SI Reads the Quran – 1; Fasten Your Seat-belts

Statutory Warning: All Religions are Equally Stupid

Quran

Ever since Osama bin Laden’s henchmen rammed planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center at 9:00 AM on a September 11 there has been enormous interest in Islam and its holy book, the Quran (a.k.a. Koran).

Both Islam’s staunch defenders and its bitter detractors invariably fall back on the Quran to make their arguments.

The former to aver that Islam is a compassionate, merciful and peaceful religion and the latter to decry that Islam is a violent religion, with its wrath directed mostly against the kaffirs.

We do not hesitate to say that the Quran occupies a bigger place in the lives of Muslims than the various scriptures among the Hindus or the Bible with the Christians.

Professor M.A.S.Abdel Haleem of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London writes:

The Qur’an is the supreme authority in Islam. It is the fundamental and paramount source of the creed, rituals, ethics, and laws of the Islamic religion. It is the book that ‘differentiates’ between right and wrong….This supreme status stems from the belief that the Qur’an is the word of God.

According to Haleem, law, science, grammar, rhetoric, phonetics and calligraphy all have their basis in the Quran.

As the 15th century writer Suyuti put it aptly:

Everything is based on the Qur’an.

Given so much interest in the Quran lately, we thought it time to read the holy book and see for ourselves what magic lies between  its covers.

What is it in the Quran that excites the passions of Muslims and the unyielding ire of non-Muslims.

What does the Quran have to say about non-believers, men, status of women, screwing, divorce, war, usury, prayer and pilgrimage.

We’re curious about how Quran treats all of this and more. Bet so are you. Right, na?

So off we went to our trusted e-tailer Amazon and purchased Prof. Abdel Haleem’s English translation of the Quran.

Among the many English versions of the Quran, we picked Haleem’s translation because it has received plaudits from several reviewers. For more on Haleem, visit the SOAS web site.

The Haleem version of the Quran is 446-pages long  (excluding the index and a 41-page introduction).

Over the next 10 days, we’ll read 45 pages of the Quran every day and, of course, discuss them on the SI  blog.

Be aware of one important caveat though: we are not favorably disposed towards any religion.

Be it Islam, Hinduism or Christianity, we find all of them equally distasteful, ridiculously silly and regularly the starting point of sanguinary battles.

Bare Facts
Before we get into the Quran proper, let’s provide you schmucks with some essential facts on the Quran. A primer if you will:

* The Quran was not written by Muhammed.

* The Quran was actually revealed by the angel Gabriel to Muhammed bit by bit over a period of 23 years.

* The Quran is divided into 114 suras (sections) that are further divided into verses or aya.

* The Quran is comprised of 6,200 verses.

* The Quran’s final format or structure was also dictated by the angel Gabriel.

* The Quran’s first revelation to Muhammed occurred in 610 AD.

* The Quran’s authoritative version was written down after Muhammed’s death during his successor Abu Bakr’s reign.

* The Quran has two broad sections: the verses disclosed to Muhammed at Mecca and the verses revealed later at Medina after Muhammed’s flight (Hejira) to the city.

* The Quran is not written in a chronological fashion.

* The Quran is repetitive.

* The Quran’s adherents have a word for those who commit its entirety to memory – Hafiz.

* The Quran’s translation in English by an Indian Muslim Abdullah Yusuf Ali in 1934 is considered a popular version.

Having provided you with the basic facts on the Quran, and with a glass of gin and some Indian ‘mixture’ by our side, we embark upon our journey through the Quran.

To be continued tomorrow.

Related Stories:
SI Reads the Quran – 2; Poke Your Wife Any Way You Wish, Allah Has No Objections
SI Reads the Quran -3; Allah No Bra-Burning Feminist
SI Reads the Quran 4 – Allah, Spiritual Father of Stalin
SI Reads the Quran 5; Allah Soft on Pork, Hard on Christians, Jews

28 Responses to "SI Reads the Quran – 1; Fasten Your Seat-belts"

  1. What_if   February 16, 2010 at 12:58 am

    @SI: The Quran was not written by Muhammed.

    In the Arabian Gulf media this sentence would be written as “The Quran was not written by Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)”. The word Prophet always precedes and the letters PBUH (peace be upon him) always succeeds when ever Muhammed (the prophet) is mentioned in the print media. Will you enlighten us “the schmucks”, regarding the sanctity or reasons behind mentioning PBUH ?

