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CRASH COURSE IN THE QURAN Is the Quran violent to the core? Is it the violent radicals who have gone astray? Or is it the peaceful ones who have had to change Islam to get along with the rest of the world? To find out for myself, last fall I decided to re-read the Quran. I tried to be as fair to the Quran as I would want others to be to the Bible. I’d like to share with you the following condensation of what I found. I want to make it clear that I am not an expert on Islam. For that, I would have to know much more about the life of Mohammed and about the traditions that have been added on to the Quran. All I know is what I have read in the book itself. The translation I used is by N J Dawood, published by Penguin Classics. It is 428 pages, and comes with just a few helpful explanatory notes. Be aware that Dawood’s version changes the traditional order of the chapters in the Quran (which are called “Suras”). The Quran’s chapters all have names like “The Cow,” “The Table,” “The Ant,” “The Cave,”, “The Bee,” and so forth. Each chapter tends to be a disjointed collection of statements, although some have a somewhat unifying theme. Mohammed never gave any official order for the 114 chapters in the Quran. No one has been able to nail down any precise chronological order, although it has been suggested that the short chapters are earliest, and the long ones are latest. The traditional order seems to be partly based on length – the longest chapters come first. Dawood puts these chapters near the end. But some of the details we’re most interested in are found in those long early chapters. Most of the Quran’s 428 pages is a continual restatement of beliefs in monotheism, resurrection, judgment, Paradise and hell on almost every page. Unbelievers in the Quran strongly deny that the dead shall ever be raised. The Quran is equally strong in refuting that claim. Over and over again we hear, “Allah does not guide the unbelievers. Allah does not help the unbelievers. Hell shall be their home, a dismal resting place. Swift is Allah’s reckoning. Which of your Lord’s blessings would you deny? To him shall you all return.” For an Eastern religion, the Quran is full of Western either/or logic. 22:62 – “Allah is truth, and falsehood is all they invoke besides him.” 34:23 – “We cannot both be right. Either you or we are in obvious error.” Allah insists that humans have been
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given “clear revelations” and veritable signs, including his creation and care, as proof of Islam. 3:19 says, “The only true faith in Allah’s sight is Islam.” 10:66 says, “Those who worship false gods follow nothing but idle fancies and preach nothing but falsehoods.” 10:36 says, “Conjecture is no substitute for truth.” There is a strong theme of fatalism in the Quran. Allah gives faith to whomever he will, and leaves in error whomever he will. None can guide those whom Allah has led astray. “Allah is the master of every plot… If Allah decrees a thing, none can reverse it”
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This note was uploaded on 09/05/2011 for the course RELIG 358 taught by Professor Chang during the Spring '10 term at Iowa State.

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