April 14, 2024

An Infidel Reads Sūrahs 32 & 52

This is the 44th 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,
and my 43rd post on surah 23.

Sūrah 32 (As-Sajdah) Bowing Down in Worship

There is a word for bowing down completely face-down, butt up in total submission. That word is “prostration”, and that is the word that each of the other translations chose to use as the title of this surah.

1Alif Lam Mim 2This scripture, free from all doubt, has been sent down from the Lord of the Worlds.

Some translations say “universe”. Others use “worlds” (plural) as this one does. That is interesting coming from a people who didn’t believe there were other planets like this one. It reminds me of the Bhagavad Gita, which is thousands of years older, when Lord Krishna said “One who knows Me as birthless, beginningless, and the supreme controller of all the worlds, he being undeluded among mortals is delivered from all sins”. Notice again there is the notion of multiple worlds, although we don’t really know what either the Hindu or Muslim authors meant by this.

3Yet they say, ‘Muhammad has made it up.’ No indeed! It is the Truth from your Lord for you [Prophet], to warn a people who have had no one to warn them before, so that they may be guided.

There is another contradiction here. Other verses make clear there were other warners before Muhammad.

4It is God who created the heavens and the earth and everything between them in six Days. Then He established Himself on the Throne. You [people] have no one but Him to protect you and no one to intercede for you, so why do you not take heed?

Because it still sounds made up, and not at all realistic. Even if there was a god, we wouldn’t need such a “warning” because an omnipotent super-cosmic overlord wouldn’t act in such petty ways.

5He runs everything, from the heavens to the earth, and everything will ascend to Him in the end, on a Day that will measure a thousand years in your reckoning. 6Such is He who knows all that is unseen as well as what is seen, the Almighty, the Merciful, 7who gave everything its perfect form. He first created man from clay,

Except that story of Adam being created as a golem is a fable; that never happened. So God didn’t do it.

8then made his descendants from an extract of underrated fluid.

Abdel Haleem put a footnote here to be sure that we, the reader, understand that the “underrated fluid” refers to semen. I would say that was obvious and unnecessary, but it seems there may be few Muslims out there who disagree with that interpretation. So maybe it is needed. What is not needed is for God to make anything out of that fluid. DNA is autonomous. It doesn’t need a programmer.

9Then He moulded him; He breathed from His Spirit into him; He gave you hearing, sight, and minds. How seldom you are grateful! 10They say, ‘What? When we have disappeared into the earth, shall we really be created anew?’ In fact, they deny the meeting with their Lord.

How redundant is this book that it keeps saying the same thing surah after surah. This whole thing could have been reduced to a brochure.

11Say, ‘The Angel of Death put in charge of you will reclaim you, and then you will be brought back to your Lord.’

Death from Sandman
Death from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics.

While some form of the angel of death is common in many religions, it isn’t real, and the Qur’an shouldn’t speak of it as if it was real. 

Death and his adopted daughter, from Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather

12[Prophet], if only you could see the wrongdoers hang their heads before their Lord: ‘Our Lord, now that we have seen and heard, send us back and we shall do good. [Now] we are convinced.’ 13‘If it had been Our will, We could certainly have given every soul its true guidance, but My words have come true. “I shall be sure to fill Hell with jinn and men together.”

This shows that God doesn’t have compassion or forgiveness and definitely not love nor any trait that could be considered righteous or just.

14So since you ignored the meeting on this Day of yours, now We shall ignore you: taste the lasting suffering for all you have done.’

I wasn’t sure who was speaking to whom here or about what day they’re talking about. So I checked IslamicStudies.info. Their translation is, “You became so absorbed in pleasure-seeking in the world that you totally forgot that you had to meet your Lord on this Day.” So I still don’t know.

15The only people who truly believe in Our messages are those who, when they are reminded of them, bow down in worship, celebrate their Lord’s praises, and do not think themselves above this. 16Their sides shun their beds in order to pray to their Lord in fear and hope; they give to others some of what We have given them.

So the only people who believe in “the lord’s message” are those who don’t think too much, and who act out of emotion instead of reason. That makes sense.

17No soul knows what joy is kept hidden in store for them as a reward for what they have done. 18So, is someone who believes equal to someone who defies God? No, they are not equal.

Now now, just because we unbelievers aren’t as credulous or gullible as y’all are doesn’t necessarily mean we’re better than anyone else.

19Those who believe and do good deeds will have Gardens awaiting them as their home and as a reward for what they have done. 20As for those who defy God, their home will be the Fire. Whenever they try to escape it, they will be driven back into it, and they will be told, ‘Taste the torment of the Fire, which you persistently denied.’ 21We shall certainly make them taste a nearer torment [in this life] prior to the greater torment, so that perhaps they may return [to the right path].