    I haven’t read any translation of the Holy Scripture. Looking forward to your postings.

    After finishing your reading, you may get some insight into the area which prompted Salman Rushdie to write the Satanic Verses and would be useful to us (the schmucks, again 🙂 ) if a back to back review of that book is also done by you.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    We’ve read only two suras (sections) so far…we’ll address your questions as we find the answers, either in the post or by updating this comment.

    BTW, Muhammed was also referred to as Messenger (rasul) besides Prophet.

  2. sam   February 16, 2010 at 5:40 am

    BEST OF LUCK! BE- WARE!!

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write above: BE-WARE

    Be aware sounds better.

  3. SRINIVAS   February 16, 2010 at 5:47 am

    my suggestion would be to read books of other religions …………..you may gain ………as far as Quran is concerned ……..go to the below link ……….its all there ……some of your facts are wrong ……..the below link will give u the right version …

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/islam-101.html – this one tells u all that you need to know in brief …

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/quran-commentary.html – sura by sura

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. Took a quick look at your links…will look at them in detail after we complete reading Prof. Haleem translation of the Quran.

    2. You write: some of your facts are wrong

    Which ones? You’ve got to be specific.

  4. racer44   February 16, 2010 at 6:20 am

    “some Indian ‘mixture’ by our side”
    I suppose you are referring to that crunchy filling snack whose cousins are the “thattai”, the “seedai” and the “murukku” or is this some other headier “mixture” that we don’t know of ? 😉

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write above: I suppose you are referring to that crunchy filling snack ….

    Yes. Just added some finely-chopped onions, cilantro/coriander and lime juice to give it more flavor.

    With Gin and the Quran, who needs more headier stimulants. 😉

  5. joeantony   February 16, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Gin, mixture and Quran… hmmm looks like you have got a good leisure time. Especially after you decided to do away watching vijay’s trash shows, you should be getting more leisure times. I have read a bit of Quran, my first impression was listed above ‘ its repetitive’, very much and you will get annoyed for sure. According to prof.zakir naik ( a well known indian Islamic researcher and speaker) not even a single translation has hold the real sense of Quran hence he wants muslims to learn arabic and read the original version.

    I was surprised by many facts that show islam is highly misconceived and misunderstood and practiced just upside down, For e.g., Men and women are one and equal, both can go worship places and take part it worship according to Quran.

    Btw, people like zakir naik claim that Quran is also the most perfect and logical book and stands by science… lets see what SI has to come up with.. eagarly waiting for your first posting after you have read something.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    We’ve have read the first two suras, i.e sections. The second sura is the longest.

    We’ll have an update today.

    • Twig   February 16, 2010 at 10:42 am

      @joeantony: Out of all the people you pick an asshole called Zakir Naik? Oh my FSM, have you seen Zakir Naik’s speeches? If ‘Logic and Reason’ were living beings, they would sit above a nuclear bomb and kill themselves rather than Zakir killing them ( Logic and Reason) in each and every sentence. Of course, as usual Muslims without using their brains would taste what Zakir vomits everytime.

      @SearchIndia: I masquerading as religious George Orwell would say ” All Religions are equally stupid. Some are more equally stupid than others”.

      caution: When you read about Quran, tried to read more and different versions to get a perspective. Obviously, the Muslims who are knowledgeable about Equality, Liberty etc would interpret the Quran in such a way so as to make believe ‘How progressive Quran was/is “? .
      Do you know why Muslims are considered to be most devout of all the filthy religious? I guess one of the reasons must be the tone of the Quran. The sentences are repetitive to instill discipline, fear and also remembrance.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      You write: I masquerading as religious George Orwell would say….

      Why George Orwell Shot the Big Elephant

      • joeantony   February 22, 2010 at 7:11 am

        I didn’t endorse any of zakir naik’s talks, just shared some views regarding ‘reading of quran’.

  6. deepa   February 16, 2010 at 7:04 am

    I’m really impressed that you guys are taking the time to read the Quran. What piqued your curiosity?

    Hei, I managed to catch Eeram over the weekend, was wondering if you guys have watched it? For a tamil movie, I thought it was pretty incredible. There was no over acting, silliness, one dude making crass jokes. There were metaphors in the movie….well executed if you asked me

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. You write above: I’m really impressed that you guys are taking the time to read the Quran. What piqued your curiosity?

