An Infidel Reads the Quran: Surah 2:195-232


Be charitable, God likes that.

Do your pilgrimages to the holy cities, but if you can’t, make an offering instead and don’t shave your heads until the offering arrives. If you’re sick or hurt, you can fast or give money to charity or worship locally. If you’re stopped from continuing the journey, resume it when you can with an offering, but if you can’t do that, then fast for three days during your trip and seven when you return. God is watching.

If you’re on the Hajj, no sex for you.

{Okay, side moment, it’s just odd to me that in almost all of our religions, sex is considered somehow impure or impious when God obviously came up with the idea (assuming He exists and created us.)}

Back to the text, also, you can’t fight or be a bad guy while you’re on the Hajj. God is watching. Take what you need, but it’s best to be righteous.

When you get there, remember God and then leave when it’s time to leave and ask God to forgive you. You can’t just ask God to bless you, you have to ask God to bless you, give you a share in the afterlife, and not set you on fire forever.

If you have to leave after two days, God is okay with that.

There are people who seem really happy because they’re rich and have nice things and enjoy wine and sex and stuff, but God is going to burn them with fire forever.

And there are people who really dive deep into this religion stuff to make God happy. God likes these people.

Are we waiting to believe until we see God coming with angels?

(Well… yeah… that would be definitive proof of God’s existence. I’d definitely believe. And if he said, “Mohammed was right” then I’d convert. If he said, “Moses was right”, I’d become a Jew. If he said, “I’ve heard some really nice things about that Vishnu chap,” I’d become a Hindu.)

Ask Israel how many signs God has given them.

(Well, I’ve read the bible and God didn’t come off great in the Old Testament being all murder-y for things like picking up sticks to burn on a Saturday, so I’m guessing most of those signs were probably made up. And aren’t you specifically telling me that the Jews got the whole religion thing wrong? Now you’re using their religious tradition as proof of your own? That doesn’t make sense.)

Oh, okay, more promises of God burning people forever…

People who aren’t Muslim will live good happy lives, but then… you know, God burns them with fire forever.

Humanity used to be united, but then religion got introduced and everything went to hell. But God totally guided us into the truth because I say so…

Seriously, your lives are going to suck, but God will make things better soon. Really soon. Promise.

Give freely.

Also, you’re going to have to fight and die. You may ask “Why do I have to fight and die for God when God is all-powerful and could do it himself?” Good question. Maybe fighting, bleeding, and dying is GOOD for you? Huh? Huh? How do you know?

Can I kill infidels during the holy month? Well, killing is bad, but being an infidel is worse.

You can’t drink and you can’t gamble as a Muslim.

Take care of orphans.

God could make your life even more miserable, but didn’t, huh? So be grateful for that.

Don’t marry pagans unless they convert. Because who would want to come home every day to have sex with a hot hippie chick who likes to explore when you could come home to a religious woman who has to go away from you for one week out of the month because of her girl cooties. Because God is seriously grossed out by lady parts even though he designed and built them that way.

Don’t make an oath that keeps you from serving God. God doesn’t pay attention to your hasty unintentional oaths, which is good news, I don’t have to become a Christian missionary to Africa now.

If you want to freeze your wife out of your awesome genitalia, because I’m sure she’ll just be begging you for sex if you do… you have to wait four months and try to reconcile first.

If a woman is divorced, she has to stay off the market for three months. And the husband that kicked her out can drag her back home if he wants to. Just like in the bible, girls, you’re still below men because we wrote the holy books, so ha ha.

You can divorce a wife twice, then you have to keep her permanently or let her go. And you can’t take back the stuff you give her, unless you think they cannot maintain God’s limits. I’m not sure what that last part means and maybe that’s the point. Giving us men a nice loophole to demand the ring back after we dump her.

If you divorce your wife and I guess the three months is over, you can’t remarry her until she marries another man and then he divorces her.

If you divorce your wife, keep her or let her go after the three months, but you can’t keep her to make her life miserable.

And lastly for today, if you divorce your wife, wait out the three months and she wants to get married to someone else, you can’t stop her. She belongs to him now.

And, of course, any violation of these terms means God gets to…

Set you on fire forever! That’s right! How did you guess?

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An Infidel Reads the Quran: Surah 2:164 – 194


The existence of boats is proof of God’s existence.

Idolaters are going to burn in hell.

Eat what is legal and good. Don’t be like Satan.

You shouldn’t follow your ancestors’ customs and teachings because they might have been stupid and ignorant not like we enlightened men of the 8th century CE. We totally know what God says to do.

Okay, so you can’t eat roadkill. Gosh darned it. I was going to run over some possum for Xmas dinner. No blood, no pigs, and nothing offered to other gods. But if you do it because someone shoved bacon into your mouth, it’s okay, God will overlook that.

