"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Notes on Quran - Sura 10

So I read Sura 10 -- Yunus or Jonah yesterday, and, shoot, call me crazy, but I expected this sura to discuss the story of Jonah similar to what is talked about in the Bible! Ha, ha! But I read and read and read and read and thought, "OK, where is the story of God giving Jonah orders to preach in Nineveh? Where's Jonah's blatant disobedience in not only refusing to go, but boarding a ship sailing the opposite way? Where's the storm which causes the seasoned sailors to fear for their lives, the casting of lots to determine who was at fault and Jonah's admission that he was the guilty one and should be cast overboard? No big fish story, no reluctant obedience to God, no preaching repentance to the extremely wicked Ninevites." OK, maybe some of that was in the sura, but you can tell it wasn't enough to stick out in my mind this morning! So I came away realizing why God instructed Muhammad to consult and get the story from the People of the Book (vs. 94). Muslims don't have the full stories of many things discussed in the Bible. So, for those who are interested in the biblical account, here is Jonah. It's only three chapters and quite an interesting little book of how a prophet didn't want to preach repentance to a wicked nation because he knew God was so merciful that if the people repented, they would not be punished! Yet Jonah wanted them punished, NOT given mercy! Imagine protesting the wonderful mercy of God! So give it a quick read. Back to the Quran, perhaps there are more Jonah details in another sura, but forgive me if I expected most of them to be in a sura by Jonah's name. :-)

Now some other thoughts.

I assume the "man who is one of them" that people thought was a sorcerer (vs. 2) was Muhammad. I enjoyed some of the thoughts about God in verses 3 through 10, concluding with this one.

10. Their invocation will be: "All glory to you, O God," and "Peace" will be their salutation, and the end of their prayer (will be): "All praise be to God, the Lord of all the worlds."

This verse

12. When man is afflicted with adversity he calls to Us, whether lying on his side, or sitting or standing. But when We take away his troubles, he moves away, as though he had never called to Us in affliction. In the same way, attractive have been made their deeds to the prodigals.

reminded me of some posts my blogger friend, Sarah, has written in recent weeks on suffering and its purpose. Perhaps one purpose is so we will call upon God. I do find it often true that we are more likely to seek divine help when we are suffering than when everything in life is going well.

17. Who is more unjust than he who imputes lies to God or denies His revelations? The sinners will surely not be reprieved.

I know this verse is not likely in the context of what I am referring, however, attributing lies to God reminds me of a post Amber wrote earlier this week which mentions how the supposed crucifixion switch perpetuated the notion that God was a liar. While some people may believe that God deceives when it suits Him, this is quite a different view from the Bible which states God does not - even cannot - lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18, Numbers 23:19, I Samuel 15:29). So this verse shows me God didn't much like lies attributed to Him. Notice also these verses:

59. Say: "Have you thought of what God has sent you for food, of which you have labelled some as lawful and some forbidden?" And ask: "Has God commanded this, or you are imputing lies to God?" 60. What do those who invent lies of God think about the Day of Reckoning? (Will they escape the judgement?) In fact God is gracious to men; but most of them are not grateful.

69. Say: "Those who fabricate lies about God will never succeed."

Maybe it's not the same thing as one person will see the "crucifixion switch" as truth thus not a "fabricated lie about God." On the flip side there are many of us who can view the same story and not see God pulling off one of the biggest - if not the biggest - deceptions of all time.

I can relate to the frustration of people calling out to God only when they are in trouble such as is mentioned in verses 22 and 23. I know some who make promises while going through a hard time and they later keep them, while many others conveniently forget they ever "made a deal" with God.

35. Ask: "Is there one among those you associate with God who can show the way to the truth?" Say: "It is God who shows the way to truth." Then who is more worthy of being followed -- He who guides to the truth, or he who cannot find the path until shown the way? What has happened to you that you judge in such a wise?

Welllllllllllllllll, since you asked -- ("Is there one among those you associate with God who can show the way to the truth?") actually yes. 6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." So, yes, Jesus is the way to the truth...and, I agree that it is God who shows the way to truth as Q 10:35 says.

