This is the 47th 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.
and my 46th post on suras 78, 79, 82 & 84.
Sūrah 30 (Ar-Rum) The Byzantines
Most other translations title this surah, Rome or The Romans. While the original Roman Empire had already fallen by the time the Qur’an was written, the eastern continuation did not call themselves Byzantine Greeks. They still referred to themselves as Romans. Perhaps translator Abdel Haleem changed this title to get us to recognize the historical context? Not sure. For context, his notes on this chapter reference “the defeat of the Byzantines at the hands of the Persians (613–14 ce) in Syria, and the subsequent victory of the Byzantines in 624 ce.”
1Alif Lam Mim 2The Byzantines have been defeated 3in a nearby land.
If you’re writing a provincial document, only for one group of people at one point in time, then you could say “in a nearby land”, to account for those who don’t know any geography at all. But if you’re the creator of the universe dictating a timeless message for all mankind everywhere and for all time, then you wouldn’t get anything like the Qur’an.
They will reverse their defeat with a victory 4in a few years’ time a ––God is in command, first and last.
Which is why we sometimes win and sometimes lose?
On that day, the believers will rejoice 5at God’s help. He helps whoever He pleases:
That does sound random, same as our fortunes would be if there was no god.
He is the Mighty, the Merciful. 6This is God’s promise: God never breaks His promise, but most people do not know;
Remember that “God” said that the sun and the moon had separate orbits, where one could not overtake the other, (Sūrah 36:40) and that consequently, one of the signs of the Day of Judgment would be a solar eclipse (75:7-10). How many of those have we had since then?
7they only know the outer surface of this present life and are heedless of the life to come. 8Have they not thought about their own selves? God did not create the heavens and earth and everything between them without a serious purpose and an appointed time, yet many people deny that they will meet their Lord. 9Have they not travelled through the land and seen how their predecessors met their end? They were mightier than them: they cultivated the earth more and built more upon it. Their own messengers also came to them with clear signs: God did not wrong them; they wronged themselves. 10Later the evildoers met a terrible end for rejecting and [repeatedly] mocking God’s revelations.
Remember, whenever God smites you, it’s your fault, not his. Anyone giving such an excuse is an abuser.
11God brings creation into being; in the end He will reproduce it and it is to Him you will be recalled. 12On the Day the Hour arrives, the guilty will despair 13and they will have no intercessors among those partners they ascribed to God– they will deny these partners.
Hear that, Christians? The Qur’an says you will deny your lord when the real lord comes calling. They say you’ll be in Hell with me, for all eternity, simply for believing in the wrong version of God, which is not believing in their version. If you are not even the least bit threatened by that, then you should know how your own threats of damnation don’t impress me at all either. You can tell the Muslims (and yourself) that you will be saved, and that the Muslims will all be in Hell with me, but their reaction will be no different than when I tell both of you that there is no Hell, and that you’re all wasting your lives in pursuit of a sick fantasy.
14When the Hour arrives, on that Day people will be separated: 15those who believed and did good deeds will delight in a Garden, 16while those who disbelieved and denied Our messages and the meeting of the Hereafter will be brought for punishment.
There are 114 suras in the Qur’an. Does every one of them repeat this empty threat?
17So celebrate God’s glory in the evening, in the morning– 18praise is due to Him in the heavens and the earth– in the late afternoon, and at midday. 19He brings the living out of the dead and the dead out of the living. He gives life to the earth after death, and you will be brought out in the same way.
No, there evidently is no god. Stop asserting things when you can’t show any truth to it.
20One of His signs is that He created you from dust and– lo and behold!– you became human and scattered far and wide.
So if we already assume that were “created” and that he was the one who created us, then we can use that question-begging fallacy of assumptions atop baseless assumptions to assume that he must exist? How is it that so many Muslims fancy themselves philosophers, yet this circular reasoning doesn’t bother them?
21Another of His signs is that He created spouses from among yourselves for you to live with in tranquillity: He ordained love and kindness between you. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect.
