This is the 22nd 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 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.
my 20th post on surah 20,
and my 21st post on surah 56.
Sūrah 26 (Ash-Shu’arā) “The Poets”
This sura is supposed to be Meccan, except for verse 197 and 224-227, that are from Medina. This is also supposed to be the same author, but it follows a very different sort of repetitive style, which tells me that it wasn’t written by the same guy who wrote the rest of this.
1Ta Sin Mim
Once again, we begin with an unintelligible sequence of Arabic letters for reasons no one knows, and which are just another part of his alleged message which Qur’anic scholars have to admit is meaningless even to them.
2These are the verses of the Scripture that makes things clear: 3[Prophet], are you going to worry yourself to death because they will not believe?
Maybe if you told a more believable story? Or maybe if you provided some evidence so that we don’t have to believe the crazed assertions of some random lunatic for no good reason.
4If We had wished, We could have sent them down a sign from heaven, at which their necks would stay bowed in utter humility. 5Whenever they are brought a new revelation from the Lord of Mercy, they turn away: 6they deny it, but the truth of what they scorned will soon hit them.
What “new revelations”? All you’ve given us is hearsay and empty assertions. There is no truth in any religion.
7Do they not see the earth, and what noble kinds of thing We grow in it? 8There truly is a sign in this, though most of them do not believe: 9your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful.
Again, we are expected to believe irrational assertions simply because you say so? Your word is not evidence! It’s not even ‘your’ word, as the Qur’an is supposed to be the word of some anonymous scribes allegedly copying Muhammad, who is copying an angel, who is copying a god. We don’t even know if Muhammad is real! And he’s the only one of the three of even could be.
10Your Lord called to Moses: ‘Go to those wrongdoers, 11the people of Pharaoh. Will they not take heed?’ 12Moses said, ‘My Lord, I fear they will call me a liar, 13and I will feel stressed and tongue-tied, so send Aaron too; 14besides, they have a charge a against me, and I fear they may kill me.’ 15God said, ‘No [they will not]. Go, both of you, with Our signs––We shall be with you, listening. 16Go, both of you, to Pharaoh and say, “We bring a message from the Lord of the Worlds: 17let the Children of Israel leave with us.” ’
If God can say “Hey, Moses, go tell Pharaoh that I said to let my chosen people go”, then God could have said, “Hey Pharaoh, let my chosen people go”, and the story would be over, without God having to harden Pharaoh’s heart against his own messengers for all that unnecessary drama.
18Pharaoh said, ‘Did we not bring you up as a child among us? Did you not stay with us for many years? 19And then you committed that crime of yours: you were so ungrateful.’ 20Moses replied, ‘I was misguided when I did it 21and I fled from you in fear; later my Lord gave me wisdom and made me one of His messengers.
That sounds like a perfectly sound excuse to get out being punished for any capital crime, right? Riiight.
22And is this– that you have enslaved the Children of Israel– the favour with which you reproach me?’ 23Pharaoh asked, ‘What is this “Lord of the Worlds”?’ 24Moses replied, ‘He is the Lord of the heavens and earth and everything between them. If you would only have faith!’
Nope. Sorry. I’m going to need something more than some random weirdo telling me to believe impossible nonsense for no good reason.
25Pharaoh said to those present, ‘Do you hear what he says?’ 26Moses said, ‘He is your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers.’ 27Pharaoh said, ‘This messenger who has been sent to you is truly possessed.’
It’s too bad that people back then believed in demons and had no understanding of psychiatry. The unnamed [and obviously fictitious] Pharaoh in this story could have gotten Moses the help and therapy that he obviously needs.
28Moses continued, ‘Lord of the East and West and everything between them. If you would only use your reason!’
But that is the problem. If we use reason, then we can’t believe you when you brag that your god is bigger than big and older than time, and that he exceeds all bounds in every direction one can exaggerate—and fabricate. We can’t use reason because you haven’t GIVEN any reason to believe you! All you have are baseless claims of indefensible insanity. You expect people to just believe you and renounce all their wealth and power because you’re out of your mind and they’re stupid enough to believe the ravings of a mad man without any reason to? That is not reasonable.
29But Pharaoh said [to him], ‘If you take any god other than me, I will throw you into prison,’ 30and Moses asked, ‘Even if I show you something convincing?’ 31‘Show it then,’ said Pharaoh, ‘if you are telling the truth.’ 32So Moses threw down his staff and– lo and behold!– it became a snake for everyone to see. 33Then he drew out his hand and– lo and behold!– it was white for the onlookers to see.
