This is the 41st 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.
and my 40th post on surah 16.
Sūrah 71 (Nūḥ) Noah
It is amusing to me that a Muslim apologist once told me—on live video—that the Qur’an doesn’t talk about Noah’s flood. Not only has that come up at least a dozen times by this point, but this surah even bears his name! Curiously, this 71st surah in order of revelation is also in the 71st position in the printed [chronological] order too. That only happens one other time in the entirety of the Qur’an.
1We sent Noah to his people: ‘Warn your people, before a painful punishment comes to them.’ 2And so he said, ‘My people, I am here to warn you plainly. 3Serve God, be mindful of Him and obey me.
I checked a handful of other translations. They agree on this pretty closely. “Obey me”, Noah says, just like all prophets do. Because that’s what religion is ultimately all about. It’s not giving glory to God so much as giving socio-political economic power to those who appoint themselves prophets of God. This is the only thing about Noah that is believable, that he would be just as much into manipulating people into irrational beliefs through threats of intimidation as any other supposed prophet. The Qur’an has referred to Noah many times already, which discredits the scripture, because we know that the global flood myth never happened. All indications are that this story was based on a heavily embellished exaggeration of one or more real events, and that this character’s name wasn’t originally Noah, but Utnapishtim, Atrahasis, Ziusudra or Ubar-Tutu. Allah and the angel, Gabriel should have known all this, and the reason they obviously didn’t know about that is because Muhammad himself didn’t know about that, and he wasn’t really taking dictation from the divine.
4He will forgive you your sins and spare you until your appointed time––when God’s appointed time arrives it cannot be postponed. If only you understood!’
We already understood this the first fifty times you repeated this mantra. We just don’t believe you. Because how could we?
5He said, ‘My Lord, I have called my people night and day, 6but the more I call them, the further they run away:
That should be the expected response from sane people fleeing from a crazy person.
7every time I call them, so that You may forgive them, they thrust their fingers into their ears, cover their heads with their garments, persist in their rejection, and grow more insolent and arrogant.
We must still be talking about pagans here. Because I have actually seen religious believers literally plug their fingers into their ears and otherwise refuse to hear any reason. It doesn’t seem to matter which religion it is. Pagans can act that way too. But atheists do not have any such fear of arguments or reason.
8I have tried calling them openly. 9I have tried preaching to them in public and speaking to them in private. 10I said, “Ask forgiveness of your Lord: He is ever forgiving. 11He will send down abundant rain from the sky for you; 12He will give you wealth and sons; He will provide you with gardens and rivers.
But Noah, your magic imaginary friend doesn’t know when to stop with his “abundant rain” before the rivers become an endless sea.
13What is the matter with you? Why will you not fear God’s majesty, 14when He has created you stage by stage?
Because he didn’t create anything. We created him. Man made gods in his own image, all of them. Your god isn’t a majesty; he’s imaginary. What’s the matter with us? What’s the matter with YOU? Believing impossible nonsense for no good reason.
15Have you ever wondered how God created seven heavens, one above the other,
Since there is not even one heaven, then he could not have created it. You could argue that your imaginary god create an imaginary place, but only within the confines of your fables, not in reality.
16placed the moon as a light in them and the sun as a lamp,
Again, I checked a handful of other translations. All of them agree that the moon is a light and the sun is a lamp. We know how a lamp makes light. How did Muhammad think the moon did it? What did he mean when he called the moon a light? In any case, the Qur’an paints the sun and moon as though they were comparable to each other, when in fact the moon is only a tiny sphere of solid rock while the sun is ball of plasma that is 400 times bigger than, and 400 times further away from, the moon. If God were real, he would have explained the true nature of these two orbs rather than allow his followers to fall away once they notice scientific errors like this in the scriptures.
17how God made you spring forth from the earth like a plant,
We didn’t, we don’t. But then the Qur’an never describes anything with scientific accuracy, because it was based largely on the Bible, and both books were written by primitives with no idea of the true nature of anything.
18how He will return you into it and then bring you out again,
He won’t. The biological cycle is another thing the Qur’an has not explained, and we will not be revived either.
19and how He has spread the Earth out for you 20to walk along its spacious paths?” ’
Once again, the earth is not a map “spread out” over the flat round table that both the Bible and the Qur’an make it out to be.
21Noah said, ‘My Lord, they have disobeyed me and followed those whose riches and children only increase their ruin; 22who have made a grand plan, 23saying, “Do not renounce your gods! 24Do not renounce Wadd, Suwa, Yaghuth, Yauq, or Nasr!” They have led many astray.
Gods do not lead any astray; FAITH in gods does that, and it doesn’t matter which god(s) you believe in. None can lead to the right path. I should add that riches and children are two things that make life better or give it meaning more often than either would “increase ruin”.