So even the threat of a fate worse than death wasn’t enough to get the other Arabs to believe this story. Mo had to threaten them in this life too, and it STILL didn’t work until he started in with the violence. 

22Who does more wrong than someone who, when messages from his Lord are recited to him, turns away from them?

The one who believes and acts on those beliefs.

We shall inflict retribution on the guilty.

And the innocent unbelievers.

23We gave Moses the Scripture– so [Muhammad] do not doubt that you are receiving it– and We made it a guide for the Children of Israel.

Except that Moses evidently never existed either. So you didn’t give him the scriptures. Nor did he write them. I just read a 200 page analysis of the Old Testament by Assyriologist, Joshua Bowen PhD, wherein he says that the consensus among his fellow scholars in archaeology is that there is overwhelming evidence that Moses was not the sole author of the Pentateuch, if there was ever a Moses at all.

24When they became steadfast and believed firmly in Our messages, We raised leaders among them, guiding them according to Our command.

Remember that Islam claims Jesus as a prophet of Islam, even though Christians say he started their religion, and not according to Allah’s command as described here.

25[Prophet], it is your Lord who will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning their differences. 26Is it not a lesson for them [to see] how many generations We destroyed before them, in whose homes they now walk? There truly are signs in this– do they not hear? 27Do they not consider how We drive rain to the barren land, and with it produce vegetation from which their cattle and they themselves eat? Do they not see?

That is correct. We do not see what is not there.

28And they say, ‘When will this Decision be, if you are telling the truth?’ 29Say, ‘On the Day of Decision it will be no use for the disbelievers to believe; they will be granted no respite.’ 30So [Prophet], turn away from them and wait: they too are waiting.

Remember that Christians are among the unbelieving pagans and unbelievers doomed to Hell in Islam. Yet they’re not at all worried about that, as you can see in this frame of a repugnant religious tract wherein Christian fundamentalists issue the very same empty threats against Muslims as Islam threatens against all non-Muslims. Neither of them take each others threats seriously, so how could I?

Sūrah 52 (At-Tur) The Mountain

The Mountain Workout – How to be a Super Human

Not this Mountain, but rather Mount Sanai. Or maybe Mount Horeb, depending on which section(s) of Exodus they’re taking this from.

1By the mountain, 2by a Scripture inscribed 3in unrolled parchment, 4by the much-visited House, [the Ka’ba in Mecca]. 5by the raised canopy,

This is yet another reference to the firmament, a fictitious dome over the flat earth that was once believed to encompass the sky. IslamicStudies.info even admits this is “The roof exalted: the sky which seems to be spread over the earth like a vault”. Then they imagine that “here this word has been used for the entire universe”, an interpretation that obviously doesn’t work. 

6by the ocean ever filled, 7[Prophet], your Lord’s punishment is coming–– 8it cannot be put off––9on the Day when the sky sways back and forth 10and the mountains float away.

What is this author smoking?

11Woe on that Day to those who deny the Truth, 12who amuse themselves with idle chatter: 13on that Day they will be thrust into the Fire of Hell.

No, the believers–those who deny the truth with their idle chatter–will not be going to Hell, nor will we. There is no such place.

14‘This is the Fire you used to deny. 15So is this sorcery? Do you still not see it?

Nope. Maybe if we dim the lights?

16Burn in it––it makes no difference whether you bear it patiently or not–– you are only being repaid for what you have done.’

Hell is YOUR fantasy. YOU burn in it. All we have “done” is not believe unsupported nonsense.

17Those who were mindful of God are in Gardens and in bliss, 18rejoicing in their Lord’s gifts: He has saved them from the torment of the Blaze, 19‘Eat and drink with healthy enjoyment as a reward for what you have done.’

Except that this is a dry Heaven. No alcohol allowed. So it might be a bit harder for some of you to “eat, drink and be merry” the way you might have hoped to.

20They are comfortably seated on couches arranged in rows; We pair them with beautiful-eyed maidens;

That’s good because with such a strict dress code, their eyes are all we might see.

Dutch ban on burqas in public places takes effect | The Times of Israel

21We unite the believers with their offspring who followed them in faith–– We do not deny them any of the rewards for their deeds: each person is in pledge for his own deeds––

So believing parents are of course denied their children who just couldn’t pretend anymore, and these grieving parents will spend eternity in Heaven knowing their children are being savagely tortured by a god who does NOT forgive, who does not love, and who is not just.

22We provide them with any fruit or meat they desire.

