Differences in the Quran treatment of the themes from the Book of Genesis

1. There are more angels.

2. Satan plays a larger role.

3. There is virtually no literary suspense.

4. Adam is not made in God’s image.

5. There is considerably less complexity of narrative perspective.

6. Allah does not speak directly, rather it is all coming from Allah.

7. Noah is more of a prophet of doom, and Abraham (“the first Muslim”) is a more important figure.

8. The Abraham story is more central.

9. Isaac is aware that he is slated for sacrifice, and accepts his fate.  (That he is not killed of course you can think of as an “alternative” to the Christ story, namely that the blessed do not have to undergo a brutal, ugly death.)

10. The covenant with God is not national or regional in its origins.

For those points I drew upon my interpretations of Jack Miles, God in the Qu’ran, among other sources.

Comments

If Judaism is Star Wars and Christianity is The Empire Strikes Back, then that makes Islam Return of the Jedi.

Islam has Ewoks?

And the creator is already out of ideas, so they just blow up the Death Star.... again.

Oh yeah! Don't forget; We must kill or enslave all non-Muslims.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

I think Lucas said his idea of the Force came from Buddhism.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Interesting points.

Isaac is also not killed in the Bible, so I'm not sure of the intended meaning of the parenthetical on point 9.

Christians traditionally read the sacrifice of Isaac as a foreshadowing of Christ, with the fact that God provides a sacrifice in place of Isaac as significant.

Isaac was unaware in Genesis I believe.

If you're halfway decent at reading between the lines, Isaac is totally aware in Genesis.

It's a possible reading but far from clear that this was intended by the author. In any case, the Bible doesn't emphasize Isaac's assent.

It is a pre-Islamic Jewish tradition that Isaac went willingly onto the alter. The argument is usually that the shock of the near sacrifice causes Sarah's death, and based on her age at death and Isaac's birth, this makes him 34 or so. Given that this puts Abraham at over 100, this makes it very likely Isaac participated willingly, and indeed is one of his key holy acts.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Soren Kierkegaard makes Isaac's ignorance of Abram's intent the essence of faith in his essay "Fear and Trembling." In Genesis 22:7 Isaac clearly asks "where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" thus implying he doesn't know he is the lamb.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

I understand the point about Isaac being aware. The parenthetical about Isaac not needing to be killed seems to be a separate point, though.

Respond

Add Comment

I read that as a comparison to the Christ story, not the Isaac of Genesis.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

In the Quran, it's Ishmael, not Isaac, as he is the elder, and the patriarch of the Arabs.

Right, and an important point. The Koran (Quran, I don't know anymore how to write it) and islamic tradition inverse the importance of the two sons of Abraham w.r.t. the Genesis,

They would do it, wouldn't they?

The Quran incorporates freezing in a way the Bible never did. The headless horseman, for instance, only appears in Islam as a dream. Though Albrect Durer had perhaps another interpretation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Horsemen_of_the_Apocalypse#/media/File:Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_-_The_Four_Horsemen_(NGA_1979.39.1).jpg

Exactly. Islam is a lie.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

'There are more angels.'

The number of angels remains fixed, at least in traditional theology. That one book or the other may name angels differently makes no difference to the number of angels.

'Satan plays a larger role'

Satan plays zero role in Genesis, that is an example of religious retconning, basically starting with Christianity.

'Abraham (“the first Muslim”) is a more important figure'

Compared to Christianity? Sure. Compared to Judaism? Well OK, particularly if we just ignore that whole Covenant of God thing, including circumcision. Something that is also a religious a practice in Islam, admittedly.

'The covenant with God is not national or regional in its origins.'

Christians also do not believe that the Covenant with God is national or regional in its origins, and considering Christianity's influence on Islam's origins, this is utterly unsurprising, as both Christianity and Islam claim to be universal.

'Abraham (“the first Muslim”) is a more important figure'

That puzzled me too. It seems to me it's hard to make a book that makes Abraham a more central figure than Genesis.

Abraham is certainly a key figure in the Judeo-Christian tradition, but one might argue that he is overshadowed by Moses and the Exodus.

In Genesis, Abraham's story covers 14 chapters out of 50, and several of these are primarily about other figures such as Lot and Isaac. As much time is spent on Joseph as on Abraham.

Moses is not in Genesis, however. And Isaac is not exactly distinct from Abraham, from a certain perspective, particularly in regards to the circumstances of his birth, and his role as the second patriarch, followed by his son as the third.

Prof. Cowen seems to be skating over some significant differences between Judaism and Christianity in this area, to be honest. Abraham is essentially the foundation of the nation of Israel, and it is pretty hard to be a more central figure than that if one is a member of that nation. Christianity, of course, has a very different perspective on the matter, at least when it comes the idea of a chosen people based on ancestry and religious practices such as male circumcision, making Abraham considerably less central (leaving aside the fact that Jesus is clearly the central figure in Christian belief).

Moses is not in Genesis--but Genesis spends 14 chapters on Joseph, arguably with the purpose of setting up the Exodus story.

You are right that there are significant differences between Christian and Jewish interpretation, but I would argue the opposite, that Christians emphasize Abraham more relative to Moses, because of the more universal nature of the covenant with Abraham: "all nations will be blessed through you".

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

While the fully developed idea of Satan came later, interpreting the serpent in Genesis as a figure embodying evil long predated Christianity, and is surely intended as such by the author.

