Today I finished a task I have been working on for about a year and a half. Bit by bit I have been reading the Quran before bed. One of my personal projects is to read as many of the spiritual texts from the different religions and belief systems of the world, as I can. I started with the Bible, since I was raised Christian and continue to worship in an Episcopalian church. My personal belief is that all religions worship the same creative force and that each individual should use whatever religion, combination of religions, or lack of religion to create as much kindness and positive energy in his or her life, for both his or her own happiness and that of others. For me it is important (1.) to discover the parts of all religions that can help me on my own spiritual journey, and (2.) to learn about all faiths so that I can better understand and have compassion for all the people of this world I know that many will disagree and I am sorry if I offend, but I do believe that all the religious texts I have encountered so far, while sacred and inspired by God where written by humans and therefore, like all humans, make mistakes in judgement. With both the Bible and the Quran I found passages that touched my heart and others that made me incredibly angry or sad. I also saw many similarities between the two. My personal project is about spreading love and understanding, not hatred and criticism.
The Quran is a beautiful text. I got a version that has both english and the original Arabic, next to each other. While I cannot read or speak Arabic, I think that it looks so elegant and that I get something out of seeing the symbols even if I don’t comprehend their meaning.
I was continuously struck by the use of the images of earth and nature as proof of God’s power.
“Your Lord predisposed the bees to make their hives in mountains, trees, and trellices, And suck from all fruits and flit about the unrestricted paths of their Lord. A drink of various hues comes out of their bellies which contains medicine for men. In this is a sign for those who reflect.” -The Bees: 68-69
“Another of His signs is that He created mates of your own kind of yourselves so that you may get peace of mind from them, and has put love and compassion between you. Verily there are signs in this for those who reflect. Among other signs of His is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variety of your tongues and complexions. Surely there are signs in this for those who understand.” -The Romans: 21-22
This leads me into pointing out some passages about how the Quran instructs its followers to interact with other peoples.
“It may be that God will create love between you and your enemies. God is all-powerful, and God is forgiving, ever-merciful. God does not forbid you from being kind and acting justly towards those who did not fight over faith with you, nor expelled you from your homes. He only forbids you from making friends with those who fought over faith with you and banished you from your homes, and aided in your exile.” -The Woman Tried: 7-9
“Say:’O you unbelievers, I do not worship what you worship, Nor do you worship who I worship, Nor will I worship what you worship, Now will you worship who I worship: To you your way, to me my way.’” -The Unbelievers: 1-6
“O you who believe, men should not laugh at other men, for it may be that they are better than them; and women should not laugh at other women, for they may perhaps be better than them. Do not slander one another, nor give one another nick-names.” -Apartments: 11
“How will you comprehend what the night star is? It is the star that shines with a piercing brightness-- That over each soul there is a guardian.” -The Night Star: 2-4
Some ways in which God is described by The Quran.
“God does not wrong anyone, not even the equal of an atom” -The Women: 40
“He has the keys of the Unknown. No one but He has knowledge; He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls without His knowledge, now a grain in the darkest (recess) of the earth, nor anything green or seared that is not recorded in the open book (of nature).” -The Cattle: 59
And finally just two passages I found particularly lyrical and comforting.
“WHEN THE SUN is folded up, The stars turn dim and scatter, The mountains made to move, The ten-month pregnant female camels are abandoned, The wild beasts stampede on the run, When the oceans surge and swell, When souls are reunited (with the bodies) And the little girl buried alive is asked For what crime she was put to death; When the ledgers are laid open, The curtain drawn back from the skies, When Hell is set ablaze, And Paradise brought near, (Then) every soul will know what it had prepared (for itself). So, I call the receding stars to witness, The planets withdrawing into themselves, The closing night, The rising dawn, That this is indeed the word of an honoured Messenger, Full of power, well-established (in position) with the Lord and Master of the Throne, Obeyed and worthy there of trust. Your companion is not mad.” -The Folding Up: 1-22
“I call to witness the sun and his early morning splendour, And the moon as she follows in his wake, The day when it reveals his radiance, The night when it covers him over, The heavens and its architecture, The earth and its spreading out, The soul and how it was integrated And given the faculty of knowing what is disruptive and what is intrinsic to it. He who nourishes it will surely be successful, And he who confines it will surely come to grief.” -The Sun: 1-8
I am no religious scholar, but I hope you were able to find something worth learning and cherishing in these passages. I encourage any and all to read this great text with respect.
And now I suppose its time to head to the book store to pick out a new religious text to absorb.