This is the 52nd 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.
my 20th post on surah 20,
my 21st post on surah 56.
my 22nd post on surah 26.
my 23rd post on surah 27.
my 24th post on surah 28.
my 25th post on surah 17.
my 26th post on surah 10.
my 27th post on surah 11.
my 28th post on surah 12.
my 29th post on surah 15.
my 30th post on surah 6.
my 31st post on surah 37.
my 32nd post on suras 31 & 34.
my 33rd post on surah 39.
my 34th post on surah 40.
my 35th post on surah 41.
my 36th post on surah 42.
my 37th post on surah 44.
my 38th post on suras 45 & 46.
my 39th post of suras 51 & 88.
my 40th post on surah 16.
my 41st post post on suras 71 & 14.
my 42nd post on surah 21,
my 43rd post on surah 23
my 44th post on suras 32 & 52
my 45th post on suras 67, 69 & 70.
my 46th post on suras 78, 79, 82 & 84.
my 47th post on suras 30 & 29.
my 48th post on sura 83
my 49th post on surah 8
my 50th post on surah 3.
my 51st post on surah 33 & 60.
and my 52nd post on surah 4.
Sūrah 99 (Al-Zalzalah) The Earthquake
1When the earth is shaken violently in its [last] quaking, 2when the earth throws out its burdens, 3when man cries, ‘What is happening to it?’; 4on that Day, it will tell all 5because your Lord will inspire it [to do so]. 6On that Day, people will come forward in separate groups to be shown their deeds: 7whoever has done an atom’s-weight of good will see it, 8but whoever has done an atom’s-weight of evil will see that.
Yawn. The only new facet of this oft-repeated empty threat is that the phrase “the earth throws out its burdens” refers to the dead being thrown out of their graves, something that wouldn’t be clear without the translator’s interpretation. There was no reason for this single-paragraph surah to exist, as it contributes nothing new to the already excessive redundancy of the Qur’an. Moving on.
Sūrah 57 (Al-Hadid) Iron
1Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies God––He is the Almighty, the Wise. 2Control of the heavens and earth belongs to Him; He gives life and death; He has power over all things. 3He is the First and the Last; the Outer and the Inner; He has knowledge of all things. 4It was He who created the heavens and earth in six Days and then established Himself on the throne. He knows what enters the earth and what comes out of it; what descends from the sky and what ascends to it. He is with you wherever you are; He sees all that you do; 5control of the heavens and earth belongs to Him. Everything is brought back to God. 6He makes night merge into day and day into night. He knows what is in every heart.
He’s is everything and he is bigger than everything in every direction we can exaggerate. Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure.
7Believe in God and His Messenger, and give out of what He has made pass down to you: those of you who believe and give will have a great reward. 8Why should you not believe in God when the Messenger calls you to believe in your Lord, and He has already made a pledge with you, if you have faith?
Because I’m not credulous and I’m nobody’s fool.
9It is He who has sent down clear revelations to His Servant, so that He may bring you from the depths of darkness into light; God is truly kind and merciful to you. 10Why should you not give for God’s cause when God alone will inherit what is in the heavens and earth? Those who gave and fought before the triumph are not like others: they are greater in rank than those who gave and fought afterwards. But God has promised a good reward to all of them: God is fully aware of all that you do.
This whole book has been little more than a constant rotation going round and round the same circular assumption over and over again. It hasn’t gotten any better, and at this point, it seems as though it has only accelerated revolutions per minute.
11Who will make God a good loan? He will double it for him and reward him generously.
…with nothing, that you WON’T get after you die, and no one will know that the prophet failed to fulfill God’s alleged promises because dead men tell no tales. This is what makes religion the greatest con-job ever.
12On the Day when you [Prophet] see the believers, both men and women, with their light streaming out ahead of them and to their right, [they will be told], ‘The good news for you today is that there are Gardens graced with flowing streams where you will stay: that is truly the supreme triumph!’ 13On the same Day, the hypocrites, both men and women, will say to the believers, ‘Wait for us! Let us have some of your light!’ They will be told, ‘Go back and look for a light.’ A wall with a door will be erected between them: inside it lies mercy, outside lies torment. 14The hypocrites will call out to the believers, ‘Were we not with you?’ They will reply, ‘Yes. But you allowed yourselves to be tempted, you were hesitant, doubtful, deceived by false hopes until God’s command came– the Deceiver tricked you about God.