Note the context of explaining evil/hardship in the world, and the absence of fairy tale style talking animals in the Bible (the only other talking animal is Balaam's ass, which is a miracle empowered by God in that story).

'interpreting the serpent in Genesis as a figure embodying evil long predated Christianity'

Somewhat, but this goes off in a vast array of tangents quickly. Nonetheless, retconning is not an incorrect term in this regard, even if saying it is exclusively Christian is inaccurate. However, the point in this regard is that the fall is critical to Christianity, and having the serpent become Satan fits well with the idea of Satan tempting Christ - who resists the temptations, unlike Eve and then Adam.

'and the absence of fairy tale style talking animals in the Bible'

Well, there was a burning bush too, though a bush is not an animal, of course.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

"Christians also do not believe that the Covenant with God is national or regional in its origins"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersessionism -

"Supersessionism, also called replacement theology or fulfillment theology, is a Christian doctrine which asserts that the New Covenant through Jesus Christ supersedes the Old Covenant, which was made exclusively with the Jewish people ... Supersessionism has formed a core tenet of the Christian Churches for the majority of its existence. Christian traditions that have traditionally championed Covenant Theology (including the Roman Catholic, Reformed and Methodist teachings of this doctrine), have taught that the moral law continues to stand"

Respond

Add Comment

clockwork_prior sounds like a hateful religious bigot, as usual. Let's play a game, clockwork. Every time you say a hateful religious bigot thing, I'll ignore what you say and tell you that you sound like a hateful religious bigot. How long do you want to strengthen that brand?

'I'll ignore what you say'

Apparently not.

'tell you that you sound like a hateful religious bigot'

Who cares?

'How long do you want to strengthen that brand?'

I'm not sure how to put this to you, but 'clockwork_prior' is not a brand, and only exists as a user name in MR. However, I will now google 'clockwork_prior' and see what comes up outside of MR.

Wow - there is actually somebody Tyler Campbell with '@clockwork_prior' - that is hilarious. Now to to see what Tyler Campbell does on twitter - apparently whatever it is people do on twitter, as I cannot find anything particularly noteworthy. Apart from being on twitter since 2011, which is an easy 5 years before adopting this user name here. A user name chosen in connection with one of my first names here - prior_approval - and then combining prior with the seeming bot name relating to clockwork orange.

But don't let that stop you from writing 'clockwork_prior sounds like a hateful religious bigot, as usual' any time I comment here.

And maybe you can tell me more about Tyler Campbell, as I am not curious enough to bother doing it myself. And it would just add even more fun to a most amusing several minutes.

Wow, when do we get the origin stories for the other MR commenters?

Well, it was the origin story of a name, one familiar to many of the longer term commenters here (which is why some some people still use p_a in replies, for example). And since This Guy seems so determined to ruin a 'brand,' it just added to my fun to point out how thoroughly miserable their skill at something like doxxing was.

Sadly, since This Guy did not provide any further information, I have absolutely no idea whether Tyler Campbell has a 'brand.' Nor do I care in the least, to be honest.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

I saw nothing hateful nor bigoted in what he wrote. Even if he did, please let people speak freely, that is one of the good things about this blog compared to other place on the internet.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Great job!
When a Muslims speaks about it
unfortunately the other side doesnt belive it.
Im extremely greateful for bringing out TRUTH .
MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS are people of Book
Quran is a culmination of all Godly book
Its the FINAL TESTAMENT

Jews are also People of the Book. How does that make you feel?

Respond

Add Comment

Sounds like you decided on THE best religion before you became A student of comparative religion. In your studies, where did you LEARN how to decide WHAT words TO capitalize? IS it RANDOM?

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Most importantly (compared to the Christian perspective), Adam is forgiven, and is the first Prophet. There is no concept of original sin.

Original sin is not specifically mentioned in the bible but was developed later. It appears it was necessary for children to go to hell due to the effects of original sin to cut down on infanticide, which was a common practice among pre-industrial societies. (Early industrial also, if you look at the "baby farms" of Victorian Britain.)

The idea of original sin is clearly developed in the New Testament. See Romans 1-3, for example.

Though interpreting this as babies going to hell is not something you will find in the Bible (and that has not been a universally held position).

Stopping infanticide is clearly in line with Christian principles apart from any such doctrine.

Respond

Add Comment

The idea that unbaptized children go to hell was never adopted in Eastern Christendom- which, for a good long time, was the center of Christianity.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Which also means no original state of grace in relation to god, and that humanity have always had a nature inclined towards sin, requiring conscious obedience towards god to remedy. No original sin, no fall of man, no state of innocence to fall from.

Islam then views the human essence of our creation as sin bound and sin prone, Christianity views the sinning nature of humans as either close to a mistake or "God works in mysterious ways".

This is a false understanding. Most Muslim scholars throughout the ages do not have a view of humans as "sin bound and sin prone". Quite the opposite. Because original sin doesn't exist, humans are actually considered as born perfect and eminently perfectible through deeds and living the righteous life. This is one of the reasons why Muslims consider all people, in a sense, to be born as Muslim. That's also why you see such an emphasis on daily piety (pray 5 times a day, etc.) and life as a series of moral habits. It's actually much more Aristotelian.

If humans aren't prone to sin (Islam truly believes humans do not have a sinful nature), then seems like not much need for Islamic law or the Koran to prevent sin? Why would you need the word of god to prevent your sin unless you are prone to sinning without it?

