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Quran Chapter 66

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Submitted by Prashant (United States), Apr 22, 2021 at 00:35

Dear Dr Pipes, We need to critique Islam and Quran in polite but firm ways. Recently, I was prompted to visit chapter 66 of Quran after reading one of the messages on your forum. Every person should read Chapter 66 (ref 1). It is very small (12 verses) and is easy to read. It might also illustrate to the reader the selfishness of Muhammad. In the 12th verse of this Chapter, Quran praises Mother Mary as a chaste woman "whose womb was protected by her father". According to the Quran, God blew his spirit into Mary via an angel so she could give birth to Jesus. I did not like the crass manner in which almost all translations of quran describe this event but the matter of this message of mine is different and much more important.

Why does chapter 66 exist? Why did quran's author have to praise mother Mary in the 12th verse? To get the answers to these questions, you need to read the entire chapter and the explanations around it. When you read all explanations Muhammad's selfishness will be highlighted.

It so happened that at one point Muhammad's wives united and demanded more worldly conveniences in the household. To his credit Muhammad was demanding a more austere lifestyle. Nothing abnormal so far (except the fact that Muhammad had too many wives). One of the wives talked with Muhammad and he said something to her. This wife confided into another wife. Now, Allah comes into picture. Allah told Muhammad that one wife had leaked the word to another. Allah should not snitch but he did (verse 3).

At this stage (using the permissions in Chapter 5!), Muhammad had every right to divorce all his wives for what they did. It seems he hesitated. So, Allah, essentially, dared Muhammad to divorce his wives (verses 2). Allah challenged Muhammad by saying if he was trying to please his wives (verse 1). Verse 4 tells the wives to repent. It does not matter that confiding in each other is not even a crime.

Verse 5 is even worse. It tells the wives that if Muhammad divorces them, Allah will give him even more obedient wives. As if wives are replaceble products.

Verse 6 is a direct threat to the wives that they and their families will face fire, stones and anger of the people if they do not comply. They will also face the wrath of the angels and Allah. Allah should preserve his wrath for more important issues than small domestic issues blown out of proportions but quran does not believe that. Note that Quran here allows people to take the matter into their own hands and punish other people's wives with fire and stones.

\Verse 7 is somewhat ambiguous but is definitely not complimentary to anyone.

Verse 8 tells every one to repent.

Verse 9 is a direct call to the Prophet to be tough against those who disbelieve and declares that the destination of these people is hell. The reader should note that here this little episode was expanded to include all disbelievers.

Verse 10 cites the examples of two bad wives from the Bible who betrayed their servants.

Verse 11 tells people that they will get a house in paradise if they repent and believe. All of this so Muhhammad can threaten his wives with a divorce.

Finally verse 12 is as stated above and refers to mother Mary as a chaste woman.

So what more is wrong here? First, nowhere we see any humility, forgiveness or generousity in Muhammad. It might be OK that a small domestic matter is blown out of proportion by Muhammad, the real problem is that whatever Muhammad does, becomes the only right behavior for all human beings for all times to come. How do we advise people not to have too many wives, and not to punish them if they confide into each other. Above all, how do we tell a prophet not to reveal God's commandments to server his own selfish purposes. And, how can we tell the authors of quran to describe things elegantly?

The last verse of this chapter probably highlights quran's obsession with proving that Jesus was not the Son of God. Ideally, Islam should leave this matter unaddressed (out of respect for Christians). But the Islamic theology uses it do dislodge the Christian claims about the divinity of Jesus. Christianity (to the best of my knowledge) dodges the question how Mary got pregnant with Christ very elegantly by declaring that Jesus was a Son of God. Short of its own examples of good women, verse 12 used Mary's example as that of a chaste woman. But not willing to even suggest that Jesus was the Son of God, it had use crass phrases like "we had to blow our spirit through her garments" (ref 2)

Chapter 66 is supposed to be discussing what is prohibited and what is allowed. If this is an example of what is prohibited and what is not, it does not speak very highly of the Quran. It also reflects very poorly on Muhammad because God's commandments in this chapter were selfishly designed here to serve Muhammad's purpose.

As long as Muslims insist that Quran and Muhammad's life must be followed fully and entirely, they will have no defence of chapters like the 66th. If chapter 66 is treated as a small example in Muhammad's life, it can probably be described with humility and simplicity. All Muslims and non-Muslims should read this chapter and reach their own conclusions.

ref1: https://www.clearquran.com/066.html
ref2: https://quran.com/66/12

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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