Seriously, if you don’t do what I say, God is going to make you eat fire forever.

Righteousness doesn’t come from religious rituals, but from faith and through the giving of money to the close relatives, the poor, the orphans, the homeless, the beggars, and to free slaves. “Obligatory charity” is my new favorite oxymoron.

If a Muslim murders someone, then they face punishment, life for life, slave for slave, or woman for woman, but if the family says, “Eh, he was a jerk anyways, just give us 50 shekels and we’ll call it even” then it’s all cool. But if you keep getting into fights, then God is going to burn you.

God wants you to make a will and do estate planning before you die. But if someone tries to alter the will, God will burn him with fire.

God wants you to fast in general and fast during Ramadan in particular, but if you’re sick or travelling, God is okay with you eating provided you buy a hungry person a meal too. You can eat, drink and have sex at night. But you can’t have sex while you’re at mosque. That’s God’s place and he really doesn’t want you guys humping in his place.

Don’t defraud or steal or offer or take bribes.

Go into people’s homes through the front door, not the back door.

You can fight people who attack you, but you can’t attack first. God doesn’t like people who throw the first punch. But once they do, you can kill them, banish them, exile them, but don’t fight on holy ground unless they do first.

But if they stop fighting you, show mercy because God is merciful.

Fight until there is no longer any oppression and everyone worships the right God.

 

An Infidel Reads the Quran: Surah 2:114-163


Surah 2:114-163

Okay, we’re back. Let’s see what else Mohammed has to say in this Surah.

So if you outlaw religious expression of God and desecrate houses of worship, you’re going to hell.

Everything belongs to God. He’s all-knowing and all-present.

Christians say God has a son, but Mohammed says God owns everything and all are obedient to God, which… didn’t we just go over Satan and mankind being disobedient? I’m a bit confused. Is he saying that God ordains creatures to disobedience and evil too?

God’s given you all the signs you need, so stop asking for more proof…

If you convert from Islam to Christianity or Judaism, then God will be mad at you.

You’re a loser if you’re not a Muslim.

And we’re back to talking about the Jews. Remember God’s blessing, they’re his favorite people… but they need to look out for judgement day. (Duh duh duh duh duh…Terminator theme!)

God promised Abraham that he would be a leader of humanity. Abraham asks about his kids, but God says ‘I’m not promising the sinners anything.’

Abraham prays that God would bless the obedient, and God says “Yeah, yeah, but seriously, I’m going to set the unbelievers on fire forever and it’s going to suuuuuuuuuck.”

Abraham and Ishmael pray that God would accept their worship and make them submissive to Him and forgive their sins.” This must have happened before Abe kicked Ishmael and Hagar out into the desert to die. Father of the year, that one.

Oh, and they finish the prayer by asking God to send a prophet to teach them all about Islam. Wow, that’s some foresight.

Abraham tells his kids and Jacob… wait.. was Abraham alive when Jacob was born… quick Google search.. oh, hey, yeah, according to the biblical timeline, they did share a few years together. I bet Isaac never let him go camping with Grandpa alone. Ha ha ha… yeah… he tried to kill Isaac once…

Anyway, Abraham teaches them about God and his religion Islam and Jacob teaches his kids, and if Christians and Jews say they’re right about religion, you can say that we respect all of the prophets, but follow and submit to God.

God is… the best at… coloring? Okay, yeah, I guess that makes sense.

Tell those Christians and Jews that you don’t want to argue about theology because you all worship the same God even if you’ve gotten it right.

God wants you to pray facing Mecca so we can tell who is right and who is wrong.

Don’t be skeptical and question things. Okay, no, I’m sorry, even if I don’t agree with him on everything, I think Paul had a better outlook, “Test everything, hold fast to what is true.” If something is from God, it should be able to stand skeptical inquiry.

Seriously… face Mecca when you pray.

Remember God and say, “Thanks.” He appreciates it.

There is an afterlife.

Some of your lives are going to suuuuuuck, but it’s just God testing you. That sounds familiar.

God has two sacred hills named Safa and Marwa and if you’re on pilgrimage, you should walk around them. God appreciates it.

If you reject faith, God tortures you with fire forever.

There is only one God. Benevolent and Compassionate. (Of course, there’s the problem of evil again… it’s difficult to believe that pediatric cancer is somehow part of a benevolent deity’s plan for humanity.)

Man… this is harder than the bible to read through. Maybe it flows better in Arabic, but Mohammed seems to be jumping around all over the place a lot in the English translation.

