This is the 33rd 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.
and my 32nd post on suras 31 & 34.
Sūrah 39 (Al-Zumar) The Throngs
Also translated as “The Troops”.
1This Scripture is sent down from God the Mighty, the Wise. 2It is We who sent down the Scripture to you [Prophet] with the Truth, so worship God with your total devotion: 3true devotion is due to God alone.
So sayeth the Muslim version of God in 7th century Arabia. However, thousands of years before that, an earlier version of Almighty God sent a different scripture down to India, in which Lord Kṛṣṇa said, “Those who desire My eternal association precluding all else meditate on Me with exclusive devotion; those persons, I insure the uniting of their individual consciousness with the Ultimate Consciousness perpetually”. (Bhagavad Gita, chapter 9, verse 22). So with all these mixed messages, can God really blame people for being confused when there are so many conflicting religions, each claiming to be the “absolute truth” and the “one true” path, and each promising much the same thing as the others?
[As for] those who choose other protectors beside Him, saying, ‘We only worship them because they bring us nearer to God,’ God Himself will judge between them regarding their differences. God does not guide any ungrateful liar.
I would technically agree, only because God doesn’t exist. But I have seen a LOT of ungrateful liars claiming to be guided by God.
4God could have chosen any of His creation He willed for offspring, but He is far above this! He is the One, the Almighty. 5He created the heavens and earth for a true purpose; He wraps the night around the day and the day around the night; He has subjected the sun and moon to run their courses for an appointed time; He is truly the Mighty, the Forgiving.
Except that none of that is true.
6He created you all from a single being, from which He made its mate;
Wait, wut? Is this saying that God created me from Adam? And then made me Adam’s mate? I have no idea. IslamicStudies.info put it this way: “He it is Who created you from a single being, and He it is Who made from it its mate.”
That didn’t make anything clearer. So I read their footnotes:
“This does not mean that first He created the human beings from Adam and then created his wife, Eve. But here, instead of the chronological order, there is the order of presentation, examples of which are found in every language. For instance, we say, “Whatever you did today is known to me, and whatever you did yesterday is also in my knowledge.” This cannot mean that what happened yesterday has happened after today.”
That’s even more confusing than the original line I sought to clarify!
He gave you four kinds of livestock in pairs;
Now this could have been interesting. I posted the Phylogeny Challenge almost a decade ago, in an attempt to get creationists to identify “created kinds”. So I’m keen to see how the Qur’an identifies these. However, translator Abdel Haleem’s footnotes said, “There has been some confusion over numbering here, leading some translators to render this passage ‘eight pairs’. In fact, the correct translation is either ‘eight head’ or ‘four pairs’.” So we still don’t have an answer.
IslamicStudies.Info identifies these four “kinds” as “the camel, cow, sheep and goat, whose four males and four females together make eight heads of cattle.”
OK, so Google says there are 9 species of wild goat and some 300 domestic breeds, and 4 species of sheep but 10,000 or so breeds. Then there are 143 species of bovid, and 250 breeds of domestic cattle, with 7 living species of camel (not including llamas) and several more of all of these are found in the fossil record. We know that sheep and goats are more closely-related to each other than to cows, and that all of them are ruminants while the camels are tylopods. So I don’t think any Muslim would argue that the Qur’an is saying that these are the “created kinds” from which all subsequent varieties were derived. Because if so, then the Qur’an has neglected to mention numerous other species of deer and giraffes, antelopes and other things that are all in that same taxonomic order. Clearly the Qur’an only means to imply on that out of these artiodactyls, (even-toed hooved mammals) we should keep these four as livestock.
He creates you in your mothers’ wombs, in one stage after another, in threefold depths of darkness. Such is God, your Lord; He holds control, there is no god but Him. How can you turn away?
