June 25, 2016

Understanding Islam XIV: The Qur'an

The Qur’an might now be the most famous book never read (next to the Bible). The Qur’an was supposedly written by Muhammad over a period of 23 years beginning in 610 AD, starting when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632 AD. The Quran is composed of verses (Ayah) that make up 114 chapters (Sura) of unequal length which are classified either as Meccan or Medinan depending upon the place and time of their claimed revelation. The interesting thing about Muhammad is that during the time that these portions of the Qur'an were written, they appear to change in tone from somewhat benevolent to outright murderous and violent. It seems that in Muhammad’s movement (The Hijra/Hajj, fleeing) through the desert from Mecca to Medina something changed him drastically. That is why the Qur’an is often viewed as nearly two distinct documents, one more peaceful than the other: Mecca (young and peaceful) and Medina (older and more violent).

Most Muslims will agree that the Qur'an we see today was canonized by Uthman Ibn Affan (653-656). Upon the canonization of the Qur'an, Uthman had the other codices that existed at the time destroyed and burnt. I suggest this is to standardize all text to make a claim to perfect divine inspiration while simultaneously destroying all manuscripts and copies that were obvious evidences of contradiction and discrepancies. This is why we now have no extant copies of the Qur’an and no disputes because all evidence to the contrary was destroyed centuries ago to cover Islam’s tracks so to speak. The divinely inspired accuracy of the Qur’an is not evidence of divine inspiration but rather evidence of duplicity and deceptive use of corroborating evidences.

The Qur’an contains 114 Suras or chapters. If you pick up a Qur’an and thumb through it, you will notice very quickly that the long chapters are in the beginning and the short chapters are all at the end. The only organizational structure in the Qur’an is large to small…that’s it. That’s why the Qur’an is so confusing. A feature that stands out is how repetitious it is. The other thing that is striking is the Qur’an’s duality or contradictory nature. This cancellation of one verse by another later verse is called abrogation. But abrogation does not cancel or negate the verse because if the earlier verse was by Allah then that verse is true because, Allah by definition, cannot tell a lie. The Qur’an is contradictory, but both sides of the contradiction are true. This turns out to be an insight into the mind of Islam because it means that Muslims can hold in their mind two contradictory ideas and accept both of them as true. This explains how Muslims after September 11th were able to say Islam is a peaceful religion. A peaceful religion doesn’t send out jihadists to kill 3,000 people. This of course is a violation of the first axiom of logic called the Law of Non-contradiction. This then begs the question. If Allah is omniscient and perfect, how can he also be contradictory?

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