As for "who is more worthy of being followed"..."He who guides to the truth (JESUS) or he who cannot find the path until shown the way" (Muhammad)....remember Muhammad didn't even know he was receiving "divine revelations" until others talked him into it. On the other hand, Jesus spoke with authority, never going around with "let me see if God will reveal another sura ...if so, I'll get back to ya on that." So that's an excellent question from the Quran!

37. This Qur'an is not such (a writ) as could be composed by anyone but God. It confirms what has been revealed before, and is an exposition of (Heaven's) law. Without any doubt it's from the Lord of all the worlds. 38. Do they say (of the Prophet) that: "He has composed it?" Say to them: "Bring a Surah like this, and call anyone apart from God you can (to help you), if what you say is true."

Actually I don't necessarily find the Qur'an as a confirmation of what has been revealed before, however, I've only read ten chapters thus far. As for producing an equal or better sura, I suppose this could get quite subjective as not everyone enjoys the same things. I'm sure if one believes something is from God automatically it seems better somehow so this isn't really a logical proof of the Quran's credibility, in my opinion.

41. If they (still) call you a liar, tell them: "For me my actions, for you yours. You are not answerable for my deeds, nor I for what you do."

I'm assuming Muhammad was having trouble with certain groups not accepting his message so this was an assurance to him.

47. For every people there is an apostle; and when their apostle is come the matter is decided between them equitably, and no one is wronged.

I'm only familiar with the Jewish prophets (which are different than apostles, but I think the two words are used interchangeably here) mentioned in the Bible. However many believe Muhammad was the apostle to the Arabs. So now I'm wondering who was (or is) the apostle to the Chinese, Indians, Russians, British, French and so forth. Please don't tell me we in the States have to accept Joseph Smith who also claimed to be a prophet with a revelation from God. Genuinely curious since this verse claims an apostle for every people. (Edited later to add that I finally saw some other prophets in sura 11's reading today, however, not to the people I mentioned above including Americans.)

61. There is no state you are in, whether reading from the Qur'an, or doing something else, but We are watching you as you are engaged in it. There is not the weight of an atom on the earth and in the heavens that is hidden from your Lord, nor is there anything smaller or greater than this but is recorded in the perspicuous Book.

There are similar verses in the Bible about God seeing all that we do and nothing being hidden from Him. Should make us all rethink doing nasty things to others or doing things we know are against godly principles, huh? Sadly it seems we often fear our people and communities and their thoughts of us more than we fear God.

64. For them is good news in the life of the world and in the life to come. There is no changing the words of God. That will be the great triumph.

I still think this proves that God kept His Word safe and the Bible wasn't corrupted or changed. But then I would, wouldn't I? ;-)

90. And We brought the people of Israel across the sea, but the Pharaoh and his army pursued them wickedly and maliciously till he was on the point of drowning, and he said: "I believe that there is no god but He in whom the people of Israel believe, and I submit to Him."

Interesting to read about Pharoah's "death-bed" confession which is not recorded in the biblical account in Exodus 14. I was a bit confused on the details, but according to the Quran, did God accept Pharoah's plea as he was drowning?

94. If you are in doubt of what We have sent down to you, then ask those who have been reading the Book (for a long time) before you. The truth has indeed come to you from your Lord, so do not be one of those who doubt.

I was assuming in the first paragraph that this reference to "the Book" meant the Torah and Injil. It cannot be the Quran since it wasn't written down at this point, right?

Nice to finally see Jonah mentioned in verse 98. :-)

99. If your Lord had willed, all the people on the earth would have come to believe, one and all.

This and a few of the following verses seemed to have that predestination flavor again. I know Christians who strongly believe in predestination so it's fine. God guides those whom He wishes to save. It's a well-known thought among many I know personally.

107. Should God bring you harm there is none but He who could deliver you from it, and if He wish you good there is none who could take away His blessings: He showers them on those of His creatures as He please, and He is forgiving and kind."

