21 June 2010

Surah 2: 14- 24 -- Produce a surah the like thereof

OK, where were we?

When you're reading the Quran, it's hard to remember where you are because it says the same damned thing over and over again. So if you're reading along with me, you're going to need a bookmark.

If you remember last time, Allah was busy telling disbelievers how foolish and blind they were (because he made them that way) and then dooming them for their disbelief.

Now he tells us that he especially dislikes people who pretend to believe when they're around Muslims, and then disbelieve when they hang out with devils.

And when they fall in with those who believe, they say: We believe; but when they go apart to their devils they declare: Lo! we are with you; verily we did but mock. 2:14

Allah will mock and blind them.

Allah (Himself) doth mock them, leaving them to wander blindly on in their contumacy ... Allah taketh away their light and leaveth them in darkness, where they cannot see ... Deaf, dumb and blind. 2:15-18

And do you know what? If Allah really wanted to, he could destroy their sight and hearing. Allah can do anything.

If Allah willed, He could destroy their hearing and their sight. Lo! Allah is able to do all things. 2:20

And if you doubt that any of this stuff I've been quoting really comes from Allah, then just try to write something like it.

And if ye are in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a surah of the like thereof. 2:23

That's right you disbelievers! Just try to write a Surah that's as meaningful and cool-sounding as this one:

The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish.
His wealth and gains will not exempt him.
He will be plunged in flaming Fire,
And his wife, the wood-carrier,
Will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre.

That is Surah 111 and there's nothing you can write that would be nearly as good.

Not that people haven't tried. Here's one that someone wrote, for example, trying match the beauty of Surah 111.

In the name of Marvin, most-merciful, all-compassionate:
Damn both hands of my neighbor Sam; damn him!
His money and children will not save him!
He will be burnt in a blazing flame --
Sam and his dame, who is also to blame.
As she was carrying wood to her home,
She put some thorns in the path where I roam.
So she shall suffer a torment most dire,
Dangling in hell from a noose of palm-fibre.

But that is obviously inferior.

Go ahead and try, though, if you want to. You will fail and Allah will burn you forever if you in the fire that he has prepared for disbelievers, whose fuel is men and stones.

And if ye do it not - and ye can never do it - then guard yourselves against the Fire prepared for disbelievers, whose fuel is of men and stones. 2:24

So there!

Bogging the Quran
Surah 2: 25-34 -- Believers get pure companions in heaven, Adam learns the animals' names, and Iblis becomes a disbeliever


Anonymous said...

In verses like that one, I've always wondered if the original Arabic version rhymes or has some kind of tricky symmetry or something. Because, as you point out, there's really nothing difficult or impressive about composing line after line of "Allah's gonna roast yuh," especially to the point where one can brag about how superior those lines are.

Can someone really taunt the world with "Just try to write something as fabulous as this" when there's nothing particularly special about what's being written?

If so, then aside from all the bloody-minded inhumanity of the Qur'an, it's also seriously weird.

Matthew Blanchette said...

If Shakespeare had written the Qu'ran, I think we'd take this warning a lot more seriously, but as is, well... :-P

skipper said...

I guess if you were a native Arabic speaker (I'm not), you may be able to appreciate the "wondrousness" of the Qur'an.

I think it's something to do with the poetic style, which is supposedly unique and different from the prevailing styles of that period. It is claimed that the early converts were seduced by the lyrical quality of the verses, not so much by the meaning.

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, Srinivasan, it probably sounds a lot better in Arabic.

2 Kings 18:27 probably sounds better in Hebrew, too.

busterggi said...

Why the BOM is at least as beautiful as the Koran!

And Dianetics too!

kat said...


The pre-Islamic Arabs loved poetry and held contests to find the best among them.
(The Quran(Arabic) does not follow the rules of straight poetry and is not considered a poem---but it has rhytm, rhyme, and uses many literary devices (imagery, repetition, juxtaposition....etc) to create emotions in the reader much the same way poetry does. At the same time---the usage of the (Arabic)words (semantics)is unique and precise.
The smallest Surah in length are about 3 lines (excluding "In the name of God the Compassionate and the Merciful"...which is not considered part of the Surah except in surah 1)
This challenge has stood unbroken from the day it was issued to today. There have been many Poets, writers, philosophers in Muslim history---none have been able to rival even 3 verses of the Arabic Quran.
There are 2 reasons for this challenge 1) As I said previously, the Quran does not encourage blind belief. 2) There was skepticism during the time of the Prophet(pbuh) regarding his claim that the Quran was a revelation---therefore the Quran suggests that it be put to the test----if this is indeed a book created from Man----then any Man should be able to recreate a surah of like quality.
(The Quran has been subjected to literary scrutiny throughout the ages in order to understand how it has been put together---(literary style,devices....etc)and books have been written about this subject---and continue to be written about it....)

kat said...

There are different grades of "disbelief" in people---those that stem from ignorance to those that seek to actively decieve.

Regardless of degree, 3 general characteristics are pointed out...
a)They decieve themselves and others
b) they cause mischief on earth
c)they disregard guidance for error....

skipper said...

Well, the devil was able to write a surah "the like thereof". Remember the Satanic Verses? Satan managed to convince Muhammed and his audience that those verses actually came from Allah, so it must have sounded authentic.

Doesn't that mean Iblis is as good at conjuring poetry as Allah? Which leads one to wonder: what else in the Qur'an was crafted by that mischief maker but could not be discovered to be so? I wish Kat would answer this.

Unknown said...

