Jun 10, 2007
The Incredible Qur’an
Ten Chapter Summaries that Will Destroy All Illusions
The Qur’an is the sacred text of Islam. It consists of 114 Surahs or chapters and 6,236 Ayahs or verses. It is about the same length as the New Testament portion of the Bible. The chapters are organized approximately by length, so the first thing one notices in reading the Qur’an is that it begins in the middle of a conversation, referring to “we” and “you” without explanation.
The Qur’an makes four claims as to its significance:
1. It is the verbal word of God. Surahs 4:82, 4:166, 10:37, 20:1, 32:1, 39:1, 40:1, 41:1, 45:1, and 46:1
2. It is a transcript of an eternal book kept by God. Surahs 43:2, and 85:22
3. It confirms the Torah and the Gospels. Surahs 2:89. 2:91, 5:48, 10:37, and 46:13
4. It is flawless, free from error. Surahs 4:82, 39:27, and 41:42
(Note: throughout this essay, the numbers refer to the chapter (surah) and verse (ayah) of each reference. Due to different numbering conventions of the various English translations, the actual verse may be slightly before or after the number cited. )
While the first two claims above are not subject to proof or disproof, the last two claims are. Furthermore, if the last claims are disproved, that would certainly put the first two claims in doubt.
Because the Qur’an has no chronological order to it and contains many vague illusions to events that are not explained in the text, it is a very difficult book to read or even analyze. As you will see, the contents of each chapter stray widely from the given title. Titles are often based on a single word or phrase contained in the Surah. One English translator, Thomas Carlyle, once said of the Qur’an,
It is a toilsome reading as I have ever undertook, a wearisome,
confused jumble, crude, incondite. Nothing but a sense of duty
could carry any European through the Qur’an.
Surahs 1, 6, 7, and 10 were “received” while Muhammad was preaching his new religion in Mecca. They are less strident and hateful than the remaining surahs in this survey which were ‘received” in Medina when Muhammad was the religious/political leader.
Surah 1: The Opening, or Exordium
This brief chapter is the invocation to the Qur’an, and it forms the prayer repeated seven times in each of the five daily prayers. Not surprisingly, it was recently voiced in part by Imam Husham al-Husainy in his invocation to the Democratic National Committee winter conference in Februry, 2007, much to the shock of observers:
Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe, The Compassionate, the Merciful, Sovereign of the Day of Judgment! You alone we worship, and to You alone we turn for help. Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom You have favored, not of those who have incurred your wrath [such as Jews], nor of those who have gone astray [such as Christians].
It’s a wonder that Muslims, who claim that the Qur’an is the verbal word of God, don’t notice that this entire Surah refers to God as “You,” in the second person. Are these really God’s words?
Also, in contrast to the statement, “You alone we worship and to You alone we turn for help,” the Islamic declaration of faith is that “none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle,” an apparent deviation from the stipulation in the Qur’an.
The parenthetical glosses in the text above were added after careful consideration. These additions are included in Muhsin Khan’s English translation of the Qur’an. Furthermore they are supported by specific verses in the Qur’an – Jews and Christians have incurred God’s anger and strayed from the path in Surahs 3:69, 5:60, 5:77, and 5:80. Finally, in an Islamic website www.tafsir.com , Tafsir Ibn Kathir provides further evidence from hadith that such was the implication in the first Surah.
Surah 2: The Cow
To anyone approaching the Qur’an for the first time, it would seem odd that the beginning chapter of a sacred book would be “The Cow,” but bear in mind that this was actually the 93rd chapter “revealed” chronologically to the Prophet Muhammad. This chapter tries to make a mockery of the Jewish rite of animal sacrifice in the event of an unsolved murder, as described in Deuteronomy 21:1 – 9:
When Moses said to his people, “God commands you to sacrifice a cow,” they replied, “Are you making game of us?”
“God forbid that I should be so foolish!” he rejoined.
