Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Read the Koran

Why read the Koran

One of the benefits of an Islamic debate is that the goal is so easy. The claim of perfection for Islam means that we only need to find one mistake to bring the whole thing down. However,it helps to read the Koran first in order to debate.

While cutting and pasting from one of the websites that point out Koran errors is good enough, it helps to know what you are talking about. Don't make the mistake that Muslims make. They will send you a link or just cut and paste without even reading the words. I've embarrassed quite a few Muslims by pointing out that their link left the key problem unsolved although their triumphant Muslim author claimed to have solved it all. On a side note...I am not surprised by the false claims because, as you'll see in my last post on Dishonesty, Muslims have no problems with lying.

So...the best source I've found online for Koran translations is the USC site. Scroll down to the chapters. They also have an index and a search. You can ignore the logically flawed Dawaa (Muslim evangelism) about science and the Koran from a single point of view - guess the point of view? Overall, however, it's a great resource for discussing the Koran because it has three translations: Yusuf Ali, Pickthal, and Shakir.

You don't have to know Arabic

Access to multiple translations is key. It is very important because, as I discussed in my Fallacies post, one of the first things you'll hear from cornered Muslims is that only native Arabic speakers can discuss the Koran. As I've said before, this is an appeal to authority and nothing more. There are good translations available. If worse comes to worse, you can use some of the translator sites such as Google's: http://translate.google.com/translate_t. Unfortunately, translation sites do not take into account some of the changes in word use from 1400 years ago until today.

Oh, and while we're talking about translations - Islam means submission (not peace). This attempt to change meanings is one of the great cons by modern Muslims over the Western world.

Again, read the Koran...as much as you can stomach, then read some more. Don't worry, you won't convert :) because the the Koran itself will make that impossible with violent, misogynistic, scientifically and historically inaccurate stories.

The Hadith

"The general practices of Islam, or the Sunnah, come primarily from the hadiths ("reports") about Muhammad's life, which were passed down orally until codified in the eighth century AD, some hundred years after Muhammad's death. The hadiths comprise the most important body of Islamic texts after the Quran; they are basically a collection of anecdotes about Muhammad's life believed to have originated with those who knew him personally. There are thousands upon thousands of hadiths, some running to multiple pages, some barely a few lines in length."
Above paraphrased from Jihadwatch.org.

It's not necessary to read the Hadith because there is so much nonsense and too much to read. Simultaneously, don't be afraid of discussing the Hadith because of your lack of knowledge. The Hadith can be even more embarrassing for the Muslim than the Koran, and can help prove some of the errors in the Koran. Most of the key passages are detailed in sites that expose Islam's flaws. Here are some of those sites (remember this list because you may return to these sites again and again):

FaithFreedom.org - my favorite as this one was started by an ex-Muslim, Ali Sina

SkepticsAnnotatedBible.com/quran/ -line by line review of the Koran, showing contradictions, scientific problems, cruelty,...

JihadWatch.org/islam101/ - a nice intro to Islam

Answering-islam.org , InvestigateIslam.com
Christian sites with a huge amount of analysis. Great reference for detailed analysis.

History

The Koran has an interesting history. When talking to Muslims, you will hear that Mohamed was illiterate, and simply repeated his revelations to others who wrote them down. In fact, Qu'ran means "recitation." What really happened?

Well, one thing we know. The "one and only" Koran was actually many documents until years after Mohamed's death in 632. It wasn't until the reign of Uthman from 644 to 656 that the Koran was unified and completed in one text. In fact, Uthman's work to unify the documents was considered controversial with some thinking that he tampered with the narrative. Obvious question - how can there be many versions of a document form a god? Similar question - how can today's Koran be "the one and only" if it that is historically false?

Abrogation

More from JihadWatch.org:

"Those Westerners who manage to pick up a translation of the Quran are often left bewildered as to its meaning thanks to ignorance of a critically important principle of Quranic interpretation known as "abrogation." The principle of abrogation -- al-naskh wa al-mansukh (the abrogating and the abrogated) -- directs that verses revealed later in Muhammad's career "abrogate" -- i.e., cancel and replace -- earlier ones whose instructions they may contradict. Thus, passages revealed later in Muhammad's career, in Medina, overrule passages revealed earlier, in Mecca. The Quran itself lays out the principle of abrogation:

2:106. Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We {Allah} abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things?
It seems that 2:106 was revealed in response to skepticism directed at Muhammad that Allah's revelations were not entirely consistent over time. Muhammad's rebuttal was that "Allah is able to do all things" -- even change his mind. To confuse matters further, though the Quran was revealed to Muhammad sequentially over some twenty years' time, it was not compiled in chronological order. When the Quran was finally collated into book form under Caliph Uthman, the suras were ordered from longest to shortest with no connection whatever to the order in which they were revealed or to their thematic content. In order to find out what the Quran says on a given topic, it is necessary to examine the other Islamic sources that give clues as to when in Muhammad's lifetime the revelations occurred. Upon such examination, one discovers that the Meccan suras, revealed at a time when the Muslims were vulnerable, are generally benign; the later Medinan suras, revealed after Muhammad had made himself the head of an army, are bellicose."