How many times now—in surah after surah—have we seen that “the Deceiver” is God himself?
15Today no ransom will be accepted from you or from the disbelievers: your home is the Fire– that is where you belong– a miserable destination!’ 16Is it not time for believers to humble their hearts to the remembrance of God and the Truth that has been revealed, and not to be like those who received the Scripture before them, whose time was extended but whose hearts hardened and many of whom were lawbreakers? 17Remember that God revives the earth after it dies; We have made Our revelation clear to you so that you may use your reason.
Except that we can’t use our reason because there literally is no reason to believe any of this.
18Charitable men and women who make a good loan to God will have it doubled and have a generous reward. 19Those who believe in God and His messengers are the truthful ones who will bear witness before their Lord: they will have their reward and their light. But those who disbelieve and deny Our revelations are the inhabitants of Hell.
Why don’t you repeat that empty threat another hundred times? The Qur’an has to be the most redundant recital of meaningless mantras ever.
20Bear in mind that the present life is just a game, a diversion, an attraction, a cause of boasting among you, of rivalry in wealth and children. It is like plants that spring up after the rain: their growth at first delights the sowers, but then you see them wither away, turn yellow, and become stubble. There is terrible punishment in the next life as well as forgiveness and approval from God; the life of this world is only an illusory pleasure.
Have you noticed how all religion, at least each of the major ones, denigrate the one life we really get, to cheapen our greatest treasure, so that we can instead never be happy comparing the lives we live here in reality with the promise of some easier life in an alternative reality, which of course we will never really see.
21So race for your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believe in God and His messengers: that is God’s bounty, which He bestows on whoever He pleases. God’s bounty is infinite.
…and infinitely imaginary. Yet we are to race for this prize? Is it winner take all? So that only one person gets it and everyone else is a loser? Just to make sure, I noticed that Quran.com says to “compete with one another for forgiveness from your Lord”, which is not a good way to put this at all.
22No misfortune can happen, either in the earth or in yourselves, that was not set down in writing before We brought it into being– that is easy for God– 23so you need not grieve for what you miss or gloat over what you gain. 24God does not love the conceited, the boastful, those who are miserly, and who tell other people to be miserly. If anyone turns away, remember that God is self-sufficient and worthy of praise.
God hates anyone who acts like he does.
25We sent Our messengers with clear signs, the Scripture and the Balance, so that people could uphold justice: We also sent iron, with its mighty strength and many uses for mankind, so that God could mark out those who would help Him and His messengers though they cannot see Him. Truly God is powerful, almighty.
Since I started this project, reading the Qur’an, I had been waiting to get this aya in this surah. Because a decade ago, Philhellenes, one of my associates among the YouTube atheists doing counter-apologetics released a video with a brilliant analysis of the believers’ interpretations here, and of how defenders of the faith have tried to imply so many miracles merely relating to the fact that iron is the title of the 57th surah and the atomic mass number of iron is 57. Please enjoy his analysis below:
For those who believe that nothing can ever be a coincidence, that everything is part of some secret message, maybe if you’re a paranoid pattern-seeker, perhaps that makes sense—if you forget that the periodic table is a human construct. More importantly, there is one isotope of iron that has an atomic weight of 57, but that’s an isotope. The normal weight is 56 (55.845). You must also forget that the Qur’an is written out of order. We are reading these in the order of revelation. In which case Iron is the 94th chapter, not the 57th.
26We sent Noah and Abraham, and gave prophethood and scripture to their offspring: among them there were some who were rightly guided, but many were lawbreakers. 27We sent other messengers to follow in their footsteps. After those We sent Jesus, son of Mary: We gave him the Gospel and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers. But monasticism was something they invented– We did not ordain it for them– only to seek God’s pleasure, and even so, they did not observe it properly.
