|Posted by James Flynn on July 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM|
After a long overdue holiday, I have now got round to finishing the fifth chapter of the Quran.
I'd like to start off by replying to some of the feedback I have received from comments on this blog and twitter etc..
First of all, I am reading a well respected translated version of the Quran. I am aware that it may not be the same as learning arabic and reading the original, but I think it's a fair representation of the book.
Also, I have been informed that I have not been including the main stories involved in these chapters. Well, my response to that is that so far, there hasn't been any long, in depth stories. It has been mostly repeated messages of how god is great, believe and be rewarded or don't believe and be tortured.
One interesting point someone made though was that the Quran brought along fairer rules and regulations for women. And that before the Quran came along, females were sometimes slaughtered at birth or lived a life of slavery. Although this is obviously a good thing, it doesn't really prove much, other than that people were pretty barbaric before they had a set of rules to live by that was written down.
Also i'd like to add that I have tried to refrain myself from putting across some obvious mockery and critique, and I am trying to give a fair review of this book as an unbeliever. Although this is a personal review on my personal blog, so I will add some of my opinions in here at times, and add a final summary once the book is finished.
This sura mentions laws regarding lawful and unlawful foods during pilgrimage, as well as raising the point once again that Jesus was merely a messenger, and not a god himself.
This chapter opens up by saying that livestock animals are ok to hunt and eat except when on pilgrimage. When on pilgrimage livestock is forbidden. God takes this oppertunity to say that his punishment is severe if the law is disobeyed.
There is mention of carrion, pig's meat being outlawed here, aswell as animals that have been savaged by other animals, (unless of course they have been slaughtered or sacrificed in the correct manner).
While we are on this subject, I have not read anything about the ritual of slaughtering animals yet anywhere in the Quran explaining the whole halal meat thing, although it may be mentioned later in the book.
It is made clear again in this chapter that the reward for being a loyal believer is an eternity in a garden with flowing streams. This has been a reoccuring theme in several chapters. The popular punishment for unbelievers (or believers who stop believing) is eternity in agonizing torment in blazing fire. There doesn't seem to be any kind of middle ground, god seems to have an all or nothing personality, where only complete devotion is accepted. Although strangly he does seem to have a forgiving side, and likes to put that message across too. For eg, it is mentioned that if someone eats forbidden food out of desperation or hunger, god will probably forgive them, as long as they are a faithful believer. So as long as you are on gods side, I suppose he will look after you.
A textbook example of this is displayed when in this chapter, god mentions a time when he took a pledge from the children of israel. He told them if they keep up the prayer, prescribed alms, believe in my messengers (people like muhammed/jesus) then he would wipe out their sins and they would have gardens with flowing streams to enjoy. But apparently they broke their pledge and of course lost everything.
The same thing happened with some christians who apparently broke their pledge, so they lost everything too, and god even went as far as to stir up hatred amongst them until the day of resurrection when they will have all hell to pay.
God makes it clear in this chapter that theives hands should be cut off, but in the next breath makes it clear that if they show remorse then they should be forgiven. There are quite a lot of comical paragraphs like this within the Quran, where severe punishment is followed by a display of forgiveness. It is a contradiction that is highlighted throughout.
Another message that is put forward to people in this chapter once again is that anyone who thinks that jesus is god, has got it all wrong. Jesus was nothing but a messenger of god's who was passing on god's word, and nothing more than that.
I have been mildly disappointed by the lack of detailed stories in the Quran so far. Even though every chapter has had a title with a certain theme, it has mostly been pages full of preachings about the advantages of being a believer with some mentions of various events embedded amongst those preachings. I have not read any long stories or anything like that so far.
But I am only about a quarter of the way through the book, and maybe there is some more to offer.....