An Infidel Reads the Quran: Surah 2:40-113


Surah 2:40 – 113

Okay, looks like the next section is calling the Jews back to God. God says if they keep us their end of the bargain, he’ll keep his. Be religious… don’t be hypocrites… seek the Lord.

Remember how I got you guys out of Egypt, Red Sea, killed Pharaoh’s army, all that, and then you guys worshiped a cow god instead? But I forgave you and gave you the Law. Moses calls them to repent, but in this story, the Jews say, “No, not unless we see God” so God kills them with lightning (It’s super effective) and then resurrects them all.

Then God leads them to a city to go and eat lunch and tells them to ask pardon, but some of them say other words instead, so God kills them with a plague.

Moses hits the rock and 12 streams come out and give Israel water.

The Jews complain about the lack of diversity in their diet and ask Moses to ask God to make veggies grow in the desert for them, and God tells them that if they really want good food, they can turn this caravan around and go straight back to Egypt… which had all of its food destroyed by the plagues, so maybe God forgot that part of the story.

Then the Jews killed the prophets because they were wicked.

Oh, but verse 62 says that Jews, Christians, and Sabeans (which I guess are Ethiopians from a quick Google search) can go to heaven if they believe in God and the Judgement Day (cue Terminator theme music here) and act righteously. Good to know.

Then Moses tells the Israelites to sacrifice a heifer to God and they want to know which cow they need to kill, so we go through a scene where Moses has to keep running back and forth from God to the people to give them the necessary details so they pick the right cow to kill for God.

Then the Jews murdered someone, but God brings him back to life.

But the Jews are hard-hearted and hypocrites. (I’m starting to sense a theme in this book…)

Woe to those who write their own scriptures and claim it’s from God so they can make money. (O-kay…)

Seriously, God will set you on fire forever if you make him angry.

Seriously, the Jews suck.

They rejected Moses and Jesus. So God curses them for their unbelief.

Jews suck and don’t believe any of these religions that claim new revelation from God. If they really believed in an afterlife, they’d kill themselves. But those evil Jews want to live even more than pagans do. God will punish them.

The Jews are so evil, they have evil Jew magic that they learned from two devils named Harut and Marut during the reign of Solomon. So the Jews practice their Jew magic and can cast a spell causing marital discord… which… I was expecting fireballs or Wingardium Leviosa at least. But apparently Jew Magic isn’t that cool.

God predestines you to mercy or Hell.

We don’t go around replacing scriptures unless we can think of a better one.

Seriously, don’t question my authority or you’re damned and don’t listen to those Christians or Jews trying to convince you they’re right. They know I’m right, but they’re just jealous…

Okay, here’s a good bit. Pray and give money to the poor. God sees and will repay you in kind.

Christians and Jews say, “No one can enter heaven unless he’s part of our group.” You should ask them for proof. (Good comeback. Of course, one could ask you the same thing.)

But everyone who submits to God and does what is good will have nothing to fear.

Christians and Jews both read the bible and say the other one is wrong. God will sort it out on Judgement Day. (Dun dun dun duh duh! Terminator theme!)

An Infidel Reads the Quran: Sura 1 and 2:1-39


Sura 1: The Opening

It’s a prayer of thanks to God, the gracious and merciful, the lord of worlds, and the judge, ascribing worship and our prayers of help. The author asks that God would guide him on the straight path, the path of His blessing, and not the path of the misguided whom God is angry with.

 

Sura 2: The Heifer

Verses 1-39:

This is the book in which there is no doubt, a guide to the righteous, and if you believe in things you can’t see, prayer what it tells you to pray, give, and believe what you’re told, you can be certain of heaven.

If you disbelieve, God makes you deaf, blind, and will torture you.

(Wow. They don’t waste any time here. It took the Bible until the New Testament to introduce God setting folks on fire forever. You think God could find another solution to unbelief, like… I don’t know… appearing to modern man… or just saying, “Alright, you scamps, I get it, you thought there wasn’t a god, so 10,000 years in Purgatory for you, and then we’ll call it squarsies.”)

Some people say they believe in God and the judgement, but don’t. They deceive themselves, but don’t know it and God will bring on them a painful punishment.

Also people who claim to be reformers, but are troublemakers. (So don’t question our authority or God will set you on fire forever? Martin Luther must be glad he was Catholic.)

And people who think Islam is foolishness and refuse to conform.

And the hypocrites.

They’re evil and unbelievers even though God surrounds them and He could do bad things to them.

So worship God, attain piety.

God made the Earth, the sky, and causes the rains to grow crops, so don’t worship other gods.

If you doubt Mohammed here, then write your own book and get witnesses to say it’s from God, but if you don’t then you’re in danger of hell. (This really isn’t a valid argument. Joseph Smith wrote his own book and he has witnesses. Doesn’t make him right.)

