Fragile: Handle with Care
15 Dec, 2005
When breakable goods are shipped, they are stamped with a distinctive sign--"Fragile: Handle with Care". Even though the Quran, the holiest book on Earth, does not carry the warning, Quran-maniacal Muslims do handle it with the same attitude, as if the holy book will shatter into pieces. Apparent respect shown towards this book is not because of its contents. Instead, it has become a religious mandate, propagated by extensive propaganda and it is an exhibition of a natural human instinct to worship something, whether it be an idol or a book. Muslims believe that thawab (a spiritual reward) is earned every time a portion of the book is recited. It's a kind of credit card that offers mileage on flying-the more you charge the card, the more points you earn.
Is the book that Muslims are holding in their hands today nothing but a replica of the master copy, which Allah has preserved in his sacred library? All Muslims of the world would unanimously vote for "Yes". Their assessment is not based on facts but on a Quranic verse that says, "This is a Glorious Quran, (inscribed) in a tablet preserved!" (Q85:21). So, did Allah use his gigantic copier machine, creating thunder and storm, to make copies of his Quran?
In today's world, people would reject any attempt of initiating a new religion. If someone did try, he would immediately be put in a straightjacket and sent to a psychiatric hospital. The same rule applies to Muhammad; his claim of receiving commands from Allah is an outright lie. However, for the sake of this article, let's pretend that Allah revealed the Quran.
Whenever a verse was revealed to Muhammad, it was memorized by his associates and sometimes written on pieces of wood, deerskin, palm leaves, bones, etc.
Why were those verses written on wood, deerskin, bones and palm leaves?
Historical records show that Ts'ai Lun, a Chinese official, reported the invention of paper to the Chinese Emperor in 105 AD, 500 years before the era of Muhammad. Recent archeological investigations, however, claim the actual invention may have been around 140-86 BC in Gansu province of China. Although the word "paper" came from "papyrus", there is a significant difference between these two. Papyrus was a type of plant found in Egypt along the Nile River. Approximately 5000 years ago, Egyptians made flat and uniform sheets from these trees for writing purposes.
Maybe China was a little too far from Arabia and Allah was not able to help Muhammad with paper. How about using papyrus, which was available in Egypt? In another archeological discovery, a roll of papyrus more than 2000 years old was found in Egypt. This papyrus contains 112 short poems of a Greek poet and they are in good condition. Allah could have easily commanded, "O prophet! Get a bundle of papyrus and write down what's sent to thee!" But it did not happen.
People used to make false a Quran when Muhammad was alive. We read in verse 2:79,
"And woe unto those who write the scripture with their own hands and then say, 'This is from God,' that they may in this way obtain a small gain. Woe unto them for what their hands have written and woe unto them for what they gain thereby!"
Despite the possibility of creating a false Quran, Allah or Muhammad never thought about the importance of compiling the Quran and putting the verses in the form of a book. Apparently, the foremost method of preserving the Quran was memorization. Some verses were written on stones, bones and leaves, without realizing the fact that goats love to eat leaves. Yes, a darned animal with four legs known as a goat ate a piece of the all-powerful Allah's Quran. "Narrated by Hazrat Ā'ishah that ayat-e-Rajm and ayat Raza'at were revealed, they were written on something. I kept them under the cart, meanwhile the holy prophet died and we became busy and one GOAT came and ATE those ayyat" (Ibn-e-Maja).
A'ishah had a problem with domestic animals before. In another instance, in order to resolve a scandal, a slave girl, Barirah, testified (al-Tabari, p.1523), "The only fault I ever found in 'Ā'ishah is that, when I was kneading my dough and ordered her to watch it, she fell asleep over it, and the pet sheep (or a goat) came and ate it." It's very normal for a little child; however, a goat eating the Quran is a noteworthy phenomenon that will have an enduring effect on believers of Islam.
