6: The Cattle (Part II — Abe & Co.)
Oh mah gah, you guys; the Quran is the most boring book I have ever voluntarily read. I was expecting it to be a fairy tale storybook, but it’s more like a fairy tale legal document. For every verse I write about here, there are another 20 that are totally useless. Most are just God greasing up his own dick, talking about how amazing he is. And how he could totally prove it if he really wanted to, but he doesn’t feel like it. The rest are about how we’ll all be tortured in hell.
If he wanted to really torture people, he’d make hell a book club where you read and discuss nothing but the Quran. All day, everyday, for eternity. The mere thought of it makes me want to gouge my eyes out. No fucking wonder so many people are content with simply believing whatever their parents or imams tell them. It’s the easy way out.
Anyway, after reading 6 chapters of blahblahblah, I was absolutely giddy when I stumbled across an actual story(!!!). It’s the story of Abraham’s conversion to monotheism, so it’s nothing really exciting. It’s only a few short verses, but they’re worth discussing. Lets jump right in:
74. Remember when Abraham said to Azar, his father: “Why do you take idols for God? I certainly find you and your people in error.”
No, actually, I don’t remember, but I’ll take his word for it. He is God and all. He must know what he’s doing. Right? Right??
75. Thus We showed to Abraham the visible and invisible world of the heavens and the earth, that he could be among those who believe.
76. When the night came with her covering of darkness he saw a star, and (Azar, his father) said: “This is my Lord.” But when the star set, (Abraham) said: “I love not those that wane.”
77. When (Azar) saw the moon rise all aglow, he said: “This is my Lord.” But even as the moon set, (Abraham) said: “If my Lord had not shown me the way I would surely have gone astray.”
78. When (Azar) saw the sun rise all resplendent, he said: “My Lord is surely this, and the greatest of them all.” But the sun also set, and (Abraham) said: “O my people, I am through with those you associate (with God).
Woah woah woah woah woah. Woooooooah. I’m not sure I’m following this. I can understand saying that the sun sets, because that’s just an expression. But the stars and the moon? They “set”? As in they move around the earth? The fuck? That can’t be right. I’m a total troublemaker, so I had to look it up.
36:38. While the sun keeps revolving in its orbit. This is the dispensation of the mighty, all-knowing (God).
36:39. We have determined the stations of the moon, so that (after its wanderings) it returns as a dried up inflorescent spike of dates.
36:40. Neither can the sun overtake the moon, nor the night outpace the day: Each of them keeps coursing in its orbit.
God is saying that the sun revolves around an orbit. And the moon revolves around a different orbit, which is why the sun and the moon don’t bump into each other. Holy fixed earth, Batman. Verse after verse after fucking verse confirmed it: according to God, the earth does not move. The sun, moon and stars move around it. Check it out:
13:2. It is God who raised the skies without support, as you can see, then assumed His throne, and enthralled the sun and the moon (so that) each runs to a predetermined course.
21:33. It is He who created night and day, the sun and the moon, revolving on its orbit.
35:13. He makes night run into day, the day run into night, and has harnessed the sun and the moon so that each runs to its determined course.
The moral of the story: the guy who created the universe doesn’t even know how our fucking solar system works. God is dumber than a first grader. Fuckin’ A. Anyway, let’s get back to the verse from chapter 6.
Abraham’s father is a fixed earth loving, moon gazing hippie. And you know, what? I can at least sort of understand that. These are the days before science and reason, after all. People didn’t know any better. It was the jahiliyah, as the Muslims called it: the age of ignorance and barbarism. The irony. The fucking irony. It’s making my sides hurt.
79. I have truly turned my face towards Him who created the heavens and the earth: I have chosen one way and am not an idolater.”
It makes more sense to Abraham that God would be an invisible man who watches him from the sky. Yes, Abe, that makes a hell of a lot more sense than thinking the burning ball in the fucking sky is in charge.