It is interesting that the author names these gods. I googled these names and found an explanation of them given by “A Muslim who has been studying the three Abrahamic religions”. He says: “The 5 people you just mentioned were the 5 disciples of Idriss AS, prophet Enoch in the bible. …after Idriss died on the fourth heaven, his 5 disciples were known as righteous men and were revered by everyone of that time. Those 5 people were wad, suwa, yaghuth, ya’uq and nazr. After they died, Ibliss whispered to the people to make statues of them to remember how great they were, after the next generation came and the previous one died, he whispered to them again and made them carve the stones into statues. Again on the next generation, he told the people that their ancestors used to worship the statues and that is how idolatry began.”
“Lord, bring nothing but destruction down on the evildoers!’ 25They were drowned and sent to Hell for their evildoings: they found no one to help them against God. 26And Noah said, ‘Lord, do not leave any of the disbelievers on the earth– 27if you leave them they will lead Your servants astray and beget only sinners and disbelievers–
As one of my apostate viewers pointed out, “the fact that later in this chapter the Qur’an says that Noah asked Allah to destroy all the disbelievers on earth proves that the Quran is abt global flood claim not local flood. That debunks apologists who claim Quran talks about local flood instead of global flood.”
28Lord, forgive me, my parents, and whoever enters my house as a believer. Forgive believing men and women but bring nothing but ruin down on the evildoers!’
Once again we see the Qur’an implies that being too wise to believe lies is the same as “doing evil”.
Sūrah 14 (Ibrahim) Abraham
1Alif Lam Ra This is a Scripture which We have sent down to you [Prophet] so that, with their Lord’s permission, you may bring people from the depths of darkness into light, to the path of the Almighty, the Praiseworthy One,
Several sources, every one I have yet seen says that no one knows why some surah’s begin with Arabic letters. But I have developed a hypothesis. Remember that the order in which each chapter is commonly published is mostly according to how long it is, with the longest surahs coming first, but that they were allegedly composed in a different sequence, the “order of revelation”. That doesn’t really work either as some of the earlier works seem to refer to later ones. So my hypothesis is that whoever was first trying to compile these began each one with initials to help categorize them. To test that, I found that each of the other surahs beginning with Alif Lam Ra to appear in “order of revelation” are as follows:
#51 = Surah 10
#52 = Sūrah 11
#53 = Sūrah 12
#54 = Sūrah 15
#72 = Sūrah 14
This sequence where the orders of revelation and chronology both match implies that I may be onto something. The two obvious exceptions are that Sūrah 13 does not begin with “Alif Lãm Ra”; instead it begins with “Alif-Lãm-Mĩm-Ra”, inserting one more letter into notation. So perhaps someone else, who came along later and didn’t understand the earlier editor’s notation decided for his own reasons that Sūrah 13 should be printed in the 96th position of all other chapters. I have no idea why Sūrah 14 should be in the 72nd slot, but it seems that mistakes were made in the compilation of this book.
2God, to whom everything in the heavens and earth belongs. How terrible will be the torment of those who ignore [Him], 3those who prefer the life of this world over the life to come, who turn others from God’s way, trying to make it crooked: such people have gone far astray.
Those like myself who turn others toward truth and away from delusion are straightening people out who were previously led astray.
4We have never sent a messenger who did not use his own people’s language to make things clear for them. But still God leaves whoever He will to stray, and guides whoever He will: He is the Almighty, the All Wise.
Yet, he reportedly repeats the same errors without learning from his consistent failures each time.
5We sent Moses with Our signs: ‘Bring out your people from the depths of darkness into light. Remind them of the Days of God: there truly are signs in this for every steadfast, thankful person.’
I interpret “steadfast” here to mean “unreasonable”.
6And so Moses said to his people, ‘Remember God’s blessing on you when He saved you from Pharaoh’s people, who were inflicting terrible suffering on you, slaughtering your sons and sparing only your women––that was a severe test from your Lord! 7Remember that He promised, “If you are thankful, I will give you more, but if you are thankless, My punishment is terrible indeed.” ’ 8And Moses said, ‘Even if you, together with everybody else on earth, are thankless, God is self-sufficient, worthy of all praise.’
Remember that Moses never existed as described, and that the story of the Exodus never really happened either. So God is not worthy of that much praise and his threats are empty.
9Have you not heard about those who went before you, the people of Noah, Ad, Thamud, and those who lived after them, known only to God? Their messengers came to them with clear proof, but they tried to silence them, a saying, ‘We do not believe the message with which you were sent. We have disturbing doubts about what you are asking us to do.’