Evidently, those two verses were very important as they spelled out the punishment for adultery, but they don't exist in today's Quran. "Narrated by Ibn Abbas: Umar said, 'I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, 'We do not find the Verses of the Rajm (stoning to death) in the Holy Book,' and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajm be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession.' Sufyan added, 'I have memorized this narration in this way.' Umar added, 'Surely Allah's Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajm, and so did we after him'" (Sahih Al Bukhari V8.B82.N816).
The hadith has been confirmed by al-Tabari (p.1821) and also Ibn Ishaq quoted Umar saying (1015), "Part of what he sent was the passage on stoning; we read it, we were taught it, and we heeded it." However, those verses simply disappeared because of a goat. It's unknown if the goat became pregnant after eating the verse; after all, the verses talked about pregnancy from an illicit relationship. I am assuming, without quoting any Islamic resource, that this shameful behavior of a goat may have motivated Muslims to slaughter millions of goats during the Eid festival. So much for Allah's guarantee, "We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)" (Q15:9).
After Muhammad's death in 632 AD, Abu Bakr became the ruler of the newly born Islamic nation. According to Sahi Bukhari (V6, B61, N509), narrated by Zaid bin Thabit, he was asked by Abu Bakr to collect the Quranic verses. Umar, the next ruler in line, brought this issue to Abu Bakr's attention because many of the Qurra' (those who knew the Quran by heart) were killed in the battle of Yal-mama. Apparently, Mama Allah did not want to save them and the verses they memorized. Umar was afraid of losing a large part of the Quran if more Qurra' died. Zaid bin Thabit was honest about his intention; he asked Abu Bakr a valid question, "How will you do something which Allah's Apostle did not do?" Abu Bakr made a political comment, "By Allah, it is a good project." Zaid bin Thabit collected verses, as much as he could, and Abu Bakr preserved the relics until he died.
Abu Bakr ruled only for 27 months and died in 634 AD. The second Caliph Umar took over and remained in power until 644 AD, when he was assassinated in an Islamic fashion. The relics stayed with him and passed to his daughter Hafsa, instead of giving them to the third Caliph Uthman. Finally, several years after Muhammad's death, Uthman compiled the Quran and burned all other scriptures that existed. Ibn Abi Dawud records, "Musab ibn Sad ibn Abi Waqqas to have testified: 'I saw the people assemble in large number at Uthman's burning of the proscribed copies; not a one spoke out against him.' Ali commented, 'If I were in command in place of Uthman, I would have done the same.'"
Burning the Quran is a serious matter. If we try to burn a Quran today, Muslims will burn half of the world. Several people were killed when news broke out that a Quran had been flushed down the toilet, which, of course, is the right place for this book anyway. Yet nothing happened to Uthman when he burned a pile of Qurans. Even the original scriptures that carried the memory of the famous prophet of Islam were burned at a later time; this should break any pious Muslim's heart. However, we do learn one significant lesson. The next time you are writing a thesis, burn all references that you have used; it will make your paper more authentic and free of challenge.
There are 114 suras in the Quran and they are set in order, which cannot be changed. These suras are not in chronological order. Some verses of the same sura were placed at the beginning, but events took place at a later time after the rest of the verses of the same sura. The hodgepodge setting and continuous inconsistency of verses only give a migraine headache to a reader. It's believed that Muhammad himself put those suras in order, which is possible. The intelligence used for arrangement indicates a disorderly, crazy person.
Islamic countries have an excellent reputation for corruption that includes students cheating on an exam. Naturally, students of Madrasas are not angels; they too use a little extra help when examination time comes. There are reports of Madrasa students placing pages of the Quran in the toilet and leaving them in this unholy place after glancing at the verses that they forgot, but no Muslims complain about disrespecting the Quran.
The Quran we see today is a copy of the Uthmanic Quran. The question is: Who gave Uthman the authority to edit the Quran? Did Allah send special instructions? We don't have any record of Allah's secretary, Gabriel, whispering in Uthman's ear. Most scholars of Islam agree that Uthman had to do this special task because people differed over the Quran. How do we know if the Uthmanic Quran is the right version? Many ahadith indicate that there were suras much longer than those we have in today's Quran.