How can we turn away? By understanding that all of that is factually false, contradicted not only by science but also elsewhere in the Qur’an. Remember Surah (86:6) “He was created of a gushing fluid, (86:7) emanating from between the loins and the ribs”. IslamicStudiesInfo did not even try to defend the claim that semen comes from between the backbone and the ribs; they can’t. But it does confirm that “A fluid gushing forth” means ejaculation of semen (maain) carrying the sperm (nutfa),”
So first the Qur’an tells us we are made only of semen, without any mention of the mother’s contribution, and then it says here that we are “created” out of nothing inside the mother’s womb without the father’s contribution. Either way, the fact that humans have eggs wasn’t discovered until 1827. Muhammad lived over a thousand years before then. So he couldn’t have known about that, which is why his god didn’t know it either. Thus the Qur’an still includes this indefensible error.
7If you are ungrateful, remember God has no need of you, yet He is not pleased by ingratitude in His servants; if you are grateful, He is pleased [to see] it in you. No soul will bear another’s burden.
Did you hear that, Christians?
You will return to your Lord in the end and He will inform you of what you have done: He knows well what is in the depths of [your] hearts. 8When man suffers some affliction, he prays to his Lord and turns to Him, but once he has been granted a favour from God, he forgets the One he had been praying to and sets up rivals to God, to make others stray from His path. Say, ‘Enjoy your ingratitude for a little while: you will be one of the inhabitants of the Fire.’
Because the Qur’an can’t go even one page without damning unbelievers to eternal torment.
9What about someone who worships devoutly during the night, bowing down, standing in prayer, ever mindful of the life to come, hoping for his Lord’s mercy? Say, ‘How can those who know be equal to those who do not know?’ Only those who have understanding will take heed.
Here God admits that he is going to punish people who do not even understand why they’re punished. When that punishment is both merciless and eternal, God should take more care that his victims understand what he is planning to do them and why.
10Say, ‘[God says], believing servants, be mindful of your Lord! Those who do good in this world will have a good reward– God’s earth is wide ––and those who persevere patiently will be given a full and unstinting reward.’
Remember that this “unstinting reward” is meat, salad and soft drinks being served in the eternal lounge by soulless children who never grow up.
11Say, ‘I have been commanded to serve God, dedicating my worship entirely to Him. 12I have been commanded to be the first to submit.’ 13Say, ‘I fear the torment of a terrible Day if I disobey my Lord.’ 14Say, ‘It is God I serve, dedicating my worship entirely to Him–
You’re commanded to say all of that …or else.
15you may serve whatever you please beside Him.’ Say, ‘The true losers are the ones who will lose themselves and their people on the Day of Resurrection: that is the most obvious loss. 16They will have layers of Fire above them and below.’ This is how God puts fear into His servants: My servants, beware of Me.
Of course if God really was half as great as his alleged representatives say he is, then he wouldn’t be trying to strike fear in the hearts of unbelievers. This actually denotes insecurity. Not in the god, because gods are not real. If they were, and they acted like this, then we would know they are not as “all-powerful” as they pretend. But the insecurity here is coming from the self-appointed prophets having to sell their lies to the masses in exchange for wealth, power and prestige. Then they have to absolutely sell it such that the patsies are too afraid to doubt.
17There is good news for those who shun the worship of false gods and turn to God, so [Prophet] give good news to My servants 18who listen to what is said and follow what is best. These are the ones God has guided; these are the people of understanding.
So God only guides some people, the ones who “understand”. The first thing they should understand is that all gods are false, even yours.
19What about the one who has been sentenced to punishment? Can you [Prophet] rescue those already in the Fire? 20But those who are mindful of their Lord will have lofty dwellings built for them, one above the other, graced with flowing streams. This is a promise from God: God does not break His promise.
Now this is interesting! Until now, Muslim Heaven was only described as a lounge of sofas attended by soulless servants. Wherein people still need to eat to exist, even in the afterlife. And they’re eating meat, meaning that animals still have be killed even in the afterlife. Do they get other lives after that? To keep being slaughtered forever? But now, we learn that we need dwellings too. I guess to protect us from the weather? In Heaven? Interestingly, these dwellings are to be “one above the other”, like a block of flats? Complete with running water. Seems the Muslim Heaven really is just a ritzy hotel.