Yeah, what is this problem that Abrahamic clergymen all seem to have with sex? In this case, one explanation for refusing the pleasures of this world, and especially clerical celibacy might be that Jesus could be gay. Because Paul (whose letters established this religion) was apparently a self-loathing homosexual himself. Not only is the Jesus character seemingly gay, but the Bible clearly indicates that he was also black [Lamentations 4:8, 5:10 and Revelations 1:14-15]. For this Pope Alexander VI is said to have called for Leonardo DaVinci to paint a new face of Jesus, a white Jesus to be marketed to Europeans, while most other depictions were destroyed. Amusingly, the Pope chose his own son, Cesare Borgia to be the new face of Christ. You know, the infamous Borgia who had sex with his sister and murdered his brother and so on. That’s the guy whose portrait every Christian has posted on their walls today. Amusingly, it also seems that Da Vinci had a crush on the male model and that there is likely to have been a homosexual relationship there. Which means that today’s adamantly anti-gay Christian fundamentalists have all enshrined portraits of a gay Jesus and don’t even know it.
So We gave a reward to those of them who believed, but many of them were lawbreakers.
You see, God. That’s what happens when you send people to act as prophets. If you want people to believe you’re infallible, you should stop repeating this mistake and pass down your message directly, publicly, unambiguously, so that we can all hear it. Since, as you say, all these other prophets including Jesus have all failed you.
28Believers, be mindful of God and have faith in His Messenger: He will give you a double share of His mercy; He will provide a light to help you walk; He will forgive you– God is most forgiving, most merciful. 29The People of the Book should know that they have no power over any of God’s grace and that grace is in the hand of God alone: He gives it to whoever He will. God’s grace is truly immense.
Except that logically, Muslims are the people of the book too, or should be, just as much as Jews or Christians.
Sūrah 47 Muhammad
1God will bring to nothing the deeds of those who disbelieve and bar others from the way of God,
If that is so, then I guess that Bezos, Gates, Buffet, Branson, Musk and Zuckerberg didn’t become billionaires as atheists while establishing the most successful companies in history.
2but He will overlook the bad deeds of those who have faith, do good deeds, and believe in what has been sent down to Muhammad––the truth from their Lord––and He will put them into a good state.
There are not many examples of that and much too many more to the contrary.
3This is because the disbelievers follow falsehood, while the believers follow the truth from their Lord. In this way God shows people their true type.
It irritates me that lies are declared to be truth and all the truth is dismissed as lies, without any definitive means of determining which is which. I have that where believers don’t, because they prefer not to define their terms.
4When you meet the disbelievers in battle, strike them in the neck, and once they are defeated, bind any captives firmly––later you can release them by grace or by ransom––until the toils of war have ended. That [is the way]. God could have defeated them Himself if He had willed, but His purpose is to test some of you by means of others. He will not let the deeds of those who are killed for His cause come to nothing;
These are clearly the words of bigoted tribal barbarians, and cannot possibly be a real concern for the creator of all men and all life forms on every planet in every galaxy.
5He will guide them and put them into a good state; 6He will admit them into the Garden He has already made known to them.
From which there is no escape and no way to ever let it end.
7You who believe! If you help God, He will help you and make you stand firm.
As if God could ever need our help. Such a thing would never need us to do anything. And according to earlier surahs, he makes do whatever he wants anyway.
8As for the disbelievers, how wretched will be their state! God has brought their deeds to nothing. 9It is because they hate what God has sent down that He has caused their deeds to go to waste.
If that is so, then how could I have had so many successful projects? I always tend to have more successes than failures.
10Have they not travelled the earth and seen how those before them met their end? God destroyed them utterly: a similar fate awaits the disbelievers. 11That is because God protects the believers while the disbelievers have no one to protect them:
I *have* travelled the world, and I have seen the very opposite all my life.
12God will admit those who believe and do good deeds to Gardens graced with flowing streams; the disbelievers may take their fill of pleasure in this world, and eat as cattle do, but the Fire will be their home. 13We have destroyed many a town stronger than your own [Prophet]– the town which [chose to] expel you– and they had no one to help them.
The Qur’an keeps repeating this revolving redundancy on an infinite loop, and it still isn’t convincing.
14Can those who follow clear proof from their Lord be compared to those whose foul deeds are made to seem alluring to them, those who follow their own desires?
The Qur’an has that backwards. Science follows clear proof. Religious faith follows its own desires.
15Here is a picture of the Garden promised to the pious: rivers of water forever pure, rivers of milk forever fresh, rivers of wine, a delight for those who drink, rivers of honey clarified and pure, [all] flow in it; there they will find fruit of every kind; and they will find forgiveness from their Lord. How can this be compared to the fate of those stuck in the Fire, given boiling water to drink that tears their bowels?
