I had no plans to post much about my reading this, but when I mentioned I was reading a translation of the Quran someone said perhaps I would post about it. So I decided to share a few things that caught my attention. I'm trying not to further showcase the troubling issues such as a man having permission to hit his wife. Lightly or not, toothpick-size object aside, the principle of the thing angers me so I am choosing to gloss over those verses. There is enough about them on the internet and most people who know me on the blogs, fully realize I don't care a bit for polygyny, treating women as children in need of male guardians and any other topic about women being inferior or deficient. So, this will be more about other things that made me take notice for one reason or another.
Right off the bat, I want to admit that I am probably not reading in context as I am merely reading straight through. I'm not using commentary except for what little I ask my friends with Islamic backgrounds. These are just observations from an American Christian who is reading an English translation of the Quran for the first time. With that out of the way, here are a few notes I made from the first three suras. (I've read six, but will do the others in another post.)
Sura 1 - Al-Fatiha -- Lovely prayer for God to guide us to the straight path. I would like to say that we should all be open to this "straight way" not being how we grew up or how our mommas and daddies believed, but whatever GOD says is the right way -- Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Universalism, Christianity, whatever.
Sura 2 - Al Baqara -- I saw baptism (138) and the holy spirit (253) mentioned in this sura and asked a friend about them to see what the Islamic views of these very Christians terms were.
I was told baptism here was a mistranslation for an Arabic word meaning the color or mark of God.
138. (Our religion is) the Baptism of Allah. And who can baptize better than Allah. And it is He Whom we worship.
and the holy spirit referred to the archangel Gabriel.
87. We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you an apostle with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride?- Some ye called impostors, and others ye slay!
I have heard Muslims say that God wouldn't let Jesus be crucified because it was humiliating for one of God's prophets to be killed. It would show God is weak somehow. But it seems from this verse that apostles were rather routinely killed for their messages. However, I realize Muslims say Jesus wasn't crucified based on another verse which I read in another sura.
Sura 3 - Al 'Imran -- I read this verse:
3. It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).
and noted that in my opinion Islam took more of the Law as its "guide to mankind" than the Gospel of Jesus. Not that the Law is bad - it gives great moral rules about honoring our parents and not committing adultery and killing, stealing and lying. However, Jesus' teachings and summarization of the Law -- loving God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and loving our neighbors as ourselves -- seem much better than the Law's eye-for-an-eye mentality. I like the hard teachings of loving our enemies and overcoming evil with good, not revenge. The world's had enough of that and it hasn't gotten us anywhere...except in greater conflict, it seems. :-/
26. Say: "O Allah. Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power.
There is such a strong predestination flavor to Islam that I read verses such as this one and wonder why Muslims today mourn about their lots in life. Do verses such as these teach that God is in charge of whether or not Netanyahu or Obama or Mubarak or Assad are leaders in their respective lands -- some of which are Muslim-majority countries and some of which (*ahem* USA) affect Muslim-majority countries. I guess I have a hard time wondering what is Allah's will for Muslims (and the rest of us) to suffer through and what He wants us to fight to overcome. Does He want us to overthrow our leaders who are against our "godly" principles? Or does He put us in countries and under leaders and set things in motion for a purpose -- and He wants us to ask for His strength, grace and peace in those trying times in order to grow our character and learn to rely more on Him?
55. Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.
This verse just made me smile. At times I think Jesus is quite well thought of in the Quran. :) Although he is soon "brought down to size" such as this:
59. The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be". And he was.
The Bible also compares Jesus and Adam, but in a very different way. Notice this from Romans 5 (CEV):
12Adam sinned, and that sin brought death into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die. 13Sin was in the world before the Law came. But no record of sin was kept, because there was no Law. 14Yet death still had power over all who lived from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. This happened, though not everyone disobeyed a direct command from God, as Adam did.
In some ways Adam is like Christ who came later. 15But the gift that God was kind enough to give was very different from Adam's sin. That one sin brought death to many others. Yet in an even greater way, Jesus Christ alone brought God's gift of kindness to many people.
16There is a lot of difference between Adam's sin and God's gift. That one sin led to punishment. But God's gift made it possible for us to be acceptable to him, even though we have sinned many times. 17Death ruled like a king because Adam had sinned. But that cannot compare with what Jesus Christ has done. God has been so kind to us, and he has accepted us because of Jesus. And so we will live and rule like kings.
18Everyone was going to be punished because Adam sinned. But because of the good thing that Christ has done, God accepts us and gives us the gift of life. 19Adam disobeyed God and caused many others to be sinners. But Jesus obeyed him and will make many people acceptable to God.
20The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God's kindness was even more powerful. 21Sin ruled by means of death. But God's kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life.
I'll continue with suras 4-6 in another post. Your thoughts on my thoughts?