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Joseph_F
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Scripture Discussion: The Koran (Discussing: "The Cow")

[ Edited ]

 

The Koran

  

 

On the recommendation of our own Choisya, we are going to be discussing the Koran. I've read bits and pieces, but not that much, so I will be approaching this as a relative novice.

 

There is no end date for this discussion. I figure if we want to keep discussing, there will be plenty of things to talk about.

 

Any suggestions of outside material to help us understand what we're reading is of course appreciated.

 

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Choisya
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006

Re: Scripture Discussion: The Koran

Potted history:  Those of you who know anything about Islam may have been struck with some of the similarities to Judaism:  Muslims do not eat pork and have many of the other dietary laws given in Leviticus, they slaughter meat in the same way, their holy day was originally Saturday (see below), they have washing rituals before prayers and meals, they at first faced towards Jerusalem (see below) to pray.  This is because Mohammed was born and lived among the Jews of of Mecca and Medina and when he first had his 'revelations' he thought that Allah intended him to be a Jewish prophet, following on from Moses, who is mentioned around 100 times in the Koran. Jews were among his first converts and some thought he was their long awaited Messiah. However, the elders of the Jewish tribes in Medina mocked his imperfect knowledge of the Torah and publicly ridiculed him, which started the subsequent long enmity between Muslims and Jews.  After these quarrels and several battles with the Jews, Mohammed instructed his followers that their holy day was Friday, that they must pray towards Mecca and instead of fasting for Yom Kippur they must fast for the month of Ramadan, which was the month in which Mohammed first had his revelations. 

 

'The Qur'an frequently refers to Jews and Christians, who had received earlier revelations from God but (the Muslims believe) had then distorted and corrupted them.

 

Though some of its suras (verses) mention Jews and Christians in friendly terms and are quoted in support of Islam's tolerant attitude to fellow monotheists, others display very different sentiments. The Qur'an it must be remembered, was revealed to Mohammed in stages throughout his life - from the time he was a persecuted outcast to when he was the undisputed ruler of all Arabia.

 

Mainstream (Sunni) Islam and Judaism have more in common with each other than with Christianity. They both share the basic concept of the absolute unity of God, there is no 'Trinity'. . Though Muslims accept Jesus as a major prophet, they do not believe that he was the Son of God. In the words of the Qur'an:

'...Allah is one, Allah the eternal. He begets not and is not begotten. Nor is there anyone like him'.

 

Abraham is accepted as the first man to have received God's revelations: and most other Jewish patriarchs and prophets are also revered by Islam.

 

Both religions are based on divinely given books. The Qur'an like the Torah, are believed to be the unchanging word of God; and every letter of its text is holy. Sunni Muslims go even further and believe that the Qur'an is eternal and untreated - which is the view of the Torah held by some Jewish mystics.

 

Muslim forms of worship are far closer to those of the Synagogue than the Church. Neither Islam nor Judaism employs priests with supernatural powers to serve at symbolic altars of sacrifice. Indeed, Jewish Rabbis and Sunni Alem receive similar training and perform much the same function. Other concepts such as the sanctity of Jerusalem, forbidden and permitted foods, and many others, appear to have come directly from Judaism.

 

The equivalent position of law in Islam and Judaism may not be a coincidence, for Islamic law first developed in Iraq, home to the great academies of Jewish learning. In both faiths, holy law governs every aspect of human activity and its very study is an act of worship. Both distinguish between 'written' and 'oral' law in much the same way; and in the development of 'oral' law, the mufti's fatwa serves the same purpose as the Rabbi's responsa (an authoritative statement of the law on an obscure or disputed point).

Another common feature of the two systems is that neither was imposed by the state or by a central ecclesiastical authority - as was the canon law of the Church - but was developed by the deliberations of independent scholars. (Source: lecture on The Jews of Arabia.)

 

Here are two examples of the similarity of the stories in the Torah and the Koran (and, of course, the Christian Old Testament) - the story of Moses.  

