One of the issues with the 'organization' and 'style' of the Suras in the Koran, is that the alleged theme of the chapters is rarely what the following text is about. The title means little. There are usually a few lines around the purported idea, and than a general commentary on why you must submit to the Allah-thing, the prime dialectical force which recreates the world every second, and which manages all thoughts, actions and deeds. The Koran is the ultimate negation of human free-will. The Allah entity – whatever it is and it certainly is not 'God' in the Judeo Christian sense of that word – determines all.
The other annoying aspect, amongst a few thousand in reading the Koran and its Sura recital, is the rather moronic and never-ending repetition. This is boring and unedifying. This mind-numbing ennui leads of course to a more fundamental issue with the Allah-cult's main document, which is the lack of clarity, conciseness, and purpose in most of the Suras. The Nun chapter is no different. There are 8 lines out of 52 which discuss 'Nuns' in this chapter. The rest are restatements of why you must follow the Allah object. This 'recitation' [which is one meaning of the old Arabic word 'Koran'], presents nothing else other than a cult's recycled sermonizing. Surely an 'uncreated' book should be more coherent and rational ?
The 'Nun' chapter is also rather ahistorical. There is no Muslim 'nunnery' movement. There never has been. Nuns grew out of the Christian-monastic tradition which first emanated during the 3rd century AD in Egypt. The apogee of Nun influence within Christendom was reposed in the 11th century preacher, writer, polemicist and feminist Hildegaard. Friends of Popes and rulers, Hildegaard was one of the most important and impressive of medieval personalities. She deepened the female monastic movement creating Europe's most vibrant nunnery in Germany, and her influence reverberated far and wide within medieval Europe for generations. Women joined the female monastic movement out of a desire to be like Hildegaard. Well-born families sent their daughters to the famed German teacher and innovator for education and spiritual enhancement. Hildegaard was a social force without precedent in European history. Nothing like Hildegaard, her personality, or her example exists anywhere within Islamic history.
So the absurdity of this Sura is that Muslim society does not contain, advocate or have a modicum of interest in the female liberation of body, mind and spirit, emblematic of a woman like Hildegaard. Quite the opposite. Koranic theology and Asharite-Al Ghazali fundamentalism restricts women, constrains their rights, and imposes on them the obligations of child-rearing, and being a part of a polygamous man-dominated family. These characteristics are hardly attributes which logically lead to the expostulation of 'nunnery'.
The Nun Sura is thus a good demonstration of the differences which existed between medieval Europe, which was without question more advanced and tolerant a society than contemporary Arabia and Islam. The scholarship which supports this, and which stands in so stark and direct an opposition to the much vaunted and cherished Politically-Correct myths which permeate our society, cannot be challenged. But it must be said that it is heartening to read in the Koran, a panegyric to 'Nuns'. The few verses – 8 – which extol the Nuns are nevertheless to be commended. It is clear from Islamic history that Mohammed did have an abiding admiration for monks and nuns, and their pious solidity:
“Your are not, by the grace of your Lord, mad or possessed. Nay, verily for you is a Reward unfailing;” [68:2,3]
This sounds good, until you read further and find out in verse 7 that the Nuns are really instruments of Allah, and '...He knows best those who receive (true) Guidance.' In other words, the 'Nuns' which must mean in this Sura a general category of pious women, are to be venerated as long as they understand that the Muslim Lord or the thing Allah, is the one they are truly worshipping. I doubt that many practising nuns or the legions of Hildegaard's followers would support such a preposterous ideal.
No doubt Mohammed admired the Nuns because they were peaceful, seemingly docile and apparently devoutly led. He may even have tried to create the idea of Christian Nunneries within his Islamic state but of course such a program would be decidedly at odds with the more important task of female servitude to the needs of their superior men, and of course the procreation of Ghazi or warriors.
The majority of this Sura demands of course that Allah's will be satiated with the prostration of the true believer. This is because Allah is the only object or thing in the universe which can display free will and if you don't follow Allah you will be persecuted:
“But made no reservation, (“if it be Allah's will')....Then leave Me alone with such as reject this Message: by degrees shall We punish them from directions they do not perceive.” [68:18 and 44]
Violence against non-believers is written on practically every page in the Koran [a good project for an earnest Phd would be to count and categorize the violence in the Koran]. The Allah does not like Christians no matter how pious, 'nun like' or great a personality they might be:
“So wait with patience for the Command of your Lord, and be not like the Companion of the Fish, - when he cried out in agony.” [68:48]
In Christian theology Christ who is considered rather irrationally by Muslims to be an Islamic Prophet, fed 5000 people by turning 5 loaves of breed into enough fillets to feed the mass. Fish were long associated with Christianity. Most of Christ's apostles were fishermen. In Matthew 13:47-50 Christ compares God's decision on who will go to heaven or to hell to fishermen sorting out their catch, keeping the good fish and throwing away the bad. In John, there is a story that the disciples fished all night but caught nothing. Jesus instructed them to cast the nets on the other side of the boat catching the very precise number of 153 fish.
In any event the fish-lovers will be punished by the thing Allah. So this Sura is a warning to anyone who might think of following the 'Companion of the Fish' and his teachings. By not following Allah, Christ and his devotees including the nuns, are guilty and will be forced to admit that, 'Verily we have been doing wrong' [68:29] and 'We have indeed transgressed' [68:31]. The end result must be punishment of course – what else could one expect from Mohammed and the Koran?
“Such is the Punishment (in this life); but greater is the Punishment in the Hereafter, - if only they knew!” [68:33]
This Sura is thus a jumble-mash of irrelevant ideas. It first extols nuns, a group which do not exist in Islam. It then goes on to explain that those who follow Allah will enjoy delightful gardens in heaven full of food, water, wine and ease. It then admonishes the fish-followers that their end destination is destruction and eternal punishment, including of course the very same nuns which were given such a good press at the beginning of the Sura. Oh well. No one can make the claim that any part of this Sura or the Koran is ethical, sensible, rational or spiritual.
[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.]