This reminds me that GOD is in control of what happens to us. We may think having bodyguards, security systems, a mighty military, nuclear weapons -- whatever, will save us from those who would harm us, however no one or no thing can hurt us without His permission. Nice reminder!

Thanks to all who have been leaving comments on my posts. I've greatly enjoyed learning from you and hope you will continue to freely share!

17 comments:

I AM NOBODY said...

I am enjoying these posts SO MUCH! Very insightful and thought provoking!

I wish more Muslims were not afraid to allow themselves to look beyond what they know to see the bigger picture-perhaps a different picture-in order to better understand what being a Muslim really means and how their Brothers and Sisters in faith-all faiths-should be respected for that simple fact alone.
Alot of Muslims don't want to even allow their minds to contemplate anything other than what they've been taught growing up...what their parents and those around them said. I find this very sad when I meet someone like this...that they fear so much that they cannot even fathom something may be different-even in the case when they are doing something in an incorrect way but won't allow themselves to seek the truth or the correct way out of fear of being punished or learning something that MAY or may not go against the norm...
point is, what you're doing is what I feel everyone should do no matter the religion...read with an unbiased opinion...learn...seek answers to questions so that you can be all the more wiser and stronger in your faith. If you're a firm believer, then there should be no problem in doing that.

I can't wait for your next posts..it's so very interesting to see the comments and questions-some I are similar to mine-and see what conclusion-if any-you come do and if it's different than mine or what I've learned.

Hope you're having a great weekend

Lots of love
Shell

Wafa' said...

i always like knowing what other people ,who don't share the same believes and ideas i have, have in mind about the things i have.
Did you get any of that, lol.
Anyway, i like reading your thoughts on the Quran. I am following even if i don't comment somtimes, because i am not that good with words most times.
But you already know that i love all your posts :)

Suroor said...

"Welllllllllllllllll, since you asked -- ("Is there one among those you associate with God who can show the way to the truth?") actually yes. 6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." So, yes, Jesus is the way to the truth...and, I agree that it is God who shows the way to truth as Q 10:35 says."

Wow! Very interesting. I'll be thinking about this more.

Susanne said...

Aw, dear Shell, how have you been? I was so happy to see your comment! I didn't realize you were reading these posts. Please always leave comments if you have concerns or *whatever* with what I say. I'd also love to learn from your understanding of things. Your comment was very encouraging! Thank you soooo much for brightening my day like this! Lots of love to you too! :)

P.S. Hope all is going well for you and your family. <3

Susanne said...

Wafa', you are great with words. You left some great comments on my earlier Quran posts. So never underestimate the wisdom you have to share with me. You know more about these things than I. Thank you for your encouragement as well. I also like reading others' thoughts and ideas when they are trying to learn about my beliefs and culture. Thanks for your comment! :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, come back and share some more if you have things to add to this post. I always enjoy your POV!

Suroor said...

Susanne,

So far from your reading of the Quran, do you have the feeling that the Bible is corrupted?

Why do you think Muslims would say that?

I mean I read the Bible and I DON'T see Jesus asking us to pray to him, but I don't say it is corrupted.

What are your thoughts on this charge of corruption?

Susanne said...

Suroor, thought-provoking question.

I read in a previous sura and then in this one (such as verse 64), this -- " There is no changing the words of God. That will be the great triumph." -- said so emphatically that I *don't* get the impression that God was mourning the fact the Jews and Christians had got the "great triumph" over Him and changed His words. On the other hand, I think Muslims would say this meant the message of God which was corrected in the Quran.

I don't feel the Bible is corrupted from reading the Quran although many accounts differ to some degree or another. I chalk it up to Muhammad getting some facts wrong in the stories. :) I just finished my post about Joseph which I will post later today or tomorrow and for sure there are many similarities although there are also differences.

I think Muslims would say the Bible is corrupted because they can read the two and compare for themselves that the stories differ, that Muhammad is not mentioned in the Bible and, therefore, the Jews and Christians must have changed things to suit them. Surely the Prophet would be in there, right? I'm sure if I were Muslim I'd be declaring the same thing.