Yes, the Qur’an keeps repeating this sad mantra in nearly every surah, such that if we cut out the redundancies, the whole book could have been compressed into a single chapter. We should also point out again that most of these alleged prophets were supposed to promote Judaism or Christianity, not Islam. Then there were others, like Joseph Smith and Baháʼu’lláh proposing different versions of the same god. There were also others like Zarathustra, Lao Tsu, and Guru Nanak who were supposed to be prophets of entirely different gods. But how could we tell if any of them were or would ever be legit?
10Their messengers answered, ‘Can there be any doubt about God, the Creator of the heavens and earth?
Yes, there can be insurmountable doubt about that.
He calls you to Him in order to forgive you your sins and let you enjoy your life until the appointed hour.’ But they said, ‘You are only men like us. You want to turn us away from what our forefathers used to worship. Bring us clear proof then, [if you can].’ 11Their messengers answered, ‘True, we are only men like you, but God favours whichever of His servants He chooses. We cannot bring you any proof unless God permits it, so let the believers put all their trust in Him–
Question: Why should we believe these outrageous claims you make with no evidence at all?
Answer: Only because we said so, since we admit that we have no evidence, and no more reason to believe us beyond our empty threats if you don’t.
12why should we not put our trust in God when it is He who has guided us to this way we follow? We shall certainly bear steadfastly whatever harm you do to us. Let anyone who trusts, trust in God.’
Why should we assume that God has guided us? Why should we assume that any god exists?
13The disbelievers said to their messengers, ‘We shall expel you from our land unless you return to our religion.’ But their Lord inspired the messengers: ‘We shall destroy the evildoers, 14and leave you to dwell in the land after them. This reward is for those who are in awe of meeting Me, and of My warnings.’
Of course, if there really was a god, one true god, then none of this story would have ever happened, because we would all know better. No one, not even God would ever kill anyone over whatever they did or didn’t believe. The fact that we’re expected to believe all these contradictory claims on faith is evidence that there is no god, just a bunch of deluded people pretending to be prophets.
15They asked God to decide, and every obstinate tyrant failed–
Remember that none of these stories of “obstinate tyrants” ever really happened. Thus God never decided anything.
16Hell awaits each one; he will be given foul water to drink, 17which he will try to gulp but scarcely be able to swallow; death will encroach on him from every side, but he will not die; more intense suffering will lie ahead of him. 18The deeds of those who reject their Lord are like ashes that the wind blows furiously on a stormy day: they have no power over anything they have gained. This is to stray far, far away.
The Qur’an repeats the same lyrics more than every Meat Loaf song combined.
19[Prophet], do you not see that God created the heavens and the earth for a purpose? He could remove all of you and replace you with a new creation if He wished to: 20that is not difficult for God.
You assume your god exists. You assume that for no good reason, and further assume that he creates, and that he did so for a purpose, and that he can do whatever he wants, easily. You claim to know all these things about something you don’t even know to be real. And other believers claim to know different things, contradicting what you claim to know, because none of you really knows anything. Unwarranted assumptions compiled atop baseless assumptions. It’s your fantasy, and all these things are only possible in it. But there is no demonstrable truth to it.
21When they all appear before Him, the weak will say to the powerseekers, ‘We were your followers. Can you protect us from any of God’s punishment?’ They will reply, ‘If God had guided us, we would have guided you. It makes no difference now whether we rage or endure with patience: there is no escape.’
Remember, the Qur’an says that God decides who will believe and whom he will blind to his so-called “truth”, so that he can punish them later and for all eternity. So it isn’t just that God didn’t guide the people who could have guided us; it is that he deliberately misguided and deliberately deceived those who might otherwise have been his allies and heroes to his cause. In any case, they don’t deserve the damnation God has devised for “whomever he will”.
22When everything has been decided, Satan will say, ‘God gave you a true promise. I too made promises but they were false ones: I had no power over you except to call you, and you responded to my call, so do not blame me; blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I reject the way you associated me with God before.’ A bitter torment awaits such wrongdoers, 23but those who believed and did good deeds will be brought into Gardens graced with flowing streams, there to remain with their Lord’s permission: their greeting there is ‘Peace’.
Remember the Biblical original version of the temptation of Eve, the character of the serpent in the garden is popularly (albeit erroneously) interpreted to be the devil in disguise. And that serpent (being commonly conflated/confused with Satan) is the only character in that story who told the truth, while God was the one making false promises.
24[Prophet], do you not see how God makes comparisons? A good word is like a good tree whose root is firm and whose branches are high in the sky, 25yielding constant fruit by its Lord’s leave– God makes such comparisons for people so that they may reflect– 26but an evil word is like a rotten tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, with no power to endure.
