This is the 18th 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 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.
and my 17th post on surah 43.
Sūrah 35 (Al-Fãtir) “the Creator”
1Praise be to God, Creator of the heavens and earth, who made angels messengers with two, three, four [pairs of] wings. He adds to creation as He will: God has power over everything.
If God wants his angels to have two pairs of wings on their backs, like the damselfly wings on a fairy, plus another pair of bird wings on each ankle, like on the Greek god, Hermes, he can do that if he wants to. Nothing is too silly for God, nor for his believers to believe.
2No one can withhold the blessing God opens up for people, nor can anyone but Him release whatever He withholds: He is the Almighty, the All Wise.
But he thinks the earth is flat, that the sun and the moon are the same size, and that the sun sets in a muddy pond. Oh, and he thinks that semen comes from between the backbone and the ribs. Strange that God’s knowledge of cosmology and anatomy is limited to the erroneous beliefs of mere fallible humans back in the 7th century.
3People, remember God’s grace towards you. Is there any creator other than God to give you sustenance from the heavens and earth? There is no god but Him. How can you be so deluded?
That reminds me, I have a tee shirt for sale.
4If they call you a liar [Prophet], many messengers before you were also called liars: it is to God that all things will be returned.
Yes, many other liars have come before Muhammad, claiming to be prophets of God, and they began many different religions that are not remotely like Islam, and which both predate and contradict Islam. God should find a more reliable way to get his message across, because all of his spokesmen have done a piss-poor job of it.
5People! God’s promise is true, so do not let the present life deceive you. Do not let the Deceiver deceive you about God:
Real life is not a deceiver; God’s prophets are. God’s promise is NOT true. God is not real.
6Satan is your enemy––so treat him as an enemy––and invites his followers only to enter the blazing ﬁre.
Satan isn’t real either, nor is Hell.
7Those who disbelieve will be punished severely; those who believe and do good deeds will be forgiven, and richly rewarded.
All lies, meant to coerce belief so as to manipulate the masses. There is no moral justification for punishing people for what they did or didn’t believe.
8What about those whose evil deeds are made alluring to them so that they think they are good? God leaves whoever He will to stray and guides whoever He will. [Prophet], do not waste your soul away with regret for them: God knows exactly what they do.
This is interesting in that it is an admission that God is not reliable.
9It is God who sends forth the winds; they raise up the clouds; We drive them to a dead land and with them revive the earth after its death: such will be the Resurrection.
No, winds are driven by dynamic disparity of temperatures in different places, and the clouds are lifted up by the process of evaporation. The lands receiving rain are not ‘resurrected’ because they were never ‘dead’. There will be no resurrection for our souls either, since there is no such thing as a soul. Nor are they even possible.
10If anyone desires power, all power belongs to God; good words rise up to Him and He lifts up the righteous deed, but a severe torment awaits those who plot evil and their plotting will come to nothing.
According to the ravings of this book, severe torment awaits any person, no matter how good, if they’re not gullible enough to believe all these unsupported assertions of impossible absurdity. So this system of judgment is neither just nor righteous.
11It is God who created you from dust and later from a drop of ﬂuid; then He made you into two sexes; no female conceives or gives birth without His knowledge; no person grows old or has his life cut short, except in accordance with a Record: all this is easy for God.
None of this is true. We were not ‘created’ at all; we evolved, and not from dust. Nor are we conceived from a drop of fluid. If Muhammad knew about microscopy, then the Qur’an might have said that this ‘fluid’ contains myriad sperms, and that only one of these combines with the female egg. The Qur’an doesn’t mention the female contribution, because the people who wrote it didn’t know what their god would have known–if he was real. That’s why nothing is easy for God, and why we have to do his work for him. He can’t do anything because he isn’t anything.
12The two bodies of water are not alike–– one is palatable, sweet, and pleasant to drink, the other salty and bitter–– yet from each you eat fresh ﬁsh and extract ornaments to wear, and in each you see the ships ploughing their course so that you may seek God’s bounty and be grateful.
Can it be? I’m roughly half-way through the Qur’an, and I’ve come across one entire verse that is completely correct, not one obvious error or empty assertion to be found in it. At this point, that is amazing.
13He makes the night merge into the day and the day into the night; He has subjected the sun and the moon–– each runs for an appointed term.
One reasonable verse and we’re right back to complete nonsense. Quran.com and other translations say “He causes the night to enter the day, and He causes the day to enter the night and has subjected the sun and the moon – each running [its course] for a specified term.” So once again, we see that the sun and moon are treated as equivalent opposites, both orbiting the earth, where the authors of the Qur’an obviously did not know that it is the earth that runs a course around the sun, not the other way around. This is yet another scientific error, for anyone trying to keep count.
