the Qur'an

... our feeble attempt to understand Islam,
the fastest growing religion on this small planet.


According to Islamic faith, the Qur'an (in Arabic), is a message to all mankind, transmitted to Muhammad ibnu Abdillah via the angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years, starting when Muhammad was 40 years old, in about 600 A.D. and (according to Islamic faith) supersedes all earlier messages from God such the Torah, Gospel, Psalms, etc.

>Are Christians and Jews bad guys, in the eyes of Islam?
They are disbelievers, along with pagans, atheists and those who believe in multiple gods or gods other than Allah.

>If you don't accept Islam, then you're a disbeliever?
Or if you think there are other gods than Allah, or other components (such as a son, Jesus) or a three-part divinity or ...

>Okay, but are Muslims supposed to kill disbelievers?
Well, if there is a battle, yes, but it seems that Muslims are not to initiate hostilities.

>And the disbelievers, if they embrace Islam, will be ...
Saved from the fires of hell and admitted to paradise and ...

Excerpts below are from the Noble Qur'an as translated by
Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali
and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan.
5:72     ... they have disbelieved who say: "Allah is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary"

5:73     ... disbelievers are those who say: "Allah is the third of a trinity"

5:75     ... Jesus was no more than a Messenger ...

5:85     ... gardens in Paradise under which rivers flow. Such is the reward of gooddoers ...

5:86     ... those who disbelieve ... they shall be the dwellers of the Hell fire.

29:46     ... say [to Jews and Christians]: "We believe that which has been revealed to us and to you; our God and your God is One - Allah"

9:31     ... Jews and Christians took their rabbis and monks to be their lords besides Allah ... and they also took as their lord the Messiah, son of Mary ... while they were commanded in the Torah and the Gospel to worship but one god: Allah

47:4     ... when you meet in battle - a Jihad [holy war] - those who disbelieve, smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many then take them captives ... then is the time for generosity until the war lays down its burden. ... continue carrying out Jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam ...


>Paradise, what's that like?
A land of milk and honey, apparently.

>And women?
Uh ... yes, chaste and purified women.

>Beg pardon? Purified?
I think that's women without inelegant bodily functions, like urination and menstration and bowel movements and ...

>Yeah ... I get it. Free love?
No. Females reserve their affection for their husbands or those of equal age.

>I take it that Adam and Eve were in Paradise.
Yes, until Satan convinced them to eat from the forbidden tree.

2:14     ... in Paradise are rivers of water ... of milk ... of wine ... of honey ... every kind of fruit

4:57     ... in Paradise they shall have purified mates or wives ... having no menses, stools, urine ...

38:52     ... therein [in paradise] they will recline; they will call for fruits in abundance and drinks ...

38:53     ... and besides them will be chaste females (virgins) restraining their glances only for their husbands ...

5:65     ... if only the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) had believed in Muhammad and warded off evil [such as ascribing partners to Allah] we would have blotted out their sins and admitted them to Paradise ...

2:35     ... O Adam. Dwell you and your wife in the Paradise ... but come not near this tree ...


>And Ramadan, what's that?
A month of fasting, I guess to celebrate - or at least recognize - the revelations and guidance given by the Qur'an, revealed by the Prophet/Messenger: Muhammad.

>And when you're not fasting, what can you eat?
Avoid pork and dead animals, except those that have been slaughtered specifically for eating.

>You mean, if you run across a dead animal, don't eat it?
I think so. In particular, if your hound or falcon has caught a wild animal, then eat it only after pronouncing the name of Allah over it.

44:3     ... We sent this Qur'an down on a blessed night in the month of Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar ...

2:185     ... and must observe fasts that month [of Ramadan] ... and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number of days which fasts were not observed must be made up from other days ... Allah does not want to make things difficult for you ...

5:3     ... forbidden to you, for food, are dead animals [except for those that have been slaughtered], blood, the flesh of swine ... that which has been killed by strangling ... that which has been (partly) eaten by a wild animal ... but, as for him who is forced by severe hunger, with no inclnation to sin, such can eat these above-mentioned meats ...


>So, is everything clear now?
I think, like the bible, one has to understand the period when it was written, the hostilities at the time, what messages were important (for that particular period), the difficulties in establishing Islam in Arabia. One has to read between the lines.

