This is the 21st part of this series, reading The Qur’an; A New Translation by Abdel Haleem. We’ll occasionally compare that to other translations and with tafsirs for clarification. We’re also reading each “chapter” [surah] in order of revelation [mostly] rather than the order in which they are typically printed. If you missed some of this series, you can see:
my 1st post on surahs 1 & 2.
my 2nd post on surahs 96, 68 & 73.
my 3rd post on surahs 74, 111 & 81.
my 4th post on surahs 87, 92, 89, 93, 94 & 103.
my 5th post jumping to surah 18.
my 6th post on surahs 100, 108, 102, 107, 109 & 105
my 7th post was on surahs 113, 114, 112 & 53.
my 8th post on surahs 80, 97, 91, 85, 95 & 106.
my 9th post on surahs 101, 75, 104 & 77.
my 1oth post on surahs 50, 90 & 86.
my 11th post on surah 54,
my 12th post on surah 38,
my 13th post on surah 7,
my 14th post on surah 72,
my 15th post on surah 36,
my 16th post on surah 25,
my 17th post on surah 43,
my 18th post on surah 35.
my 19th post on surah 19.
and my 20th post on surah 20.
Sūrah 56 (al-Waqi‘a) “That which is coming”
Other sources say this chapter is called “The Inevitable”.
1When that which is coming arrives, 2no one will be able to deny it has come, 3bringing low and raising high.
Until that day comes, I will remain skeptical that it ever will. And if that day did come, it would not glorify God, but would show him to be shallow, unwise and unjust. IslamicStudies.info predicts that there will be scoffers like me, who say that this is impossible or insane, and with good reason, because it is.
4When the earth is shaken violently 5and the mountains are ground to powder 6and turn to scattered dust, 7then you will be sorted into three classes. 8Those on the Right––what people they are! 9Those on the Left––what people they are!
One could interpret this to mean that it doesn’t matter where you land on the political compass, as is all will be judged equally. However, other translations see this much differently. For instance, al-islam.org says:
- Therefore, people on the Right Hand are as if they are personifications of happiness.
- And people on the Left Hand, how unfortunate shall they be because of their vices and unhappiness.
This is that old prejudice where “left” equals “sinister”. So left-handed people or “leftists” are automatically evil or bad.
10And those in front––ahead indeed! 11For these will be the ones brought nearest to God 12in Gardens of Bliss: 13many from the past 14and a few from later generations. 15On couches of well-woven cloth 16they will sit facing each other; 17 everlasting youths will go round among them 18with glasses, flagons, and cups of a pure drink 19that causes no headache or intoxication;
Other sources describe these as “immortal youths” without explanation of whether we’re talking about cherubs or humans who died as children and will consequently never grow up. Either way, doesn’t seem too good for them.
20[there will be] any fruit they choose; 21the meat of any bird they like;
Because even though we are immortal in the afterlife, we still have to eat and drink forever. What happens if we don’t?
22and beautiful companions 23like hidden pearls: 24a reward for what they used to do.
Because women are mere objects in Islam, sexual slaves to be awarded as currency without regard for the wives these men have spent their lives with. Do their past wives even get a seat on these couches? Or are they in the kitchen cooking for their old husbands and their new ‘companions’?
25They will hear no idle or sinful talk there, 26only clean and wholesome speech.
Thus there could be no free speech there, nor free will either.
27Those on the Right, what people they are! 28They will dwell amid thornless lote trees 29and clustered acacia.
I’m glad it said “thornless”, because I just spent three weeks in a South African desert, and some of those trees are completely covered in brutal thorns longer than my fingers.
30with spreading shade, 31constantly flowing water, 32abundant fruits, 33unfailing, unforbidden, 34with incomparable companions. 35We have specially created––36virginal, 37loving, of matching age––38for those on the Right, 39many from the past 40and many from later generations.
Notice that the “right” people really do get virgins in the afterlife. I don’t think it ever specifies that we get 72 of them. So I don’t know where that idea came from. I liked when comedian, Billy Connolly said that he wouldn’t want seventy two untrained and incompetent virgins. Instead he said, “Give me two fire-breathing whores!”
Think about this. These virgins were created for the righteous men in the afterlife. They literally had no life before that. They’re ageless, artificially constructed to be of matching age and they will never grow any older. So if you’re a “right” Muslim, your goal should be to die young! If you like women in their twenties, then you should hope to die by the time you get out of college. Maybe that’s why all these suicide bombers are barely college age themselves?
But it’s worse than that. These women had no lives, and no free will either. They’re artificial also in the sense that they’re loving by design, again without any will of their own. In fact, they are literally toys that were made just for you. They’re specially tuned to you and they belong to you. They don’t have an independent mind or being. They’re basically just sex-robots. Are Muslims really OK with the idea of keeping sex slaves? Because that’s all these inexperienced escorts would be.
It seems obvious to me that the man or men who wrote the Qur’an made all this up to entice the most shallow of male chauvinists and frustrated incels of that era. There could be no appeal in this for anyone who respects women or who genuinely loved his marital partner in life, because he wouldn’t want to replace her with a collection of sex-bots, at least not while not knowing what happened to his beloved life-partner.
What we learn and experience in life, especially as we’re growing up, is what makes us who we are. But since these heavenly virgins had no life of their own before being created for their new masters, they never had any life experience. They don’t have their own interests, aesthetics or opinions, and therefore they are not really people. That they are offered this way also shows that Islam doesn’t think that earthly women are people either. Because so far the Qur’an hasn’t told us what happens to all these men’s wives in life. Do women even get a Heaven at all? Because I’m pretty sure I will not read an up-coming surah talking about these women in Heaven being attended by Chippendale’s sex-machines complete with special attachments.