Such is God your Lord: all control belongs to Him.
Then he should be to blame when things go wrong.
Those you invoke beside Him do not even control the skin of a date stone;
Neither does God really.
14if you call them they cannot hear you;
Neither can your god.
if they could hear, they could not answer you;
Neither can your god.
on the Day of Resurrection they will disown your idolatry.
Have we got an expiration date on that prophesy? So that we’ll know when it has failed and will never come to pass?
None can inform you [Prophet] like the One who is all aware.
Except that God can never show that he knows any more than whatever his believers do, and his knowledge is always just a flawed as theirs is too.
15People, it is you who stand in need of God––
No thanks. I’m good.
God needs nothing and is worthy of all praise– –
So why do his believers have to do his work for him then?
16if He wills, He can do away with you and bring in a new creation,
Yeah? Show me.
17that is not diﬃcult for God.
Then it should be easy enough to prove it.
18No burdened soul will bear the burden of another: even if a heavily laden soul should cry for help, none of its load will be carried, not even by a close relative.
What burden could that be?
But you [Prophet] can only warn those who fear their Lord, though they cannot see Him, and keep up the prayer–
You prophet can only convince those who already believe you?
– whoever puriﬁes himself does so for his own beneﬁt–– everything returns to God.
Not when nothing ever came from God in the first place.
19The blind and the seeing are not alike,
The blind are the ones prostrating themselves to an imaginary overlord.
20nor are darkness and light; 21shade and heat are not alike, 22nor are the living and the dead.
That’s four verses in a row that are all correct. This book is getting better fast.
God makes anyone He wills hear [His message]: you cannot make those in their graves hear.
That’s only half true. If God existed, he could just as easily make everyone hear his message, such that prophets like Muhammad and the other liars before him would be unnecessary. Yet for some reason, God refuses to communicate with skeptics or with any large groups. He only speaks to fools and pretenders, and then only when no one else is around; not at all what you’d expect of an uber-galactic super-being, but precisely what we should expect of an imaginary phantasm.
23You are only here to warn them– – 24We have sent you with the Truth as a bearer of good news and warning–– every community has been sent a warner.
Yes, we’ve heard of Zarathustra, Lao Tsu, Sri Kṛṣṇa, Akhenaten, Siddhārtha Gautama, Yeshua ben Yosef, and Guru Nanak among others, but who before Muhammad ever brought up Islam?
25If they call you a liar, their predecessors did the same: messengers came to them with clear signs, scriptures, and enlightening revelation.
Yet not even Muhammad would have believed any of those who were just listed.
26and afterwards I seized the disbelievers–– how terrible My punishment was!
How dare we not believe impossible nonsense for no good reason!
27Have you [Prophet] not considered how God sends water down from the sky and that We produce with it fruits of varied colours; that there are in the mountains layers of white and red of various hues, and jet black;
Different layers of sedimentary deposits over vast periods of geologic time, nothing remotely divine about it.
28that there are various colours among human beings, wild animals, and livestock too?
The range of colors in humans is directly correlated to where our ancestors lived dozens of generations ago. Those who came from the tropics are darker, to protect against the intensity of direct sun. Those closer to the poles, where the sun is at lower angles in the sky, have lighter skin to better absorb vitamin D from the more-diffused radiance. This is known as adaptation. Of course Muhammad wouldn’t know about any of that because he thought the world was flat and that the sun went around the earth.
As for the wider variation among animals, there is another word for that, evolution.
It is those of His servants who have knowledge who stand in true awe of God.
That’s obviously not the case at all. As the Qur’an and the works it is based on have already amply demonstrated, those who wrote these books obviously had no idea what they were talking about ever.
God is almighty, The most forgiving.
But he will never ever forgive those who did not believe the lies of the fools and madmen professing to speak for God.
29Those who recite God’s scripture, keep up the prayer, give secretly and openly from what We have provided for them, may hope for a trade that will never decline: 30He will repay them in full, and give them extra from His bounty. He is most forgiving, most appreciative.
Hope all you want to. There is some truth to the idea that if you’re fair and generous, the people you deal with will be more inclined to treat you fairly too, but that is not always true, where those who speak for God are promising here that it should be.
31The Scripture We have revealed to you [Prophet] is the Truth and conﬁrms the scriptures that preceded it.
This is interesting because the scriptures that came before the Qur’an was the Christian Bible, which the Qur’an says was corrupted by man, and that Jesus never died for example. Now the Qur’an is apparently contradicting itself.
God is well informed about His servants, He sees everything. 32We gave the Scripture as a heritage to Our chosen servants: some of them wronged their own souls, some stayed between [right and wrong], and some, by God’s leave, were foremost in good deeds. That is the greatest favour:
God is supposed to be well-informed and sees everything, but he sent people with his word who somehow wronged their own souls. How could that even happen? Only those with God’s leave did not fail, which means it’s his fault the others did! Yet, he will still damn us to merciless eternal torture no matter which group we didn’t believe. How is that just?
