Can We Have a Little S-L-M? (Finishing up my Qu’ran Reading)

“We decreed for them a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear

Ceiling of the Mohammad Ali mosque in Cairo

for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and a wound for a wound. But if a man charitably forbears retaliation, his remission shall atone for him.” (5:44)

Babylonian references regarding Hammurabi’s Code show that some rules are just universal. During these last few surahs of the Koran (yes, I have now finished my first reading of the Book) the pages resonated with both reasonable, rational thought and thought that was a bit less benevolent.  A look, shall we,  at the remaining surahs.

The story of Satan is alluded to, remarking on his impertinence and reluctance to bow to Adam, that man made out of black loam clay while Satan was made of smokeless fire. He addresses his followers such:

“‘True was the promise which God made you. I too made you a promise, but did not keep it. Yet I had no power over you. I only called you, and you answered me. Do not now blame me, but blame yourselves. I cannot  help you, nor can you help me. I never believed, as you did, that I was God’s equal.'” (14:22)

I felt that these words were suitable for Satan; after all, he certainly would be the King of Treachery and Lies. However, what is his purpose? Why would he care to call people like a Pied Piper? What did he gain? After all, it was God who wanted Hell to be filled with jinn and man:

“Had your Lord pleased, He would have united all mankind in one community. They are still at odds, except for those to whom your Lord has shown mercy. To this end He has created them/ The word of your Lord shall be fulfilled: ‘I will fill Hell with jinn and humans all.'” (11:113)

If anyone remarks that life is but a game, then the above passage would serve as proof: why make mankind at odds? Why would God want to fill Hell with humans? He could have made them all believers and pious if he wanted to; so why play a game? He puts man to the test, I suppose; but wouldn’t life be better if mankind could be united! (World leaders, take note).

The unkind words that the Koran has for unbelievers are disheartening to a person like me who believes in respecting people’s beliefs. I realize that all religions probably do this to some degree, but it does not mean I believe that any of them are right for doing this. Idolaters are considered “unclean” (seriously? This is like the ignorant Europeans saying that the ‘savages’ they met were dirty heathens during colonization). Talk and Treatment of non-believers is saddening:

“It ill becomes the idolaters to visit the mosques of God, for they are unbelievers, self-confessed. Vain shall be their works, and in the Fire they shall abide for ever.” (9:17)

But tourists have since been allowed into mosques! Perhaps even the holy cannot resist earning a few bucks, as I was allowed into the  Mohammad Ali mosque in Cairo. Another odd sentence of sorts:

“Have nothing to do with those who have split up their religion into sects. God will call them to account and declare to them what they have done.” (6:158)

Islam is, in fact, split into two sects: Sunni and Shiite. Apparently, the (very early) followers of Islam did not heed Prophet Mohammad’s words, for it was just a few years after his death that the religion split. And what about the Sufi Islamists?

The Mohammad Ali Masjid (mosque) in Cairo. Photo taken by myself.

Interesting, then, that these “dirty” people must seem to have some type of soul as

“In the Torah, in which there is guidance and light… and gave him the gospel, in which there is guidance and light, corroborating what was revealed ibefore it in the Torah.” (5:44)

I understand that the Koran is a continuation of the Torah and Bible. This makes sense. However, it seems wrong to call those who believe in most of Islam’s creeds “dirty,” “idolatrous” and “wrong” when they preach to the same God and are guided [mostly] by the same light.

“Lawful for you are the believing women and the free women from among those who were given the Book before you, privided that you give them their dowries and livei n honor with them, neither committing fornication nor taking them as mistresses.” (5:5)

I believe this topic has come up previously; apparently, the unbelievers are not so dirty that the Muslim male cannot marry a disbelieving female. But if I’m reading this passage correctly, it appears that the men can’t actually have sex with these wives? Excuse me, but qu’est-ce que le point? I also don’t see how it’s possible for Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women when we then have the following sentence:

Believers, do not befriend your fathers or your brothers if they choose unbelief in preference of faith. Wrongdoers are those that befriend them.” (9:18)

Again, this topic has come up previously, and I still don’t understand it. One can marry, say, a Christian but if your father is Christian than you can’t talk to him? How isn’t the Muslim with the Christian wife a “wrongdoer” too? It would be a sad day for mankind if a man denounced his father simply because his father didn’t believe in the same religion (especially if it’s the same God to which they pray).

“Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme.” (8:36)

Surahs “The Spoils” (Al-Anfal) and “Repentance” (Al-Tawbah) talked incessantly about making war against the infidels, the non-believers. I always believed that groups like the Taliban were wrong in asserting that the Koran says this, but there it is, clear as day, several times throughout the Book. However, there is a silver lining: the Koran says only to attack if a Muslim himself has been attacked. Otherwise,

“If they incline to peace, make peace with them, and put your trust in God.” (8:59)

Despite this bid for peace, it still saddens me that a religion could preach hatred and killing. I am extremely anti-violence, and killing someone simply because of their beliefs doesn’t cut it, even if their beliefs are woefully ignorant. That said, I feel that it is not foolish to wish for world peace; world peace could be acheived, if only man found empathy in his heart. I feel that this line, one of the most beautiful in the Koran, sums up best my personal feelings; just remember, every single person on this Earth counts:

“That whoever killed a human being…shall be regarded as having killed all of mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as having saved all of mankind.” (5:31)

S-L-M

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2 thoughts on “Can We Have a Little S-L-M? (Finishing up my Qu’ran Reading)

  1. ” But if I’m reading this passage correctly, it appears that the men can’t actually have sex with these wives? Excuse me, but qu’est-ce que le point?”

    Actually, “fornication” means “sex out of wedlock”. So it is said that if you marry non muslim women, you shouldn’t have sex with someone else to whom you are not married. The mistress clause is here because muslims were allowed to take captives as mistress. The Quran is saying that you can’t held captive a christian or a jewish woman and can’t have sex with her without marrying her.

    Something to take into account when reading and commenting the Quran is that some of the Surahs has been declared cancelled after the arrival of other surahs. But once this is said, you have guys saying that the abrogated verses are those that promoted violence and others writing, well, this: http://www.islamreview.com/articles/quransdoctrine.shtml.

    Anyway, this means that reading the text of the Quran alone without : 1) The chronology 2) the context 3) the status of the verse (abrogated/non abrogated/doubtful) can be a nightmare. The verses seems to say everything and its opposite. I’d rather see that as licence to interpret but the salafis would prefer us to be literalists and kill every non muslim we aren’t marrying 🙂 .

    1. Thank you for your clarification, as well as the link. I’ll admit, I took the Koran somewhat literally, because as much as I love being a creative writer and “hiding meanings behind symbols, etc.” I don’t believe that a religious book such as this should be so terrifying in it’s ‘literal’ state. I mean, if poor/not-as educated people are going to be reading the book, shouldn’t God’s word be easier for them to understand? I guess that’s what Imams or religious clerics are for, but it would be nice if the all people could understand what the heck was being said without needing a translator!

      My example: you say that the quoted passage is about captive women? No where did it mention captive women (itself something ridiculous and obviously outmoded) so how would one figure that out? How did anyone figure that out??

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