29 June 2010

Surah 2: 35-74 -- Allah turns Jews into apes and solves a murder mystery with a dead yellow cow

Last time we learned that Iblis (pbuh) became the first disbeliever by refusing to worship Adam.

We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. 2:34

From that quote, I got the impression that Iblis was an angel, but I was told in the comments that that is incorrect. Iblis is not an angel; he's a jinn. Which is a different thing entirely. (A jinn is a creature made from fire that has free will. Angels are messengers of Allah that have no free will. Elves are small semi-divine beings with pointy ears.)

Still, I'm not convinced. Sometimes Iblis is called an angel in the Quran, and sometimes a jinn. And sometimes he seems to be both angel and jinn. (Is Iblis an angel or a jinn?)

But on with our story, such as it is.

Verses 35-38 repeat the Bible's story about Adam and the Garden of Eden (though the Quran doesn't call it that), with the talking serpent replaced by Satan.

Then Allah throws out his favorite line, where he tells us what he has planned for disbelievers. It's almost as common in the Quran as "And it came to pass" is in the Book of Mormon.

But they who disbelieve, and deny Our revelations, such are rightful Peoples of the Fire. They will abide therein. 2:39

A few verses later Allah says something good (the first good thing in the Quran). Don't hide the truth with falsehood.

Confound not truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth.2:42

Then Allah gets back to hiding truth with falsehood.

But first he warns you about a time when he will refuse all prayers and help no one.

Guard yourselves against a day when no soul will in aught avail another, nor will intercession be accepted from it, nor will compensation be received from it, nor will they be helped. 2:48

Then, in verses 59-63, Allah repeats more nonsense from the Bible. Remember how he drowned the Egyptians, gave Moses the Law, and whatnot? How you worshiped the calf?

And how Allah told you to kill yourself?

And when Moses said unto his people: O my people! Ye have wronged yourselves by your choosing of the calf (for worship) so turn in penitence to your Creator, and kill (the guilty) yourselves. 2:54a

(See Who is on the Lord's side? for the Bible story that this is based upon.)

Yeah well, Allah did that because killing yourself would be "best for you." Allah is Relenting, Merciful, Retarded.

That will be best for you with your Creator and He will relent toward you. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful. 2:54b

As you read the Quran you'll notice that many of the Bible's stupidest stories are made even stupider in the Quran. Take Exodus 17:1-6 for example. In the Bible, Moses strikes a rock and water comes out for the Israelites to drink. In the Quran, the same thing happens but there are twelve springs that come out of the rock, one for each tribe of Israel.

When Moses asked for water for his people, We said: Smite with thy staff the rock. And there gushed out therefrom twelve springs (so that) each tribe knew their drinking-place. 2:60

2:62 is often quoted to show that the Quran is tolerant of other religions.

Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans - whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right - surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. 2:62

But this verse is far from clear (Must you believe in Allah, whatever was revealed to Muhammad, and the Last Day to avoid hell?) and it contradicts other verses.

And now we finally get to the fun stuff.

First Allah brags about turning Jewish Sabbath-breakers into "despised and hated" apes.

Ye know of those of you who broke the Sabbath, how We said unto them: Be ye apes, despised and hated! 2:65

Then he tells the Jews to sacrifice a bright yellow cow.

Allah commandeth you that ye sacrifice a cow, they said: Dost thou make game of us? He answered: Allah forbid that I should be among the foolish! ... They said: Pray for us unto thy Lord that He make clear to us what (cow) she is. ... Pray for us unto thy Lord that He make clear to us of what colour she is. (Moses) answered: Lo! He saith: Verily she is a yellow cow. Bright is her colour, gladdening beholders. 2:67-69

But they weren't sure what cow to kill. All cows pretty much look alike to Jews.

They said: Pray for us unto thy Lord that He make clear to us what (cow) she is. Lo! cows are much alike to us; and Lo! if Allah wills, we may be led aright. 2:70

Somehow they worked it all out, though, and killed a yellow cow.

And now you've got to help me understand the rest of the story, which happens in just two verses.

When ye slew a man and disagreed concerning it and Allah brought forth that which ye were hiding. And We said: Smite him with some of it. Thus Allah bringeth the dead to life. 2:72-73

OK, I don't get much out of that. But this is what supposedly happened:
(Maybe a Muslim can explain it better for us in the comments.)

A man was murdered about the same time that the yellow cow was killed. Nobody knew who the murderer was. So Allah told the people to smite the dead man with a piece of the dead cow. When they did that, the dead man came to life and told everyone who had murdered him. (I hope I got that right.)

You can read all about it here.

Bogging the Quran
Surah 2:75-105 -- Little is that which they believe


busterggi said...

I've never seen a bright yellow cow so I guess the Hebrews sacrificed them into extinction.

Bet that some believers will claim the contradictions & misquotes of the bible in the koran prove it was written by an illiterate Muhammed.

uzza said...

Is that a Yusuf Ali translation you're using? Ahmed Ali says his interpretation is "too far-fetched" and changed it.

It's only far-fetched though if you reject all the hadith that describe Mo as holding on to most of his old pagan rituals and beliefs, like this one.

Matthew Blanchette said...

The yellow cow story sounds almost like a garbled combination of the Golden Calf and the serpent in the desert (that would cure all those who looked upon it?), but I'm confused; where the hell did Muhammad get these garbled stories from?

The Talmud, and other rabbinical scriptures, perhaps? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legends_and_the_Qur%27an ;-)

Steve Wells said...

