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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 2, "The Cow," verses 141-210

(DSL problems earlier this week delayed this post.)

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

Two sections stand out. First, Sura 106:

None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?

Through abrogation, Allah reserves the authority to overturn old scripture in favor of something "better or similar." Question: why doesn't Allah lead with the best possible dictates in the first place? Why go through the trouble of writing Sura A if a new and improved Sura B will be coming down the pike?

But doesn't the God of the Bible do that? Don't the Old and New Testaments represent a Christian parallel to abrogation? No. The biblical God sends different people on different missions, each of which carries unique sets of orders. People who wish to understand this book must discern between mission-specific dictates and general statements of ethics. One example is my old post on capital crimes in ancient Israel.

Verses 190-193 address jihad. Spencer notes the sura that classifies jihad as defensive in nature. So it really is a religion of peace, right? Not so fast.

What constitutes a defensive conflict? A clue to that comes in v. 193: "And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah." Ibn Ishaq explains that this means that Muslims must fight against unbelievers "until God alone is worshipped." Says Bulandshahri: "The worst of sins are Infidelity (Kufr) and Polytheism (shirk) which constitute rebellion against Allah, The Creator. To eradicate these, Muslims are required to wage war until there exists none of it in the world, and the only religion is that of Allah." This conflict would be essentially defensive, against the aggressions of unbelief: if Muslims must fight until unbelief does not exist, the mere presence of unbelief constitutes sufficient aggression to allow for the beginning of hostilities.

The sura says oppression AND religion for some entity other than Allah are conditions for war.

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

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