An Infidel reads the Qur’an, Chapters 87, 92, 89, 93, 94 & 103

An Infidel reads the Qur’an, Chapters 87, 92, 89, 93, 94 & 103 March 5, 2019

My first post about reading the Qur’an was Chapters 1 & 2.
My second post was on Chapters 96, 68 & 73.
My most recent post was on Chapters 74, 111 & 81.
As each chapter is so short now, I’ll cover maybe a half dozen of them at a time from here on.

According to Tanzil.net, the next chapter in “order of revelation” is:

Chapter 87 Al-A’laa “The Most High”.

[Prophet], glorify the name of your Lord the Most High, who created [all things] in due proportion; who determined their destinies and guided them; who brought out the green pasture then made it dark debris. [Prophet], We shall teach you [the Qur’an] and you will not forget—unless God wishes; He knows both what is open and what is hidden—We shall show you the easy way. So remind, if reminding will help. Those who stand in awe of God will heed the reminder, but it will be ignored by the most wicked, who will enter the Great Fire, where they will neither die nor live. Prosperous are those who purify themselves, remember the name of their Lord, and pray. Yet you [people] prefer the life of this world, even though the Hereafter is better and more lasting. All this is in the earlier scriptures, the scriptures of Abraham and Moses.

So we will never forget, unless God wants us to, because nothing about God can ever be tested or falsified. We just gotta believe what we’re told or we’ll be sorry. Why does the God of Abraham punish people for not believing what is not evidently true nor reasonable?

The one interesting line here is that we will neither live nor die in Hell fire. A footnote from the translator, M.A.S. Abdel Haleem implies that we will live but not enjoy living in the great fire, but it doesn’t sound like that to me. Quran.com also says “Neither dying therein nor living”. Does that mean our bodies are thrown into the flames while still alive? Whatever that means, we’re still expected to devalue the one life we know is real against the threat of a fate worse than death—if we don’t believe unsupported assertions of impossible absurdity. If what we hear about God is true, he certainly can’t be just.

Chapter 92 Al-Lail “The Night”

By the enshrouding night, by the radiant day, by His creation of male and female! The ways you take differ greatly. There is the one who gives, who is mindful of God, who testifies to goodness—We shall smooth his way towards ease. There is the one who is miserly, who is self-satisfied, who denies goodness—We shall smooth his way towards hardship and his wealth will not help him as he falls. Our part is to provide guidance—this world and the next belong to Us—so I warn you about the raging Fire, in which none but the most wicked one will burn, who denied [the truth], and turned away. The most pious one will be spared this—who gives his wealth away as self-purification, not to return a favour to anyone but for the sake of his Lord the Most High—and he will be well pleased.

Here again, as in the last verse, the threat of a fate worse than death for unbelievers is weighed against the vague promise that everything will be easy if we just believe. It’s never about morality. We’re not judged for being good or bad. Believing *is* good and not believing is “wicked”. You’re supposed to believe and do good, but there can be no good if you don’t believe; which ironically only makes this harder [for me] to believe. If God were real, it wouldn’t be this way. He’d know better than to reward credulity or punish people for being sensible instead of gullible.

Chapter 89 Al-Fajr “Daybreak”

 By the Daybreak, by the Ten Nights, by the even and the odd, by the passing night—is this oath strong enough for a rational person? Have you [Prophet] considered how your Lord dealt with [the people] of Ad, of Iram, [the city] of lofty pillars, whose like has never been made in any land, and the Thamud, who hewed into the rocks in the valley, and the mighty and powerful Pharaoh?
All of them committed excesses in their lands, and spread corruption there: your Lord let a scourge of punishment loose on them. Your Lord is always watchful. [The nature of] man is that, when his Lord tries him through honour and blessings, he says, ‘My Lord has honoured me,’ but when He tries him through the restriction of his provision, he says, ‘My Lord has humiliated me.’ No indeed! You [people] do not honour orphans, you do not urge one another to feed the poor, you consume inheritance a greedily, and you love wealth with a passion. No indeed! When the earth is pounded to dust, pounded and pounded, when your Lord comes with the angels, rank upon rank, when Hell is that Day brought near— on that Day man will take heed, but what good will that be to him then? He will say, ‘Would that I had provided for this life to come!’ On that Day, no one will punish as He punishes, and no one will bind as He binds. ‘[But] you, soul at peace: return to your Lord well pleased and well pleasing; go in among My servants; and into My Garden.’

I think every single chapter so far has threatened damnation for the unbeliever, and hasn’t said much of anything else. But this chapter says that God also offers curses and blessings in judgement while we live, based on how we behave. Just like the Bible [Leviticus 26] implies that God will reward the righteous and punish the evil doers in this life, not the next. But then there’s still that enigmatic day of judgement, which only sorts believers apart from infidels, and is obviously just another extortion device.

Chapter 93 Ad-Dhuhaa “The Morning Brightness”

By the morning brightness and by the night when it grows still, your Lord has not forsaken you [Prophet], nor does He hate you, and the future will be better for you than the past; your Lord is sure to give you so much that you will be well satisfied. Did He not find you an orphan and shelter you? Did He not find you lost and guide you? Did He not find you in need and make you self-sufficient?
So do not be harsh with the orphan and do not chide the one who asks for help; talk about the blessings of your Lord.

Just assume that whether anything is good or bad about your life at the moment depends on how happy God is with you. Never question your assumed conclusions or confirmation bias.

Chapter 94 Ash-Sharh “The Fig”

Did We not relieve your heart for you [Prophet], and remove the burden that weighed so heavily on your back, and raise your reputation high? So truly where there is hardship there is also ease; truly where there is hardship there is also ease. The moment you are freed [of one task] work on, and turn to your Lord for everything. 

Now God, (or the Angel Gabriel or Moroni or whoever is supposed to be speaking) is just repeating himself. You just gotta believe! Convince yourself and do not doubt! Is that really all the Qur’an ever says? It doesn’t even tell us what to believe. Just make damned sure you believe it; that’s all.

Chapt3er 103 Al-Asr “The Declining Day”

By the declining day, man is [deep] in loss, except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to the truth, and urge one another to steadfastness.

So far the Qur’an is better than the Bible only in that it is shorter, with several whole chapters being no more than a single paragraph each. This chapter would fit on a fortune cookie, and it would be just as vague. Setting aside the Qur’an’s misdefinition of “truth” for the moment, am I to interpret that the unbelievers who die before the day of judgement will actually be dead rather than have an immortal soul sent to Heaven or be torched in Hell fires? I can’t be sure. Because none of these chapters really say anything. At least the Bible has stories.

Here is our panel discussion about the above content.


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