If I were a Muslim who wanted to know the truth, I would investigate. Was the Bible at the time of Muhammad the same one we have today? Was it different somehow from the one they had way back when Jesus was alive? Did, in fact, Paul corrupt the teachings of Jesus? Most importantly can I take the word of a man who was verified by the Quran that HE produced and trust him with my eternal life, basically. And, yes, this is actually important for each of us to do whether we are Muslim or Christian or Jew or something else. I mean, I want to know can I trust this Jesus guy to be who I've always thought him to be. If I'm trusting him with my eternal destination, I'd sure as the world better make sure he's "qualified" to lead me somehow.

Thanks for the good questions. They really made me think. :)

Suroor said...

Thank you for responding to my question, Susie!

You are right that everyone should do that research for themselves. I notice how people casually drop the word "corrupted" and it is offensive, I'm sure. It makes Jews/Christians silly to continue to treat their Books with reverence.

But like I mentioned somewhere else before, you can't explain it to people who don't even know that Jesus neither wrote the NT, nor did he dictate it to scribes. He never documented his messages to his people in any form. The Gospel in that way is like the hadith, written 70 years after Jesus' death by people who spread the Good News. How can something Jesus never dictated/wrote be corrupted?

Same goes for Torah. Research shows that Torah wasn't written as long ago as Moses so he wasn't the author like all people of Abrahamic Faiths believe. It was written a lot later by someone we don't know. And if someone wanted to corrupt that they should have first taken off the bit about the coming of the Messiah rather than corrupt the message about Muhammad.

But it is a complicated discussion.

BTW, I received an email some weeks ago warning about an "American Quran" so apparently there are versions of Quran going around as well. My father had secured a Quran published in Bangladesh that had several errors in it actually! In Arabic one linguistic markers here or there can makes a hell lot of difference.

Anonymous said...

" If I were a Muslim who wanted to know the truth, I would investigate. Was the Bible at the time of Muhammad the same one we have today? Was it different somehow from the one they had way back when Jesus was alive? Did, in fact, Paul corrupt the teachings of Jesus..."

It may be hard to digest, but try reading "Miquoting Jesus"---

Intro: "In his groundbreaking
New York Times bestseller, Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman, one of the world's leading authorities on the Bible, dispelled the notion held by millions of Americans that the Bible is an infallible document."

See here:

http://www.bartdehrman.com/

Listen to his lectures.

Thanx.

Susanne said...

Suroor, your questions were great. I was glad for the chance to answer them. :) I honestly don't feel offended when people say I hold in honor a "corrupted" or "changed" Book. I fully realize we all perceive things differently. I don't think the Quran is divine nor do I consider Muhammad a prophet so I am just as "guilty" as they. So, it's fine.

I like what you said one time about God not writing books. I thought that was an interesting way to look at it. You're right. Jesus didn't write the Gospels. In reality, to us he IS the gospel, the "good news." The Gospels written about him - for me - were for our benefit in future generations so we could learn about this wonderful person and the life he lead as an example to us.

I'm not sure about the Torah. From my understanding scribes wrote much of the OT. I think there was a strong oral tradition and then it was later transferred to "paper" as a way to preserve the Law and history of the Jews...even many genealogies (such as Chronicles). What we have to have faith about is the message and whether or not GOD preserved His Word. According to Muslims He did not as the Quran was needed to correct what had been changed/corrupted.

Interesting about the American Quran. Was it just a translation of the Quran maybe using American lingo?

Susanne said...

Anon, thanks for the link. I read one of Bart Ehrman's books a couple months ago and found him a rather likable guy. Maybe I'll read the book you suggested one day. Gotta get through the Quran and the other books on my bookshelf first. I'm trying to finally read them all. I keep getting distracted by other good books out there. :)

Suroor said...

Susie, You haven't read Misquoting Jesus yet? i told you a year ago to read it!

Well, it is an interesting book and Erham is a fountain of knowledge. His brain must be packed!

