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Sunday, 26 April 2009

Blogging The Qur'an - Part 1 - al-Fatihah

The Opening

We start! Tarif Khalidi has rendered the opening basmala rather poetically and very generously, conveying the deeper meanings of the ‘Arabi words. He opens thusly:

In the name of God,
Merciful to all,
Compassionate to each!


This sounds rather good and certainly brings out the implied sense of the words ar–Rehman and ar–Rahim. However, as we shall soon discover as we travel through the Qur’ân, allah really doesn’t show compassion or mercy to all, despite repeated protestations that it does.

Since the surah itself consists of but a few lines I shall render the opening here:
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds:
Merciful to all,
Compassionate to each!
Lord of the Day of Judgement.
It is You we worship, and upon You we call for help.
Guide us to the straight path,
The path of those upon whom Your grace abounds,
Not those upon whom anger falls,
Nor those who are lost.

Sounds lovely and a bit like the Lord’s prayer, doesn’t it? Yet herein we already encounter difficulty and trouble. The orthodox Islâmic view on the Qur’ân maintains it as the literal word of god. allah’s own words directly transcribed. As I explained in another, earlier post of mine, it actually amounts to third– or fourth–generational hearsay because allah told Gabriel to tell Muhammad, who then told his followers to memorise the passages or write them down on scraps lying around, which after Muhammad’s death the Khalifah (Caliph) had collected, and an official canonical copy made under the auspices of the 3rd Khalifah. So… not quite the direct word of allah.

As we shall discover, numerous passages sound as though Muhammad himself stated them. Others have little hedges and additions that try to circumvent this. Later redactors must have added words like “Say:” to the start of certain passages because they would otherwise sound like the words of a man, and not god itself. You can tell these form later interpolations because they sometimes missed a few, which I shall discuss in due course. You can usually identify those passages in English translations because the interpreter writes ‘say’ in parentheses, to denote the original ‘Arabi does NOT contain that word.

This opening represents a great summary and table of contents for the rest of the Qur’ân, and forms one of the passages that muslims who pray the ritual salah prayer recite at least 17 times a day. It OBVIOUSLY does not come from god, but marks a prayer that a human has recited with which to worship god. And yet the orthodox view consists of the fact that allah ‘sent down’ this prayer to give muslims something meaningful to recite over and over again. Sounds a bit arrogant, doesn’t it? Here, I’ll send you something with which to remember me, and it goes: “Praise to you, god of all the worlds!” Sheesh, how much of an ego trip can a divine entity go on?

Mind you, it actually sounds rather decent in this translation to me, and can sound extremely beautiful when recited. However, the last lines mask a veiled attack against other religions. You see, the otherwise normal–sounding plea to have allah guide muslims to the straight path and not the wrong ones refers in fact to Jews (upon whom god’s anger falls), and Christians (who have lost their way after deifying Jesus). Already you have hostility against other monotheistic religions, and stereotyping of peoples. What a start to a Holy Book…

1 comment:

temour said...

Greetings Rascaduanok,

How are you ?

I notice exclusive hate from you towards the religion of Islam, And the holy Qur'an.

What saddens me is your lack of understanding of the holy book, and by this you try to translate it through the way that you find suitable...

Did you forget that the Qur'an is written in Arabic ?

Do you know what is Arabic ?

no it's not the words that most of the middle east uses nowadays, i recommend getting a book called " leesan al arab " it's the original arab language book, and don't worry it's not connected to islam.

First of all you said that the Qur'an was written in the reign of the 3rd Khalifat ?
you're wrong.

The quran was written written when the prophet peace be upon him was alive, please check your sources again before stating that it was not.

The prophet ordered his friends ( sahabaa ) to write just the quran and not hadeeth so they don't accedintly mix it with the qur'an.

After prophets death, the Qur'an was Gathered into " one " in the reign of Khalifa Abu-Bakir al saddeeq.

Gathered so it won't be scattered like it was.

not to mention that the Qur'an was also known in many sahaba in their minds, " mahfood fe al sodoor " so it was not only paper, and arabs were known in that time for their ability to recognize texts for years without any mistake.

And lastly, the Qur'an was " copied " in the reign of the 3rd khalifa you are talking about because there have been more than 12 accents spread across the land.


Also, should i even comment on your translation of the Sura Fatha ?

i don't, and i know that you have written it just for the ones who do not actually know the Qur'an.

Good luck man.

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