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Monday, June 18, 2007

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 2, "The Cow," verses 40-75

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

The immediately preceding suras (34-39) began the theme of rebelliousness, in this case, that of the fallen angels. The following suras are taken from this translation:

002.034 And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith.

002.035 We said: "O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression."

002.036 Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: "Get ye down, all (ye people), with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood - for a time."

002.037 Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.

002.038 We said: "Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

002.039 "But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be companions of the Fire; they shall abide therein."

Today's suras continue that theme with regard to ancient Israel. This section touches on familiar Biblical stories of Israel's rebelliousness at the time of the Exodus. But not all is familiar. The Bible does not record an argument detailed in suras 67-71, in which Moses commands the sacrifice of a heifer and the people keep asking for detail after detail about what kind of heifer is to be sacrificed. In the Bible, animal sacrifice is already recorded in considerable detail in the stone tablets; it is unlikely to imagine such an argument erupting as the Law of Moses is being read. It also seems odd to find the complaint against Jews "profan[ing] the Sabbath" from this time period - how does one violate the Sabbath while one is wandering in a desert?

The Old Testament speaks of Israel waxing and waning in its overall level of obedience to God. (The same is true of Christendom.) But in the Koran everything is downhill. One also gets the impression that Jewish history after the Exodus is inconsequential; the only post-Exodus event recorded in "The Cow" is some mysterious incident involving Solomon (Sura 102).

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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