He does mention the problems with the scribes and all. BUT, what he tries to prove is that it is not the word of God which we already know. It wasn't written by Jesus.

I think you will find his argument difficult to accept but he doesn't blame the writers of the Gospel. He only mentions that the scribes and situations may have brought about changes.

He is not free of refutation though.

Interestingly, he does accept that the Bible we have today was codified by the 3rd century so the Bible around Muhammad's time was the same as it is today. But if you look at the argument that it was changed from the original message, then yes it was.

My problem is not that argument which I believe is valid - Bible did go through many changes and much is lost in translation as well.

My problems are 1) Bible is believed to be one book, 2) it is believed to have been revealed on Jesus like Torah (Moses) and Quran (Muhammad), 3) Jesus is believed to have dictated/written it.

When you don't even know that, you can't argue that it was corrupted. Plus, there is absolutely nothing in the Quran about these charges.

Sarira said...

Wow, I’m copying Anon's bolding!

However many believe Muhammad was the apostle to the Arabs.

This is not an Islamic belief but a common misconception by the West and non-Muslims. We as Muslims believe that every apostle before Prophet Mohammed came was sent to one people. However, Prophet Mohammed as the seal of the Prophets and the message of Islam was sent to all. In fact, he wasn’t only sent to people but jinn as well (we have a surah titled Jinn in which they say they heard the message from him…)

In fact, we know that some of the best companions were not Arabs. There was Bilal from Abyssinia, Suhayb from Rum (Byzantium), Salman from Persia, and so on.

Most of all, though, we have the Qur'an which tells us that he was sent to all.

We have not sent you but to all men as a whole, giving them glad tidings, and warning them, but most men understand not. (34:28)

Say: ‘O Men [ not o, Arabs]! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of God, to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth... (7:158).

" I'm sure if one believes something is from God automatically it seems better somehow so this isn't really a logical proof of the Quran's credibility, in my opinion.

You may not feel that this is a real challenge, but there's one thing you seem to be forgetting. Remember the majority of the people who listened to the Qur'an were not Muslim and actually did not believe in Islam. (See, Islam was not an 'automatic' thing....during the time of the Prophet, every single person who came to Islam, in the beginning, was a convert, who chose to accept the message and believe that the Qur'an did come from God.)

But let's keep to the real issue here which is this- despite the majority of the people not believing in the message in the beginning, the Pagan Arabs were experts on the Arabic language, its grammar, stylyistics, etc. (the Pagans Arabs were a people whose pride and major achievement was poetry and the like) Even they realized that there was something very special about the Qur'an. They knew that the Qur'an was 'something different' and was no ordinary 'book'. This is why there are many accounts where it says they would close their ears when they passed by the Prophet who was reciting, not to even hear the words being recited. They also tried to make up reasons why it was so powerful (it is recorded in a sahih hadith that when one of the prostration verses was revealed, they all, not helping themselves, obeyed the Qur'an and prostrated!).

We have Waleed Bin Al Mugheria's famous quote upon hearing the Qur'an being recited: By Allah, indeed it has a sweetness to it, and a charm upon it; the highest part of it is fruitful and the lowest part of it is gushing forth with bounty; it dominates and cannot be dominated, and it crushes all that is under it. And it is not the speech of a man.

Was he a believer in Islam? No, he actually wasn't. After saying this quote, it became obvious that he wanted to convert- however, he suddenly backed down, though, out of fear of the people's reactions. Why? Because again, as we said, majority of the audience were not Muslims who used to persecute the Muslims and humiliate them.

continued

Sarira said...

We even have the account of Abu Sufyan. Who was Abu Sufyan? He was the arch-enemy of Islam for 20 years. When he finally became Muslim, we found out what used to happen before he became a Muslim. It's very long but I'll cut most of it in half- just show you that these 3 non-believers couldn't help themselves and wanted to listen to this very exceptional Book....

