May 29, 2024

An Infidel Reads Sūrah 36

This is the 15th 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
and my 14th post on sura 72

Sūrah 36 ((YãSîn) Ya Sin

1YaSin. 2By the wise a Qur’an, 3you [Muhammad] are truly one of the messengers sent 4on a straight path, 5with a revelation from the Almighty, the Lord of Mercy, 6to warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, and so they are unaware.

Thus, on the day of resurrection, everyone who had lived before the 7th century will be doomed to hellfire, because they did not believe in Islam.

7The verdict has been passed against most of them, for they refuse to believe. 8[It is as if] We had placed [iron] collars around their necks, right up to their chins so that their heads are forced up 9and set barriers before and behind them, blocking their vision: they cannot see.

So faith is blind.

10It is all the same to them whether you warn them or not: they will not believe.

So you may as well give up because even God says it’s pointless trying to make reasonable people believe outrageous claims from questionable prophets without sufficient evidence. Knowing this, all God can do is damn us all and torture us eternally in punishment for being too smart for him.

11You can warn only those who will follow the Qur’an and hold the Merciful One in awe, though they cannot see Him: give such people the glad news of forgiveness and a noble reward. 

Once again, the Qur’an reveals that faith is a firm conviction that is not based on evidence.

12We shall certainly bring the dead back to life, and We record what they send ahead of them as well as what they leave behind: We keep an account of everything in a clear Record.

I don’t believe you. If the Qur’an is anything to go on, then your records are neither clear no complete, and your prophecies are anything but certain.

13Give them the example of the people to whose town messengers came. 14We sent two messengers but they rejected both. Then We reinforced them with a third.

So God, (speaking of himself in 3rd person as if he was Trump) tried and failed multiple times. Interesting. Yet he still hasn’t learned not to use prophets with emotional pleas in lieu of evidence.

15They said, ‘Truly, we are messengers to you,’ 16but they answered, ‘You are only men like ourselves. The Lord of Mercy has sent nothing; you are just lying.’

It is true that an unsupported assertion has no more credence than a claim that has already been proven false.

They said, ‘Our Lord knows that we have been sent to you.

Lord only knows who you are, but WE don’t know that. So show us some evidence. Give us a reason to believe you.

17Our duty is only to deliver the message to you,’ 18but they answered, ‘We think you are an evil omen. If you do not stop, we shall stone you, and inflict a painful torment on you.’

Translation: Put up or shut up.

19The messengers said, ‘The evil omen is within yourselves. Why do you take it as an evil omen when you are reminded of the Truth? You are going too far!’ 

We consider it evil because it apparently a lie. Because the truth is what the facts are, what we can show to be true. If you can’t show the truth of your assertions, then we can’t call it ‘truth’.

20Then, from the furthest part of the city, a man came running. He said, ‘My people, follow the messengers. 21Follow them: they are not asking you to reward them and they are rightly guided. 22Why should I not worship the One who created me? It is to Him that you will be returned.

We will not ‘return’ to him because we were never ‘from’ him. There is no “Him”, and you were not “created”, unless it was by your parents.

 23How could I take besides Him any other gods, whose intercession will not help me and who would not be able to save me if the Lord of Mercy wished to harm me? 24Then I would clearly be in the wrong. 25I believe in your Lord, so listen to me.’

You ARE clearly in the wrong now. You shouldn’t believe in ANY gods. They are all creatures of the id, imaginary beings invented by men.

26He was told, ‘Enter the Garden,’ a so he said, ‘If only my people knew 27how my Lord has forgiven me and set me among the highly honoured.’ 28After him We did not send any army from heaven against his people, nor were We about to: 29there was just one blast, and they fell down lifeless.

Pictures or it didn’t happen.

Here again, we have another cultural reference that we would likely only know if we were part of that culture at that time or had studied other books written by men to remind us of these otherwise forgotten details. Without consulting those who were raised in Islam, I have no idea who we’re talking about now. Abdel Haleem’s footnotes say only that whoever it was may have been “martyred, as his people die after him”, and that whoever it is must be someone from an earlier generation. I saw no other translation of the Qur’an that clarifies this either, though it is amusing to me that all of the ones I did see admit belief that God commands “soldiers from the sky”.

