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Response to questions Tim

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God?
in response to reader comment: And the Quraan was not manipulated by people ? Oh please give me break.

Submitted by Arthur Esparza (United States), Aug 19, 2007 at 02:51

The Qu'ran changes due to translation, changes in language, culture, scholars, etc of course. There are plenty of muslims that understand that completely, including myself. I am a christian convert to Islam, have been a muslim for 7 years now, and a former anthropology student. I am not an Islamic scholar but I hope to do a decent job of answering your questions.

The Qu'ran says that Allah has put a seal on it to protect it from change until the end of time. People can interpret that in different ways, one, is that no major changes will occur that would distort the meaning.

Many scholars believe that the Qu'ran is one if not the most well preserved religious document in history. There is a large muslim body that memorizes the Qu'ran which is roughly the size of the New Testament. This is a practice that has gone on since the time of the Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him. If one person or scholar were to release a Qu'ran that were altered especially in any major way, many other scholars would immediately challenge the change. The Islamic empire under the caliphate was unlike Catholic rule during the dark ages in that it promoted wisdom and education. For example, a lot of greek knowledge was absorbed by the Islamic empire.

The prophet was illiterate: again this can be also be interpreted in different ways, one that he can't read. Another, that he was not very well educated. The context of this information is that a benevolent man who is a good merchant, gives to the poor, spends time up in the mountain praying. He was known to be "illiterate". The angel Gabriel appeared before him and told him "Read". This begins his revelation of the Qu'ran, he comes down, tells everyone the bad news (Mecca is committing evil acts and needs to change according to one god and not 360) in the poetic fashion that the Qu'ran is known for. The ruling class can't believe that he can speak poetry (the popular science/philosophical medium in Mecca at the time) being "illiterate". They run him out of town and begin their quest of assassination. The revelation of such a work by an "illiterate" is is the only miracle that Mohammad claimed. The Qu'ran says many times that most of those who look for miracles won't believe them no matter how great.. it cites the prophet Musa (Moses) and the Pharaoh "let my people go" speech.

So the Qu'ran was not written by the Prophet Mohammad, it revealed by him, memorized by the disciples and written down about 200 years later. He revealed it and spoke it. Another important point is that it was not revealed all at once but different parts were revealed at different times. For example, the rules of warfare were revealed before the first battle between the pagan army of Mecca and the muslim army of Medina. The order of the revelation (that it was revealed in) was not the Order that you read the Qu'ran in today. When you read the Qu'ran you read the Suras (chapters) in the order that the Prophet Mohammad requested them to be put. There isn't much debate amongst muslims about the validity of the Qu'ran, only the context and interpretation.

If you also notice the writing style stays very consistent as being one style unlike the Bible where there are multiple styles in one book which leads one to believe that there were multiple authors. Also unlike the Bible where the Catholic church cherry picked books (no gospel of judas, thomas for example), there are no competitive Suras to the Qu'ran save one which I will get to in a bit.

During the time of revelation it is said that the Prophet was revealed one sura that was influenced my Shaitan and to be edited out. I personally havn't studied this sura or moment too much but the idea is that the Sura was not divine revelation but revelation from Shaitan, or manipulated by Shaitan. Shaitan is the equivalent of Satan but instead of being a counterbalance to an omnipotent God he is a creation called a Jinn. A Jinn is not a Genie, it is not defined very well by the Prophet or the Qu'ran which makes the topic of Jinn debated and well confusing. All we really know is that Jinn cannot be seen, they were a creation like Humans, and Angels (more human than angels regarding free will). They also don't possess too much as far as super powers go so muslims can't really blame everything on the devil but themselves. It is said in the Qu'ran that Shaitan only has the power to whisper in your ear. Sort of that anti-conscience that gets you into trouble.

The Hadith is known as the companion book to the Qu'ran but really doesn't hold a candle to revelation. The word Hadith literally means "account". It is basically a collection of sayings, teachings, speeches of the Prophet as recalled by various people. The Hadith is referenced by many muslims but widely debated, much considered to be inaccurate, or not validated. So the Hadith is considered to be important but not nearly as essential as the Qu'ran.

Ok, us vs them? The Qu'ran is introduced as a manual for the righteous. It divides humanity into three different groups of individuals. The Righteous or believers (Christians, Jews, Muslims other faiths who embrace scripture, God and the morals that God upholds, ex: justice, goodwill,humility, faithfulness etc.);The hypocrites (Those who say they serve God, or are righteous, Jews Muslims, Christians etc - but are not and have no such intention.) and the flat at disbelievers (pagans and atheists) terrible morals and ethics.

With that context, everything good, or righteous that you do helps you, and makes your life here and in the afterlife easier. Everything wicked or wrong will make you suffer or worse. Very similar to Karma, you have a lot of personal responsibility. Unlike Karma, as a muslim you are required to try to perform various duties, such as prayer and charity, good works and being a good neighbor. Life isn't fair for everyone so we must help ourselves and each other out.

Disbelievers and hypocrites (them) are not to be fought unless you are under oppression or attack. (rules of war). The prophet made treaties with the Meccans so trade and deals can be made, so long as they are honored and not broken. Regarding Muslims oppressing other muslims - you are still required to help and love your brothers who are muslim, but if they are oppressing or attacking you must help them by fighting them. Islam is completely against oppression and injustice. Women ARE supposed to have equal rights unlike what you hear in the news and the way they are treated in say, Saudi Arabia. In fact muslim Women were given equal rights 1200 years before Christian women.

And other religions? All religions are supposed to be tolerated if they meet the standards and ideals as stated in the Qu'ran. Hinduism was tolerated by the Muslim empire as peoples of the book. The Qu'ran says that there is only one religion, Islam (which means submission to God and/or Peace) God sent many prophets all over the world (not just the middle east) to teach God's will. If a people did not ever hear the word of Islam then they would not be judged.

Well I hope that helps.. please do your research for yourself, read the Qu'ran for yourself and ask scholars and people in the know about your questions.


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