The message of Christianity and Islam then, cannot be too different on the emphasis on the need for religious instruction to avoid sin. Of course all religious traditions believe that humans are capable of moral perfection (or sainthood) if you follow their tradition and are obedient to the will of god. Where Christianity and Islam differ is only on whether it was always so, or whether this is a consequence of a change from humanity's original nature (and Christianity's message of forgiveness emphasizes the continued moral fallibility of post-lapsarian humanity).

Many Islamic theologians point to the importance of Satan to explain the sin issue. Satan as the corrupter and the tempter leads otherwise moral humans toward sin. To stave off Satan, requires a life of moral habit -- hence the 5 daily prayers, the fasting during Ramadaan, etc.

Regarding your 2nd paragraph, I think your description of the difference between Islam and Christianity is more or less correct. Islam does not believe that Christ's existence led to a general forgiveness for original sin. Christ serves a different role in Islam.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Is Miles now planning a book comparing Paradise Lost with the Bible?

Nice

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

What's next? Comparing Ka-El's story to Christ's? Let us also debate whether it is more realistic to assume God created the world yesterday, 100 years ago or 10,000 years ago. Oh, and the number of angels capable of dancing on the surface of an electron.

https://mobile.twitter.com/simpsonsqotd/status/938014792547295232

Maybe Earth was created yesterday with an appearance of age (fossils, ruins, etc.) and we were created with memories of things that never happened.

Respond

Add Comment

Or let us recall that there are are over a billion people who substantially structure their lives around these texts. If only to work with the billions of believers, it might be helpful to understand what they believe and at least some amount of "why".

Only a fool ignores the most potent geopolitical currents of our time.

Maybe if Americans did not support Zionism and Wahhabism, what Muslim terorists believe and why would be a much smaller concern. America created modern political terrorism when it created the Mujahideen. It is a shame Reagan, North, Carter and Zbig Brzezinski were not hanged after 9-11.

I hate it when you stop taking your meds. This victimhood culture is a terrible sickness. I feel your pain. I used to suffer from it too.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Unfortunately religious texts are memes that self replicate by promoting violence against other religions. Maybe the fact that so many people believe them is why the human species is so prone to wars.
If cosmologists and physicists can create a rational model of god that can be verified by observation and repeatable experiment, then that could displace these texts.
The problem there is whether these observations produce something that is better or worse than these texts. At the moment no one knows.

The most lethal regimes in all of human history were those which were officially atheist. We ran the experiment and had millions dead to show for it.

'The most lethal regimes in all of human history'

Tamerlane, the "Sword of Islam," is feeling a bit neglected.

Or insulted, because Stalin and Hitler and Mao look like amateurs compared to him, though obviously those three did have the tools of the 20th century at their disposal. Obviously one can quibble about the numbers, but those 3 20th century figures together (Mao's total death toll may not be accurately known, admittedly), much less alone, does not approach this - 'Scholars estimate that his military campaigns caused the deaths of 17 million people, amounting to about 5% of the world population at the time.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timur

Stalin did not run really death camps, for example, and neither did Mao (though crediting his disastrous policies for a large loss of life is fair enough). This does not cover Mao, but the point is not really all that hard to figure out - 'Today, after two decades of access to Eastern European archives, and thanks to the work of German, Russian, Israeli, and other scholars, we can resolve the question of numbers. The total number of noncombatants killed by the Germans—about 11 million—is roughly what we had thought. The total number of civilians killed by the Soviets, however, is considerably less than we had believed. We know now that the Germans killed more people than the Soviets did. That said, the issue of quality is more complex than was once thought. Mass murder in the Soviet Union sometimes involved motivations, especially national and ethnic ones, that can be disconcertingly close to Nazi motivations.

It turns out that, with the exception of the war years, a very large majority of people who entered the Gulag left alive. Judging from the Soviet records we now have, the number of people who died in the Gulag between 1933 and 1945, while both Stalin and Hitler were in power, was on the order of a million, perhaps a bit more. The total figure for the entire Stalinist period is likely between two million and three million. The Great Terror and other shooting actions killed no more than a million people, probably a bit fewer. The largest human catastrophe of Stalinism was the famine of 1930–1933, in which more than five million people died.' https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/03/10/hitler-vs-stalin-who-killed-more/

WWII killed about 3.5% of the people in the nations involved in fighting it (basically, no casualties in South America, and very few in most of Africa apart from North Africa), and obviously neither Japan nor China at the time could be called atheistic in any reasonable sense.

I am not sure how you are running your math. The greatest number dead in raw numbers is going to come from Mao, full stop. The greatest per capita came from Pol Pot.

I would dispute your totals for the Soviets, yes the archive numbers are lower than expected, but they also are unlikely to count the killings that occurred indirectly (e.g. beatings that lead to crippling injury). Census data, for instance, seems to show a much higher death count.

Regardless, the truth is that society put multiple atheistic states in power. They tried (and often succeeded) in breaking religion's visible presence. Everywhere they tried, we ended up with mass killing and death. It hasn't mattered if these states were in Europe (USSR), Asia (Cambodia), Africa (Ethiopia), or the Americas (Mexico).

Historically the only thing worse than nations run by religious conviction have been ones run by irreligious conviction.

'I am not sure how you are running your math. '

Percentage, as noted in the Tamerlane link.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

You mean we should all be studying Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era ?

