The Quran and Being True to Ourselves: The Cow 1-10

Welcome to week 1 with the Quran, where we’ll take a peek at the first ten verses of the first sura, The Cow.

What really jumped out at me was the amount of beliefs and life requirements that appeared, including a belief in revelation, prophets, the afterlife, faith, God, and Judgment Day. And then there were the actions: verse three articulates two of the Five Pillars of Islam, prayer (devotional obligations) and charity. I actually like these items inclusion, particularly the charity one.

Verses 8-10 were the ones I found most intriguing. Though the discussion is about those who feign faith and loyalty to God and the requisite beliefs of Islam, I think that the point about deceivers is most applicable today. We are told that those who try to deceive others about their beliefs – that is, convince people that they’re something they are not – are really only deceiving themselves. Of course, Islam isn’t suggesting that these people be true to themselves and embrace the fact that they don’t follow God – the text would prefer that they follow God and Islam – but it does raise a good point about deception.

Trying to be something we’re not is fruitless and attempting to convince others of this fact rarely hurts them as much as it hurts us. Be yourself and embrace that in which you believe.

What did you get out of these first ten verses? What was your initial reaction to the Quran? Did anything remind you of the Bible?

Administrative: Oh my goodness is the Quran dense! I thought we would be reading 100 verses a week, but so I don’t go crazy with what to say, we’re going to do 10 a week (and I’ll include them at the end of the post for your convenience). Feel free to read ahead if you’re into it. Also, please comment on whatever you want regarding the week’s verses – don’t feel obligated to stick to what I’ve chosen to say.

Also, my friend and fellow scholar, Hilla, will be joining us each week to kick off the discussion of these verses so make sure to take a look at the first comment as she’s sure to have something great to add.

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Read more Quran Read-A-Long.

The Cow 1-10

1. Alif Lam Mim 2. This is The Book free of doubt and involution, a guidance for those who preserve themselves from evil and follow the straight path. 3. Who believe in the Unknown and fulfil their devotional obligations, and spend in charity of what We have given them. 4. Who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed to those before you, and are certain of the Hereafter. 5. They have found the guidance of their Lord and will be successful. 6. As for those who deny, it is all the same if you warn them or not, they will not believe. 7. God has sealed their hearts and ears, and veiled their eyes. For them is great deprivation. 8. And there are some who, though they say: “We believe in God and the Last Day,” (in reality) do not believe. 9. They (try to) deceive God and those who believe, yet deceive none but themselves although they do not know. 10. Sick are their hearts and God adds to their malady. For them is suffering for they lie.

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