There are truly “signs” only for those who have already assumed the conclusion and imagine that everything must be a sign of what they have already assumed.
22Another of His signs is the creation of the heavens and earth, and the diversity of your languages and colours. There truly are signs in this for those who know.
Except that belief is not the same thing as knowledge, and the heavens and the earth were not “created”. Even if we interpret cosmogony and core accretion as a means of “creation” (out of something rather than nothing) that still would not indicate a god.
23Among His signs are your sleep, by night and by day, and your seeking His bounty. There truly are signs in this for those who can hear.
Except that I don’t seek whatever others imagine to be his “bounty”, and sleep was obviously not a gift from any god either.
24Among His signs, too, are that He shows you the lightning that terrifies and inspires hope; that He sends water down from the sky to restore the earth to life after death. There truly are signs in this for those who use their reason.
I will admit that lightning is probably the most iconic “sign of God” that people of every religion have always misinterpreted. Many centuries ago, folks used to think that Zeus/Jupiter threw lightning bolts at liars. Now, church steeples have lightning rods. What does that imply?
25Among His signs, too, is the fact that the heavens and the earth stand firm by His command. In the end, you will all emerge when He calls you from the earth.
So the “sign” [evidence] of God is that everything happens by his [our assumption of] his command. So if we don’t make that assumption, then there is no evidence at all, and that’s there are only signs for those who believe.
26Everyone in the heavens and earth belongs to Him, and all are obedient to Him.
I’m not. Most people aren’t. If we were, then there would be no need of this alleged “judgment”, would there?
27He is the One who originates creation and will do it again– this is even easier for Him.
Then why was Noah’s flood necessary?
He is above all comparison in the heavens and earth; He is the Almighty, the All Wise.
Just like Lord Krishna.
28He gives you this example, drawn from your own lives: do you make your slaves full partners with an equal share in what We have given you? Do you fear them as you fear each other? This is how We make Our messages clear to those who use their reason.
The way the Qur’an makes its message “clear” is with the worst example its provincial authors could have chosen, by endorsing slavery and assuming the absurdity of abolition.
29And still the idolaters follow their own desires without any knowledge. Who can guide those God leaves to stray, who have no one to help them?
I’ll find my own way. I walk by sight, not faith, and I do not need the blindness of the faithful to lead me where they do not know.
30So [Prophet] as a man of pure faith, stand firm and true in your devotion to the religion. This is the natural disposition God instilled in mankind– there is no altering God’s creation– and this is the right religion, though most people do not realize it.
I’ll say. I read that there are 1.8 billion Muslims right now. That is impressive, but there are 7.9 billion people in total. So less than ¼ of the global population believe in Islam, even though it is the 2nd largest religion. I also read that Islam is the fastest-growing religion, but I read that decades ago. Now, it seems that all religions are in a general state of decline. The fastest-growing demographic are the irreligious, atheists. So this is as good as it is ever going to get for Islam. If Islam is the true religion, then how poorly has God communicated his message? Look at all the literally everybody who lived before Muhammad, none of whom were Muslim. Yet, they’re all going to burn, along with the vast majority of everyone else too. Is this not another contradiction?
31Turn to Him alone, all of you. Be mindful of Him; keep up the prayer; do not join those who ascribe partners to God,
Here we see that Muslims cannot associate with Christians, who have committed the ultimate sin, according to Sūrah (4:48, 116). The Jewish religion gave the same warning with their very first commandment.
32those who divide their religion into sects, with each party rejoicing in their own.
So like the Sunnis, Ismailis, Shi’ites, and/or Zaydiyyah? I know, those sects didn’t yet exist when the Qur’an was written, but it’s worth mentioning them.
33When something bad happens to people, they cry to their Lord and turn to Him for help, but no sooner does He let them taste His blessing than– lo and behold!– some of them ascribe partners to their Lord, 34showing no gratitude for what We have given them. ‘Take your pleasure! You will come to know.’
