Statutory Warning: All Religions are Equally Stupid
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.
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.
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