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al-A’raf: The fall of Lot’s tribe

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

080: And We sent Lot, who said to his people: "Why do you commit this lecherous act which none in the world has committed before?
081: In preference to women you satisfy your lust with men. Indeed you are a people who are guilty of excess."
082: His people made no answer, and only said: "Drive them out of the city. They profess to be pure."
083: But We saved Lot and his family, except for his wife, who was one of those who stayed behind.
084: And we rained down on them a shower (of stones). So witness the end of sinners.

That's a short story with Lot, and as someone who isn't that familiar with the Bible, I went to the source to compare.

Lot definitely wasn't a messenger in Genesis. He was just a man living in Sodom, though one could infer from Genesis 18:16-33 that Lot was a righteous man and a member of Abraham's tribe. Lot encountered two male visitors/angels on evening, and took them to his house to have dinner. Then a mob of Sodomites showed up, asking Lot to toss the angels/visitors out of his house so that the mob could have an orgy with the two men (or gang rape them if they weren't willing). Instead of sending out the angels, Lot offered to let the mob gang rape two of his virgin daughters. Nice fucking guy, pardon my French. A footnote in the New Jerusalem Bible states "at that period the honour of a woman was of less account… than the sacred duty of hospitality." Hospitality more important than letting your daughters get gang raped?

Anyhoo, nobody is gang raped, best as I can tell, but at dawn, the angels rush Lot and his family out of Sodom (but not his future sons-in-law, and can you blame them? Would you believe a man who just gave a gang of your neighbors permission to gang rape your bride-to-be if he told you God was about to destroy your house? Not only wouldn't I believe him, but he'd be saying that through a mouth full of broken teeth). God unleashes fire and brimstone, destroying the cities on the plains, and Lot's wife looks back (against God's command) and gets turned to a pillar of salt.

I find it interesting the Qur'an doesn't mention the desired gang rape of two angels, nor the offering of two virginal daughters to be gang raped instead. The gang isn't interested in rape at all, they just want to run Lot out of town.

The Biblical Lot frankly deserves eternal damnation. The Qur'anic Lot is just a homophobe.

al-A’raf: Noah and the Flood

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

The story of the flood is ingrained in the Abrahamic tradition, so much so that there's a scientific debate dating back to 1996 about whether a sudden flood in the Black Sea 7,000 years ago could have been the root event of a variety of flood mythologies, from Gilgamesh to Noah (as well as causing the spread of agriculture in Europe and the Middle East).

I have a pretty strong recollection of Noah from Bill Cosby. He's probably the main source of my understanding of the story. What's clear is that Noah never went out and talked to anyone, he was never a prophet. God told him to build an Ark to save a remnant of God's creation.

Let's go to the New Jerusalem Bible (Genesis:6) again:

Yahweh saw that human wickedness was great on earth and that his heart contrived nothing but wicked schemes all day long. Yahweh regretted having made human beings on earth… and Yahweh said, "I shall rid the surface of the earth of the human beings whom I created… But Noah won Yahweh's favour… Noah was a good man, an upright man among contemporaries, and he walked with God…

God said to Noah… "Make yourself an Ark…" For my part I am going to send the flood, the waters… to destroy all living things.

Noah did… exactly as God commanded.

And then the flood came for forty days and forty nights, etc., etc. You know the story.

Here's the Qur'anic version:

059: We sent Noah to his people, and he said: "O people worship God; you have no other god but He; for I fear the retribution of the great Day may fall on you."
060: The elders of his people replied: "We see clearly that you (Noah) have gone astray."
061: "I have not gone astray, O my people," Noah said, "but have been sent by my Lord, the creator of all the worlds…
063: "Do you wonder that a warning has come to you from your Lord through a man who is one of you, and warns you to take heed for yourselves and fear God?…"
064: But they called him a liar, and We saved him and those with him in the Ark, and drowned the others who rejected Our signs…

The Biblical Noah reacted to God, followed his commands to build an Ark, but brought no message to his people to save them. God had already judged.

The Qur'anic Noah brought a message to his people to save them, but was spurned, so God saved Noah and his family by placing them on the Ark.

The stories are the same, and yet so profoundly different. The Qur'anic Noah is clearly a Messenger just like Muhammad, and the result of rejecting of Noah's message shows what will happen if Muhammad's message is rejected as well.

al-A’raf: Man’s fall

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

019: "And you, O Adam, and your spouse, live in the Garden and eat your fill wheresoever you like, but do not approach this tree, or you will become iniquitous."
020: But Satan suggested (evil) to them, in order to reveal their hidden parts of which they were not aware and said: "Your Lord has forbidden you this tree that you may not become angels or immortal."
022: …When they tasted of the tree their disgrace became exposed to them; and they patched the leaves of the Garden to hide it. And the Lord said to them: "Did I not forbid you this tree?…"

Read Genesis:3, and you'll get much the same story, albeit expanded, including a better explanation of what eating the fruit of the tree gave Man (the ability to tell good from evil, not just modesty and immortality).

But here's where it gets interesting; where the Qur'an forks from the Bible. First, Adam and Eve beg for forgiveness in the Qur'an, rather than making excuses about who tempted whom in Genesis.

023: They said: "O our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, If You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we shall certainly be lost."
024: "Go," said God, … "and live on the earth for a time ordained, and fend for yourselves."
025: You will live there, and there will you die," He said, "and be raised from there on Judgment Day."

The Bible moves right on to Cain and Abel after the explusion, but the Qur'an does something else entirely, which snaps to the entire narrative thread about Man being lost, and forgetting or garbling the message of God. The sons of Adam, the entire future lineage of mankind, is brought forth to receive a warning from God.

027: O sons of Adam, let not Satan beguile you as he did your parents out of Eden,… we have made the devils the friends of those who do not believe,
028: … [W]hen they (some of the sons of Adam) commit (future) shameful acts…
029: Tell them: "My Lord has enjoined justice, devotion in all acts of worship…"
033: Tell them: "My Lord has forbidden repugnant acts… sin and unjust oppression…
035: O sons of Adam, when apostles come to you from among you, who convey My messages, then those who take heed and amend will have neither fear nor regret.
040: …Those who deny Our signs and turn away in haughtiness from them, the gates of heaven shall not be opened, nor will they enter Paradise, until the camel passes through the needle's eye…
042: As for those who believe and do good… they are men of Paradise where they will abide forever.

From the moment of man's expulsion from Eden, all men and women not yet born received a warning from God about how to conduct their lives. More important, they are advised to heed future prophets from God, as it is likely that they will lose their way without guidance.

It's a stunning moment. Time is removed from the equation, and at one moment, every soul yet unborn receives a direct message from God.