Friday, January 28, 2011

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The order of the Suras and its importance

Militancy and intolerance are the hallmarks of the last revelations.

by Ferdinand III

It is worthwhile to restate an important point. In the historical development of the man-created Koran, which in Arabic can mean both Recital [memorize and repeat]; or Compilation [pilfer the Jewish and Christian texts for relevancy, stories, parables and prophets]; that the latest Suras are the most important. The 'latter' Koran was developed in oral and written form, during the expansion of Muslim power from its military base in Medina to evenutally Mecca and beyond. It supersedes earlier recitals. Thus the Koran's organization from Sura 1 to 110 [or 112 depending on the version of the Koran], is an arbitrary configuration from longest to shortest. The more important facet of Koranic ordering, is the point in time which the sura was developed. The latest are the most relevant and indicative of the thing Allah's 'will', which of course is the only will in the world which matters, the human's being unimportant and even evil. Every Muslim scholar has agreed on this simple fact. The only question would be, what are the latest suras developed by Mohammed and his cohorts?

In 'The Encyclopedia of Islam', there are 3 scholars who are sourced in resolving the issue of the ordering of the Suras – Noldeke, Blachere and Weiss. These men went to the source material of the Koran, including the Hadiths, scripts, and writings which pre-dated the invention of the Koran. They sifted through Arabic and Muslim material and developed a definitive chronological order of the last Medinan Suras. Whilst there are some variations in their ordering, the lists in othe rdering of the Medinan, or latest Suras, are rather similar:

Weil: 2, 98, 62, 65, 22, 4, 8, 47, 57, 3, 59, 24, 63, 33, 48, 110, 61, 60, 58, 49, 66, 9, 5.

Noldeke and Blachere: 2, 98, 64, 62, 8, 47, 3, 61, 57, 4, 65, 59, 33, 63, 24, 58, 22, 48, 66, 60, 110, 49, 9, 5.

The 3 scholars are in broad agreement on the order of the last 'grouping' of Koranic Suras. From the list above it is clear that Suras 9 and 5 are the most important. Both are reviewed here and here. Other scholars such as Sir William Muir concur that 9 and 5 are the last two Suras. Sahih Bukhari, in his Hadiths, volume 6, book 60, # 129 (or 5.59.650) confirms this stating: "The last Sura that was revealed was Bara’…" Bara is Sura 9.

What is important is that both Sura 9 and Sura 5 are amongst the most violent, swaggering and intolerant in the entire Koran. One problem for Muslims who believe that the Koran is both 'uncreated' or the work of the thing 'Allah', and similar to the New Testament, is to explain the ferocity of Suras 9 and 5 and to explain why an uncreated document has such obvious and disparate differences in style, language and context over the 20 year development of Islam from a minor and family oriented sect in Mecca, to domination over Arabia? They can't. So to hide the irreligious nature of the last grouping of Suras, Muslims resort to victimhood, name-calling and taqiyya, or deceit. They won't debate on Koranic facts.

Islamic scholar Arthur Jeffrey in his work, 'Islam: Muhammad and His Religion', on page 66 writes:

"The Qur’an is unique among sacred scriptures in teaching a doctrine of abrogation according to which later pronouncements of the Prophet abrogate, i.e.: declare null and void, his earlier pronouncements. The importance of knowing which verses abrogate others has given rise to the Qur’anic science known as 'Nasikh wa Mansukh', or 'The Abrogators and the Abrogated'.

This is entirely correct and deeply upsets Islamophiles. Later Suras are more important than earlier Suras. This is especially important to note since much of the Koran is self-contradictory. Indeed an industry of Koranic studies has blosssomed to deal with these contradictions and to try to sort out which Suras are the most relevant and vital. In the aforementioned work, (The Abrogator and the Abrogated), we see that out of the 114 suras within the Koran, there are only 43 which are not affected by abrogations. Why would the thing Allah create such a mishmash of confusion ? Surely the Koran is about as uncreated as the New Testament. Early Muslims must have recognized this inconsistency, which the Hadiths and 4 centuries of arguing attempted to sort out.