The Qur’an seems more of a warning to Christians and pagans than to skeptics like myself. There is nothing in it for me.
35Did We send them down any authority that sanctions the partners they ascribe to God?
Every religion has their own sets of evidence and excuses.
36When We give people a taste of Our blessing, they rejoice, but when something bad happens to them– because of their own actions– they fall into utter despair.
Note that this statement would be correct if you remove God from it. When things go well, people rejoice, and they despair when things go bad. Not surprising or profound.
37Do they not see that God gives abundantly to whoever He will and sparingly [to whoever He will]? There truly are signs in this for those who believe. 38So give their due to the near relative, the needy, and the wayfarer– that is best for those whose goal is God’s approval: these are the ones who will prosper. 39Whatever you lend out in usury to gain value through other people’s wealth will not increase in God’s eyes, but whatever you give in charity, in your desire for God’s approval, will earn multiple rewards.
So give it away freely. Don’t expect repayment, and your interest will accrue in the afterlife. Faith healers say something similar.
40It is God who created you and provided for you, who will cause you to die and then give you life again. Which of your ‘partners’ can do any one of these things?
I imagine Christians and Muslims must talk right past each other here.
Glory be to God, and exalted be He above the partners they attribute to Him. 41Corruption has flourished on land and sea as a result of people’s actions and He will make them taste the consequences of some of their own actions so that they may turn back.
There, I think, is the appeal of religion to people living at a time where the law was seldom reliably enforced; that one could imagine their enemies getting their just desserts in the end, as if by magic. Of course that belief didn’t achieve any real justice, and that’s why we had to establish some sort of law enforcement now.
42Say, ‘Travel through the land, and see how those before you met their end– most of them were idolaters.’ 43[Prophet], stand firm in your devotion to the upright religion, before an irresistible Day comes from God. On that Day, mankind will be divided: 44those who rejected the truth will bear the burden of that rejection, and those who did good deeds will have made good provision for themselves. 45From His bounty God will reward those who believe and do good deeds; He does not like those who reject the truth.
If that were so, then God should have more issue with his believers than with me.
46Another of His signs is that He sends out the winds bearing good news, giving you a taste of His grace, making the ships sail at His command, enabling you to [journey in] search of His bounty so that you may be grateful.
Wind is generated by— …never mind. What’s the point in explaining this again? I’m talking to people who think that air is made supernatural spirits and that everything happens because a god wishes it to happen.
47Before you [Muhammad], We sent messengers, each to their own people: they brought them clear proofs and then We punished the evildoers. We make it Our duty to help the believers. 48It is God who sends out the winds; they stir up the clouds; He spreads them over the skies as He pleases; He makes them break up and you see the rain falling from them. See how they rejoice when He makes it fall upon whichever of His servants He wishes, 49though before it is sent they may have lost all hope.
So he makes the rain fall randomly, without any describable pattern of intent? Exactly the way it would if there was no god?
50Look, then, at the imprints of God’s mercy, how He restores the earth to life after death: this same God is the one who will return people to life after death– He has power over all things. 51Yet they will continue in their disbelief, even if We send a [scorching] wind and they see their crops turn yellow. 52You [Prophet] cannot make the dead hear and you cannot make the deaf hear your call when they turn their backs and leave; 53you cannot lead the blind out of their error: the only ones you can make hear you are those who believe in Our revelations and devote themselves [to Us].
Christians use a similar excuse when unbelievers remain unconvinced by bad arguments.
54It is God who creates you weak, then gives you strength, then weakness after strength, together with your grey hair: He creates what He will; He is the All Knowing, the All Powerful.
Except that he doesn’t know anything and can’t do anything that isn’t apparently random.
55On the Day the Hour comes, the guilty will swear they lingered no more than an hour– they have always been deluded–
I didn’t understand this phrase. So I checked other translations. NobleQuran clarifies: “(i.e they used to tell lies and take false oaths, and turn away from the truth) in this life of the world)].” That didn’t make much sense either. IslamicStudies.info clarified further: “That is, “They used to make similar wrong estimates in the world. There also they lacked the realization of reality, and therefore, used to assert that there was going to be no Resurrection, no life-after-death, and no accountability before God.” Now, I think I understand what the Qur’an is trying to say, though it is ruined by the next verse.
