This is the 54th 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,
my 43rd post on surah 23
my 44th post on suras 32 & 52
my 45th post on suras 67, 69 & 70.
my 46th post on suras 78, 79, 82 & 84.
my 47th post on suras 30 & 29.
my 48th post on sura 83
my 49th post on surah 8
my 50th post on surah 3.
my 51st post on surah 33 & 60.
my 52nd post on surah 4.
and my 53rd post on suras 99, 57 & 47
Sūrah 13 (Ar-Ra’d) Thunder
1Alif Lam Mim Ra These are the signs of the Scripture. What your Lord has sent down to you [Prophet] is the truth, yet most people do not believe.
How is it that we’re this far into the Qur’an, and God is still complaining about this same problem?
2It is God who raised up the heavens with no visible supports and then established Himself on the throne; He has subjected the sun and the moon each to pursue its course for an appointed time; He regulates all things, and makes the revelations clear so that you may be certain of meeting your Lord; 3it is He who spread out the earth, placed firm mountains and rivers on it, and made two of every kind of fruit; He draws the veil of night over the day. There truly are signs in this for people who reflect.
Remember all those things that never happened? Things that can’t have happened? Like raising up the solid dome of the firmament that doesn’t exist, inside which the sun is confined in its orbit of the earth? All those impossible absurdities that we know are not real? God did that. God was the one who did all those things that still haven’t been done. He was the cause of all those things that never happened.
4There are, in the land, neighbouring plots, gardens of vineyards, cornfields, palm trees in clusters or otherwise, all watered with the same water, yet We make some of them taste better than others: there truly are signs in this for people who reason.
5If anything can amaze you [Prophet], then you should surely be amazed at their asking, ‘What? When we become dust, shall we be created anew?’ These are the ones who deny their Lord, who will wear iron collars around their necks and be the inhabitants of the Fire, there to remain.
God and his demons need to keep us in iron collars? Why? Is he afraid we might escape otherwise?
6They ask you to bring on the punishment rather than any promised rewards, though there have been many examples before them––your Lord is full of forgiveness for people, despite their wrongdoing, but He is truly severe in punishment.
He talks a big threat anyway. I don’t think he can cash those checks though.
7The disbelievers say, ‘Why has no miracle been sent down to him from his Lord?’ But you are only there to give warning: [earlier] communities each had their guide.
Translation: “I could do that, but I don’t want to.”
8God knows what every female bears and how much their wombs shrink or swell– everything has its measure with Him; 9He knows what is not seen as well as what is seen; He is the Great, the Most High.
God sees what is not seen, knows what is not known and did what still has not been done.
10It makes no difference whether any of you speak secretly or aloud, whether you are hiding under cover of night or walking about in the day: 11each person has guardian angels before him and behind, watching over him by God’s command. God does not change the condition of a people [for the worse] a unless they change what is in themselves, but if He wills harm on a people, no one can ward it off–– apart from Him, they have no protector.
When I’m done with this series, I’m going to read through it all again, and take note of some of those times when the Qur’an said that God decides who will or won’t believe, and that he is the one who closes our eyes and ears to his so-called truth, so that later he can punish us for what he made us do.
12It is He who shows you the lightning, inspiring fear and hope; He builds up the clouds heavy with rain; 13the thunder sounds His praises, as do the angels in awe of Him; He sends thunderbolts to strike whoever He will. Yet still they dispute about God– He has mighty plans.
No, he doesn’t. There are no gods lobbing lightning bolts at anyone. That’s just the weather.
14The only true prayer is to Him: those they pray to besides Him give them no answer any more than water reaches the mouth of someone who simply stretches out his hands for it– it cannot do so: the prayers of the disbelievers are all in vain. 15All that are in heaven and earth submit to God alone, willingly or unwillingly, as do their shadows in the mornings and in the evenings.
Don’t kid yourself. No god answers prayers or does anything at all any more reliably than any other alleged god.
