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Al-Falaq: Oh, I’m a nerd

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn,
From the mischief of created things;
From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads;
From the mischief of those who practise secret arts;
And from the mischief of the envious one as he practices envy.

I was so excited when I reached the short suras. I thought they would all be like Al-Kafirun: easy to understand. But they're not. There's no context at all. No set-up.

What jumps out at me here, honestly, is the line "seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn… from the mischief of darkness as it overspreads; from the mischief of those who practise secret arts."

For all my supposed intellectual heft (which I throw around every chance I get) I am a nerd. And a little ashamed and embarassed by that. See, I like fantasy stuff, like World of Warcraft and book series like Mistborn or Wheel of Time.

Robert Jordan has this epic, 15-book series called the Dragon Reborn (or the Wheel of Time) and the protagonist is called "Lord of the Morning" and "Prince of the Dawn." His enemies, a cast of fallen heroes who practice forbidden dark arts to help Shai'tan (Arabic for Satan, oddly enough) are trying to spread darkness over the world. Lord of the Morning is too similar, and the most dedicated of the protagonist's supporters are clearly inspired by Bedouin Arabs.

I wonder if Robert Jordan read this sura. He was definitely familiar with a variety of religious traditions and mythos, including character and plot lines from Ragnarok; the circularity of time from the Kalachakra, the concept of theistic duality (one good, one evil) from Zoroastrianism; the Yin-Yang balance and symbolism from Daoism; and a whole bunch of other stuff.

This is all to hide the fact that I don't have a shred of insight to share on this sura. Nothing at all.

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