56but those endowed with knowledge and faith will say, ‘In accordance with God’s decree, you actually lingered till the Day of Resurrection: this is the Day of Resurrection, yet you did not know.’
I must retort, faith is unreliable. Thus those with faith do not have the knowledge they claim. If you doubt this as a Muslim, remember that the largest religion is Christianity. Look at all the people with complete faith claiming “knowledge” of the “absolute truth” that “Jesus is Lord”. That’s how deceptive their faith is. Yours is too.
57On that Day the evildoers’ excuses will be of no use to them: they will not be allowed to make amends.
In any situation of wrong-doing, there should be a way to put it right or make amends. That fact makes the threat of eternal torture of disbelievers into evidence against that god.
58In this Quran We have set every kind of illustration before people, yet if you [Prophet] brought them a miracle, the disbelievers would still say, ‘You [prophets] deal only in falsehood.’
Every type of illustration, you say? Is the Qur’an available in charcoal sketches or pointillism? Claymation?
59In this way God seals the hearts of those who do not know, 60so be patient, for God’s promise is true: do not let those with no firm beliefs discourage you.
This statement, I think, is correct. The “hearts” [minds] of believers, who do not know, are indeed sealed closed. Mine is open, but I’m not just going to believing everything anyone says. You have be able to show that there is at least some truth to it.
Sūrah 29 (Al-Ankabut) The Spider
1Alif Lam Mim
As we are reading these surahs out of their printed order and in their alleged “order of revelation”, it seems strange to read Chapter 29 immediately after Chapter 30. Note that both of these surahs begin with the same three letters. I have a hypothesis that these might be notes someone wrote trying to arrange these suras in whatever order that person felt appropriate. If so, then there should be a link with other surahs in this section, as well as other surahs following other notations, and there is, but not much of one. It is not consistent enough to show whether I’m right.
2Do people think they will be left alone after saying ‘We believe’ without being put to the test?
An omniscient deity capable of prophesy wouldn’t need to test anything.
3We tested those who went before them: God will certainly mark out which ones are truthful and which are lying.
4Do the evildoers think they can escape us? How ill they judge! 5But as for those who strive for their meeting with God, God’s appointed time is bound to come; He is the All Seeing, the All Knowing.
I feel like I’ve seen this movie.
6Those who exert themselves do so for their own benefit––God does not need His creatures––7We shall certainly blot out the misdeeds of those who believe and do good deeds, and We shall reward them according to the best of their actions.
Christians have a similar theology, that it doesn’t matter how evil you are, just as long as you believe. But if you don’t believe, then it doesn’t matter how good you are.
8We have commanded people to be good to their parents, but do not obey them if they strive to make you serve, beside Me, anything of which you have no knowledge: you will all return to Me, and I shall inform you of what you have done.
This is the Qur’anic adaptation of Deuteronomy 13: 6“If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them.” The very next verse says, “You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people”. So far, I haven’t read where the Qur’an said that next part, commanding “death to the infidel”, but I’ve been assured that part of the book is coming.
9We shall be sure to admit those who believe and do good deeds to the ranks of the righteous. 10There are some people who say, ‘We believe in God,’ but, when they suffer for His cause, they think that human persecution is as severe as God’s punishment––yet, if any help comes to you [Prophet] from your Lord, they will say, ‘We have always been with you’. Does God not know best what is in everyone’s hearts?
He should, and he would if he were real, in which case we would him instead of the various scriptures pretending to speak for him.
11God will be sure to mark out which ones are the believers, and which the hypocrites. 12Those who disbelieve say to the believers, ‘Follow our path and we shall bear [the consequences for] your sins,’ yet they will not do so––they are liars. 13They will bear their own burdens and others besides: they will be questioned about their false assertions on the Day of Resurrection.
