Thursday, March 29, 2007

To be continued

Koran blogging will continue mid-May, 2007.

Sorry for the delay. Grad school is gobblinf up my time.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Want to know more about the Koran?

Click here if you want to know more about the Koran.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Chapter 2.2: The Cow - Allah is hard core, yet forgiving

The Koran leaves no wiggle room in its respect for itself. "This book is not to be doubted." This is not a postmodern document.

"The Cow" begins with strong statements about believers and unbelievers. There are true believers adn fake true believers (Allah knows the difference), and there are people who deceive only themselves.

There is a sense of divine determinism. Allah keeps unbelievers in their sin. I wonder, is there no chance for the unbeliever to become a believer? Must one be born Muslim to be Muslim? Once an infidel always an infidel?

As a nonbeliever, this strikes some fear intom my heart. I do not yet know from my reading of the Koran what Jihad means, but from popular coverage in the news, I am in trouble.

Now, on the upside, it appears that Allah merely exposes people to truth. good people will experience truth as enlightening while bad people will experience truth as a deception. It appears as a deception because it does not align with their worldview. This perspective is very similar to Judeo-Christian views of God in that your response to God reveals who you ahve chosen to be as much or more than who God is.

As we go a little further along, we get some insight into Adam and Satan. Allah gave Adam the names of things - that's familiar. However, this is pretty interesting: apparently Allah told the angels of Heaven to prostrate themselves before Adam - and they all did except for Satan. Satan became an unbeliever because of pride (very good lesson on the process of falling away from God).

There is a mention of the tree (presumably of the knowledge of good and evil) that Adam and his wife (let's call her Eve) ate from.

Oh, bt here is the place where Allah is forgiving. I like this part. Allah could have squashed Adam, but "relented toward him." However, the curse here appears to be that their offspring will be enemies to each other. I think we can see hat has played out.

There is still much more of "The Cow" to read as it is the longest chapter in the book. PLease continue with me.

Strangely enough, no mention of anything bovine as of yet.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Chapter 2.1: The Cow

The second chapter in the Koran is entitled The Cow. Now, before reading the chapter, I have some initial observations.

Why lead with The Cow? I mean after the initial praise and request for guidance in chapter 1, why the leap into the Bovine?

Well, for one, chapters in the Koran are not ordered chronoligically. According to N. J. Dawood, who translated the version of the Koran I am reading, no one knows the chronological order of the chapters. Traditionally, the chapters were ordered from longest to shortest. It's a sort of arbitrary way to go about it. So, The Cow being placed at the beginning does not mean it was written first.

But still, being placed at the beginning makes The Cow the longest chapter in The Koran. Length can denote importance.

It will be interesting to see what happens in this chapter.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Chapter 1: The Exordium

Chapter 1 text in 3 English versions.

Here we begin the Koran with praise and description of Allah. From the get go Allah is placed at the top. It's almost as if Mohammed is giving every ultimate descriptor for Allah he can think of: merciful, compassionate, master of the day of Judgment - Allah is everything.

Allah also seems to be a Deity of contrasts. Worthy of worship and also capable of great wrath. Apparently there are those worthy of this wrath.

Mohammed asks on behalf of some "we" for guidance from Allah. Guidance is good. Mohammed knows where to start and what to ask for.

There is also this sense that Allah is ready and willing at any time to unleash wrath. There is a fear-based obedience.

If not fear (big if), it is certainly respect. Allah owns all power, that much is clear. It is a respect for the great power of Allah. More will have to be known about this Allah in order to understand what causes wrath to be unleashed. More will have to be learned if Allah induces fear or respect - or both.

Please feel free to comment.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Before I Get Started 3: Translations

I am no scholar on sacred texts, so nothing I say here is to taken as if I know anything.

I will comment on the Koran and translations in a moment. But first, the Bible. The Bible is pretty much written in Hebrew and Greek. It has been translated into many languages. The Enlgish translations alone are legion in numbers, in emphasis, and agendas. Check out this list of Bibles.

The King James Version, as little as I understand the translation, was meant to be an exact translation and to honor the king of course. The NIV was meant to transfer meaning for meaning, not word for word (again, as far as I understand). The difference between an exact attempt at a translation and a meaning for meaning attempt at a translation can be massive. Then throw in the biases of the translators or translator teams - gee whiz, how do you contol for that?

Now to the Koran. I met a Muslim several years ago who told me that unless I read the Koran in its original language, that it is impossible to understand its meaning. For me, learning Arabic was a tall order. Haven't gotten to it yet.

Reflecting on the idea that I would have to learn a language in order to understand God's communication, it struck me as odd. Why would God require me to learn another leanguage in order to understand him? Let's forget for a moment that Americans (me) are chronically monolingual. I could know 10 languages, but if I do not know the right language, then it doesn't matter how many languages I know.

Although it would be nice to read the Koran in its original language, I am going to read it in English. This Enlgish translation is an attempt at a meaning for meaning translation. I know that this will not satisfy many Muslims. That is OK with me. I am not doing this to satisfy Muslims. Again, I am not doing this to insult Muslims either.

I take it under consideration that what I read and try to interpret is already removed from the original. I will also say that this is the best I can do.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Before I Get Started 2: Getting a copy of the Koran

I was on my way to Wal-mart to get something really important when I came up with the idea to blog through the Koran. Then I wondered where to get the Koran. So, when I got to Wal-mart, I looked in their religious section of the books they sell. At Wal-Mart, religious means Christian.

I knew I could a copy from amazon or some online store, but that would be too easy and take some time. I wanted a copy today.

During my experience at the world's largest retailer, I wondered what it would be like to look for a copy of the Bible and see only Korans and books about the Koran. I wondered what it would be like with shelves of books with only Muslim authors and books about how to be a good Muslim. I began to feel a little alienated just thinking about it.

I left the retail giant in search if the Koran in Minnesota suburbia. Would I even be able to find one at all?

I headed over to Half-Priced Books. I figured if there was one there, it would be cheap, which was quite important since I have no extra money to be jacking around buying books with. I found a copy - a single copy - the store's only copy. Now they have no copies of the Koran because I have the only one available. I now own more copies of the Koran than Half-Priced Books and Wal-Mart combined.

In my search at Half-Priced Books, I found lots of religious books. Many Christian books, of course. But there were several shelves of Buddhist books and several other religions. The second biggest load of books were Wiccan books. There were more books on how to be a sexy witch than there were copies of the Koran. I am not interested in being a sexy witch, so I breezed past those books figuring there was little chance of finding Mohammed in the sexy witch section.

I did get my hands on a copy of the Koran, though, and I am glad.

The process of finding a copy of the Koran was itself enlightening. It was inconvenient and a little sad, say, if I were Muslim and believed it to be the truth for all people for all times. How little it is respected in America. Sexy witches get more respect than Islam in America.