“Call on your Lord, “ they said, “to make known to us what kind of cow she shall be.”
Moses replied: “Your Lord says, ‘Let her be neither an old cow nor a young heifer, but in between.’ Do, therefore as you are bidden.”
“Call on your Lord,” they said, “ to make known to us what her color shall be.”
Moses replied, “Your Lord says, ‘Let the cow be yellow, a rich yellow pleasing to the beholder.’”
“Call on your Lord,” they said, “to make known to us the exact type of cow she shall be; for to us cows look all alike. If God wills we shall be rightly guided.”
Moses replied: “Your Lord says: ‘Let her be a healthy cow, not worn out with plowing the earth or watering the field; a cow free from any blemish.’”
“Now you have told us all,” they answered. And they slaughtered a cow, after they had nearly declined [to do it]. (Surah 2:67 – 72)
The point the Qur’an tries to make here is that the Jews always complicate things by requiring so many details that the miss the whole point of the sacrificial act. Needless to say, this conversation is not recorded in the Bible. What the Bible emphasizes is that this sacrifice would effectively resolve the crime and absolve the neighboring town of guilt. So rather than “confirming the Torah,” this passage in the Qur’an actually mocks the Jewish people.
The most troubling verse in the “The Cow” has to be 2:106: “If We abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten, We will replace it by a better one or one similar. Did you not know that God has power over all things?” The generally accepted interpretation of this verse is that because very little of the Qur’an was written down while Mohammad was alive and most of the people learned verses by memory, two problems developed: 1) Sometimes Muhammad would forget a verse that others had memorized; 2) Sometimes one verse would contradict a previously “received” verse. To get around these problems, Muhammad introduced the idea that God would change one verse for a better one. Furthermore, the explanation is supported by a reputable hadith recorded by Bukhari:
Umar said, "Our best Qur'an reciter is Ubai and our best judge is 'Ali; and in spite of this, we leave [out] some of the statements of Ubai because Ubai says, 'I do not leave [out] anything that I have heard from Allah's Apostle, while Allah said "Whatever verse (Revelations) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten but We bring a better one or similar to it." ' (Vol. 6, No. 8)
The abrogation of verses is also echoed elsewhere in the Qur’an:
When We change one verse for another (God knows best what He reveals), they say: “You [i.e., Muhammad] are an impostor.” Indeed most of them have no knowledge. (16:101)
There are some striking examples of abrogated verses. Regarding non-Muslims, the Qur’an says in one place, “I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship. I shall never worship what you worship, nor will you ever worship what I worship. You have your own religion, and I have mine.” (109:1-2) This contradicts Surah 29:46 which says to the People of the Book, “We believe in that what is revealed to us and which was revealed to you. Our God and your God is one.” Sometimes the contradicting verses are actually sequential. In Surah 8, verse 65 says twenty steadfast men can defeat two hundred enemy, but the next verse says one hundred would be needed. This was explained by Ishaq as follows: Abdullah told me that when this verse came down it came as a shock to the Muslims who took it hard that twenty should have to fight two hundred, and a hundred fight a thousand. So God relieved them and cancelled the verse with another saying: “Now has God relieved you and He knows that there is weakness amongst you, so if there are a hundred steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are thousand of you they shall overcome two thousand by God’s permission, for God is with the steadfast.” (pg. 326)
This is an important discussion because it goes right to the heart of the second and fourth claims of the Qur’an. If the Qur’an is a transcript of a previously written document and if it is free from error, how can one verse be substituted for another and how can verses contradict one another? Obviously, this is a serious problem for the defenders of the Qur’an. One of the most vehement rebuttals is in a footnote to Muhammad Asad’s translation of the Qur’an:
The word ayah (“message”) occurring in [Verse 2:106] is also used to denote a “verse” of the Qur’an (because every one of these verses contains a message). Taking this restricted meaning of the term ayah, some scholars conclude from the above passage that certain verses of the Qur’an have been “abrogated” by God’s command before the revelation of the Qur’an was completed. Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion – which calls into mind the image of a human author correcting, on second thought, the proofs of his manuscript, deleting one passage and replacing it with another – there does not exist a single Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever declared a verse of the Qur’an to have been “abrogated.” At the root of the so-called “doctrine of abrogation” may lie the inability of some of the early commentators to reconcile one Qur’anic passage with another; a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the verses in question had been “abrogated.”