16Say [Prophet], ‘Who is Lord of the heavens and the earth?’ Say, ‘God.’ Say, ‘Why do you take protectors other than Him, who can neither benefit nor harm even themselves?’ Say, ‘Are the blind equal to those who can see? And are the depths of darkness equal to the light?’ Have the partners they assign to God created anything like His creation so that their creation is indistinguishable from His? Say, ‘God is the Creator of all things: He is the One, the All Compelling.’ 17He sends water from the sky that fills riverbeds to overflowing, each according to its measure. The stream carries on its surface a growing layer of froth, like the froth that appears when people melt metals in the fire to make ornaments and tools: in this way God illustrates truth and falsehood– the froth disappears, but what is of benefit to man stays behind– this is how God makes illustrations.
In other words, the author assumes that if anything happens or exists, Goddidit; the ultimate unquestioned circular assumption.
18There will be the best of rewards for those who respond to their Lord; those who do not respond would willingly give away the earth’s contents twice over, if they had it, in order to ransom themselves, so terrible will be their reckoning. Hell will be their home, and their bed wretched. 19Can someone who knows that the revelation from your Lord is the Truth be equal to someone who is blind?
Yes! They definitely can both be equal in that are both unable to see.
Only those with understanding will take it to heart; 20those who fulfil the agreements they make in God’s name and do not break their pledges; 21who join together what God commands to be joined; who are in awe of their Lord and fear the harshness of the Reckoning; 22who remain steadfast through their desire for the face of their Lord; who keep up the prayer; who give secretly and openly from what We have provided for them; who repel evil with good. These will have the reward of the [true] home: 23they will enter perpetual Gardens, along with their righteous ancestors, spouses, and descendants; the angels will go in to them from every gate, 24‘Peace be with you, because you have remained steadfast. What an excellent reward is this home of yours!’ 25But there will be rejection for those who break their confirmed agreements made in God’s name, who break apart what God has commanded to be joined and who spread corruption on earth: theirs is the dreadful home– 26God gives abundantly to whoever He will, and sparingly to whoever He will– and though they may revel in the life of this world, it is but a fleeting comfort compared with the Life to come. 27The disbelievers say, ‘Why has no miracle been sent down to him from his Lord?’ [Prophet], say, ‘God leaves whoever He will to stray, and guides to Himself those who turn towards Him,
Everything we just read has been said in nearly every other other surah so far, including the bit about God guiding or leaving whoever he will, which was repeated earlier in this same surah.
28those who have faith and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of God– truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace– 29those who believe and do righteous deeds: joy awaits these, and their final homecoming will be excellent.’ 30So We have sent you [Prophet] to a community– other communities passed away long before them– to recite to them what We reveal to you. Yet they disbelieve in the Lord of Mercy. Say, ‘He is my Lord: there is no god but Him. I put my trust in Him and to Him is my return.’ 31If there were ever to be a Quran with which mountains could be moved, the earth shattered, or the dead made to speak [it would have been this one], but everything is truly in God’s hands. Do the believers not realize that if God had so willed, He could have guided all mankind? As for the disbelievers, because of their misdeeds, disaster will not cease to afflict them or fall close to their homes until God’s promise is fulfilled: God never fails to keep His promise.
Thus the cyclic mantra continues repeating on an endless loop of saying the same things again and again, surah after surah, and never imparting an ounce of wisdom nor anything remotely divine.
32Many messengers before you [Muhammad] were mocked, but I granted respite to the disbelievers: in the end, I took them to task– how terrible My punishment was!
How is it that we’re this far into the Qur’an, and God STILL repeating this same complaint that this surah started with? How does he still not know how solve this? Why can’t he break the infinite monotony and say something new? Or true? Because that would be new too.
33Is He who stands over every soul marking its action [in need of any partner]? Yet they ascribe partners to God. Say, ‘Name them,’ or, ‘Can you tell Him about something on the earth He does not know to exist, or is this just a display of words?’ But the things they devise are made alluring to the disbelievers and they are barred from the [right] path: no one can guide those God leaves to stray. 34There is a punishment for them in this world, but the punishment of the Hereafter will be harder– no one will defend them against God.