(And for This Guy - maybe you can start writing 'clockwork_prior sounds like a hateful communist bigot, as usual,' too. I would certainly find it hilarious, even if no one else likely would.)

yes, depending on how much you wish to understand China, I would suggest reading their guiding texts. Understanding what motivates other people is quite helpful in ife.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

I was wondering the same thing. This is an ECONOMICS blog. I care about the author's opinions on literature about as much as I'd care about a literature professor's views on economics. Same applies to theological views.

As for "..over a billion people who substantially structure their lives around these texts...", that's a cop-out. Intellectual division of labor is as fundamental to economics as physical division of labor. That's not to say that we need to stay in our lanes; rather, it means that we have no need to--and in fact cannot--analyze an important question in every avenue. The fact that it's an important question doesn't mean this is an important venue for asking it. I also question whether they really do build their lives on these books or not. I mean, THEY question that very thing--it's one reason Muslim factions keep slaughtering one another--so I think it's a reasonable one to ask. Finally, you're hardly going to gain a deep understanding of a text by a compare-and-contrast exercise. It's useful as a LITERARY analysis, but hardly as a theological one.

You're right, customer service is terrible. You should ask for a refund.
How dare Tyler Cowen write about whatever he feels like on his own blog!!!

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Also, in the story of Noah, in the Genesis Noah has three sons (Sem, Ham, Japhet), all of them surviving the flood. In the Islamic tradition he has four son, the same as above, plus Yam, who does not survive the flood (he didn't believe his father's prophecies).

Respond

Add Comment

In English it’s spelt “Koran”. Why all the faux learnedness wth the “q’” spelling? Yes, there is a ق in Arabic, but there is no sound for it in English. The sort of folk who bend over backwards to use the quasi- ative spelling never bother to refer to New York as Lenapehoking. It’s a conceit, and hypocrisy too.

Is this really the hill you want to die on?

Respond

Add Comment

Clearly, both you and Prof. Cowen are wrong by not using 'Qur'an' when referring to the book that forms the basis of Mohammedanism. Which is the term used in English traditionally, as you are undoubtedly aware of.

Respond

Add Comment

"...but there is no sound for it in English"

Well to be fair "Q" is one of those letters that never really felt like it belonged to the English alphabet. "X" is even worse but I think if you wanted a "English but not-English" letter to represent the sound Q is a fair choice.

Respond

Add Comment

What annoys me is the selective application of this cultural sensitivity. We never hear of "Roma," just "Rome," for example.

Respond

Add Comment

Qu'ran is an accurate representation of the Arabic word*. "Koran" is not. It's like calling the Bible the Beebo.

* "q" is a back of the throat "k" sound. The apostrophe is a glotal stop.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

In the Genesis, after the story of Abraham and Isaac, the narrative go on telling the mythical story of the Hebrew people: Isaac and Esau, Isaac's son Jacob, his adventures, marriages, how he gets the nickname of Israel,
Jacob's twelve sons, among them Joseph, The adventures of Joseph and his eventually self-fullfilling prophecy that his brothers prostrating themselves in front of him, Joseph sold as slave, then working for an Egyptian's notable, then getting in jail, then out of jail, then becoming kind of prime minister in Egypt, his brothers and parents coming to him for help without knowing who he is, and many many lateral stories.

I wonder ho much of the above, if anything, is mentioned in the Quran?

Then in the genesis there is the long story of Moses in Egypt, and I know Moises is one of the great prophet of the Islam so he is certainly mentioned, but with how much details and how?

Thanks for any knowledgeable people here who can enlighten me.

In the second to last paragraph, read the "book of Exodus" instead of Genesis. Sorry.

Respond

Add Comment

Does Islam mention that Perez begot Hezron; Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David?

No idea. I would say, probably not.

But both the gospels of Matthew and of Luke mention it. (The first of your list, Perez, is the son of Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, which makes David, and Jesus, members of the tribe of Judah.)

Thanks.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Partial answer to my own question: I realizes that the surate 12 of the Quran is entirely devoted to the story of Joseph (of the Genesis, not Jesus's human father), and tell his story in a manner relatively close to that of the Genesis. The differences with the original text are well summarized by Tyler Cowen's points 2 and 3.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

There is mention of David and Goliath in the Koran, but nothing about the size difference.

Respond

Add Comment

It is interesting to compare holy books with physicists' creation ideas. Then one finds that the architect of the Big Bang was a clergyman:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre
Top physicist Michio Kaku says there is a god:
....In an interview he surprised his interviewer by making a statement that most top physicists believe in a God because of how the universe is designed...
https://godtv.com/renowned-physicist-says-there-is-a-god/
Maybe it should be left to physicists to determine more about this idea of a god, as theologians and religious people are more entwined with the ideas of politics, law and control than physical reality.
Certainly a lot of the properties assigned to god by religions are at variance with observed facts. This is something no physicist would accept.

" most top physicists believe in a God because of how the universe is designed..." Jolly good; who designed God, then?

The turtles of course

Turtles really know about recursion.

+0.99999999....

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Stupid question. Which is the original language of the Quran? Can people today read the original text or only a few scholars?

For comparison, the Bible is a translation from several languages. The Bible also underwent editing along the centuries.

See below - I really have a problem with correctly placing a comment properly when it is the last one.

Respond

Add Comment

The original language is Arabic. I'm going to guess an analogy to describe it might be Chaucer to modern day English speakers. It's an English that is not spoken today and will throw most readers for a loop until they get used to the style and understand the differences. A difference though is Muslims grow up hearing the Quran all the time while even in college, a minority of English speakers will read any any serious amount of Chaucer. You might want to think about the King James Bible then as another analogy. Def. not the language most English speakers use but as far as the Bible itself goes they are familiar with it. They know what "Noah begat Ham" means but would never say "Trump begat Trump Jr."