Other problems in the Surah 2 of the Qur’an include:
Because the Jews broke the Sabbath, God turned them into “detested apes.” (Surah 2:65)
Abraham and Ishmael built the Kabbah in Mecca (whereas the Bible states that Abraham sent
Haggar and Ishamel away, and he never got within 500 miles of Mecca) (Surah 2:127)
Compare this text with Genesis Chapter 21.
Fighting is obligatory for Muslims even if they dislike it. (2:216)
“Women are your fields; go, then, into your fields whence you please.” (Surah 2:223)
If a man divorces his wife, he shall not remarry her until she has wedded another man and been divorced by him. (Surah 2:230)
Gideon’s test of his solders by asking them to drink in the river (Judges, Chapter 7) is attributed to Saul
who lived 170 years later (I Samuel, Chapter 10). (Surah 2:249)
“There shall be no compulsion in religion.” (Surah 2:256)
Surah 3: The House of Imran
The title of this Surah makes since only when you understand that Imran is a corruption of Amram, the father of Aaron, Moses and Miriam. See Numbers 26:59. Now, here is where Allah got confused. He thought this Miriam was Mary, the mother of Jesus. Here’s the text from the Qur’an:
Remember the words of Imran’s wife. “Lord,” she said, “I dedicate to your service that which is in my womb. Accept it from me. You alone hear all and know all.”
And when she was delivered of the child, she said: “Lord I have given birth to a daughter.” – God well knew of what she was delivered: the male is not like the female – “and have called her Mary. Protect her and all her descendants from Satan, the Accursed One.”
Her Lord graciously accepted her. He made her grow a goodly child and entrusted her care to Zacharias. (A few verses later Zacharias has a son named John.) (Surah 3:35 – 40)
Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the Bible, knows that Moses lived around 1500 BC and that Mary, Zacharias, and John the Baptist lived in the first Century AD. So the all-knowing “Allah” made a 1500 year time-leap in his account from Amram to Mary, John, and the birth of the Messiah. This gaping flaw is one of the principal reasons that the distribution of the Bible to Muslims is prohibited in most Muslim nations.
One of the charges that Islam makes against Christians and Jews is that they corrupted or distorted their sacred texts. See Surahs 2:211 and 5:13. It is unlikely that Muhammad ever saw a copy of the Torah or the Bible, and those who recited stories from those texts to Muhammad may have distorted the original texts. There is no question, however, that numerous manuscripts of the Torah and the Bible date back to the 4th Century (before Islam was a religion), and there are no fundamental differences between those early texts and the same sacred books in use today.
Some of the other troubling parts of Surah 3 include:
“Don’t make friends with infidels in preference to the faithful.” (Surah 3:28)
“God does not love the unbelievers.” (Surah 3:33)
At the crucifixion they were casting lots to see who would be the guardian of Mary, not over
Jesus’ clothes (Surah 3:44) Compare with the Gospel according to John, Chapter 19:23-27.
“Allah is the supreme Plotter.” (Surah 3:54)
Jewish food restrictions were punishment for sinning. (Surah 3:93)
“Believers, do not make friends with any but your own people.” (Surah 3:117)
“We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers.” (Surah 3:150)
Surah 4: Women
Needless to say, this is the Surah that addresses women, mostly negatively. If any woman wants to know what life as a Muslim would be like, she should read this surah. It begins with the problem of men abusing orphan girls. The solution is to marry one, two, three, or four women to avoid temptation. (Surah 4:3) This is the word of God?