How do we compare Heaven and Hell? Well, they’re both imaginary, deceptive fabrications, attempts at positive or negative motivation using emotional manipulation rather than reason.
16Some of these people listen to you [Prophet], but, once they leave your presence, they sneer at those who have been given knowledge, saying, ‘What was that he just said?’ These are the ones whose hearts God has sealed, those who follow their own desires. 17God has increased the guidance of those who follow the right path, and given them their awareness [of Him]. 18What are the disbelievers waiting for, other than the Hour which will come upon them unawares? Its signs are already here, but once the Hour has actually arrived, what use will it be then to take heed?
Remember that this was written a millennium and a half ago, yet Muslims and Christians too are still chanting “any minute now…”
19So [Prophet], bear in mind that there is no god but God, and ask forgiveness for your sins and for the sins of believing men and women. God knows whenever any of you move, and whenever any of you stay still.
There is no god but God? That reminds me. I have a tee shirt for sale at EvolveFish.com.
20Those who believe ask why no sura [about fighting] has been sent down. Yet when a decisive sura [that mentions fighting] is sent down, you can see the sick at heart looking at you [Prophet] and visibly fainting at the prospect of death– better for them 21would be obedience and fitting words; it would also be better for them to be true to God when the decision to fight has been made.
If I understand this correctly, people complained to Muhammad that there were no surahs that mentioned fighting. So he conveniently made one up and pretended that it had been presented by his god.
22‘If you turn away now, could it be that you will go on to spread corruption all over the land and break your ties of kinship?’ 23These are the ones God has rejected, making their ears deaf and their eyes blind.
Once again, we see that it is God who decides to make our ears deaf and blind our eyes rather than show us reason to believe.
24Will they not contemplate the Quran? Do they have locks on their hearts?
This isn’t an issue of emotion. It’s one of fact or fiction. Our minds are not closed either. We just need something more than empty assertions. Show us the truth of it or shut up about it.
25Those who turn on their heels after being shown guidance are duped and tempted by Satan;
That is a lie, and still would be a lie regardless whether we’re talking about atheists or pagans.
26they say to those who hate what God has sent down, ‘We will obey you in some matters’ ––God knows their secret schemes.
If believers define “what God has sent down” to mean iron or cattle or life itself and so on, then no, we don’t hate these things. What we hate are indefensible assumptions being asserted as fact, because that is called “lying”, and that’s what all of “God’s word” amounts to regardless what scripture it comes from.
27How will they feel when the angels take them in death and beat their faces and their backs 28because they practised things that incurred God’s wrath, and disdained to please Him?
What? You mean thinking? That’s all you need do to incur [the people who speak for] “God’s” wrath.
He makes their deeds go to waste. 29Do the corrupt at heart assume that God will not expose their malice?
That’s a safe assumption, since there is no god and “the supernatural” is only imaginary.
30We could even point them out to you [Prophet] if We wished, and then you could identify them by their marks, but you will know them anyway by the tone of their speech.
…saying rude things like “prove it”.
God knows everything you [people] do.
You’d like us to believe that because it’s easier to control people that way. But he really doesn’t know anything at all.
31We shall test you to see which of you strive your hardest and are steadfast; We shall test the sincerity of your assertions. 32Those who disbelieve, bar others from God’s path, and oppose the Messenger when they have been shown guidance, do not harm God in any way. He will make their deeds go to waste– 33believers, obey God and the Messenger: do not let your deeds go to waste– 34God will not forgive those who disbelieve, bar others from God’s path, and die as disbelievers. 35So [believers] do not lose heart and cry out for peace. It is you who have the upper hand: God is with you. He will not begrudge you the reward for your [good] deeds:
Remember the Qur’an has repeatedly said that belief = good deeds, while not believing = “doing evil”.
36the life of this world is only a game, a pastime, but if you believe and are mindful of God, He will recompense you. He does not ask you to give up [all] your possessions–
…Only your rationality and objectivity and your rights to free thought and free speech.
37you would be grudging if He were to ask you and press you for them, and He would bring your ill-will to light– 38though now you are called upon to give [a little] for the sake of God, some of you are grudging. Whoever is grudging is so only towards himself: God is the source of wealth and you are the needy ones. He will substitute other people for you if you turn away, and they will not be like you.
Translation: Give me 10% of your income or our whole society will reject you.