Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Allah's final message

Let's imagine for a moment we're God. Think Bruce Almighty. But instead of being offered the job on a short term contract, like Bruce Nolan, the down-on-his-luck TV reporter who complains to God that he isn't doing his job correctly, we've got the job for life.
Now imagine that we feel our creation needs a little guidance. We've apparently spoken to them once or twice before (in fact we've had to do more than speak to them - we got so pissed off on one famous occasion we drowned the lot of them except for one beardy bloke and his family). 
But they either didn't listen or changed the message. So this time we're going to make it crystal clear that this is THE FINAL TIME we'll be giving any advice. It doesn't matter that mankind has still got a lot of growing to do, will have to cope with immense and worrying changes ...wars...agrarian and industrial revolutions...the arrival of travel. No, 7th century is definitely it and henceforth mankind is on his own. Period.
Now obviously we're going to have to choose how to deliver the message so that there can be no doubt about its authenticity. It would be a bit embarrassing, after all, if we went to all that trouble and then the majority of them still said it was bollocks because we gave it to a bloke in a cave in the desert who kept on saying to his wife he thought he was possessed. 
And we're going to have to ensure whomever we choose to receive the message (if we do decide to give it to just one person, which - let's be honest - is a bit risky) doesn't use it to gain political or financial advantage - because that might make people a bit suspicious as well.
Anyway, back to the message. Do we all agree that if we decide to deliver it in instalments, we leave very clear instructions as to how it should all be put together at the end. It would be awful if some jobsworth got his hands on it and decided the most logical thing would be to arrange it in order of length, for example! Cuh! Can you imagine!
Right, content. I don't think we need to tell mankind how awesome we are, do we. I mean we're God and omniscient and omnipresent and omni-everthing! So we surely don't need to spend lots of time reiterating the fact. And I don't think threats will do us any good. Let's not scare the bejesus out of them by telling our creation how we're going to toast them 'til they're crispy if they don't believe we're kind and merciful, and the only god, and no other bastard god comes anywhere near us! Sorry - bit carried away there.
Perhaps we should go over those rules they seem to be finding it difficult to follow. The ones about not killing each other. Especially not just because of someone else's  beliefs. I think we need to stress that one, don't you? 
I also think we need to break the habit of a thousand years or so and suggest that compassion and tolerance are to be valued above all. I'd hate to think that any of them could use our final advice to them as a justification for hatred (or worse!) of others. 
I think that needs to be our priority. Whatever we say must be so clear that it is impossible for it to be abused for purposes other than for what it was designed. It shouldn't be too difficult. We're God, after all. We just say and it is! In fact, I think if our words are ever used to justify murder and hatred and homophobia and misogyny, then that could be seen as a proof that we don't exist. So we'd better get this sorted.

Seeing as somebody set a precedent about revealing things bit-by-bit, I think we'll leave the rest until next time.


  1. The final revelation to mankind is complete if only you open your mind to its message.
    - No compulsion in religion. Ch.2
    - Spend your money for the good of others. Ch.2
    - Do not be guilty of usury, doubling and quadrpling the sum lent. Ch.3
    - Value justice, for both poor and rich, even when it adversely affects you. Ch.4
    - Don't hate other people. Treat everyone fairly. Ch.5
    - Whoever saves the life of one, it is as if he had saved the life of all. Ch.5
    - Don't kill your children to avoid poverty. Ch.17
    - Be kind to others, forbid injustice. Ch.22
    - Men and women should help each other with love an mercy. Ch.30
    - Pay the poor due - many places
    - Repel evil with goodness. That way your enemies will become your friends.Ch. 28&41
    - Wrong to opress people. Ch.42
    - Free slaves, feed the hungry, and exhort one another to pity. Ch.90
    - To you your religion, to me mine. Ch.109

    As you can see the length and breadth of the Quran give mankind the greatest morals and ethics to live by. When people cherry pick out the so-called bad verses out of context of the situation Muhammad was under at the time being oppressed and persecuted by the Pagans/Jews they fail to grasp its true meaning.

    You speak about the modern age of computer, space travel, cities, etc. The Quran contains much sgns and science. It explains about the big bang, expanding universe, gaseous origins, 7 layers of atmosphere before we even had space travel. It informs us of the intricacies of embryology, our composition from water, iron sent from space, water barriers at sea, speherical earth and much more. I know many try to refute these but not satisfactorily.

    If we read without negative bias you will find its the only scriptue to provides such a high level of morality, law and science.

