Review: The Koran, translated by N. J. Dawood

Reading the Koran is a bit like a trip into a religious Twilight Zone. Here we have a “prophet” (Muhammad) insisting that all accept his “revelation” from “God” and submit themselves to him. This “prophet,” however, rather frequently contradicts himself and, though he claims to be a line of continuity with the various prophets who came before him, contradicts these previous revelations as well. Even when he does, it seems, agree with the previous revelations, Muhammad’s “God” terribly muddles these revelations (as in the conflation of the stories of David, Saul, and Gideon in Surah 2), evincing roughly the same knowledge of them as would, say, an illiterate Arab merchant who was interested in biblical stories but not especially knowledgeable on religion.

Those who do not believe in Muhammad’s “revelations,” says the Koran, will suffer horrible torments in “the Fire” of Hell while God, the angels, and those in Paradise hurl insults and mockery at them. “God,” however, refuses to provide any of even the slightest evidence why anyone should believe in his “revelations,” even while providing a great deal of evidence (contradictions and muddling previously mentioned) against said “revelations.”

Even more disturbing is that none of this matters in the least anyway because this “God” is in absolute and total control. Everything is subject to an arbitrary Will of God who insists (ad nauseam) that he is “forgiving” and “merciful” while gleefully condemning the vast majority of mankind to an eternity of torture. As the Koran insists over and over, it is God who has determined already who will go to Paradise and who will go to Hell, and he so guides each set of people throughout their lives. This is a truly terrifying vision of a world turned upside down.

In the end, I am forced by my own reading of the Koran to conclude, as did the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, that if you “show me just what Muhammad brought that was new … there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” There is nothing original in the Koran aside from a vision of a sadist “God” who looks forward with eager anticipation to the time when he can dump the vast majority of his rational creatures into a burning bit. Everything that is of value in Muhammad’s teachings is derived from Judaism and from Christianity. To be honest, it is difficult to understand how this book became the civilization-creating monument that it did indeed become.

2 thoughts on “Review: The Koran, translated by N. J. Dawood”

  1. “God,” however, refuses to provide any of even the slightest evidence why anyone should believe in his “revelations”

    But isn’t truth supposed to be self-evident ? 🙂

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