However most other translations say these are “mansions”. Although the Qur’an hasn’t mentioned it yet, I’m sure they’re all on streets of gold. My grandmother used to believe the same thing about her Christian Heaven, that it’s just like we’re still on earth except that we’re all extremely wealthy people of leisure with lowly servants and concubines who exist only to serve us.
21Have you not considered that God sends water down from the sky, guides it along to form springs in the earth, and then, with it, brings forth vegetation of various colours, which later withers, turns yellow before your eyes, and is crumbled to dust at His command? There is truly a reminder in this for those who have understanding.
Actually, people who believe this do NOT have understanding of pretty much anything in nature. Because none of this happens by anyone’s command. The integrated processes involved are vastly more fascinating in reality than this fantasy can be.
22What about the one whose heart God has opened in devotion to Him, so that he walks in light from his Lord? Alas for those whose hearts harden at the mention of God! They have clearly lost their way.
Some “hearts” are sadly deluded, while our “hearts harden” because we don’t like to be lied to.
23God has sent down the most beautiful of all teachings: a Scripture that is consistent and draws comparisons; that causes the skins of those in awe of their Lord to shiver. Then their skins and their hearts soften at the mention of God: such is God’s guidance. He guides with it whoever He will; no one can guide those God leaves to stray.
Wrong again. Wisdom guides us, as does instruction imparted by teachers with expertise. So that we understand much more and better than the believers even care to.
24What about the one who will only have his bare face to protect him from his terrible suffering on the Day of Resurrection? It will be said to the evildoers, ‘Taste what you have earned.’
Empty threats constantly repeated.
25Others before them also disbelieved, and the punishment fell on them unawares: 26God gave them the punishment of disgrace in this world to taste; the punishment will be even harder in the Hereafter, if only they knew.
If only there was a god who was great enough to care enough to communicate properly, instead of always sending highly dubious prophets with no proof or credence to show.
27In this Qur’an, We have put forward all kinds of illustration for people, so that they may take heed–
You put forth sculptures? Paintings” Etchings? Lithographs? Water colors? Finger puppets?
28an Arabic Qur’an, free from any distortion– so that people may be mindful.
Free from distortion except for all the many gross distortions I have already documented in this series.
29God puts forward this illustration: can a man who has for his masters several partners at odds with each other be considered equal to a man devoted wholly to one master? All praise belongs to God, though most of them do not know.
Here’s an idea. How about a communal society with wise councilors and such, but no masters? Wherein curiosity, innovation and excellence are rewarded instead of forced submission to a tyrannical despot?
30You [Prophet] will certainly die, and so will they, 31and, on the Day of Resurrection, you will dispute with one another in the presence of your Lord. 32So who could be more wrong than the person who invents a lie about God and rejects the truth when it comes to him?
Such irony! So the author(s) of the Qur’an (let’s call them Muhammad) invented lies about God and rejects the truth, (like about how plants naturally grow and whither by the river’s edge) and even rejects the truth about God, which is that there is no such thing.
Is there not ample punishment for the disbelievers in Hell?
Well, there is no Hell. So that’s a trick question. And no just or righteous god would punish finite crimes with infinite torture, or any torture at all. Skepticism isn’t a crime, and it is immoral to punish someone over what they do or don’t believe.
33It is the one who brings the truth and the one who accepts it as true who are mindful of God:
That’s not true. Atheists bring and accept truth that we can actually show to be truth, but we are not mindful of God.
34they will have everything they wish for with their Lord. Such is the reward of those who do good: 35God will absolve them even of their worst deeds and will reward them according to their best.
