I'm behind and these are short, note wise, so I'm going to combine two surah's into one post. :)
First, surah 8 al-Anfaal or Spoils of War:
41. And know that whatever ye take
as spoils of war, lo! a fifth thereof is for Allah, and for the
messenger and for the kinsman (who hath need) and orphans and the needy
and the wayfarer, if ye believe in Allah and that which We revealed unto
Our slave on the Day of Discrimination, the day when the two armies
met. And Allah is Able to do all things.
I don't know why I find this verse interesting, I just do. Whatever a warrior captures in battle, he's to give a fifth of it up to God, the messenger, and people in need. And it doesn't seem, to me, that a fifth of an individuals' booty is an exorbitant amount. I know some people have this vision of Mohammed as a greedy, power hungry man and I just don't see it. If he was really all about the money, there was an opportunity here to demand a much larger portion of the booty for 'god' and the orphans, which of course Mohammed would be the executor of. It happens in modern times, in different 'Christian' missions or programs.
43. When Allah showed them unto
thee (O Muhammad) in thy dream as few in number, and if He had shown
them to thee as many, ye (Muslims) would have faltered and would have
quarrelled over the affair. But Allah saved (you). Lo! He knoweth what
is in the breasts (of men).
Okay, so this verse is laid out as though God lied to Mohammed in order to get him into this battle. He showed Mohammed, in a dream, the army arrayed against him so that Mohammed would pass this information on to the Muslims following him. But God showed him a much smaller force than was actually there. This falls into the same category as the assertion that God tricked everyone at the Crucifixion into believing that they had crucified Jesus by putting Jesus' face on another man. It does not sit well with me that God lies. People can make their own choices, fine, and they can choose rightly or wrongly but for God to deliberately mislead people just...doesn't work with my concept of God as an ultimate Good.
53. That is because Allah never
changeth the grace He hath bestowed on any people until they first
change that which is in their hearts, and (that is) because Allah is
I read this as something like a 'God helps those who help themselves' saying. I know so many people who sit around and do nothing in the face of all the tragedy around them, all of the shortages and deaths that could be prevented (and I know plenty who do something about these things too), saying that God will take care of it. That this suffering is God's will and that there's a purpose to it. Which is just bullshit. I don't believe that God's got his fingers in everything that happens. The earth is kind of like a preserve, or an ant colony. God set things up, got the ball rolling, and then stepped back to watch for the most part. Because if God was intervening in every little thing then we wouldn't really have 'free' will, would we?
And now surah 9, Baraah or Repentance.
30. And the Jews say: Ezra is the
son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah.
That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those
who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How
perverse are they!
And again, this is a misunderstanding of what is meant by the use of the term 'son of'. It's not used in a biological sense. Christian's don't believe that God came down like Zeus or any of the old gods and physically impregnated anyone, and neither did the Jews. There are actually two different meanings being used here and neither of them is the one that the Qur'an seems to think is being used.
31. They have taken as lords beside
Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when
they were bidden to worship only One Allah. There is no Allah save Him.
Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!
*sigh* No. No one worships monks or priests or Mary or anyone else. There is a distinct difference between the worship directed at God and the honor given to Saints.
34. O ye who believe! Lo! many of
the (Jewish) rabbis and the (Christian) monks devour the wealth of
mankind wantonly and debar (men) from the way of Allah. They who hoard
up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, unto them give
tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom,
People suck. Even people who have supposedly given their lives to God can suck. We have free will, we can make these choices. That doesn't mean that you should discredit an entire group based on the fact that some of them aren't trustworthy. It just means that you should be careful who you trust. Don't follow blindly, don't just hand over your money for some project you know nothing about.
80. Ask forgiveness for them (O
Muhammad), or ask not forgiveness for them; though thou ask forgiveness
for them seventy times Allah will not forgive them. That is because
they disbelieved in Allah and His messenger, and Allah guideth not
I can't help but think of these verses from Matthew: 21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.3 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So
when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved
and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
In the ayah from the Qur'an it feels like God is saying, 'It doesn't matter. I'm done with you.' and turning away because these people have made mistakes. I realize that it is saying that *Mohammed's* prayers for forgiveness for other people will make no difference to their fate and I assume that the implication carries through that if these people who have sinned repent and pray for their own forgiveness that they will be granted it if they are sincere. But it just feels less hopeful to me somehow than the passage from Matthew. I think it's clear, Biblically, that there is no *earning* of salvation or forgiveness. God forgives because God loves. It seems, to me, to be less clear in the Qur'an.
Is that how it seems to the rest of you?
Especially in light of these ayah further down:
102. And (there are) others who have
acknowledged their faults. They mixed a righteous action with another
that was bad. It may be that Allah will relent toward them. Lo! Allah is
Forgiving, Merciful. 103. Take alms of their wealth,
wherewith thou mayst purify them and mayst make them grow, and pray for
them. Lo! thy prayer is an assuagement for them. Allah is Hearer,
It reads as if the people are having to pay for Mohammed to perform some sort of purification on them (even though we are told above that Mohammed's prayers for people to be forgiven make no difference). I know that, in the past, such things have happened in other traditions. They were wrong in those traditions and wrong in general.