That’s it. I’m convinced. A common magician’s trick at that time, and a discolored hand are obviously indicative of an uber-galactic god. No, wait. Neither of these things are even relevant to that point, so they can’t be used as evidence for it!
34Pharaoh said to the counsellors around him, ‘This man is a learned sorcerer! 35He means to use his sorcery to drive you out of your land! What do you suggest?’ 36They answered, ‘Delay him and his brother for a while, and send messengers to all the cities 37to bring every accomplished sorcerer to you.’ 38The sorcerers were [to be] assembled at the appointed time on a certain day 39and the people were asked, 40‘Are you all coming? We may follow the sorcerers if they win!’ 41When the sorcerers came, they said to Pharaoh, ‘Shall we be rewarded if we win?’ 42and he said, ‘Yes, and you will join my inner court.’
Being clever stage magicians should not qualify anyone to be statesmen.
43Moses said to them, ‘Throw down whatever you will.’ 44They threw their ropes and staffs, saying, ‘By Pharaoh’s might, we shall be victorious.’ 45But Moses threw his staff and– lo and behold!– it swallowed up their trickery 46and the sorcerers fell down on their knees, 47exclaiming, ‘We believe in the Lord of the Worlds, 48the Lord of Moses and Aaron.’
Because their trickery wasn’t as good as some other huxter’s trickery? Is that all any religion is or cares about?
49Pharaoh said, ‘How dare you believe in him before I have given you permission? He must be the master who taught you sorcery! Soon you will see: I will cut off your alternate hands and feet a and then crucify the lot of you!’ 50‘That will do us no harm,’ they said, ‘for we are sure to return to our Lord. 51We hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins, as we were the first to believe.’
There was no reason for the Qur’an to repeat this story yet again. The authors seem to think that one recital of outlandish folklore serves as evidence of another completely different and equally ridiculous fable, because this unbelievable tall tale is used as evidence to convince us of the other tall tales already mentioned.
52Then We revealed Our will to Moses, ‘Leave with My servants by night, for you will be pursued!’
That’s what happens when you have the power of almighty God on your side, you have to sneak away in the dark, afraid of being hunted down.
53Pharaoh sent messengers into the cities, proclaiming, 54‘These people are a puny band––55they have enraged us– 56and we are a large army, on the alert.’ 57So it was that We made them leave their gardens and their springs, 58their treasures and their noble dwellings– 59We gave [such] things [later] a to the Children of Israel.
Wait a minute. I thought the Israelites were supposed to be slaves in this land? Yet they have their own gardens and treasures?!
60Pharaoh and his people pursued them at sunrise, 61and as soon as the two sides came within sight of one another, Moses’ followers said, ‘We shall definitely be caught.’ 62Moses said, ‘No, my Lord is with me: He will guide me,’
Remember that it would take less than two weeks to walk from the town of Ramses to Canaan. Yet with God’s “guidance” that fortnight became forty years of being soaked in bloodshed and turmoil.
63and We revealed to Moses: ‘Strike the sea with your staff.’ It parted– each side like a mighty mountain– 64and We brought the others to that place: 65We saved Moses and all his companions, 66and drowned the rest. 67There truly is a sign in this, though most of them do not believe: 68your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful.
I still don’t think the Moses version of this story is as good as the original pertaining to Pharaoh Snefru and his mage, Djadjamankh, because that version at least included humor and sex appeal.
69Tell them the story of Abraham, 70when he asked his father and his people, ‘What do you worship?’ 71They said, ‘We worship idols, and are constantly in attendance on them.’ 72He asked, ‘Do they hear you when you call? 73Do they help or harm you?’ 74They replied, ‘No, but this is what we saw our fathers doing.’
They would not have replied that way. Pagan gods answer their worshipers in precisely the same way as YeHoWaH doesn’t really answer his worshipers either, though believers still think he does. If you talk to any imaginary being long enough, eventually it will start talking back. The only difference with the character of Abraham is that he apparently had a pre-existing condition, such that all the Abrahamic religions could have been prevented if he had taken a prescription of Thorazine.
75Abraham said, ‘Those idols you have worshipped, 76you and your forefathers, 77are my enemies; not so the Lord of the Worlds, 78who created me. It is He who guides me; 79He who gives me food and drink; 80He who cures me when I am ill; 81He who will make me die and then give me life again; 82and He who will, I hope, forgive my faults on the Day of Judgement.