 

The story of Abraham however, has the distinct difference that Ishmael is offered to God, not Isaac.

 

The stories about Jesus (Isa in the Koran) are very different to the Bible as Muslims do not believe that he was the Son of God, just that he was a major prophet, nor do they believe that he died on the cross.  But there are nevertheless a great number of similarities. Muslims also revere Mary as the Mother of God and believe in the 'virgin birth'.

 

I hope all this is helpful and will lead to some fruitful discussion although I guess that everyone is now too busy with Christmas preparations to give the Koran much thought!:smileyhappy: 

Distinguished Bibliophile
Nadine
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Re: Scripture Discussion: The Koran

Excellent post, Choisya. I did a goggle search on the "Koran in English" and there are loads of versions. Also, as a printed book. Any suggestions on what translation would make a passible text for discussion?

 

 


Choisya wrote:

Potted history:  Those of you who know anything about Islam may have been struck with some of the similarities to Judaism:  Muslims do not eat pork and have many of the other dietary laws given in Leviticus, they slaughter meat in the same way, their holy day was originally Saturday (see below), they have washing rituals before prayers and meals, they at first faced towards Jerusalem (see below) to pray.  This is because Mohammed was born and lived among the Jews of of Mecca and Medina and when he first had his 'revelations' he thought that Allah intended him to be a Jewish prophet, following on from Moses, who is mentioned around 100 times in the Koran. Jews were among his first converts and some thought he was their long awaited Messiah. However, the elders of the Jewish tribes in Medina mocked his imperfect knowledge of the Torah and publicly ridiculed him, which started the subsequent long enmity between Muslims and Jews.  After these quarrels and several battles with the Jews, Mohammed instructed his followers that their holy day was Friday, that they must pray towards Mecca and instead of fasting for Yom Kippur they must fast for the month of Ramadan, which was the month in which Mohammed first had his revelations. 

 

'The Qur'an frequently refers to Jews and Christians, who had received earlier revelations from God but (the Muslims believe) had then distorted and corrupted them.

 

Though some of its suras (verses) mention Jews and Christians in friendly terms and are quoted in support of Islam's tolerant attitude to fellow monotheists, others display very different sentiments. The Qur'an it must be remembered, was revealed to Mohammed in stages throughout his life - from the time he was a persecuted outcast to when he was the undisputed ruler of all Arabia.

 

Mainstream (Sunni) Islam and Judaism have more in common with each other than with Christianity. They both share the basic concept of the absolute unity of God, there is no 'Trinity'. . Though Muslims accept Jesus as a major prophet, they do not believe that he was the Son of God. In the words of the Qur'an:

'...Allah is one, Allah the eternal. He begets not and is not begotten. Nor is there anyone like him'.

 

Abraham is accepted as the first man to have received God's revelations: and most other Jewish patriarchs and prophets are also revered by Islam.

 

Both religions are based on divinely given books. The Qur'an like the Torah, are believed to be the unchanging word of God; and every letter of its text is holy. Sunni Muslims go even further and believe that the Qur'an is eternal and untreated - which is the view of the Torah held by some Jewish mystics.

 

Muslim forms of worship are far closer to those of the Synagogue than the Church. Neither Islam nor Judaism employs priests with supernatural powers to serve at symbolic altars of sacrifice. Indeed, Jewish Rabbis and Sunni Alem receive similar training and perform much the same function. Other concepts such as the sanctity of Jerusalem, forbidden and permitted foods, and many others, appear to have come directly from Judaism.

 

The equivalent position of law in Islam and Judaism may not be a coincidence, for Islamic law first developed in Iraq, home to the great academies of Jewish learning. In both faiths, holy law governs every aspect of human activity and its very study is an act of worship. Both distinguish between 'written' and 'oral' law in much the same way; and in the development of 'oral' law, the mufti's fatwa serves the same purpose as the Rabbi's responsa (an authoritative statement of the law on an obscure or disputed point).