80. His people argued, and he said: “Do you argue with me about God? He has guided me already, and I fear not what you associate with Him, unless my Lord wills, for held within the knowledge of my Lord is everything. Will you not reflect?
Abraham just doesn’t get it, does he? He talks shit about his dad’s religion, but then brings no evidence to back up his claims. Why should they believe him? And God’s no help either. Instead of sending down some proof to help his boy out, God does what he’s best at: doing nothing.
81. And why should I fear those you associate with Him when you fear not associating others with God for which He has sent down no sanction? Tell me, whose way is the way of peace, if you have the knowledge?
82. They alone have peace who believe and do not intermix belief with denial, and are guided on the right path.”
In order to have peace, you have to get rid of the denial and just embrace belief. Riiiight. Well that explains it. No wonder there’s never any turmoil in the Middle East!
83. This is the argument We gave to Abraham against his people. We exalt whosoever We please in rank by degrees. Your Lord is wise and all-knowing.
The fuck? This is the argument God sends down for Abraham: “You must believe in my invisible sky God because these other sky gods that you can actually see have to work in shifts. My invisible God doesn’t need naps. He’s always working. He’s always around. But you can’t see him, because he’s invisible! You guys are so fucking ig’nant.” The saddest part is that even 1400 years later this kind of argument is still considered valid in Islam. And if you question it, you might find yourself missing a hand or a foot. Or a head. Just sayin’.
84. And We gave him Isaac and Jacob and guided them, as We had guided Noah before them, and of his descendants, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus We reward those who are upright and do good.
85. Zachariah and John We guided, and guided Jesus and Elias who were all among the upright.
86. We gave guidance to Ishmael, Elisha and Jonah and Lot; And We favoured them over the other people of the world,
87. As We did some of their fathers and progeny and brethren, and chose them, and showed them the right path.
Little name dropping going on there. Why it’s almost as if God wants to stress that Mohammed comes from a line of prophets descending down from Abraham himself. Pretty sure you guys can connect the dots on this one, but I’ll just throw it out there: cui bono? Who benefits from this? Obviously not God. And not Abraham or any of the other so-called prophets since they’re long dead. So, cui bono? The same fucking guy who bono’s from every other verse in the Quran, that’s who.
Mohammed wants to convert Jews and Christians to Islam, so what does he do? He tells them that the Muslim God is clearly the same as the Jewish God and the Christian God, and he wants all of them to upgrade. And while he’s at it, he takes some jabs at those pesky polytheists in his area. God’s been trying to enlighten those silly idol-worshipers since old Abe was around. They just don’t get it, do they? And apparently neither do the Muslims. The ones who do understand keep their traps shut, because seriously, living quietly is easier than dying for speaking up. Right?
For those who are curious about all those prophets Mohammed mentions in the Quran, here’s a little break down.
- Isaac is Abraham’s son. God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to prove that he’s loyal, and Abraham is totally going to do it. Suspenseful! God changes his mind at the very last minute and nobody dies (37:100). For serious, if that shit happened today, Abraham would find himself in prison, and Isaac would live in a series of foster homes and be a cutter.
- Jacob is Abraham’s other son grandson but he’s not really mentioned at all. God plays favorites. (Thanks for the correction, Jon!)
- Noah. Who doesn’t know Noah?
27. So We asked him to build the ark under Our eyes and guidance, (and said): “When Our command is issued and the source of water boils over, put a pair of every species in it, and your family except those for whom Our sentence has been passed already; and do not speak to Me for those who are wicked: They will be drowned.
Yes, Muslims do believe this literally happened. I’m kind of surprised they’re not competing with the Christians, trying to see who can dig up the ark first.
- Then there’s David, of Goliath fame. The Quran leaves out that whole foreskin mountain thing. Probably a wise decision.