None of that is true or real. The evolved apes known as your parents created you. Your delusions mislead you, and your body has some ability to heal itself. There is no god.
83My Lord, grant me wisdom; join me with the righteous; 84give me a good name among later generations; 85make me one of those given the Garden of Bliss–
The god of Abraham is in no position to do any such thing, since it is neither wise nor righteous and has earned a very bad name for himself.
86forgive my father, for he is one of those who have gone astray– 87and do not disgrace me on the Day when all people are resurrected: 88the Day when neither wealth nor children can help, 89when the only one who will be saved is the one who comes before God with a heart devoted to Him.’
Even if Abraham really existed, he would not have believed in this “day of judgment”, because he wasn’t Christian or Muslim. He was the patriarch of Judaism, and the Jews don’t believe what these other two religions do.
90When the Garden is brought near to the righteous 91and the Fire is placed in full view of the misguided, 92it will be said to them, ‘Where are those you worshipped 93beside God?
In the same place as your god, only in the minds and myths of men.
Can they help you now, or even help themselves?’
No, because neither they nor we would exist in this imaginary afterlife that doesn’t exist either.
94and then they will all be hurled into Hell, together with those that misled them, 95and all Iblis’s supporters. 96There they will say to their gods, as they bicker among themselves, 97‘We were clearly misguided 98when we made you equal with the Lord of the Worlds. 99It was the evildoers who led us astray, 100and now we have no intercessor 101and no true friend. 102If only we could live our lives again, we would be true believers!’ 103There truly is a sign in this, though most of them do not believe: 104your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful.
Such contradiction! God essentially disproves himself here, in that the only thing “he” allegedly cares about is that people make-believe that he is real, and if you’re not a pretender, then you will suffer in this life, and in the supposed next one too. Whereas, if there really was a god, then we would not have to believe the lies of liars. We would have actual truth from a god who would forgive us if we didn’t know better, especially since that would be entirely his own fault.
105The people of Noah, too, called the messengers liars.No, they didn’t. The story of Noah is itself a lie.
106Their brother Noah said to them, ‘Will you not be mindful of God? 107I am a faithful messenger sent to you: 108be mindful of God and obey me. 109I ask no reward of you, for my only reward is with the Lord of the Worlds: 110be mindful of God and obey me.’
There’s the rub. Be mindful of God and obey ME, since I’m pretending to speak on God’s behalf and with his assumed authority. That’s what religion is all about, manipulation of the masses.
111They answered, ‘Why should we believe you when the worst sort of people follow you?’ 112He said, ‘What knowledge do I have of what they used to do? 113It is for my Lord alone to bring them to account– if only you could see–
This is another example of the authors of the Qur’an embellishing a classic story with their own interpolation.
114I will not drive believers away. 115I am here only to give people a clear warning.’
Because it doesn’t matter whether you’re good or evil, but only whether you believe the lies of the liars who demand your sacrifice and your tithe.
116So they said, ‘Noah, if you do not stop this, you will be stoned.’ 117He said, ‘My Lord, my people have rejected me, 118so make a firm judgement between me and them, and save me and my believing followers.’ 119So We saved him and his followers in the fully laden ship, 120and drowned the rest. 121There truly is a sign in this, though most of them do not believe: 122your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful.
God is obviously neither almighty nor merciful if he would drown people for not believing the ravings of mad men.
123The people of Ad, too, called the messengers liars.
I’m noticing a pattern here. God keeps sending failed prophets with no credibility.
124Their brother Hud said to them, ‘Will you not be mindful of God? 125I am a faithful messenger sent to you: 126be mindful of God and obey me.
Be mindful of God, and OBEY ME, as if I represent him.
127I ask no reward of you, for my only reward is with the Lord of the Worlds. 128How can you be so vain that you set up monuments on every high place? 129Do you build fortresses because you hope to be immortal? 130Why do you act like tyrants whenever you attack someone? 131Be mindful of God and obey me;
Pretend that my god exists and OBEY ME as if I have his authority.
132be mindful of Him who has provided you with everything you know– 133He has given you livestock, sons, 134gardens, springs– 135for I truly fear that the torment of a grievous day will overtake you.’
No, there is no god. We have what there is. No one gave us these things.