"The original language is Arabic." There is one scholar who thinks the original language of at least parts of it was Syriac, which explains the incomprehensible bits, the text having been written down by Arabs who thought it was in Arabic.

Respond

Add Comment

Standard Aranic, which no one speaks as a birth tongue, but which all Arab speakers, Muslim or not, learn when they learn to read and write, is based on Qu'ranic Arabic. So the language is not as unfamiliar a Chaucer is to us today.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

"For comparison, the Bible is a translation from several languages."
Not really. The Old Testament is written in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek. Most scholar consider that no part of them is a translation of some older text in another language. Of couse the writers of the different parts may have relied on sources in other languages (e,g. Matthew may have had sources in Aramaic) -- but using a source is not the same as translating it.

So, for all us who cannot read Hebrew or Greek, we read translations.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

"There is virtually no literary suspense."

Yet Americans keep supporting radical Islam against democracies.

They support anything over socialism and theft (e.g., Mossadegh of my home country, who decided he wanted to steal British investments). The whining people of Iran haven't stopped complaining about being victimized by the bad Americans for 60 years. The Eastern European losers have grievances that are hundreds of years old. Time to grow up and stand up and move forward instead of looking at the past and asking for apologies for things that have been going on since the dawn of time.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Arabic, and until fairly recently, it had to be Arabic, as no translations were tolerated by Muslims (nor printing, for that matter, though it is a complex subject to put it mildly - https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2009/03/07/printing-banned-by-islam/comment-page-1/)

Basically the Qur'an is a straightforward historical document, in the sense of there not really being different languages (until recently) or editions involved. Of course, interpreting the Qur'an retains as contentious as interpreting any major religious document, but not due to issues of translation or provenance (that Arabic has changed over 1500 years is beyond dispute, though the same applies to something like the King James Bible too).

Which means that people who can read Arabic today can read the Qur'an with pretty much the same level of difficulty (as an analogy) that people can read Shakespeare in the original, but with less problems than reading Chaucer in the original. Depends on a number of factors - for Iranians or Turks, the Qur'an is in a foreign language, regardless of how much their languages have been influenced by Arabic as reflected through the Qur'an.

No branch of Islam disputes the text of the Qur'an in any way, shape, or form (the Hadith is a touch more complex in this regard, somewhat resembling some of the disputes involving the New Testament in terms of accuracy when events occurred compared to when they were recorded). Of course, disputes of the interpretation of the text are rife, but no one involved in such disputes says that there are two versions of the text, of which theirs is the proper one.

Basically, the Qur'an is much like the Book of Mormon - there are not really any questions about its creation as a historical document (at least after it was written down), nor any variant versions.

Thanks for the long answer.

Indeed, there are countries where the original book is a foreign language book.

Absolutely - Malaysians or Indonesians have no more connection to the Qu'ran's Arabic than American Catholics in 1950 had to Church Latin.

I have been told by several Arabs that the Qur'an is more or less understandable today, but it is definitely no longer what anyone considers normal Arabic. The couple of Iranians I have talked to about tthe Qur'an seemed honestly more interested in mocking Arabs than concerned about whether the Qur'an was understandable in and of itself. It is likely best to say that the Persians have a very complicated relationship to the Qur'an as a text, starting with the fact that it is written in Arabic. Cannot really think of a Western comparison, to be honest. The Islamic Republic is unlikely to supplant thousands of years of Persian culture, but there is no question that the mullahs are hard at work trying to do just that.

I suppose since 9/11 we've all read a handful of books explaining Islam (my favorite being Tamim Ansary's) - and a running theme seems to be that Quran and Arabic are inseparable in a way that other religious texts are not. I accept this without understanding why it should be so.

I am reminded of a scene from "Among the Believers" in which Naipaul bitterly observes schoolboys in ... Indonesia, I think it was ... sitting on the floor, insensibly mouthing the words of the holy book that furnished their education. I didn't finish "Among the Believers" (pre-9/11) so was left with the impression that, as he seemed foremost a lover of literature, this was the heart of his problem with Islam. I feel a similar (silent) frustration, towards some good friends, kindhearted Christians, for whom there really is no other than the one book, or any subject of sustained interest. O God, help me not with my unbelief, which cannot matter to you; help me with my impatience with their narrow belief.

Being obsessed with one book is bad, but being obsessed with the Quran is even worse than being obsessed with the Bible because the Quran is a mostly mediocre piece of literature (whereas the Bible is not). The Quran is disorganized, repetitive, and often obscure. Most stories are told with excessive brevity and repeated again and again. The only sustained narrative is Surah 12, which is filled implausibilities, undeveloped characters, abrupt shifts in place, and unexplained motives. Sure, many Muslims will tell you the language is beautiful, and it may be, but one should bear in mind that the literary excellence of the Quran is an article of faith in Islam, so this isn't really an assessment of its true merit, just something Muslims are supposed to believe.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Please stop commenting on things you know nothing about (ISLAM). I’m sure you’re very comfortable commenting on Pirating, and Green Parties in Germany, and I promise I will not attempt to correct you based on googling random shit.

Please do us the same courtesy. Indonesians, Iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis, and Malays can read Arabic, because they learn it from the age of 5. In order to read the Holy Koran, Allah’s words received by THE Prophet Mohammed, PBUH. All the Ummah learn to read Arabic. We are not Papist Idolators, mindlessly listening to a dead language and drinking a haram drink from fermented grapes.