This book is so redundant, so endlessly and pointlessly repetitive, that at this point, it feels like it was written by Jack Torrance.
35Here is a picture of the Garden that those mindful of God have been promised: flowing streams and perpetual food and shade. This is the reward that awaits those who are mindful of God; the disbelievers’ reward is the Fire. 36Those to whom We sent the Scripture rejoice in what has been revealed to you [Prophet]; some factions deny parts of it. Say, ‘I am commanded to worship God, and not join anything with Him in worship: to Him I call [others] and to Him I shall return.’ 37So We have sent down the Quran to give judgement in the Arabic language. If you were to follow their desires, after the knowledge that has come to you, you would have no one to guard you or protect you from God.
Your magic imaginary phantasm cannot do anything to me, unless his followers decide to do “his” work for him, and attack me on his behalf.
38We sent messengers before you and gave them wives and offspring; no messenger was given the power to produce a miracle except with God’s permission. There was a Scripture for every age:
To everything, turn turn turn.
39God erases or confirms whatever He will, and the source of Scripture is with Him. 40Whether We let you [Prophet] see part of what We threaten them with, or cause you to die [before that], your duty is only to deliver the message: the Reckoning is Ours.
Actually, I think the source of the Qur’an is the same as that of every other supposed scripture ever penned by men, imagination influenced by a combination of ignorance and irrationality.
41Do they not see how We come to [their] land and shrink its borders? God decides– no one can reverse His decision– and He is swift in reckoning. 42Those before them also schemed, but the overall scheme belongs to God: He knows what each soul does. In the end, the disbelievers will find out who will have the excellent home.
Once again, the empty threat, which apparently must be repeated in every single surah.
Sūrah 55 (Ar-Rahman) The Lord of Mercy
1It is the Lord of Mercy 2who taught the Quran. 3He created man 4and taught him to communicate. 5The sun and the moon follow their calculated courses; 6the plants and the trees submit to His designs; 7He has raised up the sky. He has set the balance 8so that you may not exceed in the balance: 9weigh with justice and do not fall short in the balance.
Remember that some people used to believe that the sky was a giant solid mirrored dome over the flat earth. The construction of that bit of fantasy architecture is what the Qur’an means by “raise up the sky”
10He set down the Earth for His creatures, 11with its fruits, its palm trees with sheathed clusters, 12its husked grain, its fragrant plants. 13Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
The Qur’an frequently brags about how clear it is, but if it wasn’t for footnotes, I would have no idea that the word “both” here refers to humanity and djinni. I would say that I deny that the fragrant plants and all that are “blessings” bestowed by a god. But that’s just me. If the question is, what do I deny that a djinn would also deny, then there is no answer, because djinni are not real.
14He created mankind out of dried clay, like pottery, 15the jinn out of smokeless fire. 16Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
I deny all of that. There are no such things as djinni, and the story of Adam being enchanted in a golem spell is just folklore with not even a kernel of truth to it.
17He is Lord of the two risings and Lord of the two settings. 18Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
Again, the Qur’an is so “clear”, that were it not for footnotes, I would have no idea that the “two” risings and two settings refers to the sun and the moon at their furthest points of sunrise and sunset in summer and winter. I see no reason to ignore the norm of hundreds of intermediate risings and settings at various points those between those extremes. However, now that I have made clear what wasn’t, then I will answer the question with the simple denial that there is a “lord”.
19He released the two bodies of [fresh and salt] water. They meet, 20yet there is a barrier between them they do not cross. 21Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
I deny that Allah exists or had any responsibility for fresh and salt water, especially as “he” (by which I mean his promoters) don’t seem to know what brackish water is.
22Pearls come forth from them: large ones, and small, brilliant ones. 23Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
Pearls come from “them”? From whom? I wish the Qur’an was as clear as it claims to be. I suppose it must be referring to pearls coming from both salt and fresh water. I don’t know if that’s true, but neither do I deny it. If it is true, then I simply cannot credit an imaginary being as having anything to do with anything real.
