Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 284-286 Complete the Second Sura

This repetition affirming the equality of the messages (despite differences in prophetic ability) from God’s different apostles (which is, I think, to say prophets) is very important. It makes Islam an incredibly inclusive religion, not shunning and belittling any of the other religions, which it acknowledges as other ways of believing in God and going to Heaven. I’m not particularly sure about the nuances of this understanding but generally speaking, this is my understanding after the conversations that have accompanied Quran Read-A-Long.

Asad tells us that the reference in verse 286 to God not laying the burden upon Muslims that he laid upon those before is a reference to the Mosaic law of Judaism and the world-renunciation of Christianity. If that is what’s being referred to here (and I can roll with that for the sake of argument) then I dare say that I concur with the burdensome nature of either of those things. I take this to mean, then, that the Quran considers its relatively long list of injunctions non-burdensome, and I ask, what is the difference between that which the Quran tells Muslims to do and that which the Torah tells Jews to do?

My own answer is obviously hindered by my lack of knowledge of what else, beyond the Cow, the Quran tells Muslims to do day to day, so my answer is only tentative, and it would seem to lie in the seeming arbitrariness of some of the things listed in the Torah – for instance, the kosher dietary laws. However, Islam shares a few of those laws (like a prohibition on eating pig), and so my question becomes whether or not this is a comparison not of the Torah itself but of the Rabbinic law (the Talmudic law, that is) that Mohammed would have theoretically seen the Jews around him abiding by – and that rabbinic law is a much longer and more tiresome list than the Torah’s own list. However, I would then offer a comparison between those legal minutae and the Hadith and other jurisprudence practiced of Muslims. If it is saying that the Quranic law is not burdensome because it is practical, then I would mention that a lot of what is mentioned in the Torah is practical too – like laws about sexual deviancy or treating society’s underprivileged fairly – despite the lengthy set of sacrificial laws that tax our modern sentiments.

Now, this isn’t meant to be me putting my foot down in these comparisons, because like I said, my knowledge of the rest of what the Quran is asking is not filled out yet (like my knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence, believe it or not), but the Cow does seem to have a lot of directives, many atuned to running a balanced and just society, and some seemingly slightly less necessary (no pig?) – which isn’t to say there aren’t good reasons, but just to say that the differences in those elements of the religions aren’t entirely clear to me yet. As for the comparison with Christianity, it sounds like this is the Quran’s way of saying (at least according to Asad’s interpretation) that Islam, though focused on the next life like Christianity, is not obsessed to the exclusion of an appreciation and enjoyment of this life.

I’ve left a lot up in the air here and would be incredibly appreciative of any clarifying comments and thoughts.

We’ve made it to the end of The Cow, and though it’s the second sura, it’s also the first long one so that’s exciting! Thanks to everyone who’s made it this far with me and who has joined Quran Read-A-Long. I hope you’ll continue to read and comment as we move into the third sura, Al- ‘Imran, next week.

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The Cow 284-286

284. Unto God belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth. And whether you bring into the open what is in your minds or conceal it, God will call you to account for it; and then He will forgive whom He wills, and will chastise whom He wills: for God has the power to will anything. 285. THE APOSTLE, and the believers with him, believe in what has been bestowed upon him from on high by his Sustainer: they all believe in God, and His angels, and His revelations, and His apostles, making no distinction between any of His apostles; and they say: “We have heard, and we pay heed. Grant us Thy forgiveness, O our Sustainer, for with Thee is all journeys’ end! 286. “God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear: in his favor shall be whatever good he does, and against him whatever evil he does. “O our Sustainer! Take us not to task if we forget or unwittingly do wrong! “O our Sustainer! Lay not upon us a burden such as Thou didst lay upon those who lived before us!* O our Sustainer! Make us not bear burdens which we have no strength to bear! “And efface Thou our sins, and grant us forgiveness, and bestow Thy mercy upon us! Thou art our Lord Supreme: succor us, then, against people who deny the truth!”

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An Evil Stan is Engineered in South Park Episode 105, “An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig”

Oh, early season one of South Park: how folksy and classic.

In this episode all the boys must complete science fair projects and Kyle and Dr. Mephisto’s son get into a cloning war, with the latter insisting that he can clone an entire human being and Kyle believing that he can breed an elephant and a pot-bellied pig to make small pot-bellied elephants.

When the boys go to Dr. Mephisto, the local genetic engineer, to ask how they might do what they intend to, they are introduced to a variety of four-assed animals genetically engineered by the doctor. Secretly, he stabs Stan and takes a sample of his blood, which happens to be the blood used for the human clone. In the meantime, Chef advises the boys to have the elephant make love to the pig and Elton John comes in for a magical and sexy duet that, post drunk, gets every enjoying some coitus.

The Stan-clone grows huge and monstrous and eventually escapes from the genetic engineer only to terrify and destroy the town of South Park. And guess who’s getting blamed!? That’s right, Stan.

Fortunately for him and the trouble he’s going to get in, Shelley, who had been mean to Stan throughout the whole episode, claims that Stan had been with her the whole time and therefore not wreaking havoc about town. What a good sister.

Stan tells Shelley:

“Shelley, you saved my life. And yet, you’ve done so much more than that. Today you’ve taught me the meaning of family. Sure, families don’t always get along, but when the forces of evil descend upon us, we conquer them by sticking together.”

Curiously, this episode touches close to home right now because I’m in the middle of one of Michael Crichton’s books about genetic engineering called Next. It’s not as good as State of Fear or some of his classics but I’m entertained. I only got it because it was a few dollars for the hardback at Borders a few months back. And then we learned this week that Crichton died. He was a great author and a great addition to public debate about important issues. Thanks for everything, Michael.

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A Dead Jiggling Baby Fetus Adorns the Nurse in “Conjoined Fetus Lady,” South Park Episode 205

What a silly episode. One theme, as you may recall, is the children playing dodgeball on the international level. Simultaneously, Sheila Broflovski has decided to have a week honoring the school nurse, who has Conjoined Twin Myslexia, a disease that means a dead fetus, which was once her identical twin, exists somewhere in her body. Because this is South Park, that place is her head.

When Kyle is sent to the nurse’s office and sees her dead, protruding, jiggling twin, he is terrified and tells the other boys how gross it is. Sheila Broflovski overhears the boys and wants to teach them about acceptance; thus, she persuades Principle Victoria and Mr. Mackey to join her for a dinner with the nurse.

Mr. Mackey asks whether or not they’re going to have to eat kosher food at the Broflovski household and later that evening he asks if someone can please pass the pork. Curious considering that the Broflovskis are decidedly Jewish and Mr. Broflovski even wears a kipa (a.k.a yarmulke, which is the small Jewish head-covering). Though plenty of Jews enjoy pork, despite pig being unkosher (against Jewish dietary laws), very few who are religious enough to wear kipas (pl. is actually kipot) will eat pig. Interesting.

I do like the theme of acceptance, but the episode teaches us that it’s important to learn that acceptance is great, but the essence of people being accepted is treating them like everyone else. Throwing week long events honoring them for their bravery at being different and standing out is not treating them normally and accepting them.

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