Now, in my discussions with Muslims, abrogation has never come up. I believe this is because it would be a great way to demonstrate the lack of divine within the Koran. It could also be that most Muslims just believe without thinking. Don't underestimate the power of brainwashing.

Summary

Read as much of the Koran as you can to be prepare for your discussions. The Koran was not made unique until it was collated years after Mohamed's death. Also, many devout believers at the time accused Uthman of tampering with the sacred book. How can a divine book have controversy about its authenticity? Because...it's just a book.

Next post...let's get started errors and contradictions

15 comments:

Muslims Against Sharia said...

Many people talk about the need to reform Islam. Now you can stop talking and start helping.

With the help of our readers we went through the Koran and removed every verse that we believe did not come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. However, it is possible that we missed something, and we could use your help. If you find verses in the reformed version of the Koran that promote violence, divisiveness, religious or gender superiority, bigotry, or discrimination, please let us know the number of the verse and the reason why it should be removed. Please email your suggestions to koran-AT-reformislam.org.

When we finish editing process, we would like to publish Reform Koran in as many languages as possible. If you could help with translation or distribution of the Reform Koran, please email us at koran-AT-reformislam.org. If you could provide financial support, please visit our support page.

In Memoriam of Aqsa Parvez.

http://www.reformislam.org/reform.php

Silly Allah said...

While I applaud your attempt to "clean up" the Quran, I think they are in vain. You see, the whole religion goes upside without a divine Quran delivered in revelations by the prophet Mohammad. Do you think that Mohammad was making mistakes? Then he was not a prophet.

You know that the current Quran was put together during the reign of Uthman less than 30 years after Mohammad's death. Are you saying that Uthman's men made up all of the verses you want to remove? Somehow that doesn't make sense to me. Also, there is still lots of scientific and historical mistakes left.

To me, the best answer might be to just say it's a man-made religion with no divine intervention.

wastegate74 said...

Why reform quran?Quran is a perfect book for all mankind.There is no other book as perfect as quran.
If u insist on doing so,by all means
but it will not be sucessful.Islam is invincible.The more you would try to bring down Islam ,the more stronger we get Alhamdullilah.
Unlike bible,there are so many version and so many contents which leads to confusion and there are no directions.If u gather all the quran in the world,you would find it identical not an ayat or surah changed.Subahanallah

Muslims Against Sharia said...

wastegate74,

"Quran is a perfect book for all mankind."

how land has it been since your last infidel slaying?

Daisy said...

First I would like to state that I am not a Muslim and am not an apologist for Islam or any other religion. However, I am aware that all religions have some positive and some negative points, so do not love or hate any religion more than others - I treat them all as equal.

About your 3 translations of Quran, they are by far the most frequently used and give a fairly general understanding of what the verses are saying. However, English translations of the Quran have been sanitised, because first translations were done in the Victorian Era and the later translations have simply updated the English language. Whenever I have to use the verses from Quran, I get the verses translated from an Arabic scholar who is quite progressive in his ideas. Then, I read up the history of pre-Islamic and early Islamic Arabia to understand the context in which any verse was composed. If you do this exercise, you'll realise that all the translations of Quran are far removed from the Arabic text. The only way to know the Arabic text is to either learn Arabic or go to an Arabic scholar who is not orthodox in his temperament. To give a small example, the descriptions of Paradise in Quran say in the English versions that the fatithful will enjoy with the "companions pure." This has led many believing Muslims to state that these references are for both men and women and talk about the rewards for them in afterlife. However, if you get the Arabic text read by a scholar, you'll find that the term for "companions pure" in Arabic is in fact feminine gender - meaning divine women are to be given to the faithful (men). Nothing specific is mentioned about the women - they are supposed to accompany their husband who is also going to enjoy with the divine women (Houris).

Same with Hadiths - the Hadith about Aisha's age at marriage in Bukhari says "When the Prophet WROTE the marriage contract with Aisha", meaning that it was a written contract. However, getting the Arabic text read showed that the verse doesn't have any word for "wrote" - it simply says when the "Prophet made me (Aisha) his wife." Marriage contracts were mainly oral at that time. Others professed their terms of marriage in front of Muhammad, but in front of whom did Muhammad profess his terms of marriage? Did he simply tell Aisha's father he wanted Aisha and was she simply brought to him? So far I haven't found a reference about this.