Do we even have a copy of the Uthmanic Quran?
So far two known manuscripts of the Quran exist that have the possibility of being the Uthmanic Quran. One resides in Tashkent, Uzbekistan that only contains sura 2 to 43. Another is the Topkapi Manuscript of Istanbul, Turkey. Both were written on parchment and in the Kufic script. Modern Quranic experts, including Martin Lings and Yasin Hamid Safadi, agree that the Kufic script did not appear until 790 AD and later. So, these two books have the remote possibility of being one of Uthmanic books.
According to some scholars, if the Quran had been composed in the seventh century, it should have been written in either the 'Ma'il' or 'Mashq' script. There is one Quran in the British Library in London that was written in the 'Ma'il' script and it is believed to be the oldest Quran in our possession today. However, Martin Lings, a practicing Muslim and the former curator for the manuscript of the British Library, certified that the Quran in question dates back to the end of the eighth century.
Several Islamic countries claim to have the 'Uthmanic' Quran in their possession but none of them have been verified or have been carbon dated-14, known as the AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) test. In this special type of test, a mere 0.5 to 1.0 mg of material is required and the accuracy of the test may vary only for a few years. However, the idea of having the Quran tested is an uncomfortable and embarrassing situation for the faithful (more accurately faith-fools) of Islam.
To the best of my knowledge, none of these Uthmanic Qurans have any publishing date and Muslims have not claimed any. This is not a Quranic miracle but the usual Quranic stupidity. Wouldn't it be convenient for everyone if any of these Qurans had the name of the publisher and when was it published?
Now back to the fragility of the Quran...
How should Muslims handle the Quran?
They must, before touching the Quran, do 19 sit-ups, 19 pull-ups and 19 squats, since 19 is the miraculous number of the Quran.
On a serious note, Muslims cannot touch the Quran unless they have cleansed themselves. They don't go inside of a washer and a dryer but they are required to wash their face, hands and feet, as if a surgeon is preparing for a surgery. Muslims not only handle the Quran like a broken piece of glass; they expect and sometimes force the people of other faiths or no faith to respect their holy book, too.
The concept of secularism and religious tolerance flourished in un-Islamic countries. Most of these countries did not compromise with religion while drafting their constitution; humanity took precedence over religious dogmas. In the contrary, Islamic countries tend to make their laws based on the Quran; specifically, oil-rich countries care less about democracy.
Some Islamic countries have shown an interest in democracy and religious tolerance, only because they have no choice but must deal with the rest of the Kafir world, whose economic influence is prominent. Should Islamic countries become powerful today, they will immediately revert back to the seventh century, make Islam the only religion of the state, and treat the people of all other faiths with humiliation. The best example is Saudi Arabia, where carrying a Bible is as hazardous as kissing a rattlesnake.
Islam does not tolerate other religions and the Quran clearly calls for ethnic cleansing until Islam becomes the religion for everyone (Q9:29). However, professors of Islam, living in the West, are working hard to portray a rosy Islam, far from the actual Islam taught by Mohammad. Ironically, many politically correct politicians fall in this trap very easily.
In the USA, the House of Representatives brought a resolution on May 19, 2005, which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. All of the eight items were targeted to protect Islam and its horrendous holy book, the Quran. Let's ponder two of those topics that directly relate to the Quran.
1 Expressing the
sense of the House of Representatives condemning bigotry and
religious intolerance, and recognizing that holy books of every
religion should be treated with dignity and respect.
2 Whereas the Quran is the holy book for Muslims who recite passages from it in prayer and learn valuable lessons about peace, humanity, and spirituality.
1. Our learned lawmakers forgot one very important part of life - respect cannot be enforced, it only can be earned. If the Quran does not have enough material to deserve respect, no law will make people bow to it.