- And there’s Solomon who, I shit you not, could control the wind, and had jinns and devils who worked for him:
34. We surely tried Solomon, and placed another body on his throne. So he turned to God
35. Saying: “O Lord, forgive me, and give me such a dominion as none will merit after me. You are the great bestower.”
36. So we subjugated the wind to his service which carried his merchandise wheresoever he wished;
37. And the devils — the builders and divers of all kinds,
38. And many others bound in bond.
39. “This is Our gift,” (We said to him), “so bestow freely or withhold without reckoning.”
Solomon got jinn slaves, Jesus got to make birds out of clay, and Mohammed got nothing. See above about God playing favorites.
- There’s Job, who has a story that sounds really similar to the Bible version. In the Quran, Satan (Iblis) wants to test Job’s loyalty to God. So he tortures and tormets Job, while God sits back and watches. Job starts crying super bad, and then God finally gives him some homeopathic remedies to ease the pain:
41. Remember Our votary Job because he called to his Lord: “Satan has afflicted me with disease and distress.”
42. “Go swiftly to the spring,” (We said). “This cold water is for bathing and for drinking.”
43. We restored his family to him with others similar to them, as a blessing from Us and a reminder for men of wisdom. —
44. “Take a handful of herbs,” (We said to him), and apply and rub them, and do not make a mistake.” We found him patient in adversity, an excellent devotee, always turning in repentance.
- There’s an entire chapter on Joseph (aptly titled Joseph), that’s chock full of stories, so for now I’ll just give you this little teaser:
4. When Joseph told his father: “O my father, I saw eleven stars and the sun and the moon bowing before me in homage,”
5. He said: “O son, do not narrate your dream to your brothers, or they will plot against you. Surely Satan is man’s acknowledged foe.
The fuck? Eleven planets? And how exactly do the sun, moon and 11 planets bow down to a person? I’ll save that rant for chapter 12.
- You guys have already met whiney Moses and his whiney Jew crew, so we can skip over him.
- Aaron is Moses’ best bud, and he’s mentioned only in passing, so we can skip over him, too. If God gets to play favorites, so do I.
- Zachariah was Mary’s foster father (3:35), and we’ll run into him again a few times. Most likely in chapter 19, which is all about Mary. Zachariah has a barren wife, but God “fixes” her.
- John also has a barren wife. And guess what? God fixes her, too! He shows up, like, 3 times in the Quran, so I’m guessing he wasn’t really all that great.
- You might recognize Elisha as the guy in the Old Testament who was harassed by some children. They made fun of him for being bald, so he asked God to help him. God sent two she-bears who tore the kids to pieces. The Quran doesn’t mention this little story. Mohammed’s just name dropping to fit in with the other monotheists.
- Jonah gets a couple of shout outs in the Quran. Here’s the verse from chapter 37 where God explains what happened to old Jonah:
37:139. Verily Jonah is one of the apostles.
37:140. When he fled on the laden ship,
37:141. And lots were cast (when a storm overtook them), he was rejected, (and thrown overboard).
37:142. Then he was swallowed by a large fish as he was worthy of blame.
37:143. Had he not been one of those who struggled hard,
37:144. He would have stayed in its belly till the day the dead are raised.
37:145. So We cast him, sick, on a barren shore,
37:146. And We made a gourd tree grow over him.
37:147. We sent him to a hundred thousand men or more,
37:148. And they came to believe; so We allowed them to enjoy the good things of life for an age.
So Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a “large fish.” And he would have just stayed in there until Judgement Day, because this particular large fish had a really, really slow digestive tract. But God made the large fish puke Jonah out, and he sent to his aid approximately 100,000 men. Or maybe more. God’s not so good with the numbers. And they all lived happily ever after.
- And then, of course, there’s Lot. There’s a lot of Lot in the Quran. Guess what? He’s just as fucked up in the Quran as he is in the Bible! First read what God has to say about Lot in chapter 21:
21:74. To Lot We gave wisdom and knowledge, and saved him from a people who acted villainously and were certainly wicked and disobedient.