No, uzza, I'm using Pickthall's translation.

Nathan said...

All I can figure is that Iblis was sort of an honorary angel, so he served Allah with the rest of the angelic crew, but retained his free will. I don't know how well that would go over with the Islamic community, though. {g}

kat said...

Didn't expect people to find Iblis so fascinating....am I missing something?...why is it important for Iblis to be an angel?
Anyway---the Quran will clear up this mystery(there is more to the story)---so have patience....

Iblis---When the Quran refers to Iblis, it should be understood as Iblis and his group.---though at this point in the story this detail is not very important.---Also, take note that Iblis is not a "satan" (rebellious one) at verse 34----he is referred to as "Satan" only after his rebellion/disobedience.(So, Satan would be more a reference to the attitude/state rather than name)

37-38 Islam does not have original sin because Prophet Adam(pbuh) was forgiven--and he was also given Guidance---which is why he is referred to as a Prophet. (Quran says there have been many Prophets/wisdom teachers sent all over the world to all mankind over time who have taught the "right way")

verse 44 (Yusuf Ali) "Do you enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (to practice)yourselves? And yet you study scripture? will you not understand?
----The reason for belief/religion is not so we can judge others---but so that we can judge ourselves, and use its Guidance to become better human beings. ---otherwise belief/religion is useless.
excessive Pride is theme in the Quran and it is always calling people to be humble, compassionate and merciful.
note--verse 48---refers to the soul (Nafs=Islam, Nefesh=Judaism). (IMO)the soul(self/consciousness) does not have a gender, though grammatically it uses feminine gender---God also does not have a gender though gramatically the male gender is used.

kat said...

The Quran says that the pursuit of knowledge is important to understanding(obviously) ....with regards to the People of the Book--Jews and Christians---today's readers may feel confused---however, keep in mind that 1) The Jews addressed here are mainly the Arab Jews of Yathrib, though all Jews everywhere are included. 2) The Christians addressed here include the various Non-Western/Roman Christian churches and groups at the time of the Prophet(pbuh). Christianity and its doctrines evolved over time and in early Christianity, there were many doctrines and dogma that were different from that of the Western/Roman Church. (I suppose not much has changed?...there are said to be a 30,000 Christian denominations today...?!...)

(The Christians will be addressed in Surah 3)

kat said...

The stories in the Quran have some similarities to those of the Torah, Talmud (Mishneh, Midrash, Gemarrah and Rabbinical works) as well as apocrypha----however, as everyone has already noticed, there are also significant differences. Non-Muslim scholars are trying to trace the origins of the differences.
Some stories also come from the "folk" tradition of the Arab Jews.---the story of apes and pigs and the twelve springs...
(will write more later.....)

from a Muslim perpective---if God is Compassionate, Merciful and Just, then verse 47--idea of chosen people, verse 54---slaying of self, verse 65 apes, pigs...etc
are disturbing, puzzling.......

kat said...

The Quran says some parts clear (and can betaken literally) and other parts are similitude and we should use our intelligence to understand...

verse 47--A theme of the Quran is that all human beings are equal--Yet, we can see for ex, some have more wealth (blessings)than others---In the Quran, our blessings are balanced by our responsibilities, so someone who has more wealth---has more responsibility to make the choice to use that wealth for the benefit of the less fortunate than someone who is less wealthy.(and we will be held accountable for our choices)--the Jewish people have recieved much Guidance (blessing)and therefore are also responsible for following that Guidance.
verse 48 talks about the self/soul and that it is individually responsible for choices. (Judgement is not about belonging to a particular group)
verse 54 "slay yourselves" can be taken literally (Yusuf Ali) in whih case it will match up with Exodus 32:27-28 or it can be taken as a metaphor(M. Asad)---that those who are egoic (prideful, arrogant) should slay their ego and be humble so as to repent--because God is Merciful and forgiving. (the rest of the stories also elaborate on this theme of being prideful, ungrateful...)
verse 65---is also about the same theme---Guidance is given but rejected and people become "apes" a metaphor for impulsive nature or animal nature---the story comes from a folk tradition about a fishing village---the story is further elaborated on in Surah 7.
verse 67 the story about the heifer(calf) is also about stubborness, pride--people do not want to follow Guidance so they make all kinds of excuses/arguments not to...

kat said...

I think I forgot to mention this one------
verse 60---12 springs---the Jewish people were divided into 12 tribes (with the exception of the tribe of Levi) and since humans are territorial by nature---I suppose 12 springs makes sense...anyway, there was a folk tradition about 12springs comming from a red granite mass....the point of the story is that we all have a place on this earth and we should try to get along and not "create mischief".

Nathan said...

"Satan" is the Hebrew for "adversary," and seems to have been used in a general way in the Bible before coming to refer to a specific character. Christian tradition says his name was Lucifer before he rebelled, but this is actually based on a passage in Isaiah (I think) comparing Nebuchadnezzar to the morning star.

kat said...

Thanks for the info....
Satan=adversary (or adversarial one)---would also work fine as long as it is understood it means adversary of humans---not God.

I think that for Muslims, the specific status of Iblis/Satan (angel or not) is not very important---is it (doctrinally)important for Christians/others?---does anyone know?

Uss said...

Just for Everyone's Information, IBLEES IS A JINN (18:49). He was a righteous Jinn who was overly devout and worshipped Allah like the Angels who have no free will. So, he was elevated in Status to be among the Angels Until... His Pride caused him to disobey.