One must believe in the Quran to respect this book; being a non-believer of the Quran makes it impossible to comply. The Quran has repeatedly confirmed that non-Muslims will burn in hell and it also calls a non-Muslim a pervert (63:4), evil (2:99), an enemy (4:101), ignorant (6:111), wicked (9:125), a liar (59:11,9:107,16:39) and a miscreant (24:55). Muslims are prohibited from obeying (33:1) or helping (28:86) a disbeliever; they are not even allowed to pray for a dead non-Muslim (9:84). Is the Quran showing respect to non-Muslims?
Respect does not grow like a mushroom. How could a sane person possibly respect the Quran after reading all of these violent and intolerant verses? Osama Bin Laden wants the destruction of America. Should we pass a resolution, too, respecting this evil? Sure, why not? Let's be tolerant!
Picture this scenario--Osama Bin Laden is caught and he is brought to justice. In a packed courtroom, the defense lawyer is shouting, "My client is not guilty, your honor." Raising a Quran with his right hand, he argues, "This is the sacred and holy book of Islam that has been recognized by law. My client was merely following the instruction of this book. How could we possibly prosecute him?"
2. It is the holy book for Muslims and they also recite verses in their prayer but they are definitely not seeking peace, humanity and spirituality. The question is what kind of valuable lesson do they learn? Here's a piece of 'peace' from the Quran: "And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors" (Q2;193). So, Muslims are ordered to continue fighting until religion is only for Allah and that is exactly what pious Muslims are doing. How can peace be obtained with this type of attitude?
When Islam talks about humanity, it basically refers to Muslims because Islam does not acknowledge the people of other faiths as human. Muslims are the best creatures on earth and everyone else is either an ape or a swine (5:60). Is cutting the hands of a thief a symbol of humanity (5:38)?
Just to be fair, I admit there are some good verses in the Quran; the total number of which may not exceed 100 out of an approximate 6,226 verses (Muslims scholars fight over the actual number of verses)--a mere 0.02% percent of the whole Quran. These good verses mostly talk about paying alms to the poor, respecting one's parents, etc., and nothing intriguing. We don't need the Quran to teach these types of ordinary religious values. Anyone with common sense would know how to respect and treat other humans. More importantly, these verses imply only Muslims because the Quran has a different prescription for un-believers of Islam.
I don't know about spirituality but Muslims do have ample spirit to blow up the world. A quick search of Islamic news in the world would suffice to prove it. Many Muslims recite verses because they are programmed to do so without understanding what they are reading. However, those who comprehend the meaning stay tuned with mainstream Islam, which is full of hate and prejudice.
Probably, it would have been more reasonable for Muslims to ask for special treatment of the Quran as an entertainment book. This book is not only the mother of all horror books, it also has amusing verses, such as shooting missiles to kill devils (67:5), a talking palm-tree (19:24) or cleaning a face with a dart (4:43). And finally, Allah's promise to turn Christians and Jews into apes if they don't believe in the Quran (2:65-66, then see 4:47). So far, Christians and Jews have been lucky but who knows when Allah's curse will materialize!!!!
I do understand the good intention of goodhearted lawmakers. They are striving for harmony and social integrity, which is, essentially, uncommon in Islam. A practicing Muslim/ Muslimah, follower of the Quran, must eat 'halal' meat, is forbidden to do banking with a traditional bank, cannot marry a non-Muslim male, must wear the hijab/burqa and, above all, must hate all non-Muslims.
Islam, a totalitarian ideology, changes its color depending on the situation. It plays an innocent baby's role when weak but it makes a fatal bite when it becomes strong. Muhammad made several treaties with various tribes when he was weak but broke all of them, making silly excuses. Those who believe that Islam can be reformed deserve appreciation for their saintly gesture but they definitely don't live in a real world.
It's time for banning the Quran instead of protecting it. A book, which is an insult to humanity, must not have any place in a civilized society.