So again we see that this was never about morality, and has nothing to do with being good or bad. It doesn’t matter what evil you do, just as long as you buy the superstitious sales pitch. Then God will absolve you of even your worst deeds. But if you’re a wonderful humanitarian, then whether you’re Christian or atheist, you’re still gonna burn simply for not believing the crazy desert liar.
36Is God not enough for His servant?
No. People also need food and water, shelter and comforts, and especially relationships with real people who are actually there and not just in our imaginations.
Yet they threaten you [Prophet] with those they worship other than Him. If God allows someone to stray he has no one to guide him; 37if God guides someone no one can lead him astray. Is God not mighty and capable of retribution?
No, God is not mighty or capable of retribution. We seek—and find—REAL guidance, not from our own delusions taking the form of imaginary voices.
38If you [Prophet] ask them, ‘Who created the heavens and earth?’ they are sure to answer, ‘God,’
No, no one created “the heavens” nor the earth.
so say, ‘Consider those you invoke beside Him: if God wished to harm me, could they undo that harm?
That depends on what the harm is. But your god cannot physically harm you. Mentally and emotionally, yes, but he’s not real enough to do physical harm.
If God wished to show me mercy, could they withhold that mercy?’
God can’t wish anything. You have to wish for him, and then credit him for whatever would have happened anyway.
Say, ‘God is enough for me: all those who trust should put their trust in Him.’
I’m not going to say that, because I’m not a liar.
39Say, ‘My people, do whatever is in your power– and so will I. You will find out 40who will suffer humiliation, and on whom a lasting torment will descend.’
No, we really won’t. Because there is no expiration date on this prophesy, which is already 1,388 years old and failing on all other points.
41We have sent the Scripture down to you [Prophet] with the Truth for people.
No, you didn’t. Muhammad has the Qur’an instead.
Whoever follows the guidance does so for his own benefit, whoever strays away from it does so at his own peril: you are not in charge of them. 42God takes the souls of the dead and the souls of the living while they sleep– He keeps hold of those whose death He has ordained and sends the others back until their appointed time– there truly are signs in this for those who reflect.
Translation: there are signs only for those who misinterpret any random fact or pattern to be a “sign”.
43Yet they take intercessors besides God! Say, ‘Even though these have no power or understanding?’
That means these other gods are equally matched with Allah.
44Say, ‘All intercession belongs to God alone; He holds control of the heavens and the earth; in the end you will all return to Him.’
Nope. None of it.
45Whenever God is mentioned on His own, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion, but they rejoice when gods other than Him are mentioned.
I can’t speak for or to the pagans described here. I think it’s a pity and a shame when people believe in any gods, or even just when they let themselves believe anything else that is not evidently true.
46Say, ‘God! Creator of the heavens and earth! Knower of all that is hidden and all that is open, You will judge between Your servants regarding their differences.’ 47If the evildoers possessed the earth’s assets twice over they would offer them to ransom themselves from the terrible suffering on the Day of Resurrection: God will show them something they had not reckoned with, 48the evil of their deeds will become plain to them, and they will be overwhelmed by that at which they used to laugh.
This, I think, is the emptiest surah I’ve read so far, where every single sentence is wrong, and there is almost nothing new or different from every other chapter; just empty assertions of nonsense following after falsehoods.
49When man suffers some affliction, he cries out to Us, but when We favour him with Our blessing, he says, ‘All this has been given to me because of my knowledge’– it is only a test, though most of them do not know it.
A truly omniscient deity would never need to run any tests. Nor would that make sense here because earlier surahs reveal that God has decided in advance everything we are going to do or believe. So this verse contradicts all those others.
50Those who lived before them said the same. What they did was of no use to them; 51they suffered its evil effects. Today’s wrongdoers will also suffer the evil effects of their deeds: they will not escape.
Remember, they’re not necessarily “wrongdoers”, they’re just not gullible enough to believe baseless nonsense from dubious sources without any evidence.
52Do they not know that God provides abundantly for anyone He will and gives sparingly to anyone He will?