136They replied, ‘It makes no difference to us whether you warn us or not, 137for we only do what our forefathers used to do: 138we shall not be punished.’ 139They denounced him as a liar, and so We destroyed them. There truly is a sign in this, though most of them do not believe: 140 your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful.
So God keeps hiring prophets who are literally unbelievable failures, and then God has to kill his prophets failed to convince. How many times has this infallible god failed already? Yet he keeps repeating the same mistake! If we can see why that never works, why can’t he?
141The people of Thamud, too, called the messengers liars.
That every alleged prophet of God is a liar is pretty obvious by now.
142Their brother Salih said to them, ‘Will you not be mindful of God? 143I am a faithful messenger to you: 144be mindful of God and obey me.
Believe my lies and…
145I ask no reward from you, for my only reward is with the Lord of the Worlds. 146[Do you think] you will be left secure for ever in what you have here– 147gardens, springs, 148fields, palm trees laden with fruit– 149carving your fine houses from the mountains? 150Be mindful of God and obey me:
Believe what I say just ‘cuz I said so and DO AS I SAY just ‘cuz I told you to!
151do not obey those who are given to excess 152and who spread corruption in the land instead of doing what is right.’ 153They said, ‘You are bewitched! 154You are nothing but a man like us. Show us a sign, if you are telling the truth.’ 155He said, ‘Here is a camel. She should have her turn to drink and so should you, each on a specified day, 156so do not harm her, or the punishment of a terrible day will befall you.’
They asked for evidence of your God, and you gave them this instead?!
157But they hamstrung her. In the morning they had cause to regret it: 158the punishment fell upon them. There truly is a sign in this, though most of them will not believe: 159your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful.
Punishment falling upon those who do not believe in indefensible nonsense is neither ‘almighty’ nor merciful.
160The people of Lot, too, called the messengers liars.
Because every prophet of any god is a liar. That’s why every religion is based on lies, which is why every religion relies on your faith in their fibs.
161Their brother Lot said to them, ‘Will you not be mindful of God? 162I am a faithful messenger to you: 163be mindful of God and obey me.
Assume that I have the authority I’m trying to assume in order to dominate you, and let me control you!
164I ask no reward from you, for my only reward is with the Lord of the Worlds. 165Must you, unlike [other] people, lust after males 166and abandon the wives that God has created for you? You are exceeding all bounds,’
The only possible boundary here is the thing that only able-minded adults can do; it’s called ‘consent’. If all involved are able-minded adults whose participation is consensual, then there is no moral issue. That is NOT the case when Lot offers his own under-aged daughters to a rape mob, obviously against their will. But what should we expect a man of God to understand about that?
167but they replied, ‘Lot! If you do not stop this, you will be driven away.’ 168So he said, ‘I loathe what you do: 169Lord, save me and my family from what they are doing.’ 170We saved him and all his family, 171except for an old woman who stayed behind,
So Lot thought that feeding his daughters to a rape mob would be more moral than homosexuality. Then once his wife was conveniently eliminated, he got drunk and molested his own children, and blamed them for seducing him, as if that was even possible.
172then We destroyed the others, 173and poured a rain of destruction down upon them. How dreadful that rain was for those who had been forewarned! 174There truly is a sign in this, though most of them will not believe: 175your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful.
176The forest-dwellers, too, called the messengers liars.
Every prophet has to lie because there is no truth in any religion.
177Shuayb said to them, ‘Will you not be mindful of God? 178I am a faithful messenger to you: 179be mindful of God and obey me.
Believe what I say and do as I say. OBEY ME without question!
180I ask no reward of you, for my only reward is with the Lord of the Worlds.
Just let me rule over you.
181Give full measure: do not sell others short. 182Weigh with correct scales: 183do not deprive people of what is theirs. Do not spread corruption on earth. 184Be mindful of God who created you and former generations,’ 185but they replied, ‘You are bewitched! 186You are nothing but a man like us. In fact we think you are a liar.
I think this sura has pretty well established that every prophet of any god is a liar.
187Make bits of the heavens fall down on us, if you are telling the truth.’ 188He said, ‘My Lord knows best what you do.’ 189They called him a liar, and so the torment of the Day of Shadow came upon them– it was the torment of a terrible day. 190There truly is a sign in this, though most of them will not believe: 191your Lord alone is the Almighty, the Merciful.
I don’t know what the day of the shadow is. Quran.com says “the punishment of the day of the black cloud seized them”. ClearQuran wasn’t any clearer, saying that “the day of gloom gripped them”. Tafsirs didn’t help either. Is this talking about a volcanic cloud or what?