33they will enter lasting Gardens where they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls, where they will wear silk garments. 34They will say, ‘Praise be to God, who has separated us from all sorrow! Our Lord is truly most forgiving, most appreciative: 35He has, in His bounty, settled us in the everlasting Home where no toil or fatigue will touch us.’
So you still have to wear cloths and seek shelter even in Heaven, and we still have our vanity as well. We’ve already seen in other surahs that we will still have to eat too. Worse than that, the Qur’an, like the Bible, imagines that it is possible to experience eternal bliss knowing that loved ones are subjected to eternal torture.
36But those who reject the truth will stay in Hellﬁre, where they will neither be ﬁnished oﬀ by death, nor be relieved from Hell’s torment: this is how We reward hardened disbelievers. 37They will cry out loud in Hell, ‘Lord, let us out, and we will do righteous deeds, not what we did before!’
Remember that it doesn’t matter what good deeds an unbeliever does. Disbelief all by itself is considered evil and that is the only thing for which you will be judged. So the unbelievers here only become believers when it they are given reason to believe, which we are denied in life.
––‘ Did We not give you a life long enough to take warning if you were going to? The warner came to you, now taste the punishment.’ The evildoers will have nobody to help them.
Fortunately, none of this is even possibly true.
38God knows all that is hidden in the heavens and earth; He knows the thoughts contained in the heart; 39it is He who made you [people] successors to the land.
Nope. God knows nothing and made nothing. Humanity did this.
Those who deny the truth will bear the consequences: their denial will only make them more odious to their Lord, and add only to their loss.
I will never deny truth, which is why I must reject the Qur’an, and all the other supposedly sacred scriptures ever cobbled together by wildly imaginative men.
40Say, ‘Consider those “partners” of yours that you call upon beside God. Show me! What part of the earth did they create? What share of the heavens do they possess?’ Have We given them a book that contains clear evidence? No indeed! The idolaters promise each other only delusion.
Well, the Hebrew Tanakh was supposed to be your word given to the Jews. What went wrong there? I know most people now follow Jesus, but I have to agree that they do so without warrant; especially since he never claimed to have created anything. Nor did Jesus ever claim to be God in the flesh. Interestingly, his Hindu predecessor Lord Krishna did claim to be the physical manifestation of god-made-flesh and the supreme personality of the god-head. Krishna set that he had created many worlds all by himself, and he said this several centuries before Jesus’ time at least. I should also note that Hindus have more scriptures written for their religion than there are for all the Abrahamic religions combined, and that’s even including Mormons and the Baháʼí. So yeah, those other faiths do have their own books, where you said they did not.
41God keeps the heavens and earth from vanishing; if they did vanish, no one else could stop them. God is most forbearing, most forgiving.
So say the pretenders, regardless of the contradictions, and without any reason to believe them.
42[The idolaters] swore their most solemn oath that, if someone came to warn them, they would be more rightly guided than any [other] community, but when someone did come they turned yet further away, 43became more arrogant in the land, and intensiﬁed their plotting of evil–– the plotting of evil only rebounds on those who plot.
No. Rational skepticism is sanity, not evil. Idolaters are those who worship the words of men (in the Bible/Qur’an/Bhagavad Gita/Book of Mormon, etc.) as if they were the word of God. I can’t speak for these idolaters, but the unbelievers like myself swear that if you show good reason [evidence] to believe you, we will consider it, and if it is seemingly valid, we will be forced to change our minds accordingly; where idolaters will continue believing their sacred scriptures even when they are proven wrong.
Do they expect anything but what happened to earlier people? You will never ﬁnd any change in God’s practice; you will never ﬁnd any deviation there. 44Have they not travelled in the land and seen how those before them met their end, although they were superior to them in strength?
As best I can tell, these “earlier people” refer partly to Biblical fables and partly to local calamities, and we are told to assume–for no good reason–that whatever tragedy ever happened to anyone was always God’s punishment for not being good believers. At least some of these stories we know never really happened at all. The rest likely have natural explanations, just like everything else that is falsely attributed to God.
God is not to be frustrated by anything in the heavens or on the earth: He is all knowing, all powerful.
Except that he doesn’t know anything and can’t do anything because he is only imaginary.
45If God were to punish people [at once] for the wrong they have done, there would not be a single creature left on the surface of the earth. He gives them respite for a stated time and, whenever their time comes, God has been watching His servants.
Such is the empty threat that will never be fulfilled. But it is amusing to imagine God damning tardigrades or bacteria for not believing in the prophets of his madness.