Once of the central claims in Islam is the immutability of the Qur’an. It is repeatedly asserted that what was given to Muhammad is exactly what is found in copies of today’s Arabic Qur’an.
I’ll be writing about it myself once I’ve finished reading the Qur’an, but in the meantime, here’s a very detailed debate focussing on this very question:
It’s another long one today, one hundred and eighty-two verses.
Surah 31 – “Luqman” (Luqman)
The opening is fairly standard stuff…
- Muhammad is told to warn those who lead other away from the Qur’an and Allah
- “…those who believe and do righteous deeds – for them are the Gardens of Pleasure”
- Allah’s work of creation is extolled.
The title of this chapter refers to a person, “Luqman, the Wise”, an Abyssinian or Nubian slave who lived around Madyan, who was known to pre-Islamic Arabs. Muhammad is told to remind the people of when Luqman told his son “do not associate [anything] with Allah”. There then follow two ayat which comment on the two subjects raised here: care of parents and shirk. We then return to Luqman. He tells his son that Allah reveals all wrongdoings. He exhorts him to prayer, right action, patience and humility.
We turn to the subject of unbelievers, who chose to reject prophets who come with revelation and instead to follow the religious practices of their ancestors.
Muhammad is told to “not let…disbelief [of others] grieve you” since they will ultimately return to Allah: “We grant them enjoyment for a little; then We will force them to a massive punishment”. This seems rather vindictive.
The chapter ends by emphasizing that man doesn’t know the future, but Allah is all-knowing (“[Allah] knows what is in the wombs”).
It’s another long one today, one hundred and eighty-two verses.
Surah 37 – “Those who set the ranks” (As-Saaffat)
The chapter opens with Allah swearing by the different angels that “your God is One”.
We are then treated to a description of Heaven’s defense system. We are told that an “adornment of stars…[act] as protection against every rebellious devil [so] they may not listen to the exalted assembly [of angels]” and “are pelted from every side” by flaming meteors. I believe this is a reference to the jinn we read about earlier who eavesdrop on Heaven and report what they hear to soothsayers.
Today’s chapter is a long one…one hundred and sixty-five verses…here we go…
Surah 6 – “Cattle” (Al-Anaam)
We begin with statements about Allah: how he created mankind, the heavens and the earth and how he knows all things.
Next we hear from Muhammad’s critics:
- Some appear to have asked for Allah to send down a written scripture that they can touch (rather than simply a recitation from the mouth of a prophet). However, we are told that the critics would just dismiss it as magic.
- Some demand an angel alongside Muhammad. We are told that, if this happened, the disbelievers would just be destroyed immediately, allowing them no chance for repentance.
- Some questioned why the messenger of the Qur’an couldn’t have been an angel. In reply, we are told that if this had happened, Allah would have made the angel appear as a man, and this would have confused them and filled them with doubt.
In my post on Surah “Hud”, I asked a question. If there have been thousands of prophets sent by Allah, why is it that we are repeatedly told about the same ones? I mean, we hear the stories of Noah, Hud, Salih, Abraham, Lot and Moses again and again…
This piqued my curiosity, so I searched for a list on the Internet of all the prophets mentioned in the Qur’an. It turns out that, in total, twenty-five are mentioned. Here they are, together with the names used for them in the Arabic text:
So, I’ve made a decision… Once I reach the halfway point in the Qur’an (which should happen in a few days), I’m going to take a break from this series for a couple of weeks.
I’ve finally managed to make contact with a local Imam, so I’m hoping to meet him soon and start working through the large backlog of questions I’ve recorded about the chapters read thus far.
I’m sure that more than a few of you are getting a bit tired of the relentless posts about Isalm. To be honest, I’m also finding that my daily reading and writing is becoming a bit of a grind. It’s time-consuming and there are some other long-overdue posts I’d much prefer to complete!
However, as I am not quite at the halfway point, today I read the chapter of the Qur’an which is rather excitingly titled “Rock City”…
Surah 15 – “Rock City” (Al-Hijr)
We open with the affirmation that this is a “clear Qur’an [i.e. recitation]”. I will no longer point out when the Qur’an’s chapters begin like this. Hitherto, I wanted to make sure that I emphasized in these notes how often the Qur’an affirms its perspicuity.
We are told that no city was ever destroyed which had not previously received a warning of imminent destruction from one of Allah’s Messengers. This will be important for the examples which we will cover later in this surah.
We hear the common objections given by the disbelievers:
- Accusations of madness against the Messenger
- Expectations of angels accompanying the Messenger
Thus far in the Qur’an we have encountered the stories of the prophets Adam, Noah, Hud, Salih, Abraham, Jacob, Shu’ayb, Moses and of Isa’s mother, Mary. Today we hear about the story of Joseph the patriarch, the one whom the Bible describes as having a “coat of many colours”:
Surah 12 – “Joseph” (Yusuf)
We open with the affirmation that the Qur’an is a “clear Book”. There is also the assertion by Allah that He is revealing “the best of stories” to Muhammad, about which he was previously unfamiliar. This seems to me to me an unlikely claim, given that Muhammad would have certainly had contact with Jews while he was a merchant trader.
We are then treated to the Islamic version of the story of the Patriach Joseph. Joseph tells his father about his dream where the sun, moon and stars bowed down to him. Jacob tells Joseph not to share this dream with his brothers, for fear they will plot against him.
(Although I’ve questioned previously whether the author of the Qur’an knew Isaac was the father of Jacob, this chapter does appear to recognize that correct relationship when Jacob is quoted as saying “[Allah will] complete His favour upon you and upon the family of Jacob, as He completed it upon your fathers before, Abraham and Isaac”)