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The Raging Bull

Monday, November 27, 2006
I've read the first few pages of 'The Cow' - the second Surah (section) and I'm still trying to work out why it's called 'The Cow'. I'm hoping that will come up at some stage.

I've always had this picture of cows being nice animals, if somewhat stupid, but so far I think 'The Raging Bull' would be a better title.

It kicks off by making a case against unbelievers who say they are believers. It talks about how these people lie when they are with 'the faithful', declaring that they believe as well, but when 'alone with their devils they say to them: "We follow none but you: we were mocking them".

Now it's fair enough that if someone is lying and mocking they should probably expect to get a bit of a whipping, but if they're lying, how do you work out who really is 'the faithful' and who isn't? I'm just curious about this whole thing so I when it comes to the Koran I wouldn't call myself a believer, so what happens to me?

There is some good news though for those who have faith and do good works, it briefly describes a kind of paradise for these people. So is God only compassionate and merciful to those who do good things? If so, is that really merciful? I mean, the only time I need to show mercy is when someone does something stink. If nobody does anything stink there is no reason for mercy. Heck, I did something stink yesterday (I know you would love to hear the details, but I'm not going to give them). In fact - if I were to be honest, I would have to say I do stupid things all the time that I feel bad about afterwards. So is God really merciful if people who do stink stuff are condemned and only those who do good, get it good.....

I've noticed the next bit mentions Adam and Satan.... exciting!

There's Actually a Very Important Introduction

Stop the press!!! It looks like I may have got it wrong. In my eagerness to skip boring introductions etc to get to the meat and potatoes of the Koran, I missed the actual Koran introduction.... as opposed to the translators introduction.

I'm guessing the Koran introduction (I found somewhere it is called Surah 1 - The Exordium. I think a 'Surah' is like a section) was part of the original transcript given by Gabriel. If so then it is fair to say these would be the first words, not what I quoted earlier. Hopefully I will actually get into reading the guts of the book soon.

Here's what the introduction says (the Gabriel one, not the translator one):

Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe,
The Compassionate, the Merciful,
Sovereign of the Day of Judgement!
You alone we worship, and to You alone we turn for help.
Guide us to the straight path,
The path of those whom You have favoured,
Not of those who have incurred Your wrath,
Nor of those who have gone astray.

Now, if you're going to believe in a God, that sounds like a fairly reasonable start. I am honestly surprised (quite pleasantly) by the references to God being compassionate and merciful. Judging by the press Islam gets, I was expecting something a little more militant. Boy do I hate stereotypes. The problem is I'm a sucker for them far too often. Here's hoping this project will deal to the stereotype I may have incorrectly built of the Islamic faith.

Was this bit given by Gabriel? It seems more like something a person would say rather than something that would come from a transcript stored in heaven.

When it talks about those who have gone astray, who is it talking about? I'm thinking these are probably people who won't get to experience the compassionate and merciful side of God. Who are the people who have obtained God's favour?

God's wrath.... Now there's a hefty term. If you want to strike fear into the heart of someone, don't say "anger", say "wrath".

What Exactly is the Koran

Sunday, November 26, 2006
I thought before I go any further I better do some research about what the Koran actually is. I know it's the Muslim Holy book, but where did it come from?

I'm a guy who can never be bothered with editors notes, introductions, prefaces and all that jazz at the beginning of books. I like to get straight to the meat and potatoes, the guts of what they've written. But I thought the introduction of my copy of the Koran might be a good place to look for the info I desire. It says this:

"For Muslims it is the infallible Word of God, a tablet of a transcript preserved in heaven revealed to the prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel"

That sounds like it about sums it up. I guess if someone believes that then those first words -"This Book is not to be doubted" - would make perfect sense.

So essentially, a transcript was kept in heaven till probably around 600AD or so (the introduction says his 'call' began in 610AD), then the angel Gabriel visited Muhammad and told it all to him? That's how I read it. Did he write it down? Why didn't God send Gabriel sooner? I mean if this is the infallible Word of God, what about all the people before then.... the earth wasn't exactly new in 600AD.

The ponderings continue.

First Words

Saturday, November 25, 2006
Ok, I've opened it up to get this thing rolling and had a look at the first words.

An intro is always very important, it pretty much sets the scene.... so how does the Koran kick off?

After the title of this section "The Cow" (I guess I will find out why it's called that) we get these introductory words.

"This Book is not to be doubted."

What do you say to that? Am I allowed to be the judge of that as I read, or because it says it, is it set in stone and I've got no option to question it? Am I doomed already, after only the first words?

Starting On The Koran

I've never read the Koran/Quran/Qu'ran (however you want to spell it), but I got a copy the other day. The copy I got has been translated to English and I thought, you know what, the religion of Islam gets so much press these days, why not see what all the fuss is about.

I don't know a heck of a lot about Muslims and what they believe, just what I see and hear on the news and I figure if this is their holy book, it might give me some insight. So this blog will be a document of what I think as I read through it.

I have decided to remain anonymous at this point because, well, some of the things I've seen on the news make it look like anything could set some Muslims off and make them really mad though I know this isn't the majority and it's probably just a few giving the rest some bad press... and we all know how sensationalistic the media likes to be. I want to be honest about what I'm thinking as I read it and who knows, I might not like some of it and I want to be free to say so.

So we'll see where this goes. Feel free to keep up to date and offer any thoughts. I’m sure there are others out there who will know way more than me and could set me straight on any misunderstandings...


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