The biggest problem with the fourth Chapter of the Qur’an is its specific and clear denial that Jesus was crucified.
They [the Jews] did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did.
Those that disagreed about him were in doubt concerning him; they knew nothing about him that was not sheer conjecture; they did not slay him for certain. God lifted him up to Himself. (Surah 4:157-158)
The second biggest problem comes from the assertions that Jesus was not God’s son and that Mary was part of the Christian “Trinity.”
The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle and His Word which He cast to Mary: a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His apostles and do not say: “Three.” Forbear, and it shall be better for you. God is but one God. God forbid that He should have a son! (Surah 4:171-172) (See also Surah 5:115)
As far as confirming the Gospels are concerned, these two passages stand in stark opposition to the entire message of the Gospel. Why would the Qur’an make such categorical claims? There was nothing to distinguish Muhammad as a great prophet since he was not of a God-chosen lineage, he did not perform miracles, and he couldn’t even bear a son to carry on his new religion after his death. Therefore, it was necessary for Muhammad to diminish Jesus to a mere apostle, inferior to himself, the “seal of the Prophets.”
Other troubling passages in the fourth Surah include:
Authorization to have up to four wives. (Surah 4:3)
“A man shall inherit twice as much as a female.” (Surah 4:11)
Authorization to have temporary wives. (Surah 4:24)
Authorization to beat wives. (Surah 4:34)
“The unbelievers are your inveterate enemies.” (Surah 4:101)
“Seek out your enemies relentlessly.” (Surah 4:104)
Surah 5: The Table
Here is another chapter heading with clear allusions to the Bible. The table is a reference to the Feast of the Passover or the Lord’s Last Supper, but the story in the Qur’an is devoid of both its Jewish and Christian significance:
“Jesus, son of Mary,” said the disciples, “can your Lord send down to us from heaven a table spread with food?”
He replied: “Have fear of God, if you are true believers.”
“We wish to eat of it,” they said, “so that we may reassure our hearts and know that what you said to us is true, and that we may be witnesses of it.”
“Lord,” said Jesus, the son of Mary, “send down to us from heaven a table spread with food, that it may mark a feast for us and for those that will come after us; a sign from You. Give us our sustenance; You are the best provider.”
God replied: “I am sending one to you. But whoever of you disbelieves hereafter shall be punished as no man will ever be punished.”
Then God will say: “Jesus, son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind: ‘Worship me and my mother as gods besides God.’?”
“Glory to You,” he will answer, “how could I ever say that to which I have no right?” If I had ever said so, You would have surely known it. You know what is in my mind, but I know not what is in Yours. You alone know what is hidden. I have told them only what You bade me. I said: ‘Serve God, my Lord and your Lord.’ I watched over them while living in their midst, and ever since You took me to Yourself, You have been watching them.” (Surah 5:112-117)
In this fictitious narrative the Qur’an attempts to establish several points, all repugnant to central tenants of Christianity: The Passover feast was about food and not salvation, that Mary was part of the Trinity, and that Jesus could not speak for God, and that God took Jesus to himself. (One version says, “Thou has caused me to die.). Anyone who wants to verify these Christian beliefs should consult the first-hand account of this “table” from the Gospel according to Luke, Chapter 22. Further explanation can be found in Romans Chapter 3:21-31 and Hebrews Chapter 10.
Other problems with the Fifth Surah:
“As for the man or woman who is guilty of theft, cut off their hands to punish them for their
crimes. That is the punishment enjoined by God.” (Surah 5:38)
“Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” (Surah 5:51
God cursed and was angry with Jews and transformed them into apes and swine. (Surah 5:60)
God enjoined the apostles of Christ to believe in Him and his Apostle (Muhammad), and
they said, “We believe; bear witness that we submit (follow Islam).” (Surah 5:111)
Surah 6: Cattle
The Qur’an started out with a Chapter called The Cow, and now five chapters later, we have Cattle. This particular Surah was written at the end of Muhammad’s relatively unproductive thirteen year missionary period in Mecca where garnered only about 150 converts. Here, Mohammad is attacking the Arab polytheists who associated certain animals, including cattle, with their gods. This ancient Arab issue doesn’t roil Christians as much as other Surahs.