Another common feature of the two systems is that neither was imposed by the state or by a central ecclesiastical authority - as was the canon law of the Church - but was developed by the deliberations of independent scholars. (Source: lecture on The Jews of Arabia.)

 

Here are two examples of the similarity of the stories in the Torah and the Koran (and, of course, the Christian Old Testament) - the story of Moses.  

 

The story of Abraham however, has the distinct difference that Ishmael is offered to God, not Isaac.

 

The stories about Jesus (Isa in the Koran) are very different to the Bible as Muslims do not believe that he was the Son of God, just that he was a major prophet, nor do they believe that he died on the cross.  But there are nevertheless a great number of similarities. Muslims also revere Mary as the Mother of God and believe in the 'virgin birth'.

 

I hope all this is helpful and will lead to some fruitful discussion although I guess that everyone is now too busy with Christmas preparations to give the Koran much thought!:smileyhappy: 


 

 

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Joseph_F
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Re: Scripture Discussion: The Koran

The one I linked to in the first post is the one Choisya recommended in another thread, and the one I have now.

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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006

Re: Birth of Jesus in the Koran

[ Edited ]

Thankyou Nadine.  As Joseph posted, this version by Dawood is the one I commended and has the advantage of having a good Introduction and of being briefer than some other versions, which include many of the Hadiths written after the first publication of the Koran and often confused with it, even by Muslims themselves. It is to various hadiths for instance, that militant Muslims often refer when justifying current terrorism and jihad.  

 

Dawood recommends (p5) reading the shorter and more poetic chapters first, 'such as those describing the Day of Judgement, Paradise and Hell, eg The Cessation and The Merciful' and those with biblical themes such as Mary (Maryam) and Joseph, before reading the longer and more complex chapters which 'presuppose a familiarity with events in the early days of Islam'. 

 

As Christians are about to celebrate the birth of Christ, perhaps we could start our reading of the Koran by reading Maryam - if that is OK with Joseph?  Here is an Islamic video of the story from the Koran, recited in Arabic but with English sub-titles.

 

(You might also like to compare the Koranic story about Mary with the Talmudic one.)

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Nadine
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Re: Birth of Jesus in the Koran

[ Edited ]

 


Choisya wrote:

Thankyou Nadine.  As Joseph posted, this version by Dawood is the one I commended and has the advantage of having a good Introduction and of being briefer than some other versions, which include many of the Hadiths written after the first publication of the Koran and often confused with it, even by Muslims themselves. It is to various hadiths for instance, that militant Muslims often refer when justifying current terrorism and jihad.  

 

Dawood recommends (p5) reading the shorter and more poetic chapters first, 'such as those describing the Day of Judgement, Paradise and Hell, eg The Cessation and The Merciful' and those with biblical themes such as Mary (Maryam) and Joseph, before reading the longer and more complex chapters which 'presuppose a familiarity with events in the early days of Islam'. 

 

As Christians are about to celebrate the birth of Christ, perhaps we could start our reading of the Koran by reading Maryam - if that is OK with Joseph?  Here is an Islamic video of the story from the Koran, recited in Arabic but with English sub-titles.

 

(You might also like to compare the Koranic story about Mary with the Talmudic one.)


 

 

Here is an Islamic video of the story from the Koran, recited in Arabic but with English sub-titles.

 

I think you forgot (or it didn't take) the link for the video. I think I found it:

 

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Now I hope this takes.

 

Edit: Well part 2 took but not part 1. I'm trying again.

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Choisya
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Re: Birth of Jesus in the Koran

[ Edited ]

Sorry, this is the one Nadine.  I think it is rather sweet - I switched off the sound and just looked at the pictures as I read the story. 


Nadine wrote:

 


I think you forgot (or it didn't take) the link for the video. I think I found it:

 

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Now I hope this takes.

 

Edit: Well part 2 took but not part 1. I'm trying again.