The point that I am trying to make is that you shouldn't be too sure of the English translations - they do not follow the verses closely. If you get close to the verses, you may be even more shocked than you are now! But take it as the custom of those times which should be changed now.

Silly Allah said...

Fair enough Daisy, except I know a few Arabic scholars whom I query when I need help. I even understand a little Arabic myself. Finally, as you'll see in some of the posts, I don't always rely on only the three standard translations.

My experience (and others as you'll see on ex-Muslim sites such as FaithFreedom.org) is that the ugly truth about Islam is inescapable. Therefore, I must respond that you are misleading the readers of this blog by suggesting that "The only way to know the Arabic text is to either learn Arabic or go to an Arabic scholar who is not orthodox in his temperament." This is overstated, plain and simple.

Finally, your two examples are non sequiturs to the key issues they follow. You focus on the phrase "companions pure" and relate that to gender. What people are actually disgusted by is the male-centered focus of Islam. Your comments don't change that. Paradise has Houris to pleasure the men. Women are an afterthought in the afterlife.

WRT Aisha, again the disgust is elsewhere. Here, it is revolting to even imagine a 51 year old man [Muhammad] marrying a 6 year old [Aisha] and consummating said marriage when he was 54 and she 9. The Hadith are quite clear. Follow the link and keep reading as there are four posts.

Daisy said...

I didn't contest the age of Aisha - just quoted to show you how the English translation differs from the Arabic verse, raising even more grave concerns about whether it was a "marriage" at all.

And I am not trying to change the gendre-centric view of Islam by citing the example of the Islamic Paradise. In fact, on another blog I said that the Islamic Paradise was mainly meant for men and someone wrote back to say that the verses didn't say "divine women" but "companions pure." This led me to do this research to find out that the verses do speak in the feminine gender - the English translations have sanitised them by using the term "companions pure" - which means that the Arabic verse is aimed specifically at men, but if someone uses only the English translation, s/he is going to be misled into thinking that it's meant for both men and women.

I am not contesting the male-centric view of Islam, just saying that English translation is not as exact as people may think. Since most people don't have access to an Arabic scholar who is not orthodox - it's difficult to find such a person anyway - and they can't learn classical Arabic either, there is really no option for them but to read the translations. But they should be aware that the Arabic verses may say something different from what they are reading and hence, they may have to crosscheck with an Arabic expert whenever they get a chance.

Silly Allah said...

In short, I am all for cross-checking with Arabic speakers (again, those interested readers can find many at FaithFreedom.org) and getting more data. I have no fear that additional data might change the end conclusion about Islam, and even encourage the search for more data (after all that is the point I'm making above). However, I stand by the wording of the original post:

one of the first things you'll hear from cornered Muslims is that only native Arabic speakers can discuss the Koran. As I've said before, this is an appeal to authority and nothing more. There are good translations available.

Jedi master said...

Question: When you say "Qur'an means recitation" what if it means the this book was recited before it was translated and represents this?

Silly Allah said...

Jedi Master,

Not sure exactly of your question, but I'll give a try. The Quran was supposedly "revealed" to Muhammad over a period of about 23 years. He then had followers that were instructed to learn and recite the laws. Eventually, those reciters wrote it down on whatever was available (even palm fronds). Then, after Muhammad's death, Ali ordered all these pieces put together to make the book we know today as the Quran. As you can imagine, it's hard to know how good a job was done in putting all those pieces together. Thus, there is some controversy about the authenticity of the Quran, but Muslim leaders have learned to squelch that one, understandably. For a fun experience read the Wikipedia article on the Satanic Verses.

Jedi master said...

You are the best

The Lazy Desi said...

One very obvious error in the Quran is the very first Surah; Al Fatiha. Quran according to muslims is meant to the literal word of allah. As in this is exactly what allah said to muhammad and he regurgitated it verbatim. So when muhammad was "reciting" it back he was essentially saying it as what allah would have said. Surah Al Fatiha if read is not from allah's point of view.

1:5 To you we worship and to you we turn to in help.

1:6 Show us the straight

1:7 The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.

How does the allah end up talking to himself? There is no reference that I can find anywhere that this surah was made a special case for allah teaching people ho to pray to him.

I still don't quite understand why allah needs a medium like muhammad for his revelations. Was mind control not invented back then by allah?

Silly Allah said...

You're funny Lazy Desi. I've been swamped for quite some time with my real job - I have a post on this one half-completed...really need to finish.

Anyway, thanks for returning!

The Lazy Desi said...

I don't usually comment on blogs but religion aka bullshit for some reason prompts me to. Good job on this site. I appreciate the objectivity you maintain in presenting the materials as well as responding to idiotic fallacies and threats that follow. Not that you look like you need any help at all but I'd be glad to assist if needed. Looking forward to that post you mentioned!

Silly Allah said...

You're too kind. Hey, you should blog a bit! I'd definitely follow.