There are still some problems with the Sixth Surah:
God created man from clay. (Surah 6:2)
Jewish food prohibitions (e.g. pork) were a penalty for their misdeeds. (Surah 6:146)
“You shall not kill – except for just cause.” (Surah 6:151)
Surah 7: The Heights – or the Faculty of Discernment
The title to this Surah apparently comes from the parable told by Jesus about the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16: 19 – 31, where Lazarus went to be in the Heights with Abraham, and the Rich Man went to Hades.
Then the heirs of Paradise will cry out to the inmates of the Fire: “What our Lord promised we have found to be true. Have you, too, found the promise of your Lord to be true?”
“Yes,” they will answer, and a herald will cry out among them: “Cursed are the evil-doers who have debarred others from the path of God and sought to make it crooked, and who had no faith in the life to come.”
A barrier will divide them, and on the Heights there will be men who recognize each one by his look. . .
The damned will cry out to the blessed: “Give us some water, or some of that which God has given you.”
(Surah 7:44 – 51)
While Jesus used the story to predict the world’s rejection of the Messiah, the Qur’an attempts with this Surah to provide the history of God’s prophets and the dire consequences of not paying heed to them. The list of Muhammad’s prophets includes Adam, Noah, Hud (Arabian), Lot, Jethro, Moses, and of course, Muhammad. Of this list, only Moses would be considered anything close to a prophet. Judeo-Christian theologians have broken the biblical prophets down into Major Prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel – and the Minor Prophets -- Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. None of these is mentioned.
The other problem with Surah 7 is that even though some Biblical names are “dropped” into the text, there is little or nothing about their prophetic messages. Approximately 70 of the 206 verses are about Moses, but the entire discussion of the Ten Commandments is as follows:
[The Lord] replied, “Moses, I have chosen you of all mankind to make known My messages and My commandments. Take therefore what I have given you, and be thankful.”
We inscribed for him upon the Tablets all manner of precepts, and instructions concerning all things, and said to him: “Observe these steadfastly, and enjoin your people to observe what is best in them.”
That is it. Not only are the Ten Commandments not listed (See Deuteronomy 5:7-21), most of them are rejected or distorted by the Qur’an. a) There is no day of rest (Sabbath) in Islam, only the Friday prayers, and then Muslims can go right back “in quest of God’s bounty.” (Surah 62:9); b) Murder is only wrong if the victim
is a fellow Muslim (Surah 4:92) or if there isn’t a “just cause.” (Surah 6:151); c) Stealing in the form of booty was specifically sanctioned for Muhammad by Allah (Surah 48:20 and Bukhari Vol. 1, No. 429) ; d) Muhammad certainly coveted -- to the point of marrying his adopted son's wife, Zaynab (Surah 33:37-38 and Al-Tabari, Vol. VII, Pg. 4); e) Lying is permissible if it advances Islam -- e.g., takeyya. (SurahS 5:89, 16:106, and Ishaq, pg. 367), f) Adultery is permitted if the victim happens to be a captive or a slave (Surahs 4:24, 23:1, 70:22, and Ishaq, pg. 517)
Instead of offering the Ten Commandments, the Qur’an then introduces Muhammad as who will provide the laws for mankind:
[Allah said,] “I will show mercy . . . to those that shall follow the Apostle – the Unlettered Prophet – whom they shall find described in the Torah and the Gospel. . . . He will make good things lawful to them and prohibit all that is foul.” (Surah 7:157)
It is central to Islam that the commands and the acts of Muhammad are precedent for all human behavior – codified into Shariah Law. A concise English summary of this law is The Reliance of the Traveler by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 1368) and translated into English by Nuh Ha Mim Keller in 1991. In this 1,200 page book it states quite clearly:
The basic premise of this school of thought [Ash’ari] is that the good of the acts of those morally responsible is what the Lawgiver (syn. Allah or His messenger) has indicated is good by permitting it or asking it be done. And the bad is what the Lawgiver has indicated is bad by asking it not be done. The good is not what reason considers good, nor the bad what reason considers bad. The measure of good and bad, according to this school of thought, is the Sacred Law, not reason. (Para. a.1.4)
Some people reading this essay may wonder why I did not mention the section of the Qur’an that actually does list some of the Ten Commandments – invoke no other deity besides God, do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not bear false witness – in Surah 25:68-71. This particular Surah was written while Muhammad was in his “preaching” mode in Mecca. Much of what was written in that Surah was “abrogated” and contradicted by later Medinan Surahs. Logic would hold that if the early pronouncements disagree with later pronouncements, the later pronouncements are the most valid. Surah 2:106, on abrogation, was mentioned earlier. Bear in mind that the numerical sequence of the Surahs in the Qur’an have no relation to when they were “handed down.”
Other problems with Surah 7 include:
“Then the Lord declared that until Resurrection Day, He would use others to punish the Jews.” (Surah 7:167)
The duplication of verses in various parts of the Qur’an becomes apparent. Compare 7:85 and 7:91 with 11:83 and with 29:35. If the Qur’an were inscribed on a Tablet in Heaven by an all-knowing God, he surely would have edited out the redundant verses scattered throughout the text.
Surah 8: The Spoils of War
No Surah of the Qur’an is more revealing about the nefarious agenda of Islam than The Spoils of War. How could any religion that calls itself “The Religion of Peace” devote its eighth longest chapter to this subject? A brief history is needed. When Muhammad was driven out of Mecca with about 150 of his followers, they migrated to Medina, about 250 miles away. The “immigrants” had no land and many were unable to find employment in the city. To relieve this hardship, Muhammed encouraged his followers to raid passing camel caravans for booty and captives who could be sold as slaves. The Battle of Badr, the inspiration for this Surah, involved a camel caravan of 1,000 camels laden with money and valuable merchandise and accompanied by only 40 armed escorts. While this caravan escaped, there were many more like it. Before long, Muhammad’s followers also attacked Jewish clans in Medina, as well as neighboring towns.
Had there not been a previous sanction from God, you would have been sternly punished for what you have taken. Enjoy therefore the good and lawful things which you have gained in war, and fear God. (Surah 8:69)
Not only did Muhammad reveal an ayah that assured his followers that taking spoils was good, the success of these raids was taken as a sign that God approved of what they were doing.
God has promised you rich booty, and has given you this with all promptness. He has stayed your enemies’ hands, so that He may make your victory a sign to true believers and guide you along a straight path. (48:20)
In all, the Muslim historians of that era record 35 raids in a period of 10 years, or about one every three or four months. (al-Tabari, Vol. IX, pg. 118) Muhammad himself was credited with personally fighting in 27 of these. (Ishaq, pg. 639). Some Muslims will argue that all of these were “defensive” battles, but in reality only one could be considered defensive -- the Battle of the Trench where an army from Mecca tried unsuccessfully to punish Muhammad and his followers for their raids on caravans.
