Saturday, December 8, 2012

ARQ Project: Preface & Al-Fatiha

I meant to start this earlier in the week but it's been a *long* week around here. One of our dogs died and I'm apparently the only adult in my house. :( The rest of my family is more emotional than I am and the death made them all want to not eat and that's just not how it works. Anyway. On to the project!

I've decided to call it the Amber Reads the Qur'an Project or ARQ for short. That'll be the tag on all the posts.

Because I am that kind of person, I always read the preface of any book that has one. The translation of the Qur'an I'm using (The Holy Koran translated by S.V. Mir Ahmed Ali) has one, written by the editor/refiner of the translation, Yasin T. Al-Jibouri. Two things struck me from the preface.

1. Scientific 'miracles' in the Qur'an are touted as being a sign that it must be from God. Personal pet peeve, perhaps, but this annoys me. Not that science and religion can't mix, but the claim is always that these things weren't known until recent times and then the counter argument comes up that no, see, the Greeks or the Romans or the Whoever knew it and the knowledge wasn't lost so of course that's how Mohammed heard these things. It's all he said he said and, *shrug*, I've just never been impressed by any of it. Heck, I recently saw a topographical map that showed that the tectonic ridge lines in the oceans look like a giant serpent trying to eat it's own tail. Does that mean that it's Jormugandr and the Vikings were right about Ragnarok?

2. This is more of a question. The author references the Night Journey (Isra' and Mi'raj) and says: "How could this Messenger (s.a.w.w.) then describe in minute detail all that he had seen in the seven heavens in one night, his observations and the places he had reached? Is there any human who can refute his reflection or contest his documented statements? Even his contemporary opponents could not disprove his statements." I assumed that there was, somewhere, a detail description of the Temple Mount, where Mohammed is said to have been transported and led the other prophets in prayer somewhere. I've searched and come up with Hadith, but nothing with the level of detail that could be double checked and verified. Most of the Hadith about the Night Journey that I've found focus on Mohammed's ascent through the heavens in order to come before God. Which descriptions thereof are, of course, *not* disputable. All the descriptions we have of 'heaven' come from individual, subjective experiences. And they do vary from culture to culture, as well as by religious background. So how can that be argued with? 'No, you're wrong. When *I* went to heaven in looked like *this*!' And then you whip out that picture you snapped while in heaven.

I'm going to try to keep these posts to reasonable lengths, so I'll just say briefly of al-Fatiha: It makes sense. If there is a god, and only one God and he made us and everything in the world, then yes all praise would belong to him and no one wants to be on the side of the people who have gone astray from a benevolent God's path for humanity.


  1. 'No, you're wrong. When *I* went to heaven in looked like *this*!' And then you whip out that picture you snapped while in heaven.

    This is basically how every theological debate looks to me now. :D Perfect summary.

    I'm sorry about your dog. :( I hope you and your family are doing okay with that.

    1. This is basically how every theological debate looks to me now. :D

      Me too, a lot of the time. I've given up on there being a Truth and I'm just looking for a faith that works for me.

      Thanks. The family is doing better now.

  2. Sorry about your dog. But I am enjoying these posts already. I always really liked Surah Al-Fatiha. That is one of the few where the whole thing makes complete sense and isn't rooted deeply in the culture of the time.

    1. Thank you.

      Hah. You say that *now*, just wait until I actually have something to talk about in the post.

      Surah al-Fatiha and the message in it are short and to the point. There's not much to argue about within it, really.

  3. What happened to your dog? I'm so sorry!!

    Ah, you should see my photo album of the pictures I took in heaven. They are great. ;)

    Loved the post.

    1. She'd been sick for two days, just acting lethargic and then she started having seizures and stopped eating. We took her to the vet and they were doing a complete blood work up to see what was going on. That was on Monday. On Tuesday my Dad came home and she was dead. Her blood work came back perfect so we think that her heart must have given out. She'd had cancer years ago so we knew she was living on borrowed time. Didn't make it any easier for the rest of my family though. They're a lot more sensitive than I am. :/

      Susie, if I believed that *anyone* had candid pics of heaven, it'd be you. :D

  4. Replies
    1. I occasionally imagine that I'm punny.


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