30Alas for human beings! Whenever a messenger comes to them they ridicule him. 31Do they not see how many generations We have destroyed before them, none of whom will ever come back to them? 32[Yet] all of them will be brought before Us.

How do YOU not see the error of your ways in all these repeated failures, God? Have you not learned by now that demanding faith is commonly used by every false religion as a means of deception? That’s why reasonable people need a reason to believe.

33There is a sign for them in the lifeless earth: We give it life and We produce grain from it for them to eat; 34We have put gardens of date palms and grapes in the earth, and We have made springs of water gush out of it 35so that they could eat its fruit. It was not their own hands that made all this. How can they not give thanks?

Because none of that is evidently true, and all of it requires the question-begging fallacy of circular reasoning, assuming an erroneous conclusion. In fact no one ever needed to do this. Life does all of that on its own.

Another reason is that we humans actually did make a lot of this, out of wild vegetation that bears little or no resemblance to the cultivars we derived through artificial selection, splicing and hybridization.

36Glory be to Him who created all the pairs of things that the earth produces, as well as themselves and other things they do not know about.

Pairs of things? Haleem says this could also mean “varieties”. Either way, now we’re talking about created “kinds”, which have still never been identified and which phylogenetics proves did not exist; that God did not ‘create’ any “pairs of things” [male and female] of any species.

37The night is also a sign for them: We strip the daylight from it, and– lo and behold!– they are in darkness. 38The sun, too, runs its determined course laid down for it by the Almighty, the All Knowing.

Recently, a Muslim apologist named Nadir Ahmad joined us for a number of video sessions wherein he repeatedly said “there are no scientific errors in the Qur’an”. He kept insisting on this even after he was proven wrong again and again. Well, here is another one, Nadir. The sun does not run any course. It stays where it is while the earth spins, such that only half of our planet can be lit at any moment. Whatever half is at then facing away from the sun is in the shadow of the earth, and that’s why there is night, when there no light from the sun. God did NOT “strip daylight away from” the sun! Nor did he send it anywhere. When the earth turns around, you’ll see that the sun is still there, right where it was yesterday and all the days before then too, and its light was never stripped from it.

39We have determined phases for the moon until finally it becomes like an old date-stalk.

I don’t know what “an old date stalk” is. So I checked Masjid Tucson‘s translation, which says “like an old curved sheath”. Again, the phases of the moon are “determined” by where it is in relation to the earth as to how much sunlight we see reflected off of it. So there’s another scientific error for you, Nadir. It’s not like the moon actually changes shape at all. Even the people writing this had to know better than that, as on some nights I’ve been able to see the darkened rest of the moon beyond the brightly-lit crescent. Surely the authors of the Qur’an must have been able to see that too.

40The sun cannot overtake the moon, nor can the night outrun the day: each floats in [its own] orbit.

Here is yet another scientific error in the Qur’an, Nadir; actually a collection of them. First of all, we know that the moon CAN “overtake” the sun—from our perspective. That’s what a solar eclipse is. That’s why we sometimes see the moon even in the daytime.

Next, night and day are determined by the earth’s axial rotation and the fact that the sun does NOT have an “orbit” of its own. Even if we agree that the galaxy as a whole rotates on an axis that is the black hole at the center, the stars around it are not all moving in the same direction, and are therefore obviously not “in orbit” themselves, as was revealed in this eight year time-lapse video from APoD (Astronomy Picture of the Day).

41Another sign for them is that We carried their seed in the laden Ark, 42and We have made similar things for them to ride in. 43If We wished, We could drown them, and there would be no one to help them: they could not be saved. 44Only by Our mercy could they be reprieved to enjoy life for a while.

At least a few Muslim apologists have told me that the Qur’an doesn’t say that Noah’s flood was a global event like the Bible does. But here it says that the ‘seed’ of humanity was preserved aboard the ark. Because this is an important point, I checked it on Qur’ to see that it and others say “We carried their forefathers in a laden ship”. The reference here is not to the Arabs alone; obviously it refers to all humanity. It means to say that we would not be alive now had God not provided that and “similar things” to save our forefathers from that deluge. While this implies that people lived through the flood on more than one boat, which is interesting, there is still a definite indication that the flood was global, and that the only people to live through that time experienced the flood first-hand and were forced to float to safety. So the Qur’an does imply a global flood, and that is another scientific error, as we know for certain that this global deluge never happened.