41But those on the Left, what people they are! 42They will dwell amid scorching wind and scalding water 43in the shadow of black smoke, 44neither cool nor refreshing. 45Before, they overindulged in luxury 46and persisted in great sin, 47always saying, ‘What? When we are dead and have become dust and bones, shall we then be raised up? 48And our earliest forefathers too?’ 49Say [Prophet], ‘The earliest and latest generations 50will all be gathered on a predetermined Day 51and you who have gone astray and denied the truth 52will eat from the bitter tree of Zaqqum, 53filling your bellies with it, 54 and drink scalding water, 55lapping it like thirsty camels.’ 56This will be their welcome on the Day of Judgement.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is almost the only thing the Qur’an says over and over and over again. Believe impossible nonsense for no good reason or you’ll be sorry, followed by the empty threat of more impossible nonsense that no god worthy of worship would even allow, if one existed.
57It was We who created you: will you not believe?
The Qur’an already said a number of times that it was God who decided that I would not believe. So I have no choice in the matter, but he will still punish me anyway for doing what he forced me to do. Because the Muslim version of god is even more unjust than the Christian one.
58Consider [the semen] you eject– 59do you create it yourselves or are We the Creator?
In earlier lessons, we heard that the fallible human author(s) of the Qur’an [Muhammad?] didn’t know that sperm is produced in the testes or that semen is produced in the seminal vesicles. Now we see that he thought that God had to magically create this stuff in our bodies, somewhere “between the backbone and the ribs”, because he had no idea what he was talking about. Now, to make it even sillier, the Qur’an just gave us a dichotomy, to understand that if our bodies can produce semen naturally, then that means there is no God.
60We ordained death to be among you. Nothing could stop Us 61if We intended to change you and recreate you in a way unknown to you.
62You have learned how you were first created: will you not reflect?
I was never “created”, but I often reflect on our actual origins and evolutionary ancestry.
63Consider the seeds you sow in the ground– 64is it you who make them grow or We?
False dichotomy. It isn’t either one of us. The seeds contain DNA, essentially the inherited and incidentally altered instructions for how plant seeds can do that themselves.
65If We wished, We could turn your harvest into chaff and leave you to wail, 66‘We are burdened with debt; 67we are bereft.’
When that happens to believers, they say that God cursed them. When it doesn’t happen, they said God has blessed them. Either way, the make-believers pretend there is a god involved when there isn’t. Things happened however they did because they were caused on other things, real things.
68Consider the water you drink– 69was it you who brought it down from the rain-cloud or We?
Neither. Rain occurs because of the hydrological cycle. No gods or magic necessary.
70If We wanted, We could make it bitter: will you not be thankful?
If you wanted, could you tell your prophets how much change I have in my pocket? Because they can never guess correctly. And for whatever reason, faith-healers can’t actually heal anyone either. If you wanted, could you change that? Could you ever do anything at all that was verifiably you, so that any sane person wouldn’t more reasonably attribute to nature or science?
71Consider the fire you kindle– 72is it you who make the wood for it grow or We? 73We made it a reminder, and useful to those who kindle it,
No, you’re talking about DNA again, a product of the evolution of plants over hundreds of millions of years, not magic imaginary beings we made up in our ignorance only a few thousand years ago.
74so [Prophet] glorify the name of your Lord, the Supreme.
75I swear by the positions of the stars– 76a mighty oath, if you only knew– 77that this is truly a noble Qur’an, 78in a protected Record 79that only the purified can touch, 80sent down from the Lord of all being. 81How can you scorn this statement?
Easy. God swears not by his own authority but on the constellations of astronomy? Of course it’s not really God swearing anything, it’s the men who wrote the scriptures pretending to speak for their god. It’s not a well-protected record either, since no one remembers why some things are even written there, and the authors assumed we would all still be familiar with the provincial folklore of that time and place. It wasn’t supposed to be only for the purified either, as one of its many contradictions was that it was meant for all to understand, and it has clearly failed in that endeavor. All the Qur’an does record is the scientific ignorance, dehumanizing sexism of the superstitious bigotry of its obviously human authors.
82And how, in return for the livelihood you are given, can you deny it?
I don’t deny my livelihood. I just know that it didn’t come from any god, certainly not this one.
83When the soul of a dying man comes up to his throat 84while you gaze on– 85We are nearer to him than you, though you do not see Us– 86why, if you are not to be judged, 87do you not restore his soul to him, if what you say is true?
IslamicStudies.info translates this a bit more clearly: (56:87) why are you then not able to bring them back to life if you are truthful?
The reason we cannot revive the dead is the same reason you can’t do that either. First, because people don’t have souls, and souls were never supposed to be material things that could rise to one’s throat. The idea of souls comes from a misunderstanding of air and what “the breath of life” is or means.
More importantly, if God could really revive anyone who has died, there would be some way to demonstrate that, so that we wouldn’t need to believe whatever we’re told with such credulous gullibility.
88If that dying person is one of those who will be brought near to God, 89he will have rest, ease, and a Garden of Bliss; 90if he is one of those on the Right, 91[he will hear], ‘Peace be on you,’ from his companions on the Right;
Peace be upon you! I don’t know what happened to your wives, but that doesn’t matter. Here are your new companions, specially made just for you.
92but if he is one of those who denied the truth and went astray, 93he will be welcomed with scalding water. 94He will burn in Hell.
Once again, truth is what we can show to be true, not whatever lie you want to call the truth.
95This is the certain truth: 96[Prophet], glorify the name of your Lord the Supreme.
It is NOT truth and it isn’t certain either. If you can’t verify the accuracy of your claims to any degree at all by any means whatsoever, then you cannot certainly know what you merely believe.