No, we don’t know that, and neither do you.
There truly are signs in this for those who believe. 53Say, ‘[God says], My servants who have harmed yourselves by your own excess, do not despair of God’s mercy. God forgives all sins: He is truly the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
So if you’re really good and kind and a charitable person, but you don’t believe crazy lies for no good reason, then no, God ain’t gonna forgive that, for he is the LEAST forgiving.
54Turn to your Lord. Submit to Him before the punishment overtakes you and you can no longer be helped.
This deal is only available for a limited time while supplies last. Call NOW! Operators are standing by.
55Follow the best teaching sent down to you from your Lord, before the punishment suddenly takes you, unawares, 56and your soul says, “Woe is me for having neglected what is due to God, and having been one of those who scoffed!” 57Or it says, “If God had guided me, I would have joined the righteous!” 58Or, faced by punishment, it says, “If only I could have another chance, I would join those who do good!” 59No indeed! My messages came to you and you rejected them: you were arrogant and rejected the truth.’
Well, threaten all you like, but there is no god or Hell, and we don’t have souls either.
60On the Day of Resurrection, you [Prophet] will see those who told lies against God, their faces darkened. Is there not ample punishment for the arrogant in Hell?
I’m telling the truth against God. Lies are the tools of prophets.
61But God will deliver those who took heed of Him to their place of safety: no harm will touch them, nor will they grieve.
…In their mansions with their slaves – in Heaven.
62God is the Creator of all things; He has charge of everything; 63the keys of the heavens and earth are His. Those who have rejected the revelations of God will be the losers. 64Say, ‘Do you order me to worship someone other than God, you foolish people?’ 65It has already been revealed to you [Prophet] and to those before you: ‘If you ascribe any partner to God, all your work will come to nothing: you will be one if the losers.
66No! Worship God alone and be one of those who are grateful to Him.’ 67These people have no grasp of God’s true measure. On the Day of Resurrection, the whole earth will be in His grip. The heavens will be rolled up in His right hand– Glory be to Him! He is far above the partners they ascribe to Him!– 68the Trumpet will be sounded, and everyone in the heavens and earth will fall down senseless except those God spares. It will be sounded once again and they will be on their feet, looking on. 69The earth will shine with the light of its Lord; the Record of Deeds will be laid open; the prophets and witnesses will be brought in.
Every surah is just another repetition of this same old tired empty threat.
Fair judgement will be given between them: they will not be wronged 70and every soul will be repaid in full for what it has done.
No, if all this were real, these judgments would not be fair. Everyone would be wronged, even the ones led by God.
He knows best what they do. 71Those who rejected the Truth will be led to Hell in their throngs. When they arrive, its gates will open and its keepers will say to them, ‘Were you not sent your own messengers to recite the revelations of your Lord to you and warn you that you would meet this Day?’ and they will say, ‘Yes indeed we were.’ But the sentence of punishment will have been passed against those who rejected the truth.
No, the Qur’an makes clear that the sentence of punishment is against those who rejected the lie. The Qur’an isn’t interested in truth, nor justice either.
72It will be said, ‘Enter the gates of Hell: there you will remain. How evil is the abode of the arrogant!’
Heaven for the climate. Hell for the company. All the best people are there.
73Those who were mindful of their Lord will be led in throngs to the Garden. When they arrive, they will find its gates wide open, and its keepers will say to them, ‘Peace be upon you. You have been good. Come in: you are here to stay,’
So Heaven is part Hotel California, part Beverly Hills, and part Fantasy Island.
74and they will say, ‘Praise be to God who has kept His promise to us and given us this land as our own. Now we may live wherever we please in the Garden.’ How excellent is the reward of those who labour!
According to the Qur’an, all your good works are for not if you’re not fooled by the right fib.
75You [Prophet] will see the angels surrounding the Throne, glorifying their Lord with praise. True judgement will have been passed between them, and it will be said, ‘Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds.’