An Eternal Mansion, Veiled Women and a Submissive Moon: The Koran

A mosque in Cairo; at night, it was beautifully lit up! Taken by myself

Beauty can be found even in the most unpleasant or unassuming of places. Even those things that are horrid, or evil, or disturbing, can contain a strange and austere beauty.

While I certainly wouldn’t describe the Koran as evil or horrid, I am sometimes distraught by some of it’s passages, although I recognize that everything on this Earth has a ying and yang to it. Once again, I have found passages in the book that are discomforting. But overall, I admit that the Koran is beautiful. There is a lot of wisdom in this book, and some of the passages are so poetic, that I wonder what it must be like to read the book in it’s original Arabic.

Among some of the beauty that I have found were the following quotes (might I add that I am particularly fond of the many mentions of the moon, although I have yet come to a passage that explains why the moon is so important in Islam that they have placed it upon the tops of the mosque’s minarets).

“He has pressed the sun and the moon in to His service, each running for an appointed term.” (32:23)

“We offered Our trust to the heavens, to the Earth, and to the mountains, but they refused the burden and were afraid to receive it.” (33:72)

“”The night is another sign for men. From the night We lift the day–and they are plunged into darkness.   The sun hastens to its resting-place: it’s course is laid for it by the Might One, the All-Knowing. We have ordained phases for the moon, which daily wanes and in the end appars like a bent old twig. The sun is not allowed to overtake the moon, nor does the night outpace the day. Each in its own orbit swims.” (36:37)

“Where they shall be decked with bracelets of gold and pearls, and arrayed in robes of silk….Through his Grace he has admitted us to the Eternal Mansion, where we shall endure no toil, no weariness.” (35:28)

This quote is particularly moving for someone like me, who lives by the pen:

“If all the trees of the Earth were pens, and the sea replenished by seven more seas, were ink, the words of God could not be finished still. Mighty is God, and wise.” (31:23)

However, like all beautiful things, there is an ugly side to the Koran, such as the fact that homosexuality is frowned upon in Islam:

“Will you fornicate with males and eschew the wives whom god has created for you? Surely you are great transgressors.” (26:166)

I have heard that homosexuality is not tolerated in Islam, and this seems to prove where the feeling comes from, although it does not state why homosexuality should be a transgression. It also seems to point out that women were created solely for the pleasure and needs of men. There was a lot of talk about women in the surahs I read this time, such as this phrase concerning the angels:

“Would He choose daughters rather than sons? What has come over you that you judge so ill?” (37:149)

This question almost made me laugh, to be quite honest. Are people that crazy to want daughters? Did anybody say that angels were only women? After all, there are many male angels: Gabriel, the angel who spoke to the Prophet himself, was a male! The continued distaste for women continued in many more passages:

“Enjoin believing men to turn their eyes away from temptation and to restrain their carnal knowledge…..Enjoin believing women to turn their eyes away from temptation and to preserve their chastity; not display their adornments (except such as are naturally revieled) to draw their veils over their bosoms and not to displau their finery except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands fathers….and children who have no carnal knowlrdge of women.” (24:30)

It seems as though one could equate sex with the devil, if the Koran (and the Bible too) are any indication. Is sex the most feared thing in Islam? Sometimes I believe it to be true; if so, then women are a close second. Women seem to be the source of sex and sin, just as Eve became a symbolism of sinning in the Bible. It is not man who is told to veil himself, to hide in his house and be chaste, it is woman. Yet, at the same time, I feel that this points out that perhaps women are not the source of sin, but men. It is man who cannot be trusted; man who has a dirty, carnal mind, man who sees in woman her beauty and the source of his desire and cannot control himself.

It appears that today’s fanatical Muslim man (and even the non-fanatics at times) seem to take the Koran’s words literally. Certainly the Taliban when it took power in Afghanistan took the following passage as meaning it to apply to all women, not just the prophet’s wives, as they believed that women should not be seen or heard:

“Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women. If you fear God, do not be too complaisant in your speech, lest the lecherous hearted should lust after you. Show discretion in what you say. Stay in your homes and do not display your finery as women used to do in the days of ignorance. Attend to your prayers,give alms and obey God and his Apostle. Women of the household, God seeks only to remove uncleanness from you and to purify you.”(32:29)

Woman bear the brunt. Women, despite what the Koran says, do have to bear another’s burden. They bear man’s.

S-L-M

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