The Quran: First Impressions

I’ve been reading the Study Quran, the one with a blue cover. I’m pretty positive on all religions, and I’m on the 2nd surah (chapter) as part of my quest to understand Muslims better. A few opening takeaways:

  1. I was told the Quran plagiarizes the Bible. In contrast, it reads like it assumes you’ve read the Bible. In fact, for me it’s hard to imagine how Muslims would understand much of the Quran if they haven’t read the Bible. It mentions people like Adam and Moses and references their stories without much explanation. The intro to the second surah does say that this particular surah has the most to do with other religions. But if you look at the table of contents, a lot of the surahs have titles of Biblical characters on them. I enjoy reading material that presumes my prior knowledge.

I remember a scene in the Israeli Knesset where Tzipi Hotovely was holding up a Bible saying that the land belongs to the Jews because the Bible said so. The Arab MKs were jeering at her, to which she responded, “the Bible, which you believe, which you believe!”

Other things to discuss:
2. Quranic language is beautiful
3. A lot of Semitic cognates that are interesting (tawrah = torah). I studied some Biblical Hebrew so this would be interesting.
4. Islam is surprisingly universalist in its soteriology.

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If you never read the bible or at least some summary of it, the quran can seem very confusing as its stories are not in chronological order, but rather random bits of things here and there.

So if you wanted to know what Islam said about Moses you would not only have to read through the entire Quran, or at least with a good companion, but also read through the hadiths (which is much larger).

Whereas in the Bible everything is laid out in chronological order so it’s not hard to read about Moses (for example), it’s all in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and some of Joshua.

However the average Muslim isn’t going to pay attention to that. They are going to rely on their imams quoting the right verses or hadiths.

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Have you read the Koran?

What you said sounds spot on, BTW.

And yes I have read the quran before. I was a Muslim for a number of years in my teens.

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For reference:

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You’re like a volume of books.
You’ve opened up various things of your life to the forum in an intriguing light. :+1:

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I read the Quran in 2002 in the wake of the West trying to understand the 9-11 attacks. I don’t have the book with me any more, but what struck me most about it was that it seemed as much more violent than the Old Testament as the Old Testament is more violent than the New Testament.

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Do you recall which translation it was?

Do imams have any Quranic interpretive authority? For a book considered the “verbatim word of God,” there sure is a wide range of interpretation.

2:123 And when his Lord tried Abraham with words, and he fulfilled them. He said, “I am making you an imam for mankind.” He said, “And of my progeny?” He said, “My covenant does not include the wrongdoers.”

The “test” they spoke of seems obvious. What test is Abraham famous for? Everybody knows. Yet the Study Quran has all these interpretations:

  1. Commands given to Abraham about ritual purity.
  2. Central rites of the hajj (i.e. pilgrimage [to Mecca])
  3. Circumcision
  4. Sacrificing his son

My companion is this study Quran and the Bible.

That’s one problem with Islam. There are various schools of thoughts, sects, etc. that interprets things one way or the other, but the religion also suffers from a “one true church” problem. Hence Sunnis kill Shia, etc. because their interpretation of scripture must be right and everyone else who doesn’t are heathens deserving of death.

And some of it is really mundane things like music (which some schools of thought sees music as sinful), what kind of meat is “halal” (and this differs from the old testament by a huge amount, as kosher food is much stricter than halal foods. For example camels and seafood of any kind, except fish is not kosher at all, but camel and seafood is halal as far as I know). And since the Quran seems more like a summary than any factual instructions, a lot of things are open to interpretation. This is why you have hadiths which are much bigger than the Quran, and even acceptance of hadiths are based on sects or schools of thought.

When your salvation and your admittance to heaven is on the line, then which schools of thought, sects, interpretation is correct and won’t earn you Allah’s wrath? It’s really hard to say, especially when the Quran even says no one, not even the prophet can be guaranteed to go to heaven, but then on the other hand says if you die fighting for Allah, you are guaranteed to go to heaven.

Then it’s little wonder how extremist groups are able to get people to blow themselves up to kill heathens or the wrong kind of Muslim.

I think you mean shellfish. Fish is.

Bad punctuation

That’s the problem with religion

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A pox on your orthodoxy;

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I’d say Christianity, if you actually followed Jesus, is no problem at all. Though there are massive problems of churches. But it’s mainly because if you follow Jesus your salvation is guaranteed and you really don’t need to fear hell because you don’t know if drinking beer on sunday is a sin. However if you wanted to follow Islam correctly, it’s much less certain as heaven is not guaranteed, except if you die in a jihad.

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Muslims would say the same thing about their guy (and Buddhists, who would have a better case). The fact is, there are Protestants and Catholics and they have had a schism just like the Sunnis and the Shia.

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Jesus says to love your enemy and all that, turn the other cheek, and be a good human being.

Muhammad on the other hand killed a bunch of guys and if you read the hadith, it’s even worse than the Quran (as far as killing disbelievers or those who disagree with Muhammad).

Sunni and Shia schism is mainly that Sunni believes that the successor should be selected based on merit, and Shia thinks successors should only be Muhammad’s heirs.

Catholic schism happened because the Catholic church started selling salvation (which is completely against Jesus or the Bible), due to the church having financial woes. But in general most churches don’t even follow Jesus that closely, instead prefers to be some moral police.

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I think it could be difficult