 

 

New User
liviticus
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Registered: ‎12-19-2009
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Re: Scripture Discussion: The Koran

Hi, Merry Christmas, I was reading your scripture Discussion about the Koran

and found it helpful in my studies about Islam. As often as it has been slammed by preachers

and world news. it peaked my interest to try to find someone who can show that islam is a

peaceful religion and only a small fraction are actually extremist's. The preacher's only

concentrate on the small faction,that are extremist and not on the rest,

Inspired Contributor
Choisya
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Re: Scripture Discussion: The Koran

[ Edited ]

Hi Liviticus, Merry Xmas and welcome to this discussion!  

 

I think we should remember that Islam and the Koran have much in common with Judaism and Christianity and that the Koran is rooted in the Old Testament, so many of the stories are familiar (see below). Preachers of any faith have 'an axe to grind' and are usually paid to promulgate a particular faith so to reach a balanced view it is best to listen to a wide range of opinions and to read some books on the subject.  There is extremism in all faiths and both violence and peace are preached in their holy books. (Here, for instance, are some examples of cruelty and violence in the Bible. These books were written in barbarous times:smileysad:.)  

 

 


liviticus wrote:

Hi, Merry Christmas, I was reading your scripture Discussion about the Koran

and found it helpful in my studies about Islam. As often as it has been slammed by preachers

and world news. it peaked my interest to try to find someone who can show that islam is a

peaceful religion and only a small fraction are actually extremist's. The preacher's only

concentrate on the small faction,that are extremist and not on the rest,


 

 

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Choisya
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Re: Birth of Jesus in the Koran

Here is a nice little summary of the birth of Jesus in the Koran by a christian observer.  I like the little story that Jesus (in the womb) talked to Mary to encourage her through her labour pains and told her to shake the palm tree to get dates for eating:smileyhappy:.  I find the Koranic depiction of Mary more 'human' than the biblical one because it is filled with such little details.  

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Peppermill
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Re: Birth of Jesus in the Koran

[ Edited ]

Choisya -- I presume you realize The Observer is a student newspaper at Notre Dame, one of the most respected Catholic universities in the United States (also known for its top notch football team!).

 

They may be more subtle, but don't overlook the very (beautiful) human touches about Mary in the Bible -- the basis of the glorious Magnificat music in Luke 1; Mary going to visit Elizabeth and the baby John "leaping" in Elizabeth's womb; after the birth, "Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19); the responses of Simeon and Ana in the Temple; the story at twelve when Jesus stays behind in the temple.

 

Ann Rice bases one of her recent books partially on some ancient texts that depict the miracles of Jesus as a child. Some of those stories also challenge our perceptions of what bearing and raising this son must have been like.  

 

Feminists, especially, point out that it was Mary who encouraged Jesus to perform one of his first recorded public miracles, the conversion of water to wine at the marriage feast at Cana.


Choisya wrote:

Here is a nice little summary of the birth of Jesus in the Koran by a christian observer.  I like the little story that Jesus (in the womb) talked to Mary to encourage her through her labour pains and told her to shake the palm tree to get dates for eating:smileyhappy:.  I find the Koranic depiction of Mary more 'human' than the biblical one because it is filled with such little details.


 

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Birth of Jesus in the Koran

[ Edited ]

Thanks Pepper.  No, I didn't know the Observer was a student newspaper etc, I chose the link for the story it told about the Koranic interpretation.  I realise that Christians are more likely to find the Biblical stories better and I guess my approach as a non-believer is different.  However, the Koran has a chapter devoted to Mary, the Bible does not, so I find that better storytelling about her overall and better from a feminist perspective especially as the Koran says that Allah chose her above 'the women of all nations'.  (It is possible that Mohammed gave a greater prominence to Mary because he lost his own mother at the age of six.)   I am not comparing the stories in ancient texts with either the Bible or the Koran - there have been thousands of beautiful stories written around these themes outside of the Bible or Koran but Ann Rice's approach does not appeal to me.  