Ibn Warraq an apostate who left Islam, summarizes the Muslim concept of abrogation as follows:

"Contradictions do abound in the Koran, and the early Muslims were perfectly well aware of them; indeed they devised the science of abrogation to deal with them. It is a very convenient doctrine that, as one Christian unkindly put it, ‘fell in with that law of expediency which appears to be the salient feature in Muhammad’s prophetic career’. According to this doctrine, certain passages of the Koran are abrogated by verses revealed afterward, with a different or contrary meaning. This was supposedly taught by Muhammad himself, at Sura 2, verse 105: 'Whatever verses we cancel or cause you to forget, we bring a better or its like.' …Now we can see how useful and convenient the doctrine of abrogation is in bailing scholars out of difficulties- though, of course, it does pose problems for apologists of Islam, since all the passages preaching tolerance are found in Meccan (i.e., early suras), and all the passages recommending killing, decapitating and maiming, the so-called Sword Verses are Medinan (i.e., later); ‘tolerance’ has been abrogated by ‘intolerance’. For, the famous Sword verse, Sura 9, verse 5, 'Slay the idolaters wherever you find them,' is claimed to have canceled 124 verses that promote tolerance and patience."  

The idea that the Koran has 'groups' and an evolutionary structure over time is quite important indeed. Pious Muslims today maintain that the Koran was given in an uncreated form to Mohammed, via the archangel Gabriel. It is thus 'untouchable' and cannot be altered. Historical analysis and common sense reveals otherwise. Thus, when you hear an Islamophile such as Barack Obama intone from Sura 2, that “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.”- [Koran 2:256] We know that he is misleading his audience. Why? For three reasons. First the very next line repeated throughout the rest of the Sura is that the non-believers are going to hell anyways and will be punished for rejecting Islam. Second, the verse 256 is very clear that Islam is the only truth: 'Truth stands out clear from Error.' This is supremacism. Third, over a third of this Sura discusses destroying the Unbelievers through physcial violence. Thus no compulsion is needed in religion since many of those who refuse to follow the Muslim cult will be dead.

We know why this particular verse was 'revealed' to Mohammed, because Abdullah Abbas narrating in a Hadith (Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number 2676), tell us clearly that:

When the children of a woman (in pre-Islamic days) did not survive, she took a vow on herself that if her child survives, she would convert it a Jew. When Banu an-Nadir were expelled (from Arabia ), there were some children of the Ansar (Helpers) among them. They said: We shall not leave our children. So Allah the Exalted revealed; "Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error."

When the Banu an-Nadir Jews were expelled from Arabia in the mid 620s AD, and their property and beautiful women appropriated, they didn’t want to leave their children behind and did not want them to convert to Islam. Mecca was taken by a Muslim force in 630 AD and the non-Allah idols and forms of worship were destroyed and outlawed. For the remaining Jews such as the an-Nadir tribe, the Muslims did not necessarily coerce those who remained they simply admonished them by stating that only Islam was the truth and if you did not follow you will burn in hell. Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir confirms:

Allah says: "There is no compulsion in religion", meaning: do not force anyone to embrace Islam because it is clear, and its proofs and evidences are manifest. Whoever Allah guides and opens his heart to Islam has indeed embraced it with clear evidence. Whoever Allah misguides, blinds his heart and has set a seal on his hearing and a covering on his eyes cannot embrace Islam by force.

Thus no compulsion does not mean love and harmony. It simply means that in some form or another you the infidel will be punished for rejecting Islam.

The ordering of the Koranic Suras IS very important. It highlights the changes within the Islamic policy and political theology in the years from 610 AD to long after Mohammed's death. The Suras pleading to be left alone [103 for example]; are statements of weakness, not tolerance. The later Suras are robust, militant, intransigent, racist and supremacist. That is the signal fact of the Koran.