More quotes from God & Government . . .
"Government by nature seeks power and will always attempt to generate its own moral legitimacy for its decisions. Inevitably, it resents any group that attempts to act as its conscience." (pg. 275)
"Christian patriots spend more time washing feet than waving flags. Ideally, flags should not even be thought of as symbols of military and economic might, but of the common good of the specific people a sovereign God has called them to serve." (pg. 285)
"Political illusion .... What people once expected from the Almighty, they now expect from the almighty bureaucracy. That's a bad trade for anyone; but for the Christian, it's rank idolatry." (pg. 381)
"''Basically, we live in a culture where celebrities are opinion leaders." The author gave examples of stars who were given platforms to speak for bills and issues simply because they played the roles of something related in a movie .. A media expert explained, "'We're living in an age of optics. Expertise does not photograph well. Julia Roberts does.' And what Julia Roberts says can change, overnight, the way people view an issue." (pg. 385)
"Wars proliferate; political solutions fail; frustrations rise.Yet we continue to look to governments to resolve problems beyond their capability. The illusion persists." (pg. 390)
Sura 68 - al-Qalam
This sura gave more assurances to Muhammad that he was not possessed as people were saying. After seeing this message repeated in nearly every sura, I am scratching my head wondering two things: what were these people seeing from Muhammad that had them questioning so much and also was Muhammad doubting himself and thus having to get assurances from God? It's one thing for people to say you are crazy. The Pharisees said similar things about Jesus, but Jesus didn't have to defend himself or try to assure himself in every single revelation (sura/chapter). He flat out told his naysayers that his miracles and message came from God's authority and he sought to honor only God, not himself.
From John 8
48The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?"
49"I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
52At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?"54Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.
So why could Muhammad not use the same defense? Based on what I've read of him, perhaps it's because he got a lot of honor from his celebrity status (even exceptions to the rules of the average Muslim) so it wasn't only a message to honor God. It was a message to honor God's apostle and give him special privileges. Maybe the people saw how the Quran's revelations gave Muhammad special favor so they questioned this message. Hey, if someone told me they received a message from God, I'd question him. Especially if this message made him out to be more special than the average person. Just sayin'.
There is a story in this sura about men who were planning to visit their garden, but forgot to say "if God may please." Also it seems they were bent on being greedy as they didn't want any needy persons crossing paths with them that day. During the night their crops were destroyed and they realized their error too late.
33. Such is Our chastisement; and the punishment of the Hereafter will be greater, if only they knew!
Sura 69 - al - Haqqah
This sura mentioned those ledgers of deeds and how if your ledger was in the right hand, you got a good reward and if it were in your left hand, bad news. Not even your wealth or power can save you.
28. Of no use was even my wealth.
I like how this sura began with
2. What is the concrete reality?
and ends answering the question.
51. And He, He is indeed the ultimate Reality.
I agree that God is the Reality, the Standard.
This chapter describes some sort of judgment day for infidels. It shares how people would want to use their own family members as ransom yet will be unable to do so. Then I read this:
19. Surely man is greedy by nature.
and I thought the Quran was making a case for our sin nature which makes us naturally greedy and selfish. (I've still never seen a parent have to teach her child to be selfish and greedy.)
36. What is the matter with unbelievers that they stare at you with fixed gazes and hasten towards you
I read a lot about people staring in other cultures. It seems it wasn't well-liked even back then. :)