Pray for Paradise, Tremble Not at the Trumpet: The Koran

Per some advice, I continued my reading of the Koran by starting from the back of the book forward. Here, the surahs are mercifully short, some no longer than a sentence. I have listed all of them in the snazzy HTML table I made at the end of this post, but owing to the fact that many are so short I will not be focusing on each one, but will share what I found interesting.

Some beautiful phrases:

“It is most odious in God’s sight that you should say one thing and do another.” (61:2)

“Would that you know what the heavenly visitant is!/ It is the star of piercing brightness.” (86:1)

“It is in the watches of the night that impressions are strongest and words most eloquent; in the daytime you are hard-pressed with the  affairs of this world.” (73:1) Mantled one

“When the sky is rent asunder, when the stars scatterand the oceans merge together; when the graves are hurled about; each soul shall know what it has done and what it has failed to do.” (82:1) 

Surah 64 (Cheating) had some odd quotes that I plan to look up, as I wasn’t sure of what they might mean.

“Believers, you have an enemy in your spouses and in your children: beware of them.” (64:12)

“Your wealth and your children are but a temptation.” (64:12)

Why is a spouse or one’s children the enemy? I can understand that wealth is a temptation, but I have no idea why one’s child would be a temptation, unless one is a pedophile, and I’m pretty sure that’s not what God is talking about here. Perhaps the 600’s-era parents were overly proud of their children?

Compared to the first couple of surahs, I found the surah “Divorce” quite refreshing. Helas, proof of women’s rights! I particularly liked this quote; men, take heed!

“You shall not harass them so as to make life intolerable for them.” (65:4)

There is a lot of talk about Paradise, especially in surah 76 (Man). The Koran’s version of Paradise fascinates me: one drinks water from the Camphor Fountain (specified with uppercase letters), ginger-flavoured water from the Salsabil fountain in silver goblets, and pure nectar. (It is safe to assume that the early Muslims, living in the arid rock of Arabia, dreamed of an endless supply of drink  in Paradise, hence the talk of drinks and running streams.) One is given silk robes, bracelets of silver, soft couches to recline on servant boys who are “graced with eternal youth.” (Interesting: servant boys, not slave girls!) One shall “feel neither  the scorching heat nor the biting cold,” in this garden of trees whose fruit hangs in clusters. (No extreme weather? Sign me up!) And my personal favorite: chaste spouses and high-bosomed women (obviously, this fantasy applies to men only). I guess all men dream of high-bosomed women. So far, however, talk of Virgins has not come up.

Some recurring themes/phrases that I have found:

  • Recurring trumpets/talk of judgement day: Apparently, when one hears a single loud blast from a trumpet that means Judgement Day is coming. Mountains are crushed into dust, the sky becomes molten (in one surah it was described as wooly, too, I believe) and the wind howls. The constant talk of Judgement Day scares me, and I’m not even religious! I guess this is one of the many ways religions get people: they scare them into submission. It’s a good tactic.
  • Idle talk: from what I can concur, idle talk means bad talk in the Koran’s view, for it is stated that people in Paradise will not engage in said talk.
  • “Would that you know:” this phrase comes up throughout the Koran, and I find it slightly amusing, as though God is taunting both Believers and Non-believers with the knowledge he withholds.
  • Orphans: The Koran constantly mentions orphans and the destitute, and I can’t help but feel that Mohammad might have snuck in these mentions as he himself was orphaned when his father and then his mother died, and in general did not have much money until he married his first wife, Khadija. Not that it is bad to give to the poor or orphans: giving charity is a decent thing to do even if you are not religious.
  • Apparently the Koran is addressed specifically to men, unless otherwise specified (like in Al-Nisa). For example, the chapter on divorce tells men what to do with their wives; it does not tell women how to react/bring about divorce. It also mentions that one can have sex with only one’s wives or slave girls (!) I wonder if now rich men take this advice and apply it to their domestic help (Gaddhafi, I’m looking at you and your Amazon women!)(70:22)
  • Talk of 7 heavens that exist; again, I must look this up. (71:1)
  • The recurring mention of the sad, dark faces and happy, light faces that will watch as Judgement Day approaches: obviously, the non-believers are the melancholy ones and the believers the happy ones, as they know that they will be judged good. This imagery is slightly depressing. (75:1)

To close, I will mention the final surah, “Men,” whose words could not be a more fitting end to a holy book:

“Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of Men, the King of Men, the God of Men, from the mischief of the slinking prompter who whispers in the hearts of men; from jinn and men.” (114:1)

Men are dangerous to each other, importantly. What a sad but true fact.

S-L-M

Al-hashr (The Exile) Al-Mumtahanah (She who is Tested) Al-Saff (Battle Array) Al-Jum’ah (Friday)(/td>Al-Munafiqun (The Hypocrites)(/td>
Al-Taghabun (Cheating) Al-Talaq (Divorce) Al-Tahrim (Prohibition)(/td>Al-Mulk (Sovereignty)Al-Qalam (The Pen)
Al-Haqqah (The Catastrophe) Al-Ma’arij (The Ladders) Nuh (Noah) Al-Jinn (The Jinn) Al-Muzammil (The Mantled One)
Al-Muddathir (The Cloaked One) Al-Qiyamah (The Ressurection) Al-Insan (Man) Al-Mursalat (Those that are Sent Forth) Al-Naba (The Tidings)
Al-Nazi’at (The Soulsnatchers) ‘Abasa (He Frowned) Al-Takwir (The Cessation) Al-Infitar (The Cataclysm) Al-Mutaffifin (The Unjust)
Al-Ishiqaq (The Rending) Al-Fajr (The Dawn) Al-Balad (The City) Al-Shams (The Sun) Al-Layl (The Night)
Al-Duha (Daylight) Al-Sharh (Comfort) Al-Tin (The Fig) Al-Alaq (Clots of Blood) Qadr
Al-Bayyinah (The Proof) Al-Zalzalah (The Earthquake) Al-Adiyat (The War steeds) Al-Qari’ah (The Disaster) Al-Takathur (Worldly Gain)
Al-Asr (The Declining Day) Al-Humazah (The Slanderer) Al-Fil (The Elephant) Quraysh Al-Ma’un (Alms)
Al-Kawthar (Abundance) Al-Kafirun (The Unbelievers) Al-Nasr (Help) Al-Masad (Fibre) Al-Ikhlas (Oneness)
Al-Falaq (Daybreak) Al-Nas (Men) Al-Buruj (The Constellations) Al-Tariq (The Nightly Visitant) Al-A’la (The Most High)
Al-Ghashiyah (The Overwhelming Event)
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