 

Here is something on the Muslim attitudes towards Mary and to women.  I find it a great pity that these earlier 'feminist' beliefs have now been overshadowed by repressive 'macho' cultures. Mohammed reputedly showed great respect for his wives, one of whom, Khadija, was a merchant and another, Aisha, helped to put together the verses from his 'recitations' after his death, which became the Koran.  Women appear to have become a great threat to their menfolk if you consider the way in which all three of the monotheistic religions repressed them over the centuries. when prior to monotheism there were many influential women priestesses, especially in the Greek, Egyptian and Roman societies which preceded them.    

 

Some Muslims believe that Jesus' first miracle was when he spoke in the cradle. Their proscription against alcohol would not allow them to see the episode at Canna as a miracle, although the Koran is somewhat ambiguous about the drinking of alcohol. 

 

 

 

 


Peppermill wrote:

Choisya -- I presume you realize The Observer is a student newspaper at Notre Dame, one of the most respected Catholic universities in the United States (also known for its top notch football team!).

 

They may be more subtle, but don't overlook the very (beautiful) human touches about Mary in the Bible -- the basis of the glorious Magnificat music in Luke 1; Mary going to visit Elizabeth and the baby John "leaping" in Elizabeth's womb; after the birth, "Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19); the responses of Simeon and Ana in the Temple; the story at twelve when Jesus stays behind in the temple.

 

Ann Rice bases one of her recent books partially on some ancient texts that depict the miracles of Jesus as a child. Some of those stories also challenge our perceptions of what bearing and raising this son must have been like.  

 

Feminists, especially, point out that it was Mary who encouraged Jesus to perform one of his first recorded public miracles, the conversion of water to wine at the marriage feast at Cana.


Choisya wrote:

Here is a nice little summary of the birth of Jesus in the Koran by a christian observer.  I like the little story that Jesus (in the womb) talked to Mary to encourage her through her labour pains and told her to shake the palm tree to get dates for eating:smileyhappy:.  I find the Koranic depiction of Mary more 'human' than the biblical one because it is filled with such little details.


 

 


 

.    

 

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Joseph_F
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Re: Scripture Discussion: The Koran

The edition I have mentions that the Koran is considered equally valid when read in any order, and recommends starting with narrative sections such as the birth of Jesus. Given that, I started with the sura (chapter) called "Mary". Here is a wikipedia link for that sura: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryam_%28sura%29

 

It starts out with two bits of narrative, the first a description of the miraculous birth of John the Baptist to a couple who thought they were well past child-bearing age. Following that is Mary's birth of Jesus beneath a date tree. Afterwards there's a, at least to me, incongruous shift to Abraham's childhood, followed by a lengthy injunction not to consider Jesus the son of God along with vivid descriptions of the punishments awaiting those who do.

 

I have not read much of the Koran, but this was consistent with the other excerpts I've read. It is, in my honest opinion, fairly confusing and off-putting as far as religious texts go. Narrative sections are brief and short on detail. The prose, for all its celebrated poetry, always seems clunky and repetitive, which makes me think that the poetry is just not the type that translates well. And an inordinate amount of time seems to be given to endless listing of the punishments awaiting non-believers.

 

There sometimes strikes me as something sort of defensive about the Koran, in the way it spends much of its time commenting on other religions and cursing non-believers. For all the extensive mythology about hell that has come up later, the Jewish and Christian bibles barely spend any time on those matters.

 

So despite certain misgivings that arise from a cold reading of the text (I'm sure that without proper contextual education on the text, which I definitely lack, it is almost impossible to correctly interpret it), there are a few things I found interesting in this sura:

 

1. Jesus preaching right after birth was an interesting addition to the story. Although it seems like it would make more sense in a story in which Jesus was the son of God, not in one which repeatedly reminds us that he was just a normal man.

