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Monday, August 11, 2008

Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 38, "Sad"

Robert Spencer has the installment here. This chapter is named for the Arabic letter printed at its beginning. Its meaning is unknown.

Verses 17-29 retell the David-Bathsheba-Uriah story, without Bathsheba and Uriah:

In the Bible, the point of the story of the rich man with many ewes who takes the single ewe of the poor man is to bring home to David the enormity of his having had Uriah the Hittite killed so that he could take Uriah's wife Bathsheba. In the Qur'an is none of this, however, except the story of the rich man who took the poor man's ewe, followed by David's realization that Allah had tried him (v. 24). The story clearly depends on the Biblical story of Bathsheba — Ibn Kathir says, "In discussing this passage, the scholars of Tafsir [Qur'an commentary] mention a story which is mostly based upon Isra'iliyat [Israelite] narrations. Nothing has been reported about this from the Infallible Prophet that we could accept as true." The Tafsir al-Jalalayn reveals the dependence in saying: "And David thought, in other words, he became certain, that We had indeed tried him, that We had caused him to fall into a trial, that is, a test, through his love for that woman. So he sought forgiveness of his Lord and fell down bowing, in other words, prostrate, and repented."

Unlike the Bible, the Koran seems to he highly allergic to recording the moral flaws of the prophets.

Sura 37's depictions of Heaven and Hell make an appearance. This time, eternal damnation comes with two cursed beverages (v. 57) - one boiling, one "intensely cold" (Yusufali, Shakir). It seems to me that the latter drink would have to be kept miraculously in a liquid state well below the earthly freezing point in order to be tortuous. Either that, or it's Pepsi - Yusufali does describe it as "dark and murky"...

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

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