The good people will have plenty of fruit to eat and pure spouses and will live that way forever.

God uses anything as an object lesson, if you believe, and if you don’t, you’ll doubt God, but He misleads you because you’re evil.

You’re a loser if you disobey God.

How can you doubt the existence of God since you’re alive? (It’s the only possible explanation, Robin.)

God said to the angels, “I’m going to produce an heir on the Earth.”

“Is he going to be a jerk and kill stuff and sin while we have to fly around singing about how good you are?”

“I know things you don’t know.”

So God made Adam and taught him the names (of the angels?) and asks the angels to tell him the names (of each other or mankind?) and they say, “Eh, we don’t know. We only know what you preprogrammed into our noggins, Lord.”

So God has Adam tell them their names and God commands the angels to bow down to Adam, and they all do, except for Satan. (I guess Satan and God aren’t buds in this one.)

Then mankind goes to Eden, but screws up and gets kicked out, but God is merciful and doesn’t roast them like ants with a giant magnifying glass. But he does say, “Okay, guys, go live out your lives, but when I come and give you guidance, if you listen to me, you have nothing to fear, but if you disobey, seriously, I will light you on fire forever and ever.”

(Okay… let’s see… wow… 200 more verses to go in this one… I guess maybe I’ll stop here for the day. So far, it sort of reminds me of Proverbs, but with more threats of divine destruction. I guess Mohammed was a bit more hard core about theology than Solomon.)

An Infidel Reads the Quran: Prologue


Hello, everyone,

When I was growing up, I attended parochial school. A very strict Baptist school. So my first exposure to the religion of Islam was that it was a false religion, here are the basic beliefs, and here’s how, as good, little, Christian evangelists that Jesus expects us to be or else, is how to refute those beliefs.

Growing up in the 80’s, Arabs and Libyans were always the bad guys in the movies. Terrorists killing in the name of Allah. And then came 9/11… and I joined most of America in cheering along the war machine as it invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Later, I realized that the latter war was based on lies, that the United States helped fund and train Al Qaeda back when they were the heroes of Rambo III, that we continued to help and assist Saudi Arabia which was exporting the sort of Islam that was inspiring Al Qaeda, and that the Iranians had a very good reason for not liking us and kicking out the strongman we helped place over their country.

Islam is still confusing to me. It’s hard as a Westerner and an American to separate the religion from the culture. I can respect and accept that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful people who, like me, just want to work and live in peace and leave their children a better world, and I’m happy for that. I would love one day to be able to travel the Middle East, enjoy the food, and meet them.

But Islam the religion seems to have inspired some people towards darkness.

So… here I am. I’m going to read the Quran for myself. I’ll be looking it over just like I looked over my own scripture. I will be reading it in English, because my talents do not include linguistics. And when I find something worthy, I will point it out. When I find something objectionable, I will point it out.

So, if that bothers you, then ignore my blog for the next few months. If you want to have a dialog, comments are open and I approve all of them except spam, profane, or violent ones. If you want to read along with me and laugh occasionally, then welcome to the next series in my personal exploration of world religions.

Who knows? If the book is truly God’s word to humanity, maybe I find what I am lacking in it. I am highly skeptical, but if God is and God did, then perhaps he will work a miracle.

The TL:DR Bible: Epilogue


What do you do when you wake up and you realize that you have doubts about your faith? I turned to my scriptures and I read them.

Did it help resolve the doubts?

No. It made the doubts stronger. Whether it’s the contradictions or the immoral moral laws supposedly dictated from on high to a desert tribal leader that we have no historical or archaeological evidence for, it seems almost certain that the bible was written by men addressing the issues and the culture of their own day.

So what did I find?

Well, I found out that there is a theme of social justice running from the prophets through the New Testament. I found a debate about the place of outsiders and whether or not God or a God could love them. He does. I found some good moral instruction.

And I found that it’s time for me to leave Evangelical Christianity behind. The current state of its politics make it easier, as does the views of most Evangelicals towards progressives in general and liberal Christians in particular.

At the end of the journey, I have more questions than answers, more doubt than faith, more ignorance than knowledge. I am an agnostic Christian who isn’t sure a God exists, but likes the idea of a benevolent one and a future hope and thinks that social justice is worth fighting for.

So call it what you will, judge me according to your standards, I have to be true to my own heart and mind. And if there is a loving God worthy of worship, I’m sure He (or She) will understand.

Thank you for reading along with me.

When I have time, I will compile all of my posts, edit them, and produce them in  book form. If you’re interested in that, stay tuned, I will announce when it’s ready.

But, for now, it’s time to move on to the next Abrahamic religion.