This sentiment is disproved by the fact that the Qur’an and the Bible on which it is based are both objectively evil, yet they have each survived well more than a thousand years despite being constantly contradicted by science, history, philosophy and ethical morality.
27God will give firmness to those who believe in the firmly rooted word, both in this world and the Hereafter, but the evildoers He leaves to stray: God does whatever He will.
Translator, Abdel Haleem has an interesting footnote here. He says that the “firmly rooted word” is “Possibly the Scripture, firmly rooted in knowledge from God”. Except that no one ever had any actual knowledge of God. Even if God was real, no one ever really knew anything about him, because there is no way to test or demonstrate that knowledge.
28[Prophet], do you not see those who, in exchange for God’s favour, offer only ingratitude and make their people end up in the home of ruin, Hell, 29where they burn? What an evil place to stay!
Thus the Qur’an illustrates God as evil, in that he decides however he will whom he will deceive into burning, according to his evil plan.
30They set up [false deities] as God’s equals to lead people astray from His path. Say, ‘Take your pleasure now, for your destination is the Fire.’
We all have the same fate no matter what gods we believe in, or even if we don’t believe in any gods at all.
31Tell My servants who have believed to keep up the prayer and give, secretly and in public, out of what We have provided them, before a Day comes when there will be no trading or friendship.
Believers can recite this and still pretend that theirs is a loving god.
32It is God who created the heavens and earth, who has sent down water from the sky and with it brought forth produce to nourish you; He has made ships useful to you, sailing the sea by His command, and the rivers too; 33He has made the sun and the moon useful to you, steady on their paths; He has made the night and day useful to you 34and given you some of everything you asked Him for. If you tried to count God’s favours you could never calculate them: man is truly unjust and ungrateful.
If we list all the claims believers could prove to be true about God, we’d never get above zero. Nothing the Qur’an just said is true. It is all just speculation based on ignorance of how anything really works.
35Remember when Abraham said, ‘Lord, make this town safe! Preserve me and my offspring from idolatry,
Yet the descendents of the alleged Abraham have become Bibliolators, worshiping whatever scriptures they wrote and revised for new versions of their gods.
36Lord, the [idols] have led many people astray!
If by “idols” you mean scripture, then I must agree wholeheartedly.
Anyone who follows me is with me, but as for anyone who disobeys me– You are surely forgiving and merciful.
37Our Lord, I have established some of my offspring in an uncultivated valley, close to Your Sacred House, Lord, so that they may keep up the prayer. Make people’s hearts turn to them, and provide them with produce, so that they may be thankful.
Remember, the Qur’an says that our physical bodies will be resurrected, that the afterlife is not meant to be spiritual but corporeal, where we will need ‘produce’ because we still need to eat.
38Our Lord, You know well what we conceal and what we reveal: nothing at all is hidden from God, on earth or in heaven.
Then how much change is in my pocket? Why can’t God ever answer questions like these, without multiple prophets calling out different and conflicting answers on his behalf?
39Praise be to God, who has granted me Ishmael and Isaac in my old age: my Lord hears all requests!
Good. Then then prove it by having him tell me the winning numbers in next week’s MegaMillions jackpot?
40Lord, grant that I and my offspring may keep up the prayer. Our Lord, accept my request. 41Our Lord, forgive me, my parents, and the believers on the Day of Reckoning.’ 42Do not think [Prophet] that God is unaware of what the disbelievers do: He only gives them respite until a Day when their eyes will stare in terror. 43They will rush forward, craning their necks, unable to divert their eyes, a gaping void in their hearts. 44So warn people of the Day when punishment will come to them, and when the disbelievers will say, ‘Our Lord, give us a little more time: we shall answer Your call and follow the messengers.’ Did you [disbelievers] not swear in the past that your power would have no end? 45You lived in the same places as others who wronged themselves before, and you were clearly shown how We dealt with them– We gave you many examples.
All these examples from folklore, with no discernible relation to history, and no possibility of being true.
46They made their plots, but, even if their plots had been able to move mountains, God had the answer. 47So do not think [Prophet] that God will break His promise to His messengers: He is mighty, and capable of retribution. 48One Day– when the earth is turned into another earth, the heavens into another heaven, and people all appear before God, the One, the Overpowering– 49you [Prophet] will see the guilty on that Day, bound together in fetters, 50in garments of pitch, faces covered in fire.
So despite God’s promise of eternal bliss in Heaven, it turns out that he means to recycle the whole thing and start all over again. I wonder how he will handle the dinosaurs this time?
51[All will be judged] so that God may reward each soul as it deserves: God is swift in His reckoning. 52This is a message to all people, so that they may be warned by it, and know that He is the only God, and so that those who have minds may take heed.
There is no god, not even yours.