If religious people actually did challenge people on their false and unsupported assertions, there would be no Qur’an or Bible or Gita or Kitab.
14We sent Noah out to his people. He lived among them for fifty years short of a thousand but when the Flood overwhelmed them they were still doing evil. 15We saved him and those with him on the Ark. We made this a sign for all people.
So we are to believe that Noah was 950 years old now? Why not. In for a penny. If we’re gonna believe impossible nonsense for no good reason, why worry about reasonable amounts of it?
16We also sent Abraham. He said to his people, ‘Serve God and be mindful of Him: that is better for you, if only you knew. 17What you worship instead of God are mere idols; what you invent is nothing but falsehood. Those you serve instead of God have no power to give you provisions, so seek provisions from God, serve Him, and give Him thanks: you will all be returned to Him.
Would that I could say exactly that to Abraham!
18If you say this is a lie, [be warned that] other communities before you said the same. The messenger’s only duty is to give clear warning.’
Those other communities were right.
19Do they not see that God brings life into being and reproduces it? Truly this is easy for God.
No, no one “sees” that. They only imagine it when they don’t know the real explanation.
20Say, ‘Travel throughout the earth and see how He brings life into being: and He will bring the next life into being. God has power over all things.
Where can we go to see how God does this?
21He punishes whoever He will and shows mercy to whoever He will. You will all be returned to Him. 22You cannot escape Him on earth or in the heavens; you will have no one to protect or help you besides God.’
I will add a graphic to this verbal illustration of being a prisoner of your own mind.
23Those who deny God’s Revelation and their meeting with Him have no hope of receiving My grace: they will have a grievous torment. 24The only answer Abraham’s people gave was, ‘Kill him or burn him!’ but God saved him from the Fire: there truly are signs in this for people who believe.
Ever notice how often believers resort to burning and killing people just for whatever they think or believe?
25Abraham said to them, ‘You have chosen idols instead of God but your love for them will only last for the present life: on the Day of Resurrection, you will disown and reject one another. Hell will be your home and no one will help you.’
Whereas, if God was real, then when those people die, God would be there to say that it’s too bad they were raised to believe in the wrong religion. Then God would apologize for letting that happen, and he would let those people go once he told them the right way. If you believe in a god that would mercilessly torture people for being lied to, then you have been lied to, and you believe in a tyrannical monster unworthy of worship.
26Lot believed him, and said, ‘I will flee to my Lord: He is the Almighty, the All Wise.’ 27We gave Isaac and Jacob to Abraham, and placed prophethood and Scripture among his offspring. We gave him his rewards in this world, and in the life to come he will be among the righteous.
Cool story, Bro.
28And Lot: when He said to his people, ‘You practise outrageous acts that no people before you have ever committed. 29How can you lust after men, waylay travellers, and commit evil in your gatherings?’
Does this story teller expect us to believe that homosexuality had never been practiced before then?
the only answer his people gave was, ‘Bring God’s punishment down on us if what you say is true.’ 30So he prayed, ‘My Lord, help me against these people who spread corruption.’ 31When Our messengers brought the good news [of the birth of a son] to Abraham, they told him, ‘We are about to destroy the people of that town. They are wrongdoers.’ 32Abraham said, ‘But Lot lives there.’ They answered, ‘We know who lives there better than you do. We shall save him and his household, except for his wife: she will be one of those who stay behind.’
This is better than the original version of this fable in the Bible. Because then, it was God in a physical body negotiating with Abraham, and Abraham was talking God down, as if God were a simple minded dolt. The Qur’an re-casts God as the angels, whom Lot saved by offering his own children to a rape mob. Voluntarily, I might add. There was no good reason for him to do that. But then he impregnated his children himself. But maybe that part didn’t make it into the Qur’an’s revision of that story.