"Lo! Allah is able to do all things."

Signs that you spend too much time online: I read that "Lo!" as "Lol". LOL

kat said...

Satanic Verses---as far as I know---there are no "Satanic verses" and never were.
Although the early life of the Prophet(pbuh) is not well documented, there has been much written and researched about him since the revelations began. From early on in Muslim history, this documentation has been graded according to authenticity.
However, human "mischeif makers" often use less authentic or false traditions for various reasons (---mostly to make mischief)

skipper said...

What a convenient reply Kat. Whatever you believe in, is authentic; that which you find unpalatable, is the result of mischief. Selective hearing (or reading) eh? Oh the delusions of Muhammedans!

skanksta said...

FWIW The Satanic Verses was one of the most captivating books I've ever read.

Once got stoppped on the tube by an Islamist, telling me I was disrespecting his people by reading it openly. He was polite and respectful, but I obv. told him where to go.

He hadn't read it of course and if he had, he'd notice that every page dripped with the sort of double-meaning, imagery and word-play that great literature should.

Put the crappy Koran to shame.

Homayoon said...

Muslims are always ready to say that many have tried to produce something like the Quran without success. What they fail to tell you is that there have been people (presumably many people) who have taken the challenge and then executed for disrespecting the word of Allah.

Besides, every writer and poet (and that includes Mohammad) has his/her own literary style and it is possibly impossible to write exactly with the same style as someone else, and who is to judge anyway? They can just say it's not as good.

There have been many good writers whose style has been imitated by others without any success. In our history in Iran, we have Saadi (among others) as a very good example. Very prominent writers have tried to imitate him; no one succeeded. His style is describes as "easy (to read), but unapproachable." I guess if he had decided to start a religion, he could use the same argument.

Παναγιωτης said...

AFAIK no one has managed to produce a text in ancient Greek as nuanced, spidery and deep as the texts of Sophocles. Henceforth, I shall worship Sophocles (pbuh) as the prophet of God. Or not.

Unknown said...

Many artists have tried but they have failed to produce an exact replica of the Monalisa. Does this make Monalisa divine and Leonardo da Vinci the God?

Unknown said...

In Arabic the Quran is very rhythmic with early Surahs rhyming on the sixth syllable, these verses convey a huge sense of hast and urgency with prophet spreading his word so that people hasten to join the congregation of believers...before it was too late! Much like Jesus' continuous drumming that the Kingdom of God is here or soon to come...Later verses of the Quran are much relaxed..rhyming on the 12th syllable these dealt more with day to day matters. Armageddon hadn't come!..Islam had won, in Hejaz at least, A rudimentary form of government had arisen, very embarrassing for a Prophet who didn't subscribe to worldly things but finds himself not only his people's spiritual leader but ruler as well! The prophet is under alot of his tribal supportors to form a hierarchy change the keblla from Jerusalem to Mecca which he originally despised! He visited Mecca only twice after leaving it. The Quran was only gathered, and a final version documented more than 25 years after Mohamed's death. A committee of 5 was entrusted with sifting through many scraps of individual verses and old comrades of the Prophet were called in to recite what they remember of the Quran and when a certain verse came to being. The final product was assembled according to Semitic practices (whether in literature,namely poetry, or holy scriptures)of the time... Long Surah's in front, short ones in the back. No regard was given to chronological order...you may have a late verse followed by a much earlier one and then back to more recent verses. Surat alBaqra (the Cow) is an excellent example being the longest of all Surahs with verses spanning more than 20 years backwards and forwards. Even at the time of Quran the literary eliite several poets they considered more eloquent than the Quran , all great poets of the age, and there were at least several attempts by others to claim prophecies of their own and to spread their own holy texts. They were however suppressed early on and very little is left to analyze by today's scholar.
In the 20th century, the great thinker and literary critic Taha Husein, tried to subject the Quran to literary analysis, just you would any text. His complete life was shattered in just the same way Galileo's life must have when he announced that the earth circled around the sun. His Sin was even greater for he had studied at El-Azhar Theological University before seeking a secular post-graduate education in Egypt and abroad (France).

Unknown said...

Well in the case of Abu Lahab and Sam there is a difference. Sam may not necessarily be damned. Abu Lahab, as time proved, was.
Just a difference...

Anonymous said...

So who exactly wrote Surah 2?

And, with the threat of burning in eternal fire, who wouldn't be scared into such a belief system?

I believe that its poetic felicity is more of a threatening piece of illiteracy that somehow leads everyone to salivate at the incoherency.

* I'm open for discussion. Praise be our nature.

Asab said...

The Quran does sound much better in Arabic. It's extremely beautiful to hear, and recitations of the Quran sound like singing. This is also true of the Torah. As for the Quran repeating itself over and over, yes, it does do that, but that's sort of the point. When God is telling you something that will save your soul from eternal Hellfire, well, that's a message that really ought to be heard. So it's repeated over, and over, and over. IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD, YOU WILL GO TO HELL.
That message is meant to be so clear that anyone, reading just about any page of the Quran, would be able to receive it.

Also, I'm not sure whether or not you were wondering why, exactly, God doesn't just blind all of the disbelievers to prove He exists, but I think you were, so I'll address as best I can.

This life is a test. Every single human being on the planet has obstacles to overcome, and everyone will be judged according to how they dealt with those obstacles. If every disbeliever just went blind, then everybody would know for certain God exists, which would completely defeat the purpose of this life.

I hope I was able to clear at least something up (that is, if anyone ever even looks at this... I think I'm a little late XD).