The Quran: First Impressions

And therein We prescribed for them: a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds, retribution. But whosoever forgoes it out of charity, it shall be an expiation for him. 5:45

This verse provides a general description of the law of retribution found in the Torah, although forgoing the retribution out of charity is not mentioned in these Biblical passages.

Sample of structural parallels between Hebrew and Arabic:

  1. VSO structure.
  2. Adding t- and m- to verbs to make them nouns.
  3. Tri-consonantal roots

The Quran alludes to the Cain and Abel story without naming Cain and Abel. I’ve decided to write a book–Bible Background for Quran Readers–and pitch it to an Islamic publisher.

And recite unto them, with truth, the account of Adam’s two sons, when they each offered a sacrifice, and it was accepted from one of them, though not accepted from the other. 5:27

Seems likely someone interested enough in reading a book like that would just read the Bible.

Muslims are Calvinists.

Even if We were to send down angels unto them, and the dead were to speak to them, and We were to gather all things in front of them, they would still not believe, unless God wills.


Whomsoever God wishes to guide, He expands his breast for submission. And whomsoever He wishes to lead astray, He makes his breast narrow and constricted, as if he were climbing to the sky.


The overarching theme, after having read six chapters of the Quran, appears to be God’s sovereignty. The fact that everything happens according to God’s sovereign decree is consistent with the theme. Not ascribing partners to God. When I first learned that Muhammad couldn’t be depicted, I originally thought it was out of reverence for Muhammad; in contrast, it’s so Muhammad wouldn’t be worshipped. The Quran guards against the human tendency to deify non-Deities, like Mary and Buddha.

I’m through 25% of the book and still haven’t encountered anything violent.

One surah had war instructions but it covered logistics (you can interrupt your prayer if you’re being attacked).

You know about how all the religious books (including the Quran) being more about sticks than carrots…

It seems that’s the only way to enforce a certain behavior. If you tell people that the almighty God will kill you in the most horrible way imaginable, backed up by religious police who will do those horrible things, you tend to do as they say. Versus someone explaining to you with proof and logic and reason why you should do those things (or not do them).

Like you ever just use logic to explain to a criminal why they should not murder, vs. having the state murder said criminal if he murders someone. Then that example will cause other criminals or would be criminals to not murder.

Same could be said of every other behaviors that the ancients found unacceptable or even harmful (at the time) and therefore needs to force everyone to not do them.

Base on how the region was like when Islam was formed, it is very understandable why Quran turned out the way it did.

Also, since both Hebrew and Arabic are Semitic languages, they probably do share same myth and legends anyway. Maybe not of Moses, but definitely about Adam or Noah. So even without the strong Jewish presence on the peninsula at the time, most Arabs at the time would probably get reference of characters from the Torah.

A strong Christian presence on the peninsula probably also meant most of them probably have a passing familiarity with key New Testament stories.


There is a Canaanite myth about a fallen deity that finds its way in some form in the Old Testament and in the Quran. In the Quran, the angel Iblis refused to prostrate to Adam, arguing that he is made of fire while Adam was inferior because he was made of clay. So he fell from heaven.

There is A TON of material about Moses in the Quran.


There are people like Tom Holland who asserted that Muhammad must’ve been from Palestine because he had a sophisticated understanding of the Bible and the gnostic gospels. According to Muslim records, Muhammad was illiterate.

Recently I’ve run into a book by Robyn Walsh, a classicist, who claimed that the Gospels weren’t written based on oral tradition as traditionally assumed, but that they were products of a Roman elite who may or may not be Christians with an “interest” in Hebrew scriptures. She just can’t believe Galilean peasants can produce such a work. I think she’s full of it, but it’s too interesting not to read.

Didn’t know Spidie has so much opinion on Muhammad

She looks like she could play a character in the next Spidie movie as well. It could be titled “Spider Man: Hereafter Home”

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Don’t want to divert the topic, but I think that the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John, were obviously written later by more educated followers (NOT Roman elites). Mark, the first Gospel, was written thirty or so years after Jesus’ death by someone more rough-hewn.

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Yeah Mark was written in awkward Greek. It may have had an Aramaic original.

Persians are not Arabs and are most of the Shia

Also, I think Indonesians are nearly completely Sunni, so there would not be a schism.

Iranian society is very secular, even if the regime is Shia.

Sounds like a schism along those who control the silk road and those who control ocean trade to me.

It’s not because there are also Aran Shia.

I’m not sure your logic for saying that. Persians can’t stand Arab

? Wild assertion

They had a religious revolution in Iran and put the Ayatollah’s in charge. How is it a secular society?

Are you talking about Persian in the West?

That’s pretty well known. Some on Forumosa have pointed it out too.

Back around 2010 religious observance in Iran was comparable to USA levels.

When I was in Budapest, I talked to a Danish girl whose parents are from Iran. She said she thinks most people in Iran are atheists.

Just because the government is an Islamic theocracy doesn’t mean the people are observant.

Here Israel’s security expert describes Iranian society:

You are basing this on a girl you met while traveling? Give me some actual numbers or studies

It’s not true btw. Society rejected secularism.

If we are throwing out anecdotes, I know a guy who comes from a liberal intellectual family in Tehran. We went hiking here and he freaked out at me afterwards while at dinner for taking a photo with beer on the table, which planned to put on Facebook. He said he would be attacked by his family and extended family.