33When Our messengers came to Lot, he was troubled and distressed on their account. They said, ‘Have no fear or grief: we shall certainly save you and your household, except for your wife– she will be one of those who stay behind– 34and we shall send a punishment from heaven down on the people of this town because they violate [God’s order].’ 35We left some [of the town] there as a clear sign for those who use their reason.
In this version, the angels are somehow aware that Lot’s wife will be conveniently removed before Lot could get drunk and molest his children, and blame them for seducing him. It is rather dark that the angels know what will happen to Lot’s wife, and they’re OK with it. How did they explain to her that she was going to “stay behind” while they destroy the town with fire and brimstone? No wonder the movie, Dogma depicted angels the way it did.
36To the people of Midian We sent their brother Shu’ayb. He said, ‘My people, serve God and think ahead to the Last Day. Do not commit evil and spread corruption in the land.’ 37They rejected him and so the earthquake overtook them. When morning came, they were lying dead in their homes.
Shu’ayb is a name I don’t think I have ever heard before. I had to look it up on Wikipedia to see that “the Prophet Shuʿayb) is an Islamic and Druze religious prophet, traditionally identified with the biblical Jethro”.
38[Remember] the tribes of Ad and Thamud: their history is made clear to you by [what is left of] their dwelling places. Satan made their foul deeds seem alluring to them and barred them from the right way, though they were capable of seeing.
How is it possible that the same species who could land a man on the moon are also daft enough to believe a fable this dumb, and kill others for not believing it?
39[Remember] Qarun and Pharaoh and Haman: Moses brought them clear signs, but they behaved arrogantly on earth. They could not escape Us 40and We punished each one of them for their sins: some We struck with a violent storm; some were overcome by a sudden blast; some We made the earth swallow; and some We drowned. It was not God who wronged them; they wronged themselves.
41Those who take protectors other than God can be compared to spiders building themselves houses– the spider’s is the frailest of all houses– if only they could understand. 42God knows what things they call upon beside Him: He is the Mighty, the Wise. 43Such are the comparisons We draw for people, though only the wise can grasp them. 44God has created the heavens and earth for a true purpose. There truly is a sign in this for those who believe.
Hey now. A spider’s house is literally a death trap. Spider silk is pound for pound stronger than steel, and they can even use their web to paraglide. It’s such a versatile building material. They can make anything out of it. It would be like if we could pull an infinite length of duct tape out of our butts. Credit where it’s due.
45[Prophet], recite what has been revealed to you of the Scripture; keep up the prayer: prayer restrains outrageous and unacceptable behaviour. Remembering God is greater: God knows everything you are doing.
Really? Then pray to him and ask him what I’m doing right now.
46[Believers], argue only in the best way with the People of the Book, except with those of them who act unjustly. Say, ‘We believe in what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you; our God and your God are one [and the same]; we are devoted to Him.’ 47This is the way We sent the Scripture to you [Muhammad]. Those to whom We had already given Scripture a believe in [the Quran] and so do some of these people. No one refuses to acknowledge Our revelations but the defiant.
Before I post the definition of the word, “defiant”, I checked other translations to see that they used the words “unbeliever”, “disbeliever” and “infidel”. So this verse is literally saying that everyone believes this except for everyone who doesn’t believe. Divine wisdom, people. How can you deny it?
48You never recited any Scripture before We revealed this one to you; you never wrote one down with your hand. If you had done so, those who follow falsehood might have had cause to doubt.
I didn’t understand this verse either. The Qur’an is such a “clear” guide, that I wasn’t sure who it was talking about here. IslamicStudies.info clarified that Muhammad was “unlettered”, which, I guess means “illiterate”, though it doesn’t actually say that. It only says that he had never read a book or handled a pen. I know plenty of people like that who can still read. We even had a president like that recently. But this reference assures us that the only way Muhammad could have repeated all these stories that were commonly known by all his contemporaries was if it was a divine revelation. I think if God was going to grant an illiterate person the ability to write, maybe don’t write all the same stories everybody already knows? Don’t repeat the same sentences in every single surah? Maybe impart some wisdom in a few of those lines? Just to break the repetition?