    Ha ha ha..you really want to know? 😉 Wait for the future installments.

    2. You write: I managed to catch Eeram over the weekend, was wondering if you guys have watched it?

    No Vadivelu in Tamil film, we no watch.

    Seriously, we’ll watch it one of these days. We like Saranya Mohan.

    • deepa   February 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm

      Cool, i look forward to you watching it because I need to know what happened in one of the scenes and no one could help me

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Eeram has yet to reach Netflix.

  7. Mud Haliar   February 16, 2010 at 8:58 am

    just 446 pages? I thought it would be longer than that.. I used to have a Hafiz friend.. nice guy.. lost touch.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    And another 18-pages of the index.

    b-ismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm
    In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

  8. racer44   February 16, 2010 at 9:39 am

    What happened to my comment? It has an earlier timestamp but hasn’t yet been processed.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    We usually process comments in the order received but there were so many when we woke up today that we decided, screw the Comment-Polizei…let’s do it from the top today instead of doing it from the back. 😉

  9. MadAtBollywood   February 16, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Just a word of caution SI. Please don’t get brainwashed by it and don’t change your profession from a blogger to a Mullah 😉

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. All we care about is Moolah not Mullah. 😉

    2. You know what the Mahatma said about different cultures:

    I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.

  10. SRINIVAS   February 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Zakir Naik …some gems

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jYUL7eBdHg&feature=related ———– this one is a must watch ……….not only does this reveal his true face / Also Islam’s true face………….but …..also shows what sort of “Scholar” he is ………..but this is precisely how Muslims are ………

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyxn2L1Ag4Q&feature=fvw – —————-here is a Hindu Idiot who simply refuses to accept the truth …………..calls him moderate , modern ……….says islam is the most misunderstood religion

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxk5AAA5FbI

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. Watched all three videos you list above.

    The fellow is a whacko.

    2. You write: ———– this one is a must watch ……….

    We agree with you that first video is a must-watch for his weird tyrannical ‘mathematics’ logic.

    3. Shekhar Gupta didn’t do a good job in the second video. He wasn’t prepared. There’s no substitution for research when you handle these whackos.

    4. The third video is just a stupid anti-American screech.

    • joeantony   February 22, 2010 at 7:15 am

      Very much, I have watched him live answering a question on this ‘numerous wives’ theory supported by islam…. According to pediatricians, male child prone to more diseases and female childs survive many and because of this there are more women in the world than men (except india where killing female infants is in practice) thats why islam has supported multi wife theory. Ah…. WTF

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Nut jobs come up with nutty explanations.

  11. iamsumu   February 16, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    I can understand your South Park strategy of being equally offensive to avoid the illusion of prejudice.

    However to quickly clarify, Hinduism in its true form is not a religion the way it is being practiced today but is rather a way of living (something long forgotten).
    Looking forward to the “SI-tonic verses” 🙂

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write above: Hinduism in its true form is not a religion the way it is being practiced today but is rather a way of living (something long forgotten

    Yes, we do recollect S.Radhakrishnan’s description of Hinduism as “a way of life rather than a dogmatic creed.”

    But to talk of ‘true form’ for a fluid, dynamic religion like Hinduism is a contradiction in terms.

  12. kd36939   February 16, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    omg. korangu kitta poo mala kodutha kadhaiya iruke? (monkey-garland-giving)

    good to see some interesting posts like these. look forward to hear your views.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write: omg. korangu kitta poo mala kodutha kadhaiya iruke? (monkey-garland-giving)

    How’s that relevant here?

    • kd36939   February 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

      oops. no offence.

      just imagined how you will ridicule this book after you read.

      peace (be upon me).

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      😉

      • deepa   February 17, 2010 at 7:47 pm

        LOL!!! You guys have certainly invoked the fear upon all of us 😛

        Peace be upon me too 🙂

        SearchIndia.com Responds:

        Those who disobey God and his Messenger and overstep His limits will be consigned by God to the Fire, and there they will stay – a humiliating torment awaits them. (Sura 4 , Aya14)

  13. Asha Tampa   February 17, 2010 at 1:25 am

    Wow, I can see this is going to spark some serious debate in the next few days, in case you decide to dissect the book and offer your comments.

    Good to see this totally different topic, though; and I hope once you are finished with the Quran, you start the Bhagavad Gita.

    Good luck! 😉

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write above: I hope once you are finished with the Quran, you start the Bhagavad Gita.