 

2. There is an interesting slip up by the author of the Koran which Dawood notes. Mary is referred to as "Sister of Aaron" which seems to indicated some confusion between the Arabic name of Mary (Maryam) and Aaron's sister from the Exodus story (Mariam),

 

Here is an English translation of completely unknown quality: http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/QURAN/19.htm (I haven't looked at it at all, but it is free). Although I would recommend just grabbing the translation from the first post because it seems very readable and has interesting notes like the one above.

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Peppermill
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Re: Birth of Jesus in the Koran

[ Edited ]

Ann Rice's approach does not appeal to me. 

 

I am not an avid fan of Ann RIce, but I do perceive that she has extended the popular knowledge of the existence of ancient apocryphal texts.

 

Women appear to have become a great threat to their menfolk

 

The ability to procreate has been an ancient mystery, wonder, and source of power.  However, it also left woman (and child) in need of lengthy periods of protection.

 

many influential women priestesses, especially in the Greek, Egyptian and Roman societies

 

Still, our records show scant participation in academic and political power, let alone military.

 

It is possible that Mohammed gave a greater prominence to Mary because he lost his own mother at the age of six.

 

Interesting possible insight.  Thanks for positing it.

 


Choisya wrote:

Thanks Pepper.  No, I didn't know the Observer was a student newspaper etc, I chose the link for the story it told about the Koranic interpretation.  I realise that Christians are more likely to find the Biblical stories better and I guess my approach as a non-believer is different.  However, the Koran has a chapter devoted to Mary, the Bible does not, so I find that better storytelling about her overall and better from a feminist perspective especially as the Koran says that Allah chose her above 'the women of all nations'.  (It is possible that Mohammed gave a greater prominence to Mary because he lost his own mother at the age of six.)   I am not comparing the stories in ancient texts with either the Bible or the Koran - there have been thousands of beautiful stories written around these themes outside of the Bible or Koran but Ann Rice's approach does not appeal to me.  

 

Here is something on the Muslim attitudes towards Mary and to women.  I find it a great pity that these earlier 'feminist' beliefs have now been overshadowed by repressive 'macho' cultures. Mohammed reputedly showed great respect for his wives, one of whom, Khadija, was a merchant and another, Aisha, helped to put together the verses from his 'recitations' after his death, which became the Koran.  Women appear to have become a great threat to their menfolk if you consider the way in which all three of the monotheistic religions repressed them over the centuries. when prior to monotheism there were many influential women priestesses, especially in the Greek, Egyptian and Roman societies which preceded them.    

 

Some Muslims believe that Jesus' first miracle was when he spoke in the cradle. Their proscription against alcohol would not allow them to see the episode at Canna as a miracle, although the Koran is somewhat ambiguous about the drinking of alcohol.


 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Babies and the Koran.

[ Edited ]

So folks, has anyone read any of the Koran now, especially the chapter on Mary and the birth of Jesus?  

 

One of the rather nice Islamic customs is that immediately after a baby is born the father recites the Muslim call to prayer in the baby's right ear. Other customs which apply specifically to babies are spoken about on this BBC audio clip. Do you think these religious rituals will make children more devout and likely to stay with the religion?  

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Joseph_F
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Re: Scripture Discussion: The Koran

I just read through The Cow, which is the very first sura. It's also the longest sura, and the subject matter it covers is extremely broad. It swings from narrative summary to specific legal codes to broad encouragments to stay faithful to Islam and then back again to one of the others.

 

It's not often that you read a religious text that describes one of the primary myths of the religion and then three paragraphs later is giving the exact legal code concerning menstruation. It's a little dizzying for those of us coming at it from the outside.

 

Some initial thoughts (this is a very long chapter, I have a lot more written down):

 

* What's interesting to me about the narrative sections in this sura is that they assume a strong familiarity with the material already. I don't know whether the Koran gets into these stories in more detail later, but, even if they are, there are no corresponding passages that I know of in the Bible where biblical stories are referenced as though they should already be familiar before they have been fully told in the text, if you understand what I mean. Basically what's interesting here to me is that the Koran seems to assume the reader's familiarity with the Hebrew and Christian bibles. The audience at the time would have (the religions were well known in the Arabian world), but I wonder if there are many Muslims today who have never read either, and so are understanding these references in a completely different way than the original audience.