You chose to live in Germany, soon to be a Muslim majority nation, inshallah. Do not ever write “Mohammedanism” and never question his truth in writing. We will let you pirate Jew movies, but you will pay the jizya

'Iranians'

Well, none of the half dozen Persians I know were taught Arabic at 5.

'All the Ummah learn to read Arabic.'

Somebody using Pashtun as a name writes that with a straight face? (OK, it is not actually with a straight face, but still let's play anyways.) How many Afghani women can read at all? Ah, here is a figure - 'Afghanistan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, currently estimated at about 31% of the adult population (over 15 years of age). Female literacy levels are on average 17%, with high variation, indicating a strong geographical and gender divide. The highest female literacy rate, for instance is 34.7%, found in the capital, Kabul, while rate as low as 1.6% is found in two southern provinces of the country. Male literacy rates average about 45%, again with high variation. The highest male literacy rates are in Kabul, at 68%, while the lowest is found in Helmand, at 41%.' http://www.unesco.org/new/en/kabul/education/youth-and-adult-education/enhancement-of-literacy-in-afghanistan-iii/

'soon to be a Muslim majority nation'

Ah, another follower of Eurabia fantasies.

'Do not ever write “Mohammedanism”'

Fascinating - I bet you are also the sort of person that would object to marchers in Charlottesville chanting Nazi slogans being called white supremacists too. But to be honest, I don't care what a Mahometan thinks of my use of various English terms in connection with their religion, certainly not in the MR comments section.

Respond

Add Comment

Please stop commenting on things you know nothing about (IRANIANS). Most Iranians I know detest Arabic as an ugly and gutteral language and consider Islam an imposed and imperialistic religion. As an example of what Islam imperialism does to its subjects: supplication towards the imperialist country multiple times a day. The worst thing the Brits did was set GMT in London.

Interesting insight. Thanks.

I was aware of the conflict between SA and Iran, but until today I realized Islam is the religion of the conqueror. Arabic is only the liturgical language.

A funny similar situation for Catholics. My mother was born in a Catholic family, she later abandoned it. Until 1963 (or 1964?) the Catholic mass was offered in Latin. For centuries people pretended 5 years old children knew Latin because they could repeat as parrots "Ora pro nobis". The truth is nobody understood the mass because it was offered in a dead language only the priest knew.....hopefully.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

"there are not really any questions about its creation as a historical document (at least after it was written down)": oh, but there are. In a very gingerly sort of way, various questions have been raised.

As an aside, I gather than the common Moslem assertion that the Koran is absolutely standard is not, as a matter of fact, true. There are differences in modern Korans that scholars can point at, though none of them are adjudged to be of any theological importance.

'In a very gingerly sort of way, various questions have been raised'

Well, questions can be raised about anything of course, but the Qur'an as we know has a fairly clear provenance in a historical sense - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quran#Compilation

Obviously, since we are talking about a religious text, there are a lot of problems calling the text 'historical,' yet the provenance of what we consider to be the Qur'an as a single written text is much better attributed than the plays of Shakespeare, for example.

'though none of them are adjudged to be of any theological importance'

As noted in the wikipedia link - 'According to Shia, Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661) compiled a complete version of the Quran shortly after Muhammad's death. The order of this text differed from that gathered later during Uthman's era in that this version had been collected in chronological order. Despite this, he made no objection against the standardized Quran and accepted the Quran in circulation. Other personal copies of the Quran might have existed including Ibn Mas'ud's and Ubay ibn Ka'b's codex, none of which exist today.' Essentially, a standardized version was created, and since then, basically all copies of the Qur'an have followed that standardized Arabic version, without deviation, over the following 14 centuries.

"that standardized Arabic version, without deviation": so you tell me, but there are scholars who assert that you are wrong. There remain small deviations even if they are of no theological consequence.

Similarly there are scholars who reject the standard Moslem account of the history of the Koran. I make no claim to any sort of expertise on the subject but I can say, however, that the arguments of the writers in question seem to me to be logical and temperately phrased.

And questions can be raised about anything. The 'standard Muslim' account encompasses both Sunni and Shia perspectives, as there were different Qur'an versions immediately following Mohammed's death - nobody is arguing about that at all, including Muslims. The point is that relatively quickly, in a period of a couple of decades, the Qur'an was standardized, with the approval of one of the writers of one of the then recognized variant versions.

It seems you are more concerned about whatever modern Muslim claims exist about the Qur'an than I am. Basically, a standardized version was created with the approval from an author of another strand of Islam, and that standardized version is what we consider the Qur'an.

And for the record, just like I reject the LDS Church's standard account of the history of the Book of Mormon involving reformed Egyptian and the angel Moroni, while in no way disputing that the Book of Mormon in its current form has a history as a text, the same applies to how I view the Qur'an as a text - without for a second believing that the angel Gabriel told Mohammed anything at all.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Is it xoincidence that Arabs and Red China are acting together.

https://www.salon.com/2019/03/02/gold-has-no-politics-mbs-goes-on-a-sales-trip/

Respond

Add Comment

Qu'ran litterally means Biblical lectionary in pre-arabic.

Respond

Add Comment

God is the substance of existence, the collection of the smallest thing observable. God organizes the smallest things such that they compute pi, everywhere. Gods purpose is to obtain the next best aggregate fractional approximation to pi without doing a big bang. A game, kind of.