    We were actually planning to start with the Manu Smriti if we can get hold of a hard-copy in these parts.

  14. Twig   February 17, 2010 at 6:47 am

    Why Manusmriti? because of it’s Nietzsche type verses and sexual overtones?
    Also, No HIndu thinks that Manu smrithi is from God. AFAIK, ‘Smriti’ by definition is a book written by a Man and it’s truth is not eternal ( what ever that means).
    Also, there’s no dramatic content in Manusmriti as there in Bhagavad Gita.
    I bet you read the Bhagavad Gita and tell me what it wants to say.
    For me,
    Bible God (Old Testament) = Ultra Violent God.
    Quran God = A Dictator and some times an asshole.
    Bhagavad Gita God = blabberings of a confused entity.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write: Also, No HIndu thinks that Manu smrithi is from God

    As if all the other drivel is from ‘God.’

    The Manu Smriti because of its strident anti-women tone.

    Bhagavad Gita, the few verses we’ve read read, left us underwhelmed.

  15. araj   February 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    @SI: “We are not favorably disposed towards any religion……..Be it Islam, Hinduism or Christianity, we find all of them equally distasteful, ridiculously silly and regularly the starting point of sanguinary battles”

    The major problem with any ‘organized religion’, apart from the fact that they are merely based on a doctrine or whatever it is, enunciated by someone we never knew and probably will never know, is that it is unalterably rooted in the PAST, the ‘ancient’, the ‘old’, the ‘times long past’.

    Hence, religion by its very nature, is an antithesis, in a concrete sense, of ‘the present’, ‘the new’, and, in an abstract sense, of ‘the evolution of human race’ (the signature attitude of the apostles of orthodoxy of any religion, be it Catholics, the Maulanas or the ‘religious Gurus’ of Hinduism is to attack modernity in any sphere of human life vociferously with their virulent dogma). This ancientness, the inflexibility of the past, associated with the religion, helps a religionist define the God as an anchor, someone familiar and predictable as against someone unknown, mysterious and unpredictable. Hence, the orthodox religion invariably deems the God as only a superior version of the human, a super positive idealist with an ethical agenda and with an ability to destroy the ‘so called evil’ instead of as a process, a dynamic complex intelligence, in whose matrix, the notions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are mere catalytic apparatus of the human evolution rather than the hyper-polarized moral constants in perpetual disagreement with each other. Therefore, for this reason, it is the religionist, quite paradoxically, who needs the evil, better still a ‘well defined evil’ more than anyone else to sustain his belief, for, without it, his sense of ‘being good and virtuous’ is melted into the shapeless, reasonless and ‘moral-less’ molten pot of human existence. For them, God cannot be The Life per se with all its myriad intrigues and contradictions but rather he is the creator of it, ‘the controller of Life’, the ultimate patriarch, sitting atop, looking over his kingdom.

    For an orthodox mind, God is an ‘exact end’, a conspicuous entity, whose irrevocability is entrenched in the rigid boundaries of the past and who cannot and should not be redefined by the future, which may, in any second, breed the ‘good’ out of ‘evil’ or ‘evil’ out of ‘good’. Hence, for a ‘believer’, future is an ever threatening eagle, that can swoop down from nowhere out of the skies of skepticism and sweep away his ‘spiritual formulae’ in a blink and vanish forever, hence his vehement denunciation of it.

    My point here is, the orthodox religion, which you find so disgusting and silly is not actually a direct descendant of spirituality but rather a major side effect of it like a skin rash to a Pencilin or acidity to an anti-biotic. Because the traditional religion, if you take a close, hard look at it, is a massive cultural alluvium, of cruel credos born of the man’s innate psychological need to define, organize, beautify and control his ugly existence, which also contains the nuggets of metaphysical insights of mysterious origin. Religion, if you observe, like the movie Matrix, is an attempt to spice up the titillating common stunt with unique spiritual symbolism, whose absurdity looked at from vast stretches of time, gives an illusion of being in sync with general reasonlessness of existence like a lunatic getting mixed up with a genius(this is most evident in Mahabharath, in which a juicy family conflict, strewn with fairy tale wars, personal heroism and moral rhetoric of the times, is often interjected with stunning spiritual insights and symbolism, especially like in Bhagvad Gita. Same thing with Puranas),. In a very simplistic terms, religion is just one huge loud bad advertisement for spirituality. It sure takes the patience, alertness and skill of a clever fisherman to catch the spiritual mackerel lurking under the murky religious waters.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    1. You write: Hence, the orthodox religion invariably deems the God as only a superior version of the human, a super positive idealist with an ethical agenda and with an ability to destroy the ‘so called evil’ instead of as a process, a dynamic complex intelligence, in whose matrix, the notions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are mere catalytic apparatus of the human evolution rather than the hyper-polarized moral constants in perpetual disagreement with each other.