49But no, [this Quran] is a revelation that is clear to the hearts of those endowed with knowledge. No one refuses to acknowledge Our revelations but the evildoers.
Again, no one disbelieves except the unbelievers. How profound. “No one can beat us except the winners!”
50They say, ‘Why have no miracles been sent to him by his Lord?’ Say, ‘Miracles lie in God’s hands; I am simply here to warn you plainly.’ 51Do they not think it is enough that We have sent down to you the Scripture that is recited to them? There is a mercy in this and a lesson for believing people. 52Say, ‘God is sufficient witness between me and you: He knows what is in the heavens and earth. Those who believe in false deities and deny God will be the losers.’
Those who believe in false deities on one side and those who deny god on the other? I guess that covers all of us, doesn’t it? And why do we need miracles? I’d settle for wisdom. But there isn’t of that in this book either, nor in the works of any other prophet either.
53They challenge you to hasten the punishment: they would already have received a punishment if God had not set a time for it, and indeed it will come to them suddenly and catch them unawares.
But God didn’t set a time for it, because no one knows when that will be, except for those who know that time will never come.
54They challenge you to hasten the punishment: Hell will encompass all those who deny the truth,
Then I have nothing to fear, since the Qur’an has no truth to show.
55on the Day when punishment overwhelms them from above and from below their very feet, and they will be told, ‘Now taste the punishment for what you used to do.’ 56My believing servants! My earth is vast, so worship Me and Me alone.
Why, seriously, why would any uber-galactic overlord wish to be worshiped by the ants in his ant farm? Why would he even care about the opinions of trivial underlings?
57Every soul will taste death, then it is to Us that you will be returned. 58We shall lodge those who believed and did good deeds in lofty dwellings, in the Garden graced with flowing streams, there to remain. How excellent is the reward of those who labour, 59those who are steadfast, those who put their trust in their Lord! 60How many are the creatures who do not store their sustenance! God sustains them and you: He alone is the All Hearing, the All Knowing. 61If you ask the disbelievers who created the heavens and earth and who harnessed the sun and moon, they are sure to say, ‘God.’ Then why do they turn away from Him?
Y’all obviously never asked me, because that would not be my answer. Instead I would point out the question-begging fallacy of presupposition in asking “who” “created” something that could not have been created by anyone.
62It is God who gives abundantly to whichever of His servants He will, and sparingly to whichever He will: He has full knowledge of everything.
Yet he is as random as a pair of dice.
63If you ask them, ‘Who sends water down from the sky and gives life with it to the earth after it has died?’ they are sure to say, ‘God.’ Say, ‘Praise belongs to God!’ Truly, most of them do not use their reason.
I do use my reason, which is why I would NOT answer the way this book says.
64The life of this world is merely an amusement and a diversion; the true life is in the Hereafter, if only they knew.
That is the saddest thing about this religion and all other delusions like it. The true life is this one, the only one you really have, and you’re wasting it.
65Whenever they go on board a ship they call on God, and dedicate their faith to Him alone, but once He has delivered them safely back to land, see how they ascribe partners to Him! 66Let them show their ingratitude for what We have given them; let them take their enjoyment– soon they will know. 67Can they not see that We have made [them] a secure sanctuary though all around them people are snatched away? Then how can they believe in what is false and deny God’s blessing?
Again, this book is tailored to credulous believers of one stripe or another, as if skeptics never even existed. There is nothing in the Qur’an to address my position.
68Who could be more wicked than the person who invents lies about God, or denies the truth when it comes to him?
I often ask that exact question, pertaining of course to religious apologists who invent lies about their god and deny the truth in order to perform such evil.
Is Hell not the home for the disbelievers?
No. There is no such place.
69But We shall be sure to guide to Our ways those who strive hard for Our cause: God is with those who do good.
Again, remember that the Qur’an translates “do good” as “believe”. So it says that those who believe believe, except for the unbelievers who don’t believe.