Respond

Add Comment

I've never understood certain practices of Christianity and Islam.

Christianity. 1. The idea of original sin makes no sense to me - how does a baby have sin? 2. What kind of God would kill his own son? 3. Why do you need to dunk your head in water to be a Christian - why can't you just declare yourself one?

Islam: 1. If God (Allah) is everywhere, then why do Muslims pray in the direction towards a structure in Saudi Arabia? 2. A little hunger (fasting) is good for your immune system, but no water or liquids from dawn to sunset is unhealthy especially during the summer months. 3. The Pilgrimage - I think it's supposed to be once in a lifetime - sounds like rent seeking from the Saudi government and businesses. 4. Praying five times a day is one thing, but the whole ritual cleansing before prayer makes it all seem like a hassle.

In regards both religions, I don't believe giving to charity should be required anymore in the age of big government taxation and transfer payments to the poor.

1. The idea of original sin makes no sense to me - how does a baby have sin?

Holdover from earlier religions. Basically the idea is that the Fall ensured a tendency towards evil; nothing we do can be perfect. Of course, they define "perfect" as "that which humans can't do". So take that as you will. Lots of debate on this in the past, by the way--the Medieval literature is pretty interesting.

2. What kind of God would kill his own son?

The Hebrew god always demanded sacrifices, and old gods (including many Roman gods and those in Mystery Cults) accepted human sacrifices. There are multiple examples of human sacrifice in the Bible. The idea is that Christ was not just a human sacrifice, but a divine sacrifice as well, and therefore cleansed (or allowed for the possibility of cleansing) Original Sin. At the very least, it was such an awesome sacrifice that it ended the old Covenant.

Now if you want to REALLY screw with your brain: the Christian god is supposed to be indivisible. So it wasn't just his own son, but that god sent HIMSELF to be sacrificed (as a separate person) to himself.

3. Why do you need to dunk your head in water to be a Christian - why can't you just declare yourself one?

Depends on the sect. In Catholicism, you in fact do NOT need it. It's ideal, and generally considered required. But under certain conditions it's not. If there's no priest around, for example, or if you die fighting for a good cause. They're not too open with this information; the only reason I know it is because my family was friends with a bishop and it came up during a family gathering once. And again, see the theological literature on it--this was a hot button issue in the past! I'm not as familiar with other sects.

As for why water, never did understand it. I know it's not just ANY water; in Catholicism it's supposed to be holy water, which is water that's been blessed. Historically it's a holdover from pre-Jewish religious observances.

The Catholics won't agree with your last statement. It falls under the "Render unto Caesar" thing.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that ANYONE could give a baptism as long as they used living water, which is water that things actually live in (lake water but not sink water).

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon.57 In case of necessity, anyone, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize58 , by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.59

VI. THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.61 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.62 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

I've heard you're not supposed to read nor translate the Koran from the Arabic, it's technically a sin to do so.

And something about in the Quran how the earth is nothing but a turtle's back, and it's turtle shells all the way down (multiverse).

Anybody who has read the holy Koran in the original care to comment? But if you do so, only comment in Arabic (yergi al-kataba fakt ballga al-arabia ، shukra lek_

I've read the koran in Farsi. So whoever told you it's a sin was lying to you and you didn't bother googling "koran translation"

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

The basic purpose of all religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam included, is to regulate human sexual activity. Everything else is just frosting on the priesthood's cake.

It is not that simple. The is more than meets the eye.

Respond

Add Comment

Males of many species attempt to regulate the sexual activity around them, religions codify that instinct but it's not what makes something a religion.

Respond

Add Comment

The text is at times ambiguous, which allows people to read in their own weirdness into it. Kind of like an inkblot test. For you, it's apparently all about sex. Fascinating.

Respond

Add Comment

I don't know about that. The original use of religion seemed to be more financial; the Babylonian temple being the place tithes of grain were taken and loans of grains for tithes were tabulated, and tithed grain distributed back into the community, etc. Once that is begun, of course, the temple becomes the central repository for escheatment and rulings on heirs. Do that, and suddenly the question of who's the kid of whom comes up, and you know, this whole inheritance thing would be so much simpler if everyone just stopped doing it with everyone else.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

I have the Miles book, which I haven't read yet. What might the other sources be?

Respond

Add Comment

So, Christianity is basically an inclusive version of the highly tribal religion of Judaism. What fundamentally differentiates Islam from Christianity besides Jesus being god in the latter? I guess the two religions could actually be considered variants of the same religion.

"So, Christianity is basically an inclusive version of the highly tribal religion of Judaism."

Only after Paul. Prior to him, Christianity was more or less a sect within Judaism--a particularly strict one at that.

Imagine talking in sweeping generalities about an at most 6 year period. Christianity had maybe 5K followers at the time of Paul’s conversion.

Not sure what your point is. I agree that at the time of Paul's conversion anything we could call Christianity (it was nothing like today's sects) was extremely small. I disagree with the timeline (then again, I don't believe that the Gospels are about a single person, so if you're coming at this from a Christian perspective we're going to have serious disagreements anyway).

My point is it doesn’t make any sense to discuss pre-Pauline Christianity. And you can’t disagree with my timeline it was at most six years between Christ’s death and the conversion of Paul. This isn’t like whether or not people should shit in the street- it’s not up for debate.