    Bravo.

    2. You write: for a ‘believer’, future is an ever threatening eagle, that can swoop down from nowhere out of the skies of skepticism and sweep away his ‘spiritual formulae’ in a blink and vanish forever, hence his vehement denunciation of it.

    Good point and well put.

    3. Inflexibility is not a recent offshoot of an ‘old’ religion.

    Inflexibility and religion are joined at the hip like Siamese twins.

    Inflexibility lies at religion’s very core and is central to a new religion’s birth, sustenance and growth, both to distinguish it from other religions/cults/groups and to draw adherents into its fold. This is evident in the Quran, the foundation of one of the ‘recent’ well established religions. Without inflexibility, it’s impossible to have a distinct religion that can live for ‘eternity.’

    4. If spirituality can be considered the moral ancestor of utilitarianism with its will-o’-the-wisp ideal of the greatest good of the greatest number, can it exist without outside props like religion or government that often rein in but occasionally accentuate man’s fratricidal impulses.

    • sganeshkumar1989   February 17, 2010 at 9:34 pm

      Good to see Araj’s post again.

      As,usual; takes an hour to read, and a day to understand. 😛

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      Funny. 😉

      But his/her comments are interesting, invariably.

  16. rpsfyn   February 17, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Please read this if you are considering reading Manu Smriti

    http://rajivmalhotra.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/02/follow-up-on-manusmriti-to-my-article-in-outlook-india.htm

    Its an excellent argument why Manu Smriti is not considered a representation of hinduism.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    Interesting chart in your link.

    We’ll cross the Manu bridge when we get to it.

    • racer44   February 18, 2010 at 7:16 am

      Very good article.

      Moreover, many of the smritis, I hear, have been lost in the passage of time and many more spurious ones added by various sources, so :
      1)it has nothing at all to do with sanathan dharma aka hinduism’s other sacred scriptures like Vedas, Bhagavath Gita etc.
      2)Its contents cannot be used to draw any conclusion about hinduism as a whole.

      SearchIndia.com Responds:

      You write above: many of the smritis, I hear, have been lost in the passage of time and many more spurious ones added by various sources,

      Well, that is the fate of a lot of old works whose origins and authenticity are shrouded in the mists of time.

      Why Manu Smriti. Scholars are still arguing about Shakespeare’s plays even though Gutenberg had already shown the world his magical invention by then.

      BTW, there’s strong suspicion that a Stratford countryman like William Shakespeare can’t really be the author of the peerless plays. Francis Bacon, Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe et al are among the ‘suspects’ considered to be the real authors of the masterpieces.

  17. Asha Tampa   February 18, 2010 at 6:27 am

    Off topic – I finished The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest quite some time ago. Am still in a daze. I feel it was the best book of the trio. Wish you read it soon and maybe write a review.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    We’re still waiting for our copy of the book. 🙁

    We’re reading Bangkok Tattoo, the second volume in John Burdett’s Bangkok trilogy.

  18. rama dasa   March 6, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    im not an islamic scholar………but the person that you mentioned,the dude that first translated the koran in english,was a member of the amadiyya muslim community which who according to muslims,WORSE than a kafir!! also for those bozo’s who are dumb enough to listen to zakir naik and his clowns,here’s something to shake the boat!

    http://www.iskcondesiretree.net/profiles/blogs/dr-zakir-naiks-fraud-exposed

  19. rama dasa   May 31, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    i read some of abdhula yusuf ali’s translation and commentary in the college library some time ago,i think he was probobly the only one who could translate arabic into english without spoiling the text.i havnt read the entire quran(the first 2 and a half ayats).as my old school teacher said,if you want to truly understand a text,you MUST learn the language it was originally written in,else you could be misled and not get the right translations.

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    You write: you MUST learn the language it was originally written in,else you could be misled and not get the right translations.

    True but not practical when you have great works in several languages (Russian, Greek, Italian, Latin and more).

    So, translations will have to do.

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