Sura 24 -- al-Nur
"The Light" begins with the rather dark topic of adulterers and adulteresses and the way they should be treated in the community. One hundred lashes for each one of them and then they may only marry another adulterer or their partners in crime. This is a bit peculiar to me since many adulterers are already married to other people (e.g. John Edwards the adulterer was married to Elizabeth). So I'm guessing this implies the husband or wife who was cheated on will for sure divorce the cheating spouse. Then the cheater can only marry other cheaters within the community. Fair enough, I suppose, though I see no mention of spouses actually staying married because the offended spouse decides to forgive. There are instructions in this sura for proving adultery like the required testimony of four witness and there are also strong words and promises for curses from God for those who dare to falsely accuse chaste women of having committed adultery (vs. 23).
I really liked this part of verse 21
But for the grace of God and His mercy upon you none of you would have escaped undefiled; but God makes whosoever He will grow in goodness.
as it's something I have often believed to be true. We should never look at someone else and mercilessly chastise her for what she does. Without God's grace in keeping us from this horrible deed, we are fully capable of doing the exact same thing! You think there is no way you would ever do that sin? Watch out, the Bible says, pride goes before a fall! Let this be a caution against judging and gossiping about others' sins.
It was interesting to read the instructions for both men and women on lowering gazes and being modest in order to promote goodness in the community. I've seen these verses on blogs, but never within the full chapter in which it was given. Also I see the instructions on who is permitted to be in mixed company and who is welcome to see women without all their coverings.
In the midst of these instructions about marrying off maids and slaves, there was this verse which took my attention.
34. We have sent down clear instructions to you, and illustrations from (the accounts) of those who have gone before you, and a warning for those who take heed for themselves.
I wondered if the illustrations from stories of those gone before could be the examples in the Bible. I've not seen anywhere in the Quran where it's noted that the Bible was changed nor does it declare Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon or any previous prophet as sinless or mostly sinless. It even admits that Moses murdered a man! Hardly something which constitutes one of those "small sins," eh? Instead I'd make a case that this verse shows that examples of previous people were given as illustrations and warnings so we will know how to live or how not to live.
36. (The light is lit) in houses of worship which God has allowed to be raised, and His name remembered in them. His praises are sung there morning and evening.
Lovely visual!! I love hearing God's praises sung! Why do some Muslims believe music is haram? Here is singing right here in the Quran!
40. Or like darkness in a wide, wide sea, waves surging upon waves, with clouds overhanging, darkness on darkness. If you stretch your hand, you could hardly see it. For him whom God does not give any light, there is no light.
Shows how God purposefully keeps some people in the dark on spiritual truths.
Contrast that with this from Jesus:
12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8)
and this about God not having any darkness in Him at all.
5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (I John 1)
and also this from Jesus:
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
45. God created every moving thing from water: One crawls on its belly, one walks on two legs, another moves on four. God creates whatsoever He will. Indeed God has power over everything.
I thought God created man from clay, but I've twice seen reference to His creating everything from water. Maybe it was muddy clay? Just something I wanted to ask about since I've now seen it two times.
From verses 46 on for about the next ten verses one reads how important and necessary it is to obey Muhammad. In fact the Quran says not to swear just obey (vs. 53) him. If you do, you will find success (vs. 52), be rightly guided (vs. 54), potentially be a leader in the land (vs. 55) and be shown mercy (vs. 56). Those are quite good incentives for obeying this mere man.
The remaining verses were more instructions about permissible times to visit people without knocking, when you should knock upon entering someone's room, seeing certain people, eating with them, greeting, blessing them and such things related to manners and getting along with others.
Overall a very interesting sura.