OK, it's not something I've brought up before now though I've seen it over and over and over again so, in reality, I probably should have commented on it in a previous post. I purposefully avoided mentioning it before since it's something I knew already about the message of the Quran. "It" being the third on this list.
1. The Quran is for real.
2. Muhammad is not a sorcerer so we should take what he says seriously, as from God.
3. God should not be associated with partners.
I loved the verses about cows. I live in the country and I've always found it cheery to see the cows grazing in the fields. In fact as I read this verse Monday evening,
6. There is life and cheer for you as you drive them home in the evening, and lead them out in the morning to graze.
I heard cows mooing and had to smile at how appropriate it was to read about and hear cows at the same time! :-)
I enjoyed all the verses about nature and God's provision for the earth and its inhabitants. God surely thought of all the details - food and water for us all.
17. So, could one who creates be like one who cannot? Will you not then contemplate?
20. As for those they call besides God, they cannot create a thing, and have themselves been created.
These verses on creation reminded me of two things: John's words about Jesus:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
and also the Quran's view of Jesus creating life from a bird. Granted, I know in the latter it was "by God's permission," however, it still came to mind as I read about those who could create life. As you can read above, John believed without Jesus nothing that is made was created.
I thought verses 33-37 were interesting. It's the story of unbelievers who accused God of not guiding them. God countered that He sent apostles to every community and, therefore, the people's destruction was due to their not accepting the apostles' message and instead accusing them of lies.
63. By God, We sent apostles to many a people before you, but Satan made their acts seem attractive to them, and he is their friend this day, and a painful torment awaits them.
More talk of people who enjoyed their sinfulness, made friends with the devil and await a painful torment.
This next part was rather fun to visualize as I read it:
65. God sends down water from the skies and quickens the dead earth to a new birth. Here is a sign for those who listen. 66. And surely in cattle there is a lesson for you: We give you a drink from the extract of food in their bellies and blood-purest milk so delicious to drink. 67. And in fruits of the date-palm and the vine, from which you obtain inebriating drinks and excellent food. In this indeed are signs for those who understand. 68. Your Lord predisposed the bees to make their hives in mountains, trees and trellices, 69. And suck from all fruits and flit about the unrestricted paths of their Lord. A drink of various hues comes out of their bellies which contains medicine for men. In this is a sign for those who reflect.
I'm not sure if it's scientifically correct, but maybe more "poetic license" in describing the way nature -- cows, trees, and bees -- provide for us. I see at this point in Muslim history alcohol must not have been forbidden unless God was only discussing "inebriating drinks" that the nonMuslims made from the fruit.
79. Do you not see the birds held high between the heavens and the earth? Nothing holds them (aloft) but God. There are verily signs in this for those who believe.
Recently it was a breezy day and I was reading on my porch. I glanced around and birds were soaring way up high so I stopped for a few minutes just to watch them and wonder what it was like to view the earth from high in the sky!
93. If God had pleased He would surely have made you a single community of belief; but He leads whosoever He wills astray, and guides whosoever He please. But you will surely be questioned about what you used to do.
Another predestination verse? I think this a good verse to use against those (few, I think) extreme types who believe all people need to convert. God didn't even will this to happen. It's His desire that some be lead astray while He will guide others to Himself.
96. For what you possess will pass, but what is with God will abide. We shall certainly award those who persevere a recompense in keeping with their deeds
The first part of this verse reminded me of Jesus' words during his sermon on the mount:
19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6)
101. When We replace a message with another -- and God knows best what He reveals -- they say: "You have made it up;" yet most of them do not know.
So it seems Muslims believe God does replace messages. He gave the Jews one Law, to Christ another to give to his followers and maybe Islam for everyone who lived after Muhammad's time on earth. However, I hear Muslims say that God's message has always been the same yet the holy books of the Jews and Christians were changed. Therefore, does God preserve His message or replace it maybe update it as the mood hits? Let me say that I do believe God makes covenants with people. If you read the OT you will see God making covenants with Noah and Abraham and the children of Israel. Jesus claimed to have fulfilled the Law, and, in my thinking a new covenant based on this passage from Jeremiah 31 was foretold.
31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD,
"when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,"
declares the LORD.
33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time," declares the LORD.
"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."
So God makes and fulfills covenants and here perhaps He instituted a new one. Maybe Muhammad's message was yet another?
106. Whosoever denies having once believed -- unless he is forced to do so while his heart enjoys the peace of faith -- and opens his mind to disbelief will suffer the wrath of God. Their punishment will be great, 107. For they loved the life of this world more than the life to come; and God does not guide those who do not believe.
OK, so this passage really took my attention especially the last phrase. First we must believe then God guides us. This is why it was so important for the people to trust Muhammad and this message he was bringing. When they could submit to belief in Muhammad (and by extension God) THEN they could follow the Islamic rules and the end result would be guidance to God in the Hereafter. Right? That's not really different from the faith other prophets have required. We do have to accept the Messenger and Message in order to believe what is said as truth or error. This is why it's crucial to examine the Messenger and Message to see if it is truth!
125. Call them to the path of your Lord with wisdom and words of good advice; and reason with them in the best way possible. Your Lord surely knows who strays from His path, and He knows those who are guided the right way.
This is good advice for dealing with people especially when talking about potentially-charged topics such as spiritual beliefs!