IslamicStudiesInfo says “the chastisement of the Day of Canopy overtook them”. It went on to explain that “the details of this torment are neither found in the Quran nor in any authentic tradition. What one can learn from the text is this: As these people had demanded a torment from the sky, Allah sent upon them a cloud which hung over them like a canopy and kept hanging until they were completely destroyed by the torment of continuous rain. The Quran clearly points out that the nature of the torment sent upon the Midianites was different from that sent upon the people of Aiykah. The people of Aiykah, as mentioned here, were destroyed by the torment of the canopy, while the torment visiting the Midianites was in the form of a terrible earthquake: It so happened that a shocking catastrophe overtook them and they remained lying prostrate in their dwellings. (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 91). And: A dreadful shock overtook them and they lay lifeless and prostrate in their homes. (Surah Houd, Ayat 94). Therefore, it is wrong to regard the two torments as identical. Some commentators have given a few explanations of the torment of the Day of canopy, but we do not know the source of their information. Ibn Jarir has quoted Abdullah bin Abbas as saying: If somebody from among the scholars gives you an explanation of the torment of the Day of canopy, do not consider it as correct.”
So no one really knows and don’t trust anyone who says they do. Sounds like every version of God’s word that I’ve ever heard.
192Truly, this Qur’an has been sent down by the Lord of the Worlds: 193the Trustworthy Spirit a brought it down 194to your heart [Prophet], so that you could bring warning 195in a clear Arabic tongue.
None of that is true! Truly there is no “lord of the worlds”. This couldn’t be less clear. Instead it is ‘clearly’ a product of delusion men, not spirits, and none of it is remotely trustworthy. That’s why did NOT go to my heart. Because I only care about truth, and the Qur’an doesn’t have any.
196This was foretold in the scriptures of earlier religions. 197Is it not proof enough for them that the learned men of the Children of Israel have recognized it?
No, that you have altered and adapted elder mythology doesn’t make it not mythology anymore. It wasn’t true then, and it’s still not true now either.
198If We had sent it down to someone who was not an Arab, 199and he had recited it to them, they still would not have believed in it.
Then maybe God should figure out what he keeps doing wrong and learn how to get it right.
200So We make it pass straight through the hearts of the guilty: 201they will not believe in it until they see the grievous torment, 202which will suddenly hit them when they are not expecting it, 203and then they will say, ‘Can we have more time?’ 204How can they ask that Our punishment be brought to them sooner? 205Think, if we let them enjoy this life for some years 206and then the promised torment came upon them, 207what good would their past enjoyment be to them?
God knows all this, yet he can’t figure out why his infallible plan keeps failing? He doesn’t know how to fix it? He should ask me. I could help him with that.
208Never have We destroyed a town without sending down messengers to warn it, 209as a reminder from Us: We are never unjust.
Sorry, no, you are ALWAYS unjust, all throughout the Qur’an as well as in each of the scriptures it is based on.
210It was not the jinn who brought down this Qur’an 211it is neither in their interests nor in their power,
But I thought genies had “phenomenal cosmic power” to go with their “itty bitty living spaces.
212indeed they are prevented from overhearing it. 213So [Prophet] do not invoke any gods beside God, or you will incur punishment. 214Warn your nearest kinsfolk 215and lower your wing tenderly over the believers who follow you. 216If they disobey you, say, ‘I bear no responsibility for your actions.’ 217Put your trust in the Almighty, the Merciful, 218who sees you when you stand up [for prayer] 219and sees your movements among the worshippers: 220He is the All Hearing, the All Knowing.
Then he knows why we don’t believe, and he should know how to make us understand, but he obviously doesn’t understand himself. Or else he wouldn’t keep sending these unbelievable prophets.
221Shall I tell you who the jinn come down to? 222They come down to every lying sinner 223who readily lends an ear to them, and most of them are liars: 224only those who are lost in error follow the poets.
Correction. Only those who are lost in error follow the Qur’an, or any of the scriptures written by men.
225Do you not see how they rove aimlessly in every valley; 226how they say what they do not do?
IslamicStudiesInfo says this passage refers to believers in Allah, or makes exceptions for them.
227Not so those [poets] who believe, do good deeds, remember God often, and defend themselves after they have been wronged. The evildoers will find out what they will return to.
One thing I don’t understand; how one can read the Qur’an and still believe it. Seems to me, you can do one or the other but not both.