Quran: The Prologue

The Prologue of the Quran is obviously quite fitting in its placement considering the fact that it’s a gracious prayer said by the reader of this text as he embarks on the spiritual, emotional and religious journey that is ahead of him. However, it doesn’t ‘fit’ for one reason. Do you know what that is?

Well, the Quran, other than this first sura (sura is sort of like chapter and it is how the Quran is divided, with a total of 114 suras), is ordered by length of sura. That is, the longest sura (The Cow) comes first and then they get smaller until you get all the way to Men. The Prologue is not very long – only seven verses – but it does kick off the entire Quran. It reads:

All praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds,

Most beneficent, ever-merciful

King of the Day of Judgment

You alone we worship, and to You alone turn for help.

Guide us (O Lord) to the path that is straight,

The path of those you have blessed,

Not of those who have earned Your anger nor those who have gone astray.

These are the opening verses of the Quran, the Muslim holy text. I thought it would be best if for this first entry, I simply displayed them here for all of us.

From now on I hope that you will read along with me every week. For next Wednesday, August 6th, we will read the first 100 verses of The Cow. It should only take you about 10-15 minutes so don’t worry. It’s not a lot. Click HERE to read these verses online. I will comment on them and then I invite you to do the same. Ask questions and think along with me about the text.

Have you ever read the Quran before? What did you think?

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Read more Quran Read-A-Long.

An Announcement About The Zen of South Park’s Revamping and Restructuring

Dear Loyal Reader,

I want to let you know that The Zen of South Park blog will be changing from today forward. Don’t worry – I’m not going anywhere so there’s no need to cry. I am, however, going to be changing what I do on a couple of days. I’ll explain first and then post the schedule.

From now on Mondays will no longer be days for interviews (though when I have them I’ll just post them when they seem appropriate). Monday will be Fun with the Bible day. This may mean different things on different days but basically, I’m going to pick ideas, themes, scenes or passages from the Bible – both the Old and New Testaments (probably on a rotating basis) – and discuss them in ways that hopefully you haven’t thought about before. Whether religious or secular, already familiar with the Bible or not, Fun with the Bible Mondays are for everyone with any interest in learning a little and being inspired about the Bible’s functionality even in the twenty-first century.

Wednesdays will be Quran days. That’s right – we’re going to read the Quran…together! We will begin with the Prologue today and then every week we will read only 100 verses (about 10-15 minutes, don’t worry). I will say my piece about them and then I invite you to respond and say what you thought. This will be an open discussion, and so long as everyone is respectful, I think it will go very well.

The Quran is the holy book of the Muslim religion and should therefore be treated with a great deal of respect. Though we will be reading it with a critical eye like we would any other text, I will not be approving any callously disrespectful or prejudice comments. That said, I think it’s very important for everyone to read the holy books of other religions because it helps us understand other people better, and with the current state of world affairs, I think that reading the Quran is of special importance. I hope you’ll join me on this sure to be fascinating day to read and think about the Quran. Don’t forget to go get yourself a copy or click HERE for multiple translations to read online (click HERE to read the first Quran post)!

The final change in our schedule will be Sundays, which from now on will be Zen days. As The Zen of South Park blog, I thought it was time to incorporate a little Zen into our lives. I will begin by reading very short essays by the Zen master, Dogen, from his Shobogenzo, and providing a few comments on them. When I run out of these Zen essays I will start writing about sayings of Buddha from the Dhammapada and then move onto other texts from Eastern religions.

On all three of these days (Monday, Wednesday and Sunday) I will announce each week what I will be reading the next week so that you can keep up and prepare it yourself if you want to be ready to comment or participate. Jump in at any time or stage.

As for Topical Tuesdays, Around the World Pic of the Day, Movie/Book Review Day and Religion in the News day, all of those will stay as they are. Moreover, I will continue discussing the South Park episodes that are being aired daily, making the schedule:

Sunday: Zen Topics
Monday: Fun with the Bible
Tuesday: Topical Tuesdays – join me and my good friend and fellow author Chandler Craig (chandlermariecraig.wordpress.com) to see our different takes on the topic of the day.
Wednesday: Quran Read-a-Long
Thursday: Around the World – I will post a photo of me at religious sites around the world with a discussion about the location’s significance
Friday: Movie/Book Review Day
Saturday: Religion in the News

To see an index of my blog articles by subject matter and theme, click HERE.

I hope you enjoy the blog’s new structure and stick with us as we begin exploring some of these new subjects.

Best Regards,

Jay

“D-Yikes!” has Mrs. Garrison Being a Lesbian – Confused Sexuality? I Think So

The movie 300 sucked. Yeah, there were some okay battle scenes but honestly, give me a break. I think perhaps Parker and Stone felt similarly because this episode tears into that movie. It’s pretty hilarious actually. Check it out tonight at 10.

There’s really nothing to say about it from a religious perspective.

Have you seen it? Did you like it?

Update for 8-4 with episode 107, “Pinkeye”

This is a great episode about Halloween and zombies, if you’re looking for such things. A particularly wonderful part is Chef’s rendition of Thriller.

Note the end of the episode when Kyle and Stan are talking about understanding the true meaning of Halloween and the way they confuse the purpose of the holiday with Christmas. It certainly speaks to the conflicting messages we send American children about the purposes of holidays and how it can sometimes be difficult to discern what exactly is meant to be celebrated.

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Read about other South Park episodes.

“The Losing Edge” Touches on the Stereotype of Jews and Sports

Though this isn’t one of my favorite episodes, it does have a few good moments – like when Randy tackles the even drunker and more belligerent father at the kids’ baseball game. And why do parents care so much about little league sports?

As it relates to religion, the episode does depict Kyle (that is, Kyle’s cousin, Kyle) as a ringer for the team – since they are trying to lose – because the boys think that there is no worse kid athlete around. He can’t hit or catch and he can barely see through his foggy glasses. He’s Jewish and he sucks at sports.

Interestingly, despite touching on this stereotype – that is, that Jews are unathletic and incapable of physical activities – other episodes suggest that this isn’t the case. For instance, Kyle himself always appears to be quite capable at sports. He is depicted playing hockey and football and makes the all-state team because he is the best basketball player at South Park Elementary. Unfortunately, he is not tall and black enough for basketball though and has to sit it out.

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Read about other South Park episodes.