Tag Archives: Quran

Qur’an 26: The Poets

“The Poets,” the twenty-sixth chapter of the Qur’an, directly addresses the previous chapter, “The Criterion.” In “The Criterion” you are expected to the a Prophet of God, and to elaborate the Book, the logos, in your “criterion.” But what happens when others ignore the way you point to God, and mock the book of your life?

Readings

Entrance Antiphon:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
Matthew 23:37

A reading, from the Book of Genesis:

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth. For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.” And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him. Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth.
Genesis 7:1-6

Alleluia, Hallelujah

On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark
Genesis 7:13

Alleluia, Alleluia

A reading, from the Second Letter of St. Peter:

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment
2 Peter 2:4-9

A reading, from the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew

Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:

“Woe to you, Chorazin!

Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”
Matthew 11:20-24

Communion Antiphon

Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.
Exodus 14:31

A Qur’anic Homily

While addressed to a specifically Arab-speaking audience, the twenty-sixth chapter of the Qur’an continues to speak directly to you, the reader. The Holy Spirit continues to speak to you, as it speak to your ancestors and the great figures of the Bible:

This is indeed sent down by the Lord of all the worlds, brought down by a Trustworthy Spirit upon your heart (so that you may be one of the warners), in a clear Arabic language. It is indeed in the scriptures of the ancients.
Qur’an 26:192-196

Catholics concerned about the Universal Call of Holiness may face despair at all those who seem totally deaf to holiness. Likewise, the Universal Call to Prophethood found in the Qur’an’s twenty-fifth chapter can lead to despair over those who not only do not join in the universal call, but who are deaf to the resulting signs pointing to God.

You are liable to imperil your life that they will not have faith.
Qur’an 26:3

But the results of prophecy — whether others actually listen or not — is up to God, not the prophet. You, as a prophet, do not have the power to compel obedience or worship. God can do all things as He wants. For you, responding to the Call is enough.

If We Wish, We will send down to them a sign from the heavens before which their heads will remain bowed in humility. There does not come to them any new reminder from the All-beneficent but that they disregard it. They have already impugned, but soon there will come to them at the news of what they have been deriding.
Qur’an 26:4-6

Indeed, the twenty-sixth chapter of the Qur’an includes six summaries of prophets, both biblical (Moses to Egypt, Abraham to the Chaldeans, Noah to his antediluvian people, Lot to Sodom) and otherwise (Salih to Thamud, Shu’ayb to Aykah), each of which are described as following this pattern.

The universal call to prophethood gives each individually a mandate to ensure the book of their lives — their “Criterion” — points to God. You have a duty to protect those you listen to you to the best of your ability. But do not despair of those who reject your righteous signs.

Warn the nearest of your kinsfolk, and lower your wing to the faithful who follow you. But if they disobey you, say, “I am absolved of what you do.” And put your trust in the Almighty, the All-Merciful, who sees you when you stand, and your going out about among those who prostrate.
Quran 26:214-219

By doing so you will be writing a book of your life within the logos — elaborating the Book in daily living — and thus prophet. The opposite fate is to be writing a book that is outside the logos, and elaborates something different than the Book. These “poets” ultimately channel ideas from devils:

Shall I inform you on whom the devils descend? They descend on every sinful liar. They eavesdrop and most of them are liars. As for hte poets, the perverse follow them. Have you not regarded that they rove in every valley and that they say what they do not do?
Qur’an 26:221-226

An Example

The archetypal imagery of Light and Water, order and chaos, are repeated in the life of every prophet.

Have they not regarded the earth, how many of every splendid kind We have caused to grow in it? There is indeed a sign in that; but most of them do not have faith. Indeed, your Lord is the All-Mighty, the All-Merciful.
Qur’an 26:7-9

But so is the narrative. Within “The Poets” the most detailed example is of Moses, but every poet in his own life lives the same drama. Obeying God and starting on a heroic path:

So approach Pharaoh and say, “We are indeed envoys of the Lord of the worlds, that you let the Children of Israel leave with us.”
Qur’an 26:16

Rapidly leads to a reminder of your weakness and your past missteps:

He said, “Did we not rear you as a child among us, and did you not stay with us for years of your life? Then you committed that deed of yours, and you are an ingrate.”
Qur’an 26:17

God, in His greatness, may send a sign:

Moses said to them, “Throw down whatever you have to throw!” So they threw down their sticks and ropes, and said, “By the might of Pharaoh, we shall surely be victors!”

Thereat Moses threw down his staff, and behold, it was swallowing what they had faked.
Qur’an 26:43-45

Which — for a few, at least — maybe persuasive:

Thereat the magicians fell down prostrating. They said, “We believe int he Lord of all the worlds, the Lord of Moses and Aaron.”
Qur’an 26:46-48

But often enough, ignored by the person we think we are there to prophecy to:

He said, “Did you believe him before I should permit you? He is indeed your chief who has taught you magic! Soon you will know! I will cut off your hands and feet form opposite sides, and I will crucify you all.”
Qur’an 26:49

Our good deeds, once more leading to insults and humiliations:

Then Pharaoh sent heralds to the cities: “These are indeed a small band. They have aroused our wrath, and we are alert.”
Qur’an 26:53-55

But have patience. God works wonders in His time, not yours.