If there was any “religious” motive in these raids and battles, it was not to convert the unbelievers. The raids could only be described as terrorism:
[God said,] “I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike of the very tips of their fingers!” (Surah 8:12)
Muster against them all the men and cavalry at your command, so that you may strike terror into the enemy of God and your enemy, and others besides them who are unknown to you but known to God. (Surah 8:60)
Of course one-fifth of the spoils of war belonged to “God, the Apostle, the Apostle’s kinfolk, the orphans, the destitute, and those that travel the road.” (Surah 8: 41) This is because “It was not you, but God who slew them. It was not you who smote them: God smote them so that He might richly reward the faithful.” (Surah 8:17)
Surah 9: Repentance, or Ultimatum
The eighth and ninth surahs were among the last surahs revealed to Muhammad in Medina. The ninth surah is the only surah that does not begin with the phrase “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” This prompted some of the companions of Muhammad to believe that it was merely a later addendum to the eighth surah, which would have placed this combined chapter as the third surah in the Qur’an arranged by surah length.
The essence of this surah is a Declaration of War against non-Muslims after giving them just four months of immunity – the traditional sacred months of pilgrimage. This warfare can only be avoided if they repent, take to prayer, and render the alms levy. (Surah 9:11) So here are the elements of the warfare:
When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. (Surah 9:5)
Believers, do not befriend your fathers or your brothers if they choose unbelief in preference to faith. (Surah 9:23)
Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given as believe neither in God nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and His apostle have forbidden, and do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued. (Suray 9:29)
Whether unarmed or well-equipped, march on and fight for the cause of God, with your wealth and with your persons. (Surah 9:41)
Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. (9:73)
God has purchased from the faithful their lives and worldly goods and in return has promised them the Garden [i.e., Paradise]. They will fight in the cause of God, slay and be slain. Such is the true promise which He has made them in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Koran. And who is more true to his pledge than God? Rejoice in the bargain you have made. (Surah 9:111)
Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. (Surah 9:123)
No one reading these verses from the Qur’an could conclude that Islam is a “religion of peace.” Islam means submission, not peace. The Islamic “peace” would be accomplished only when all non-Muslims have been killed or been forced to submit to Islam.
Surah 10 - Jonah
As the last of the surahs of the Qur’an to be examined in this brief survey, this is the first and only surah that has a counterpart book in the Bible. The Book of Jonah is one of the “minor prophet” books toward the end of the Old Testament. It tells of God’s instruction to Jonah, a Hebrew, to warn the Assyrian city of Nineveh (on the Tigris River opposite Mosul) that it would be destroyed unless it forsook its evil, violent ways. But Jonah sailed in the opposite direction to avoid this chore, and he was eventually swallowed by a fish for three days to convince him of God’s determination. The city had a population of 120,000 and was so large it took three days to walk through it. In the end, Jonah warned the city and the people repented. The story in the Bible illustrated God’s concern for even his wayward creation.
What does the Qur’an say about Jonah in Surah 10? Not much:
Were it otherwise, every nation, had it believed, would have profited from its faith. But it was so only with Jonah’s people. When they believed, We spared them the penalty of disgrace in this nether life and gave them comfort for a while. (Surah 10:98)
In those three sentences, the god of the Qur’an made three major errors: 1) The issue with Nineveh was wickedness, not faith; 2) the people of Nineveh were Assyrians, not “Jonah’s people,” the Hebrew race; and 3) the “penalty” was to be destruction, not disgrace.
Ironically, there is another Surah in the Qur’an, number 37, that contains more on Jonah than the Surah actually bearing his name.
Jonah was also sent with a message. He fled to the laden ship, cast lots, and was condemned. The whale swallowed him, for he had done amiss; and had he not devoutly praised the Lord he would have stayed in its belly till the Day of Resurrection. We threw him, gravely ill, upon a desolate shore and caused a gourd-tree to grow over him. Thus We sent him to a nation a hundred thousand strong or more. They believed in him, and We let them live in ease awhile. (Surah 37:139-148)
Still, even in this elaboration, the intended message of the original Jonah story is obscured by details that have little to do with the central theme.
The tenth surah of the Qur’an ends with a challenge to its Muslim readers, a challenge which Jews and Christians should never forget:
If you doubt what We have revealed to you,
ask those who have read the Scriptures before you.
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