Sunday, May 13, 2007

Reading the Koran

I have started reading the Koran. It is generally assumed that since it is the holy book of a major religion it must somehow resemble the holy books of other religions. It doesn't. For one thing it was written by only one person. The Hebrew bible was written by dozens of hands over a period of almost a thousand years. Its heterogeneity reflects its authorship. The New Testament is a compilation of writings spread over more than a century and also done by several hands. So are the Buddhist sutras. No word of Hebrew, Christian, or Buddhist scriptures is believed to have been written by Moses, Jesus, or Gautama. Every word of the Koran is attributed to Muhammad, the founder and prophet. All of these literatures reflect the character and personalities of the folk among whom they arose as they evolved over centuries. But the Koran reflects only the personality and mood of Muhammad.

Unfortunately Muhammad, when he was writing the Koran, was embittered and resentful. The first chapter, 'The Cow' (which has nothing to do with cows), is an angry man's private ventings of spleen, made into scripture. Unfortunately most of his angry ventings are against the Jews and the Christians. He is quite explicit that the reason for his anger is that both refused to accept him as their messiah. Both refused to change their religions to accomodate him.

I expected that the text of the Koran would be a mass of pious exhortations and an occasional unkind word about the Jews or Christians here and there. Quite the contrary. The great majority of the text is composed on the same verse form. Each verse begins with three or four sentences denouncing Jews (whom he calls 'evil-doers'), Christians (whom he calls 'those who anger G_d'), or unbelievers generally. Occasionally he denounces idol-worshipers by which presumably he means the illiterate pagan Arab tribesmen whom he recruits. The last sentence of each verse is generally an admonishing platitude about G_d.

He says explicitly and repeatedly that it is the duty of Muslims to fight against unbelievers. So much for the 'Religion of Peace'. In most Muslim countries, education consists in large part of memorizing large parts of the Koran. I hope the rest of the book will be less scolding and angry and contain less violent language.

So far my conclusion is that we have been kidding ourselves in believing there is such a thing as a moderate Muslim. Judging by this text, that is an oxymoron. So far as I have read, the bulk of Muslim teaching consists of exhortations to hostility toward Jews, Christians, and pagans.

Our problems with Islam will not go away soon. 'Live and Let Live' is NOT what they are taught. The only way we will ever find to deal with people who accept the teachings of the Koran will be by force and by isolating them. They will ALWAYS attack their non-Muslim neighbors.


  1. Bonjour Jack,

    Your comments on the Koran gives me the idea to read it myself. Just to check what you are saying, because it seems so incredible.

    You say that there is no such a thing as a moderate Muslim. Hi Jack, your emotion led you astray. Religion is God's curse on humanity and all we have to do is to live with it.

    Just remember what kind of Christians we were five hundred years ago and compare this to our present day attitude.

    People change and doing this they try to accomodate their religion.
    In hundred years all this terrorist activity may have been forgotten (to be happiliy replaced by some other stupidity).


  2. Georg, I wish you were right. [I am inserting an 'a' HTML tag to see what it does] But going and seeing for oneself is the opposite of being swayed by emotion.

    I read lots of Amazon reviews of different translations and there seemed to be a general consensus that the N. J. Dawood translation is both the most accurate and the most readable. It is published as a Penguin Classic for $11 but you should be able to find it used at for less.

    Islam is fundamentalist, which means the same thing there as it means here. Like Christian fundamentalism, it is not open to interpreting the scripture as symbolic or as meaning something other than what it seems to mean. It is not open to considering that the scripture should be historically interpreted, nor that it may not be literally true.

    We customarily distinguish radical from moderate Muslims based on whether they believe in attacking non-Muslims. I think one can fairly say that only those who believe in and attempt to follow the Koran are Muslims. The Koran repeatedly commands, not urges, Muslims to fight unbelievers. From which it follows that there are no moderate Muslims. Similarly, by definition Christians are only those who believe in some way in Jesus.

  3. Also, the comparison of Christian religious violence in the 17th century with Muslim religious violence today is a false one. The Christian ethical message in scripture is based on the Sermon on the Mount, turning the other cheek, loving your neighbor as yourself and so on. Obviously Christians rarely act the way Jesus said they should, but it is part of their scriptures that they should. Those scriptures have not changed over the centuries. All the murder and mayhem of the European religious wars was done in spite of the scriptures not because of them.

    But the Muslims have a scripture which urges them to murder and mayhem against non-Muslims, and those scriptures won’t change over the coming centuries either.

  4. Nick Danger7:46 PM

    Well said.

  5. Bonjour Jack,

    It looks as if we do not agree on some of those points regarding Muslims who are obliged to live with their religion.

    I want to send you a link but it seems you do not have an Email on this blog.

    If you have some time to spare click on
    where young people from all over the Middle East (Iran, Saudi-Arabia, Israel, Sudan etc.) talk about their world and how to make it better to live in.

    This might help you to understand that not all Muslims are bloodthirsty monsters ready to blow up some high-rising building in the U.S.

    Cheers to you, Jack


    PS: I am not a computer whiz: so what do you mean by "I am inserting an 'a' HTML tag". Please explain what that means and what you hope to obtain.

  6. About your comments on my blog, I don't belive in destroying everything this country stands for, (human rights, personal freedoms, civil liberties, and our way of life), to win any war. The terrorists are against all of these things. If we become willing to search religious institutions without a great deal of hard evidence that makes it clear that something dangerous is going on there, if we begin to persecute people for their religions, we loose any moral high ground that we have. We're no defenders of freedom if we won't allow it to our own people. Your freedom of speech allows you to imply that my opinion comes from my youth and naivete. Do so if you wish. It's happened before and it will happen again. I don't mind as long as you think about how good it is that it and all of our consitutional rights are granted to all of our citizens while you try to undermine the credibility of my opinion. I know a moderate Muslim from Egypt. She's about sixty years old and runs the best drycleaning buisness in town with her husband and children. She listens to the Koran on her ipod as she removes tuba induced grease stains from my white dress shirts that would otherwise be ruined. She gives children who come into her store quarters for the gumball machine, brings everyone she knows who is interasted in Ancient Egypt gifts relating to the country's amazing history every time she returns home to visit family. I am a Christian and a natural born American citizen, and I would feel safer locked in a broomclothset away from all help with her than I would if I found myself in the same position with an American Christian Fundameltalist or Evangelical.

  7. the Scorpion11:48 AM

    Wow Jack, you really hit a nerve. PC liberals love to defend muslims. And just as all nazi party members did not agree with everything Hitler said and did, they did allow him to continue. The voices of muslim moderation are so few and far between as to be almost non-existent. Why isn’t the "moderate" muslim nations condemning the hamas children's TV show calling for the death of Jews and Americans? Why is Sept. 11 a day of rejoicing in the muslim world? Because a moderate muslim is one who believes they shouldn't kill all Jews because he doesn't think they can get away with it. But he would if he could.