek My good pleasure. You secretly show them friendship––I know all you conceal and all you reveal–– but any of you who do this are straying from the right path.
Translator, Abdel Haleem has a footnote explaining that “A Muslim in Medina, Hatib bin Abi Baltaa, who had family and property in Mecca, sent a secret letter to the Meccan leaders telling them that the Prophet was preparing to march on their town, and warning them to take precautions. The letter was intercepted, and when the Prophet asked him to explain his action, he said that he only wanted the Meccans to protect his family and property.”
2If they gain the upper hand over you, they will revert to being your enemies and stretch out their hands and tongues to harm you; it is their dearest wish that you may renounce your faith.
That’s my wish for all religious people, that they stop pretending impossible nonsense and learn how to reason.
3Neither your kinsfolk nor your children will be any use to you on the Day of Resurrection: He will separate you out. God sees everything you do.
God doesn’t see anything because God isn’t anything. These, like all other religious claims are just attempts to beguile followers for financial and political gain.
4You have a good example in Abraham and his companions, when they said to their people, ‘We disown you and what you worship besides God! We renounce you! Until you believe in God alone, the enmity and hatred that has arisen between us will endure!’––except when Abraham said to his father, ‘I will pray for forgiveness for you though I cannot protect you from God’––[they prayed] 5‘Lord, we have put our trust in You; we turn to You; You are our final destination. Lord, do not expose us to mistreatment [at the hands of] the disbelievers. Forgive us, Lord, for You are the Almighty, the All Wise.’ 6Truly, they are a good example for you [believers] to follow, a good example for those who fear God and the Last Day. If anyone turns away, [remember] God is self-sufficing and worthy of all praise.
No, bigoted delusional zealots are not good examples to follow.
7God may still bring about affection between you and your present enemies– God is all powerful, God is most forgiving and merciful– 8and He does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just. 9But God forbids you to take as allies those who have fought against you for your faith, driven you out of your homes, and helped others to drive you out: any of you who take them as allies will truly be wrongdoers.
Then God is a compilation of contradictions, because he does not love the just, those who try to reason with the faithful, to help them out of their false beliefs, to learn how to learn.
10You who believe, test the believing women when they come to you as emigrants– God knows best about their faith– and if you are sure of their belief, do not send them back to the disbelievers: they are not lawful wives for them, nor are the disbelievers their lawful husbands. Give the disbelievers whatever bride-gifts they have paid– if you choose to marry them, there is no blame on you once you have paid their bride-gifts– and do not yourselves hold on to marriage ties with disbelieving women. Ask for repayment of the bride-gifts you have paid, and let the disbelievers do the same. This is God’s judgement: He judges between you, God is all knowing and wise. 11If any of you have wives who leave you for the disbelievers, and if your community subsequently acquires [gains] from them, then pay those whose wives have deserted them the equivalent of whatever bride-gift they paid. Be mindful of God, in whom you believe.
The Qur’an says it is so clear that all can understand it, but I doubt whether I do. Did it just say that Muslims can steal other people’s wives, if those women say that they believe in Islam? IslamicStudies.info implies that yes, they could. “We shall return the dowers of the women who have emigrated to us, and you will return the dowers of the pagan wives of our men who have been left on your side.” Then of course it says how the pagans refused to keep their part of the bargain.
12Prophet, when believing women come and pledge to you that they will not ascribe any partner to God, nor steal, nor commit adultery, nor kill their children, nor lie about who has fathered their children, nor disobey you in any righteous thing, then you should accept their pledge of allegiance and pray to God to forgive them: God is most forgiving and merciful.
Have you noticed that every religion’s propaganda always says that they are good and right and moral and just, as close to perfection as one can get, and that anyone who believes differently is immoral and relatively filthy? In this case, “those who ascribe partners to God” applies to both pagans and Christians. And of course we know how Christians paint themselves as having the only access to morality, and they often say that Muslims are secretly amoral devil worshipers.
13You who believe, do not take as allies those with whom God is angry: they despair of the life to come as the disbelievers despair of those buried in their graves.
So believers think that the disbelievers are worried about damnation in Muslim Hell? I have known many Christians and pagans as well, but I never met one who had any such concern.