>You mean that the verses are not entirely clear?
Not to me - not entirely, and it's interesting to see the differences in translations, from the USC data base (see below). But perhaps it's not supposed to be entirely clear. For example, 3:7 says the Qur'an contains verses entirely clear (those on obligatory duties and legal laws and punishment) and verses which are not entirely clear, but allegorical ... and some seek hidden meanings from the latter. Also, 38:29 says that the Qur'an is sent full of blessings ... that we may ponder over its verses.

>And you're still pondering?
That's to be expected since 41:44 explains that the Qur'an was not created in a foreign language since the Messenger, Muhammad, was Arabic and 43:3 says it's in Arabic so that Arabs may understand its meanings and admonitions. But, to the unbelievers, 17:45 says there is an invisible veil so that they will not understand it. Indeed, as noted in 16:101, Allah may change a verse in the Qur'an "in place of another", although, in 12:11, it's noted that the Qur'an is a confirmation of existing books [the Torah, Gospel and other scriptures].

>And do you think the Qur'an promotes conflict?
Well, Muhammad was an Islamic general, leading armies of Muslims against the Roman and Iranian empires, in an effort to stop the spread of non-Islamic faiths and to protect the foothold that Islam had gained in Arabia. In fact, Muhammad sent letters to the rulers of Iran, Egypt and the Roman Empire and the chiefs of Arabia inviting them to Islam.
However, in 2:217 it says they will never cease fighting against you until they turn you back from your religion.

>So you might expect more conflict, right? I mean, in the Qur'an.
Actually, I'm surprised that there aren't more verses dealing with initiating war against disbelievers.
For example, 2:190 / 191 says to fight in the Way of Allah those who fight you, but transgress not the limits [sometimes translated as "do not begin hostilities"] and if they attack you then kill them and turn them out from where they have turned you out. It looks like you should respond vigorously to a battle initiated by others.

>Me? I should respond?
Well a Muslim should respond ... but with tempered violence.

>More like "an eye for an eye" rather than "turn the other cheek".
I'd say so. In 5:32 ... if anyone killed another, not in retaliation ... it would be as if he killed all mankind
and ... if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.

>That's a message from Allah to Muslims?
Well, it was originally prescribed for the Children of Israel.

>So that's Islam?
Not entirely. The Qur'an (according to Islamic faith) is the word of Allah as given to Muhammad. However, there's also the Sunnah which are the words of Muhammad himself, describing his beliefs, actions and how he lived his life.
Both are apparently indispensible to understanding Islam.

>What's in that Sunnah?
How to pray, how many times to pray, how to sit while praying, advice on how to slaughter a camel, dividing your time equally among several wives, when to divorce, leave people alone unless for a good reason, fasting ...

>Okay. I get it. I especially like the part about the multiple wives.
Yeah, you would.


>I guess that violence is a way of life, eh? So, is Islam a Religion of Violence?
Well, yes ... violence is a way of life for homo sapiens. However, extracting verses out of context from the Qur'an can lead one to believe that Islam is a religion which promotes violence. Indeed, there are verses in the bible which do likewise:
Genesis
34:25
Peace is promised to a nearby tribe and, when they are lulled into complacency, all the males are killed and the women taken as slaves.
Numbers
21:35
In a raid on a village, everyone is killed "until there was not one survivor left".
Numbers
31:14
After a battle, male children were not killed so troops are sent back in to finish the job.
Kings
18:40
A ceremony to declare peace is offered to believers in a false god ... then they are massacred.
Leviticus
10:2
God smites those offering an unholy sacrifice.
Judges
21:20
God tells soldiers to repopulate their tribe by capturing and raping the women of Shiloh.
Joshua
8:22
God demands of Joshua that every man, woman and child of Ai be slaughtered - and the city be burned.
Matthew
10:34
Jesus says, "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother ..."
.
Revelation
2:23
And God's revelation, to John, suggests that all the children of Jezebel be killed.
Psalms
137:9
"Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!"

>So? What's your conclusion?
Ignore violent components of any religion ... and take as a goal:

Maximize Happiness and Joy
for Yourself and your Global Neighbours

>What about your Rules of Life?
Yeah ... well ...

>Can we get back to those multiple wives?
I suspect that you've learned nothing.


There is an excellent database on Islam and the Qur'an,
compliments of the University of Southern California ( USC).
One nice thing about this database:
there are three translations for each verse.
... with sometimes subtle differences.

I've selected just a few topics:

See also the Gospels