    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Thank you for your thoughts. Believe me, I have tried to open my mind to the Qur'an's message. But that surely doesn't mean I should leave my critical faculties to one side, does it?
      The point of my (light-hearted) piece was to highlight what I see as some of the logical hurdles we must overcome if we are to accept that God was responsible for the Revelation. You are right that the Qur'an contains all the things you mention in your chapter references(although I would dispute it tells us to free slaves!)but we have to wade through so much irrelevant, repetitive, and at times incoherent stuff to find the nuggets of advice it seems to me to be a very inefficient way of guiding mankind. Not only that, but we also have to IGNORE those verses which tell us to KILL people because the Qur'an, of course, was written at a SPECIFIC TIME for specific political situations. Hardly a promising or likely setting for God's eternal final message to us.
      "OK, mankind. This is the last time I, your benevolent and merciful creator, will give you a revelation. Now I realise there are some fairly hairy bits in here about slaughtering the infidel, but you'll just have to take those with a pinch of salt.I'd hate to think that you'd take it literally and go around killing people in my name just because I told you to. You have to read my final message IN CONTEXT."
      Really? Am I reading it with a negative bias or are you reading it with your eyes closed because your culture tells you the Qur'an cannot be anything other than perfect?
      How can a perfect book from God seriously tell me it's OK to sleep with my slave girls?

    2. Strange that you condemn cherry-picking of the bad verses yet the very verses you use to support the high morality of the Qur'an are ripe cherries, many taken out of context.

      Let's take the "no compulsion in religion".

      Q2:256 There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break.

      Let's look at the trditions to ascertain why this verse was revealed to Muhammad:

      Sunan Abu Da'ud 14:2676 When the children of a woman (in pre-islamic days) did not survive, she took a vow on herself that if her child survives, she would convert it to a Jew. When Banu an-Nadir were expelled (from Arabia), there were some children of the Ansar among them. They said: We shall not leave our children. So Allah the Exalted revealed; “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error.”

      This verse was to counter the conversion of children surviving sickeness to Judaism. In those times, should a contagious illnesses strike, the women would pray that if their children survive they would convert them to Judaism. Also when Muhammad conquered the Banu an-Nadir Jews and was expelling them from their land, the Ansars (converts from Medina) pleaded for their family there to be spared. But they would have had to convert to Islam.

      To this end Muhammad revealed the verse giving Allah's guidance that people were not compelled to convert their children to Judaism should they survive an illness, nor are their family compelled to stay in their Pagan/Jewish religion they were born in. It was permissible to convert their children/relatives to Islam.

      This no compulsion in religion is strictly a one way affair however. You are not compelled to stay in any non-Islamic religion. However once you are a Muslim you are compelled to remain in Islam. This verse sought to give God's sanction that it was acceptable to leave a religion and come to Islam, 'the right direction' as he puts it.

      It should also be noted that within this verse, although the first sentence says ‘there is no compulsion…’, it continues with condemnation of those who do not accept Allah for they are in error and accept false deities.

      Even the very next verse denounces non-Muslims as being patrons of false deities who lead them into darkness and ultimately to be residents of hell.

      Q2:257 Allah is the Protecting Guardian of those who believe. He bringeth them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into darkness. Such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein.

      And if there is no compulsion why would we have the following:

      Q3:85: If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who are losers.

      As Muhammad became more powerful the no compulsion turned into brute force - 'slay the idolaters wherever you find them' (9:5), 'Fight against those who believe not in Allah until they pay the Jizya with willing submission' (9:29), 'fight them until disbelieve is no more, and religion is for Allah.' (2:193 & 8:39).

      Then of-course there's the Hadiths, but I'm sure you get the picture by now.

    3. Then there is the killing of a person is like killing of all mankind? Well maybe we can take that cherry and also disect it. Let's read the full verse:

      Q5:32 For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs of Allah's sovereignty, but afterwards lo! many of them committed excesses (oppression and sinfulness) in the land.

      Firstly, note that this verse is directed to the children of Israel, the Jews. God sent his messengers to deliver his decrees only to the Jews, his chosen people. Also it is apparent that in those days the God of the deserts of Israel and Arabia had little concerns for humanity that occipied the rest of the globe. Although the Jews were the recipients of these messages many did not heed them and hence were sinful in the land.

      There were two conditions put forth in the verse which in effect would necessitate killing; these are manslaughter and corruption in the earth.

      The final part of this verse indicates that God sent his messengers with proofs of his sovereignty; however man did not heed these messages but instead committed sin in the land. People who commit sin in the land have ‘corrupted the earth’ and hence according to this verse are to be killed. Allah has laid down rules that if disregarded amounts to sin/corruption in the land. Rules regarding alcohol, food, gambling, idolatry, worship of multiple Gods, etc.

      Additional light can be shed on this verse when we look at the very next two revelations from Allah.

      Q5:33 The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;

      Here, Allah points out what is to be done to those who oppose Islam and those who cause corruption in the land. They are to be killed or crucified or if very lucky have their limbs severed. And as we learn from the actions of the prophet himself, confiscate all their properties as war booty including the women and children.

      Q5:34 Save those who repent before ye overpower them. For know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

      We learn from this verse that the merciful Allah recommends sparing those who repent and accept Islam prior to being overpowered. If repenting is not forthcoming then killing or crucifying and mutilation are sanctioned.

      Hence this so-called non-killing verse is rendered as quite a murderous verse when taken in context.