45Yet when they are told, ‘Beware of what lies before and behind you, so that you may be given mercy,’ 46they ignore every single sign that comes to them from their Lord,

Then stop giving “signs”, meaning random disconnected things which illogical thinkers have to assume is a ‘sign’. Show us something we can actually know is really true and connected and indicative of whatever point you’re trying to make.

47and when they are told, ‘Give to others out of what God has provided for you,’ the disbelievers say to the believers, ‘Why should we feed those that God could feed if He wanted? You must be deeply misguided.’

Whoever wrote this pretending to speak for God is no position to accuse anyone else of being misguided. His detractors here make a good point. I always wondered why it is that God can create dinosaurs and planets and anything that humans can’t make, but he can’t create anything humans CAN make. He can’t make a box, or a boat, or a building. God can do anything he wants, with literally no effort at all, simply by wishing it to be so, but somehow he still needs people to do HIS work. Why is it that? I think the obvious reason is that God can’t really do anything at all, and that we need to do everything for him because he is literally just our imaginary friend.

48And they say, ‘When will this promise be fulfilled, if what you say is true?’

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an expiration date on this prophesy? I mean, it’s already been 1,400 years. Why do Abrahamic prophesies take so long, and there’s never any point when we can say that any of them failed to be fulfilled? No Christians, your prophesies remain unfulfilled too. Tell us when that’s gonna happen so that we can move on with our lives when we pass the due date.

49But all they are waiting for is a single blast that will overtake them while they are still arguing with each other. 50They will have no time to make bequests, nor will they have the chance to return to their own people. 51The Trumpet will be sounded and– lo and behold!– they will rush out to their Lord from their graves. 52They will say, ‘Alas for us! Who has resurrected us from our resting places?’ [They will be told], ‘This is what the Lord of Mercy promised, and the messengers told the truth.’ 

This is how the crazy old weirdo says “believe me or else”, while trying to intimidate irrational people into buying his nonsense.

53It was just one single blast and then– lo and behold!– they were all brought before Us. 54‘Today, no soul will be wronged in the least: you will only be repaid for your deeds. 55The people of Paradise today are happily occupied– 56they and their spouses– seated on couches in the shade. 

Well that’s nice. In an earlier sura, it said that men in the afterlife would have women assigned to them who have no reason to exist other than as a team to please that one man. The Islamic apologist we were talking to then actually asked “what’s wrong with that?” I guess he never understood why slavery is immoral. I know of other believers in Abrahamic belief systems with the same problem.

57There they have fruit and whatever they ask for.

Wait, does that mean that God will be serving us from then on? Or is it the job of the women assigned to us to bring us all that fruit for all eternity? How many apples can you eat in ‘leventy godzillion years?

58“Peace,” a word from the Lord of Mercy. 59But step aside today, you guilty ones. 60Children of Adam, did I not command you not to serve Satan, for he was your sworn enemy, 61but to serve Me? This is the straight path.

An actual god would not need, and could not use servants. An imaginary god, on the other hand, needs all kinds of help, especially financial help, and still can’t manage most of what he wants done.

62He has led great numbers of you astray. Did you not use your reason?

Of course; that’s how were lead ‘astray’, by reason; as opposed to being mislead into believing religious assertions that are not supported by reason and which stand against all reason.

Interestingly, Reverend Martin Luther, said that “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the divine word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” Seems that’s true of the Muslim god just as much as the Christian one.

63So this is the Fire that you were warned against. 64Enter it today, because you went on ignoring [my commands].’

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure Mo, whatever you think the angels told you. Now go take your meds.

65On that Day We shall seal up their mouths, but their hands will speak to Us, and their feet bear witness to everything they have done. 66If it had been Our will, We could have taken away their sight. They would have struggled to find the way, but how could they have seen it?

This reminds me of Sura 2: 6As for those who disbelieve, it makes no difference whether you warn them or not: they will not believe. 7God has sealed their hearts and their ears, and their eyes are covered. They will have great torment.’

So it was God’s decision that I should not believe in him, and he made it so that I cannot believe in him, so that he can punish me later for doing what he forced me to do.

67If it had been Our will, We could have paralysed them where they stood, so that they could not move forward or backward. 68If We extend anyone’s life, We reverse his development. Do they not use their reason?