And to be honest I’m not going to discuss it with an Indian because Christianity deeply wounded Indian amour propre because foreign missionaries treated low caste people better than their Indian co-ethnics did. It drives Indian nationalists like you crazy and what’s the point.

He's not wrong though. It is easier to generalize Christianity when it was only a few thousand vs billions now. It is also true that pre-Pauline Christianity is closer to Judaism than what we call Christianity today. Don't let your anger blind you to reason.

Contempt not anger at no point did I show even a hint of anger.

And there was no Christianity before Paul. There was a personality cult centered around a Jewish mystic. And that cult was fumbling towards a non-Jewish exclusiveness at least if Acts is to be taken as authoritative. But for whatever reason Christ intervened and removed that responsibility from the purview of his own designate successor.

To say that pre-Pauline Christianity was more like Judaism isn’t wrong it’s just a worthless observation. Without Paul the sect would have likely died out like so many other messianic Jewish movements. Paul is Christianity. Christianity literally has no resemblance to the religion Peter practiced until his martyrdom.

It makes absolutely no sense to respond to a general comment about Christianity by saying well only before Paul. It’s like saying that the reformation wasn’t like that before Luther well yea no shit because Luther started the whole thing.

Whether you look at it in a historic context or a theological/ biblical context Christianity begins with Paul.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

I don't think in Paul's time there was anything like what we call Judaism as the Talmud had not yet been compiled and their was still temple sacrifice and a priesthood.

Sure but only in Jerusalem. Synagogue worship in the Roman Empire was starting to take on some features of modern judiams. But yes in a lot of ways Paul created Christianity and Judaism as the talmud developed polemically as a response to Christianity just as much as it did as a response to the destruction of the temple. which makes sense because the temple had been destroyed many times before without leading to a talmudic religion. What was unique was a new alternative monotheism was on the rise eliminating the fall back differentiation that had characterized judiams.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

In the grand scheme of things, Islam's ascendancy to global dominance is best understood in evolutionary terms as a stage in the progress of the eusocialist imperative. Eusocialism is the ideology that the highest level of human organization is defined by the following characteristics: cooperative brood care, overlapping generations within a colony of adults, and the division of labor into specific castes with restricted breeding rights. Such social organization requires total domination and total submission. Islam is a refinement upon the christianity that preceded it in that provides even less opportunity for individualism and non-conformism.

Homo sapiens is currently at the point where highly eusocial termites and merely social cockroaches diverged in their descent from a common ancestor. In human evolution, termitistas won the first victory when they wiped out the larger brained and more creative Neanderthals. Proponents of an evolutionary track in which homo sapiens further devolves into a single even more hyper eusocial. termite-like species as the sole, have captured many of the religions of the world, the bureaucracies, the "educational" systems of indoctrination, and the remains of what was once art. Proponents of a diverse and varied future human future that allows for the evolution of merely social cockroach type species, have been forced underground, but still retain a genetic endowment, that if able to endure until termitism collapses upon itself, may keep the cockroach ethos of individualism and creativity alive in future species. The odds are against the cockroaches though. In many Islamic countries cockroachism is met with execution, perhaps explaining Islamism's popularity among termitista US elites. The US tax code is a special example of termitista victory rewarding as it does drone like behavior with tax exemptions and completely intermediating itself into every option for productive and liberating behavior. Termitism has even successfully coopted philosophical movements such as "libertarianism" the top priority of which now appears to be imposing new taxes on single family dwellings and coercing a greater proportion of the population to live in urban, high-density, high-rise mounds. The termitista "science" of economics even goes so far as to define such social arrangements as "more productive" than agrarian arrangements that actually produce substantive goods.

Those cockroaches among ous who would prefer our genetic endowments go to restore a large-brained, creative future for our offspring, would do well to migrate outside the authoritarian domains and into the darkness to quietly pass along a meaningful alternative to the termitista dystopia that is now dawning.

Respond

Add Comment

Both the Quran and Torah were written in different scripts than the ones used today. These scripts did not include vowels originally. Eventually, both texts, possibly around the same time, had the vowels added to the written texts, presumably to try and grammatically stabilize or limit the possible readings of the text. In other words, the pointing of the texts was itself an interpretation of the texts.

Really? The OT was stabilised about as late as the Koran? Goodness me. When was that, approximately?

And does that mean that Greek, and later Latin, versions were translated from an unstabilised OT?

"Vowel and cantillation marks were added to the older consonantal layer of the Bible between 600 CE and the beginning of the 10th century. The scholars who preserved the pronunciation of the Bibles were known as the Masoretes."

I don't mind being disagreed with or even made fun of, but your comment suggests you need to read up on the history of the Biblical Texts.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Genesis is the first creation myth that does not involve warring gods; rather, a good God being himself.

Respond

Add Comment

I've spent q lot of time reading the Koran and Hadiths etc, also spent too much time looking at Islamic websites dispensing advice to moslems as to what they can and can't do. All I can conclude is that it is the most proscriptive and prescriptive religion around. Why anyone wants to live such a life is beyond me. I guess the only reason would be that you believe it will get you to heaven.

For your next project, try Hasidic Judaism.

To answer your question: people are born into something and take the path of least resistance to stability and fulfillment. The English language websites are for Muslims in the West, who are confused by their parents' religion and its place in the free societies they live in. It's less confusing in the home country, as long as the influence of Western media is kept at bay. That's why the Muslim ban should be seen as a benefit to Muslims: less confusing lives in the land of evil.

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment

Respond

Add Comment