24His are the moving ships that float, high as mountains, on the sea. 25Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
This was written way back in the 7th century. Our ships are MUCH bigger by orders of magnitude, but we still don’t have any ships that are as high as mountains.
26Everyone on earth perishes; 27all that remains is the Face of your Lord, full of majesty, bestowing honour. 28Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
Well, the face of the Lord cannot remain if it was never there in the first place.
29Everyone in heaven and earth entreats Him; every day He is at work. 30Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
There is no Heaven, and it is a fact that not everyone on earth pleas with this particular god, or with any god for that matter.
31We shall attend to you two huge armies [of jinn and mankind]. 32Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
Again, djinni aren’t real. So there can’t be armies of them. God isn’t real either. So he can’t attend human armies.
33Jinn and mankind, if you can pass beyond the regions of heaven and earth, then do so: you will not pass without Our authority. Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
I really appreciate that this surah is different from every other one I’ve seen so far, especially the really redundant one above, but I’m beginning to feel like I’m missing the point. I deny that anything I have ever done or will do was ever with God’s authority.
35A flash of fire and smoke will be released upon you and no one will come to your aid. 36Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
Now I know I’m must not be understanding this correctly. Being hit with a flash-grenade is a blessing?
37When the sky is torn apart and turns crimson, like red hide. 38Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
By “torn apart”, I guess the fictitious firmament must be crumbling? How is this a blessing?
39On that Day neither mankind nor jinn will be asked about their sins. 40Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
I don’t deny this one at all. I fully accept and agree that on the day that Chicken Little’s worst fears are confirmed, when the non-existent firmament collapses, such that the sky is literally falling, then I think it safe to say that on that day that can never come, no one will be asking genies about their sins. The fact that none of that even can happen is a pretty sure sign that it won’t happen.
41The guilty will be known by their mark and will be seized by their foreheads and their feet. 42Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
Is this an extra-Biblical reference to how those in league with the anti-Christ will wear his mark on their foreheads?
43This is the Hell the guilty deny, 44but they will go round between its flames and scalding water. 45Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
Wait, Hell is a blessing now? How is a curse a blessing? Aren’t those two opposite enchantments?
46For those who fear [the time when they will] stand before their Lord there are two gardens. 47Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 48With shading branches. 49Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 50With a pair of flowing springs. 51Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 52With every kind of fruit in pairs. 53Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
What is this even talking about now?
54They will sit on couches upholstered with brocade, the fruit of both gardens within easy reach. 55Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 56There will be maidens restraining their glances, untouched beforehand by man or jinn. 57Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
If you fear competition and comparison, then it’s important that your posthumous sex-slaves in Heaven must be virgins, especially from genies. You don’t even want to try to satisfy a woman jaded by djinni. A literal demon in the sheets is a hard act to follow!
58Like rubies and brilliant pearls. 59Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
What is this even referring to anymore? I don’t know if it is because I am a westerner or because the Qur’an is as clear as mud, but I am completely lost now.
60Shall the reward of good be anything but good? 61Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 62There are two other gardens below these two. a 63Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 64Both of deepest green. 65Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 66With a pair of gushing springs. 67Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 68With fruits– date palms and pomegranate trees. 69Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
Are we singing a song right now? One of those where you never repeat the lyrics but repeat the chorus constantly? I know I’ve heard songs like that, but I can’t remember any of them now, not with this repetition in my head.
70There are good-natured, beautiful maidens. 71Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 72Dark-eyed, sheltered in pavilions. 73Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 74Untouched beforehand by man or jinn. 75Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny? 76They will all sit on green cushions and fine carpets. 77Which, then, of your Lord’s blessings do you both deny?
Here I was answering questions, when really this was a song, like a gospel hymn. And I know another like it, on the tip of my tongue, almost. But I won’t remember it while I’m writing this.
78Blessed is the name of your Lord, full of majesty, bestowing honour.
It’s your lord, not mine, and he doesn’t have any appreciable majesty either.