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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Koran

There are some converts to Islam who say that it is the perfection of the Koran which has led them to believe.

It is a commonplace among Muslims that the Koran is a miracle, that no human can produce anything which is comparable: Islam is therefore true – QED. Islamic apologists think that this reasoning is irrefutable. They, of course, reserve to themselves the right to adjudicate on whether any human sentence is or is not indeed comparable. They thereby render their assertion irrefutable. Clever!

Being, I hope, a fair minded man, I have (not for the first time) had a look at the text. Not the Arabic, which is allegedly the only authoritative version, but an English rendition of the meaning by pious Muslims.

It is astonishing – astonishingly turgid, repetitious, boring, unstructured and impenetrable.

I have some sympathy for Muslims who might maintain that it is only to the eyes of faith that the truth and beauty are revealed. I encounter many attacks on Christianity which are opaque to me: that isn’t what I believe, I inwardly protest.

Christian and Muslim attitudes to scripture are radically different. There is scarcely a writer in the Christian tradition who maintains that the Bible is the literal Word of God, certainly not in the Catholic tradition. I believe that the prophets and saints were men and women whose thirst for God were rewarded by God’s drawing near to them. Every one was a fallible sinner. Muslims believe that the Koran is the eternal Word of God, given by the Angel Gabriel to Mohammed. I think that this exposes the Almighty to the charge of being the worst stylist in the history of literature.

Many scholars have drawn attention to the contradictions and inconsistencies in the Koran. If Muslims are right, this cannot be. So, they have an answer. Although the whole Koran is perfect, verses which were revealed later may ‘abrogate’ verses which were revealed earlier. This puts me in mind of Animal Farm: All animals are equal; but some are more equal than others. Regrettably, the earlier irenic Meccan verses are abrogated by later warlike Medinan verses. Reason is thus discarded at the outset. This has put the Islamic world at a disadvantage.

I very much doubt that any of you will have the patience to read all the suras in the URL to which I have linked above. Good luck!

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