Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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Suffering through the Koran – Sura 24 named 'The Light'.

A chapter which is actually interesting.

by Ferdinand III

A chapter on conduct. The first such in the Koran after 225 pages of suffering. Of course the rules of conduct vary by the type of person. A hierarchy of punishment exists. Lighter rules apply to male Muslims. Heavier ones are meted out to females and infidels. It is not a universal code of justice or ethical law. Some people in Islam are certainly better than others.

The chapter is called 'The Light' because “For any to whom Allah does not give light, there is no light!” [24:40]. This is pre-destination – in Christianity it is a medieval relic of fundamentalist intolerants. Such medieval strictures still sour Islam today.

Allah will decide who can or cannot see his 'Light' or the light of 'his' shining path. It is at odds with humanism, free will and responsibility. All cults are based in part on such 'supernatural' powers to decide who is chosen and who is condemned. Only the God[s] shall decide who is a part of the superior caste. Nonsense all of it.

This chapter is interesting because it discusses some topics which still infect Islam today. For example the punishment for adultery. In states such as Iran women are routinely tortured and sometimes executed for this 'crime'. It matters not the circumstance. Perhaps the woman was beaten at home; abused by her husband or ignored. Or maybe the man invented a lie to get rid of his nagging wife. The Koran is very clear – anyone committing adultery will be severely punished:

“The woman and man guilty of adultery or fornication, - flog each of them with a hundred stripes: let not compassion move you in their case,” [24:2]. A woman can only avoid such punishment if she can produce 4 witnesses or perhaps swear an oath 4 times on the good name of Allah that she is not guilty [the sentence is entirely unclear]: “But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) by Allah, that (her husband) is telling a lie;” [24:8].

Fundamentalism is a hallmark of a cult and mandating punishment with no regard to the human condition and the characteristics of the individual case offends justice, individuality and ethics.

But there are some good ideas in this Sura:

-Don't tell lies about others
-Don't enter another person's house if they are not home
-Give a respectful salutation to the owners of a house when you enter
-Women should cover their breasts [a rather bizarre pagan Arabian custom was the female being mostly topless. Contrary to myth the Koran does not mandate a full body covering – just the modesty of covering the female breast].

This is promising – basic but nonetheless a welcome relief from the usual refrain of supremacist violence which infuses most of the Koran.

But it is of course Allah who gives the 'light' and it is Allah's followers – not the Unbelievers – who will benefit from following this light with light being the rules to be followed, as laid down by the moon deity; “But the Unbelievers – their deeds are like a mirage in sandy deserts, which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water; until when he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing: but he finds Allah (ever) with him, and Allah will pay him his account: and Allah is swift in taking account.” [24:39]

Allah is not very tolerant of those who don't submit themselves to his regulations and dictums. Allah demands and expects complete prostration: “...no other than this: they say, “We hear and we obey”: it is such as these that will attain felicity.” [24:51]. No true Muslim can possibly question anything written in the Koran since it comes from Allah. Nor can they dispute any saying or belief of his Messenger the bandit Mohammed. To do so would anger Allah and show a lack of respect and too much independence of mind. In Islam submission is all. Free will is nothing.

“He will establish in authority their religion – the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: 'They will worship Me (alone)...If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked.” [24:55]

So Allah will choose people's spirituality. They will follow his rules to attain peace and prosperity. If they don't they will be punished. Ergo it is easier to follow and obey than to risk Hell and torture by offending this Allah, the unknowable and undefined male Meccan moon deity.

This chapter has some good rules about conduct. But as with all things in the Koran it is a fundamentalist proposition. These are legalities to be enforced – regardless of circumstance or common sense. Not to follow them will provoke the rage and an officious punishment from the Allah.

Even when good ideas are forwarded the Koran and its Arab writers mix up ethics with intolerant fundamentalism. Not a positive admixture.

[Note: This sura is taken from 'The Holy Quran', translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, reprinted in 1995, Goodword Books. Regarded as one of the best translations from Arabic to English of the Koran.]