Al-Zuhri said: “I have been told that Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan and al-Akhnas Ibn Shariq went out one night to listen to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) while he was performing prayers at night in his house. Unobserved by his colleagues, each one of them took his place in some corner to listen. As dawn arrived they departed to meet one another again on the road. They blamed each other saying: ‘Do not do it again, for if one of their fools should see you (doing so), he would suspect you,’ And went away. The following night each of them went back to his place to listen to the Prophet. As dawn arrived they departed to meet one another again on the road. They said to each other what they had said the previous night, and then departed. The third night each of them took his place again and continued overnight to listen till dawn broke when they departed to meet again on the road. They then said to each other: ‘We will not do it again.’.....

n fact, you should realize that a few people did try to take up the challenge of the Qur'an and 'make up' their own scripture, imitating patterns of the Qur'an. The only result was that everyone thought they were lunatics. I can't remember one of the guy's names but he said something like "the elephant, what is the elephant, and what will let you know what is the elephant"? He even went around saying he was a prophet but his own 'followers' used to tell him 'to try and do some miracle since Prophet Mohammed could do lots of miracles'. Needless to say, he couldn't do anything!

In fact, I like to reflect on this verse and the others like it on what the famous dr. Gary Miller."Do they not consider the Qur'an? Had it been from any other than Allah, they would
surely have found therein much discrepancy."

This is a clear challenge to the non-Muslim. Basically, it invites him to find a mistake. As
a matter of fact, the seriousness and difficulty of the challenge aside, the actual
presentation of such a challenge in the first place is not even in human nature and is
inconsistent with man's personality. One doesn't take an exam in school after finishing
the exam; write a note to the instructor at the end saying, "This exam is perfect. There are
no mistakes in it. Find one if you can!" One just doesn't do that. The teacher would not
sleep until he found a mistake! You can read more at: http://voiceofquran.com/ebooks/002_The_Amazing_Quran.pdf

*continued*

Susanne said...

Suroor, no, I think I read "Jesus Interrupted." It was the one I saw on the New Books shelf at the local library! I don't remember you telling me to read that book. I usually write down the ones you suggest and I *did* recently buy "No god but God" because YOU told me to! ;-) :-D

Yes, there were things in the book I read that I found hard to accept, but as you said there are other sides so maybe I am wrongly choosing sides. Regardless, I did enjoy the Ehrman book I read better than I expected.

"Interestingly, he does accept that the Bible we have today was codified by the 3rd century so the Bible around Muhammad's time was the same as it is today."

So the question for me would be the references re: the Bible being changed -- does this mean the original message which you said Ehrman says was changed OR the Bible since Muhammad's times. In other words, was the Bible during Muhammad's time considered corrupted or is that something LATER Muslims came up when they referred to the Bible and saw the messages of the Bible and Quran didn't mesh. No Muhammad in the Bible. Therefore, it must have been changed.

Susanne said...

Sarira, see now, you believe Muhammad was sent for all people and I believe the same about Jesus' message. :-) While his earthly ministry was mostly among the Jewish people, his final instructions were for this gospel to be preached IN ALL THE WORLD and TO EVERY PERSON. This is why many Christians are evangelistic in nature and you hear of Christian missionaries in the world. We strongly believe Jesus wanted his message preached and we are obeying him by doing so. I know Muslims believe the same about Muhammad now that I read what you wrote. Jesus never commanded us to learn the heavenly language in order to read "his book" nor did he require us to adopt a certain culture. His message was truly universal and he speaks with us in our common tongues -- not a heavenly language that 98% of the world doesn't know.

Thanks for sharing why you think the Quran was and is so beautiful even to the Pagan Arabs. I have my own private theory on that, but respect what you said as I know it is lovely recited (although I can't understand it.) Still, I don't think this is a *logical* proof as people differ in their preferences of music, poetry, beauty in many many ways -- and those are all *subjective.*

Glad you share about Abu Sufyan. Lots of good stuff. Thanks much for your great comments!

"Do they not consider the Qur'an? Had it been from any other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy."

Well, I think some would say they have found discrepancies, but that's another post maybe. :)

Thanks a lot for allllllllllll that you shared! I appreciate it!