Friday, February 20, 2015

Muhammad said what????

I bought a copy of the Koran (Quran, Qur'an - I'll stick with Koran).

No, I am not thinking of converting. Nor do I plan to burn it or desecrate it in any way.

But with all the current debates over Islam and claims about what the Koran says, I figured it would be good to have a copy so I can check things.

I looked at several different translations - consider all the Bible choices! - and not sure which one is preferred, official, authoritative, I picked a Penguin one with an N. J. Dawood translation as I've found Penguin to have a good reputation.

I glanced at it, trying to figure out how it's organized. I also looked in the index for words in the news, like "jihad" or "apostasy." (No luck.) There's plenty on women and marriage and unbelievers, but I have not examined those passages yet. And where are the Satanic verses?

What I've read so far seems kind of flowery, but I guess that's the "poetic" style Muhammad adopted as he dictated his "revelations" from the angel. (At least that's how this translator chose to render his words.)

Why do I keep thinking of Joseph Smith and his "revelations" that produced the Book of Mormon?

Like the Bible, there appears to be a mix of literary styles and genres. Some might be considered "fiction" - like some people regard some biblical stories as fictional in nature. As with the Bible, these stories may be intended to illustrate and instruct. I suspect that as with some Christians and the Bible, there are some Muslims who believe the words of the Koran must all be taken literally, though.

Of course, the Christian in me bristles when that "fiction" involves Jesus. One verse has him saying, "I am sent forth to you from God to confirm the Torah already revealed, and to give news of an apostle that will come after me whose name is Ahmad (Muhammad)." (61:6). Right. Hey, I could make up a quote of Jesus saying something about "a great Secular Franciscan coming, heed his wisdom." (Or maybe I could have Basho saying, "And there is a poet called Slug to come to lead haiku into new depths.")

I did check one of the verses that supposedly sanctions the killing of apostates. The verse (4:89) does call for death, but it seems to be referring to hypocrites, not apostates. I'm not keen on the killing part in general, and I don't know if "hypocrites" can be interpreted as "apostates," but at least in this translation that does not seem to be the case.

I'm not a scholar in these matters. I know we have a hard enough time with varied translations and interpretations of the Bible.

So I'll continue to check it out and use it as a reference book, maybe do some research.

One thing I do like is that each sura (chapter?) begins, "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful."

Nice. Sounds almost Franciscan!

Pax et bonum

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