 

* The Koran, as I've said before, is known for its literary beauty. And the text itself references that, challenging readers, if they do not believe, to try to write a book as well written as the Koran. It's an interesting argument for a religious text to make, an argument from aesthetics , and it speaks for the importance of literature in the Arabian peninsula at the time.

 

* Even in brief summary, some of the narrative sections are strikingly different from the Judeo-Christian versions. For instance, the story of Moses and the rock has God actually ordering Moses to strike the rock for water, rather than that being a pivotal moment of impatience on Mose's part. Also there's a very strange scene where the Israelites reject the manna from heaven and demand cucumbers and onions.

 

More of my comments later today, but any thoughts on these? Anyone read this sura and had any comments of their own?

 

 

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Joseph_F
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Re: Scripture Discussion: The Koran

Ok, so maybe it's just me reading this book right now, but I'm going to keep pushing on with my comments.

 

More on "The Cow":

 

* In 2:61, the text specifically mentions that Jews and Christians "shall be rewarded by their Lord. They have nothing to fear or regret." This is an interested contrast to 19:88, in the sura "Mary," which refers to Christian beliefs as a "monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack, the earth split asunder, and the mountains crumble to dust." While the Hebrew bible displays similar changes in opinion within its text, it's less surprising because of the wide expanse of time in which it was written. You would expect less sudden turn around of opinion in a book written within only a few decades by a single person.

 

* There seems to be a certain sense of paranoia in this sura. For instance, in 2:75 there are descriptions of non-believers pretending to be believers in public but secretly plotting against God and the Muslim movement. It is probably a reflection of some of the concrete historical facts at the time, with the conflict between the burgeoning religious movement and the pagan old guard of the Arab world, but I wonder how passages like this are taken by various modern Muslim sects.

 

* There is a definite sense that the Koran is making political statements reflecting the specific situation it was written in. In 2:106, he defends his editing of statements that were previously presented as divine revelation: "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?"  He then discusses the other religious and political groups he was in conflict with at the time: "Forgive them and bear with them until God makes known his will." The Koran often reads as though it were in argument with other voices that, while well known at the time, are now forgotten. So it sometimes feels as though we are only getting half the conversation in which the text is involved.

 

* Another instance of this argumentative tone is the long discussion about which way to face when praying. Apparently the common direction was previously stated to be Jerusalem until Muhammad changed it to Mecca. There is a long defense of this decision starting  at 2:142 which, interestingly, comes to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter which direction you face when you pray, as long as the prayer is genuine.

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Craig_Dressler
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Registered: ‎04-01-2010
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Who Wrote Those Holy Books?

The Koran was written by one man, Mohammed, who at first told his wife that he had been met in a cave by an apparition.  She talked him into listening to that voice.  The Bible was written over hundreds of years by multiple prophets, priests and kings.  Which book seems more reliable in its origins?  Having worked in the Middle East for a number of years and having seen the result of Mohammed's teachings I have no doubt which was inspired by the Holy Spirit and which was not.

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Joseph_F
Posts: 271
Registered: ‎03-05-2009
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Re: Who Wrote Those Holy Books?

Well, Craig, both are based on long cultural traditions as well as the political climate of the time of their writing. Neither book sprang out of nowhere, and certainly it would be a gross simplification to think that Muhhomad wrote the book wholesale with no basis in the religion and culture of the day. Certainly he managed to strike a chord with a large number of people quite quickly. Generally we don't look down on Shakespeare's work even though it's the work of one person  (or we assume it was anyway).

 

More importantly, the practice of any modern religion has far, far more to do with politics and history than with any single holy book. The way the West is and the way the Middle East is and the relationship between the two is a result of a series of political choices and events from the last couple hundred years, not an automatic conflict encoded into the Koran.