Except that you still can’t have bacon. How could Heaven even be Heaven if you can’t have a proper drink, you don’t get to look at the women, and you can’t even have bacon? How does Islam even compete with more appealing religions like Ásatrú? 

23They pass around a cup which does not lead to any idle talk or sin.

Nor would it lead to anything interesting. Not only is not non-alcoholic, but it’s apparently decaf and sugar free, and you all have to share the same cup. Eww!

24Devoted youths like hidden pearls wait on them.

This seems to refer to the soulless slave children mentioned in earlier surahs, who never get to grow up and have proper lives. Instead they exist only to serve as waiters in the lounge for all eternity.

25They turn to one another and say, 26‘When we were still with our families [on earth] we used to live in fear––27God has been gracious to us and saved us from the torment of intense heat– 28We used to pray to Him: He is the Good, the Merciful One.’

Oh yeah, God is so great that (as if this wasn’t creepy enough already) IslamicStudies.info explains that the slave children in Heaven were slave children in life too, and that God saw fit that they would remain slaves forever even in Paradise.

29So [Prophet] remind [people]. By the grace of your Lord [Prophet], you are neither oracle nor madman.

I think madman is still an option.

30If a they say, ‘He is only a poet: we shall await his fate,’ 31say, ‘Wait if you wish; I too am waiting’– 32does their reason really tell them to do this, or are they simply insolent people?

I can’t speak for 7th century pagans, but for me it is reason.

33If they say, ‘He has made it up himself ’– they certainly do not believe– 34let them produce one like it, if what they say is true.

If you’re talking about the Qur’an, I wouldn’t produce one like it. Mine would be vastly superior, regardless whether we gave it to people in the 7th century or this one. God would have done so much better than this if he was real. 

35Were they created without any agent? Were they the creators? 36Did they create the heavens and the earth? No! They do not have faith.

No, the truth is there is no creator.

37Do they possess your Lord’s treasures or have control over them?

To some degree, yes.

38Do they have a ladder to climb, in order to eavesdrop [on Heaven’s secrets]? Let their eavesdropper produce clear proof.

Here again, Heaven is depicted as a physical place within the expanse of the firmament, such that it could be reached with a ladder or by genies seeking to eavesdrop on God’s plans. That’s why the angels are armed with physical “stars” to lob at these physical devils. This is the Qur’an’s explanation for meteors, back before anyone knew what they or the stars really were.  

39Does God have daughters while you have sons?

Imaginary girls to go with an imaginary deity.

40Do you [Prophet] demand a payment from them that would burden them with debt?

IslamicStudies.info says “The question is actually directed to the disbelievers. It means: If the Messenger had a selfish motive and had been exerting only for a personal gain from you, there would be a rational ground for you to avoid him.” We are then told that Muhammad is being perfectly selfless in freely offering that we submit to him completely, believe every fool thing he says and award him political as well as financial power over everyone else in Arabia.

41Do they have [access to] the unseen? Could they write it down?

Yes, we do now.

42Do they think they can ensnare you?

In a straight jacket, hopefully.

It is the disbelievers who have been ensnared. 43Do they really have another god besides God? 

We don’t need to get snared with any gods at all. Reality works much better without them.

God is far above anything they set alongside Him.

Even Thanos with an infinity gauntlet?

Google 'Thanos', click on the Infinity gauntlet and see what happens - The Week

44Even if they saw a piece of heaven falling down on them, they would say, ‘Just a heap of clouds,’

When King Kong threw that tree trunk and knocked a hole in the firmament over Skull Island, with pieces of the dome falling down, I wonder what he thought?

20 Weeks of Disney Animation: 'Chicken Little' -

45so leave them, Prophet, until they face the Day when they will be thunderstruck,

tumblr_m6x1eqVxyf1r4aal4o1_r1_500.gif (500×309) | Acdc, Thunderstruck, Image

46the Day when their snares will be of no use to them, when they will get no help.

I didn’t know what was meant by “snares”. So I looked it up in other translations. IslamicStudiesInfo says “strategem”, ClearQuran says “ploys”, and Quran.com says “scheming”, all intended to imply that those of us who are just going about our lives and not buying what you’re selling are somehow the devious ones.

47Another punishment awaits the evildoers, though most of them do not realize it. 48Wait patiently [Prophet] for your Lord’s judgement: you are under Our watchful eye. Celebrate the praise of your Lord when you rise. 49Glorify Him at night and at the fading of the stars.

Well that was nearly 1,400 years ago. We can wait another 1,400 years, but I’m sure we all know that day will never come. And if there really was a god, that day still wouldn’t come.

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