I can’t speak for whoever ‘they’ are, but I can say that I use reason, and I note that there is no reason to believe anything you say.

69We have not taught the Prophet poetry, a nor could he ever b have been a poet.

Abdel Haleem clarifies that “Some of the Arabs dismissed the Qur’an as poetry”, which is not surprising since so much of it is written in verse. Interestingly though only some suras are written to rhyme, others are not. Rather than imply that the Qur’an is not poetry (since at least some of it clearly is) it implies that it wasn’t all written by the same person. The prose and the poetry came from at least two different sources, meaning that it wasn’t written by God nor dictated through an angel to Muhammad.

70This is a revelation, an illuminating Qur’an to warn anyone who is truly alive, so that God’s verdict may be passed against the disbelievers. 71Can they not see how, among the things made by Our hands, We have created livestock they control, 72and made them obedient, so that some can be used for riding, some for food, 73some for other benefits, and some for drink? Will they not give thanks?

We know for certain that humans have cultivated many different forms of livestock, and through selective breeding, we have changed them from the wild animals that we started with, and which have evolved rather than being created.

74Yet they have taken other gods besides God to help them, 75though these could not do so even if they called a whole army of them together!

Yet more than a millennium before Muhammad and even many centuries before Jesus, and even before the god of Abraham, other gods like Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita and Ahura-Mazda in the Avestas of Zarathustra had already claimed credit for the exact same things that the Muslim god does now (or did 1,200 years later) except that these elder gods preached a very different theology than the one that did not anywhere exist before Muhammad made his up—I mean—received the Qur’an from the angel, Gabriel.

76So [Prophet] do not be distressed at what they say: We know what they conceal and what they reveal. 77Can man not see that We created him from a drop of fluid?

That is another scientific error in the Qur’an, though Islamic apologists like Nadir refuse to admit that. The Qur’an was limited to whatever medical discoveries (and occasional errors) were already made by folks like Galen and Aristotle. It is from them that we get the notion that people are made from a single drop of “fluid” [semen]. But had the Qur’an been the absolute truth and the word of an infallible god, then it would have said that within the drop of fluid was sperm that were too small to see, and that these sperm would mix with an egg, which was also too small to see once inside the mother. To know the truth (as a god would) and still say that we are made of from a single drop of fluid would be deliberately misleading; in other words, a lie.

Yet– lo and behold!– he disputes openly, 78producing arguments against Us, forgetting his own creation. He says, ‘Who can give life back to bones after they have decayed?’ 79Say, ‘He who created them in the first place will give them life again: He has full knowledge of every act of creation.

There was not a “creation”, not of man separate from other animal species and not of any varieties of breeding pairs for other species either. Whatever mere fallible human conceived the Qur’an, he would surely have written, not only a much more accurate, but a more inspired, completely different and vastly more compelling composition had he jumped out of the darkness of medieval ignorance and into my time for a few years’ of college education, before hopping back to the 7th century. If God existed, he should already have had such knowledge, and is thus without excuse.

80It is He who produces fire for you out of the green tree– lo and behold!– and from this you kindle fire.

Again, rather than a timeless book of wisdom intended for all people around the world, we have only a provincial work which assumes (wrongly) that we are already familiar with all these tales that someone will have to explain to me, if anyone still remembers what this is talking about.

I suspect that producing fire out of the green tree might be a reference to what would (after a few centuries) become known as the theory of phlogiston. That is the defunct idea that fire is the liberation of phologiston, a mysterious material that was once assumed to exist within anything flammable. Disproving this theory resulted in a new theory called Oxygen. But I shouldn’t expect a mad Arab or his out-dated deity to know about that.

81Is He who created the heavens and earth not able to create the likes of these people?

Correct, especially since he didn’t create these people either.

Of course He is! He is the All Knowing Creator:

An “all knowing” creator who either does not know or will not say anything that is beyond whatever understanding the prophets already had, and who is content to mislead them with alleged facts that are not true, like the created pairs, and the global flood, and a person growing from a single drop of semen with nothing else added.

82when He wills something to be, His way is to say, “Be”– and it is! 83So glory be to Him in whose Hand lies control over all things. It is to Him that you will all be brought back.’

So we are to make-believe that whatever happens, God did it. And if he didn’t, it was how he willed it. Assumed conclusions of circular reasoning seem to be all that drive this repetitive narrative of nonsense.

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