21:75. Thus We admitted him to Our grace. He is surely one of the righteous.
And then check out how “righteous” Lot actually was:
11:77. So when Our angels came to Lot, he grieved for them, and felt powerless to help them, and said: “This is a day of sorrow.
11:78. His people came excited to him. They were addicted to sin already. Said (Lot): “O my people, these daughters of mine are cleaner (and lawful) for you. Have fear of God, and do not shame me before my guests. Is there no man of discernment among you?”
11:79. They said: “You know we have no need for your daughters, and know well what we want.”
11:80. “I wish I had the power to resist you,” said (Lot), “or powerful support.”
11:81. (The angels) said: “O Lot, we have verily been sent by your Lord. They will never be able to harm you. So, leave late at night with your family, and none of you should turn back to look; but your wife will suffer (the fate) they are going to suffer. Their hour of doom is in the morning: Is not the morning nigh?”
Lot’s city is about to be destroyed by God. And since Lot is such a great guy, God sends some angels down to warn him about it. But then the townsmen show up and want to have gay sex with Lot’s angel-friends. (This kinda shit happened all the time in Lot’s nabe.) So he does what any God-fearing man would do. That’s right: he offers up his virgin daughters to be gang-raped by the mob. Here’s the same story in another chapter:
15:61. When the messengers came to the family of Lot,
15:62. He said: “You are people I do not know.”
15:63. “We have come to you with news,” they said, “of what your people doubt;
15:64. “Yet we bring to you the truth, and we are truthful.
15:65. “So leave with your family late in the night, yourself remaining in the rear, and let none turn back to look, and go where you will be commanded.”
15:66. We issued this command to him, for they were going to be destroyed in the morning.
15:67. Then came the people of the city, exulting at the news.
15:68. Said Lot: “These are my guests; do not put me to shame,
15:69. “And do not disgrace me. Have some fear of God.”
15:70. “Did we not restrain you,” they said, “from (entertaining) creatures from the outside world?”
15:71. “Here are my daughters,” said Lot, “if you are so active.”
Mohammed stopped just short of showing how active the mob actually is. And he skipped over all the stuff in the Bible about how Lot’s daughters got him drunk and had sex with him. Probably a wise decision. I mean, offering up your daughters’ vaginas to a sex-crazed mob is one thing. Getting drunk and fucking them yourself? That’s crossing the line.
The story of Lot is probably my favorite one in the Bible / Quran. But it’s also one that makes me a bit sad, because it recently cost me a good friendship. I have a pretty devout Muslim friend, who is usually open to friendly religious discussion. We were talking about some of the crazy shit in the Quran that I’m learning about. He didn’t know about most of it, and his reply to everything was the same: God knows what he’s doing. And then I told him about this story. He didn’t believe that it was in there, so I showed it to him. And then I asked him, as a father to a 10 year old daughter, what he thought of this story. He hasn’t talked to me since.
On a more positive note, I spent this morning discussing religion with someone I am very close with. She’s a Muslim girl who has never read the Quran in English, and we were talking about how most Muslims don’t really know what was really in there. I told her some of the stuff I’ve learned since I started this little project 3 weeks ago, and eventually the story of Lot came up. I expected her to react the same way as my other friend. She didn’t. She said that learning things like this make her want to read the Quran for herself. She asked for some advice on choosing which translation to read, and she’s coming by my place later to talk about it some more.
So there you have it. As boring and tedious as it is to read this book, there is one thing that keeps me going: the hope that it might make someone question the things they believe, maybe make them crack open the book for themselves. Whether or not you agree with what I’m saying and the way I say it, something good is coming out of this. That’s all I’m after. Plain and simple. How’s that for a feel-good ending?
Coming up next: chapter 7, The Wall Between Heaven and Hell. Oooooh, sounds dramatic! It’s because God’s little helper elf, Ahmed Ali is at it again. The rest of the translations title chapter 7 as The Heights. This should be interesting. Stay tuned!