      The verse written in plain English taking into consideration the subsequent verses, would read as follows:

      The Jews were informed by the messengers of Allah, that to kill a human being is equivalent to killing all mankind unless the killing is for manslaughter or corruption in the land. Those who continue to commit sinfulness in the land or oppose Allah and his messenger should be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet cut off, or expelled from their land. They will suffer an awful doom in the afterlife anyway. But if they accept Islam before you conquer them give them safety and protection.

    4. Once again you have laid the evidence before us with clarity and succinctness, Azim. Thank you.

    5. > Don't kill your children to avoid poverty.

      Wow! Thanks for the protip!

    6. I liked what your wrote in your blog, Spinoza. Maybe you could share more of your comments at the forum

      I, for one, will read more of your posts. Keep up the blog!

  2. How can Muslims claim that the Qur'an abolishes slavery?????
    33:50 - "Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave girls whom God has given you as booty."
    Oh - hang on. I'm cherry-picking verses, aren't I!

    1. indeed, anon! I wonder as well.
      Perhaps there is a Muslim reader who will take up the challenge.
      Surely this is yet another arrow pointing to human authorship.

    2. In the original comment above I did say 'free' slaves and not 'abolish' slavery. The Qu'ran and hadith does mention that there are great benefits for freeing of slaves. This would have been a great improvement at the time. Encouraging such an action was suppose to eventually reduce and eliminate slavery over time. It may have taken a long time I agree but that is only because of the greed of man, not the instructions of God.

      2:177 ...and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free;
      5:89 Allah will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths, but He will take you to task for the oaths which ye swear in earnest. The expiation thereof is the feeding of ten of the needy with the average of that wherewith ye feed your own folk, or the clothing of them, or the liberation of a slave,
      90:12-14 Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Ascent is! (It is) to free a slave, and to feed in the day of hunger.

      Those are some examples of commands to free slaves. A vast improvement on the Bible and Torah and hence revolutionary for its time.

  3. It would be great if there was a website (not run by Muslim-haters nor promoters of a rival religion, but ideally ex-Muslims and nice atheists like yourselves) that had pages or sections entitled with common Islamic arguments like "Islam was designed to end slavery" or "The Quran says the dead sea is the lowest point on earth". Underneath it would have refutations of their arguments (perhaps in wiki format for continual refinement though administrative headache) and/or links to the best pages on the web. As it stands there's quite a lot of pretty good stuff and occasionally some great nuggets of info scattered about on blogs and forums but no "directory" or collation in one place of the best info and points as a quick & easy reference. Sadly I'm not motivated enough to make one myself but eventually someone will I hope :)

    1. I think wikiislam is pretty good. I don't think they have an axe to grind (but I may be wrong - I haven't looked into it a great deal)
      There certainly does seem to be a growing backlash against the more ridiculous Islamic miracle sites.
      I'm happy, of course, for people to believe what they want - as long as they know ALL the information before they make their decision.
      That's all this site is for, really.

    2. I like your attitude and site very much. Wikiislam has some really good pages (it's the work of many contributors, so no surprise) and also some less accurate things.

      The big problem for wikiislam is that it has a bad reputation among Muslims for being run by people with an axe to grind (the people who run it, not all contributors necessarily - I have somewhat hesitantly added improvements to it myself for want of a better platform and made corrections). They constantly add news stories about bad things that Muslims do (terrorism etc.), with no counter-balance. It's important that such things are collated somewhere, but to only have negative stories about Muslims will inevitably feed the Muslim-haters and turn people against 1 billion+ decent people. It also gives a certain impression to visitors about the attitudes of those who run the site.

      What I have in mind is something that steers clear of things that could adversly affect views of Muslims, but rather focuses on critiquing arguments supporting Islam (even that ought to avoid the impression that Islam has no good and is all "evil"). Being run by ex-Muslims and sympathetic non-believers would make such a difference and also to how the work would be perceived. I imagine contributors could be vetted from members of the cemb forum or bloggers.

      Such a platform would also encourage people to produce useful research given a major and (relatively) uncontrovesial platform.

      The cemb site had a wiki, but it never reached a point where it was worth maintaining. I think it will take a group of like-minded individuals to produce such a site, and as more people leave or become interested in Islam it might just happen.

    3. > The big problem for wikiislam is that it has a bad reputation among Muslims for being run by people with an axe to grind (the people who run it, not all contributors necessarily

      You don't have to worry much about that because it's a fallacious rebuttal i.e. ad hominem

    4. Thanks for all your comments, everyone.
      I agree that some sites are anti-muslim as opposed to anti-Islam or even just anti-mindless-following-of dogma-anywhere, which is really what this blog is all about. It's just that my friend got so obsessed with the scientific miracles that I felt I had to do something once I started to research and found so many lies and so much misinformation out there.
      Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus... all just people.
      That's my deep thought for the evening...

  4. this is FALSE stop doing it

  5. Replies
    1. What is false, Anon?
      And I don't respond to orders, I'm afraid. Have a word with Monty Python if you find the picture offensive. I come from a culture which has a long and honorable tradition of poking fun at figures of authority. That includes God.