Thereupon We revealed to Moses: “Strike the sea with your staff!” Whereupon it parted, and each part was as if it were a great mountain. There, We brought the others near, and We delivered Moses and all those who were with him. Then We drowned the rest.
Qur’an 26:63-66

These patterns repeat over and over, in the Scriptures and without, in Arabia and without, in your life and in your years and months and days. They repeat endlessly.

Until the last day.

Conclusion

The twenty-sixth chapter of the Qur’an, “The Poets,” examines the consequences of responding to the universal call to prophethood. Your life is a book, the criterion by which you will be judged. It is a Book of the Lord, or merely a book of poetry. If it is a Book of the Lord, have patience. God could show dazzling signs and wonders to all who reject you if He wished. Your prophethood is not wanted because God needs a prophet — Your prophethood is wanted because God is all-good, and prophecy points to the good. If the book of your life is not a Book of the Lord — if it is merely a book of poetry inspired by devils — well, you will see how it ends soon enough.

Qur’an 25: The Criterion

The twenty-fifth chapter of the Qur’an, “The Criterion” contains a universal call to prophethood.  “The Criterion” contrasts blasphemy and prophecy — blasphemers and prophets differ in how they relate to the Logos, or in Qur’anic terminology, the Book. Blasphemers are unable to do anything outside the Logos (outside the Book), even though they call themselves “gods.” Prophets, following the sign of Jesus and Mary, are called to spread the good news to all nations. To the extent you allow your actions to be guided by God’s Spirit you are a prophet, and The Criterion is your elaboration of the Logos in this world.

Readings

Entrance antiphon:

For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:21

A reading, from the Book of Numbers

Then the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, “Go back to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” So he came to him, and there he was, standing by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab were with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the Lord spoken?”

Then he took up his oracle and said:

“Rise up, Balak, and hear!
Listen to me, son of Zippor!

“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Behold, I have received a command to bless;
He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.”
Numbers 23:16-20

A Psalm, from the Psalms:

Let all be put to shame who serve carved images, Who boast of idols.
Worship Him, all you gods.

Zion hears and is glad,
And the daughters of Judah rejoice
Because of Your judgments, O Lord.

For You, Lord, are most high above all the earth;
You are exalted far above all gods.
Psalms 97:7-9

A reading, from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
1 Corinthians 14:1-5

Alleluia, Alleluia

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 28:19

Alleluia, Alleluia

A reading, from the Holy Gospel According to Matthew:

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
Matthew 10:1-10

Communion antiphon

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Revelation 1:3

A Qur’anic Homily

Briefly, the Qur’anic author describes a number of Prophets, and the written works they were given. The phrase “We gave—,” when attributed to angels, can apply to…

Moses and the Book:

Certainly We gave Moses the Book and followed him with the apostles, and We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proofs and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit. Is it not that whenever an apostle brought you that which was not to your liking, you would act arrogantly; so you would impugn a group, and slave a group?
Qur’an 2:57-58

Other Prophets the Book:

And We gave [Abraham] Isaac and Jacob and guided each of them. And Noah We had guided before, and from his offspring David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron — thus do we reward the virtuous — and Zechariah, John, Jesus, and Elijah — each of them among the righteous — Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot – each We preferred over all the nations — and from among their fathers, descendants and brethren — We chose them and guided them to a straight path.

That is God’s guidance: with it He guides whomever He wishes of His servants. But were they to ascribe any partners, what they used to do would not avail them.

They are the ones whom We gave the Book, the judgment, and the prophethood. So if these disbelieve in them, We have certainly entrusted them to a people who will never disbelieve in them. They are the ones whom God has guided. So follow their guidance.
Qur’an 6:85-90

Then We gave Moses the Book, completing on him who is virtuous, and as an elaboration of all things, and as guidance and mercy, so that they may believe in the encounter with their Lord.

David and the Psalms:

Your Lord knows best whoever is in the heavens and the earth. Certainly We gave some prophets an advantage over the others, and We gave David the Psalms.
Qur’an 17:55

And Christ the Gospel:

We followed them with Jesus Son of Mary to confirm that which was before him of the Torah, and We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light, confirming what was before it of the Torah, and as guidance and advice for the Godwary.

Let the people of the Gospel judge by what God has sent down in it. Those who do not judge by what God has sent down — it is they who are the transgressors.
Qur’an 5:45-47

As St. John calls he who reads and hear prophecy “blessed,” so is the Logos itself Blessed. For all right words come from the Logos, and all right hearing is the hearing of the Logos, and all mercy is in the Logos:

And this Book We have sent down is a blessed one; so follow it and be Godwary so that you may receive mercy.
Qur’an 6:154-155

This is the context for the unknown prophet and his Criterion. God is known through the Logos, and the Logos (in an elaboration of the Book which is not the Torah, or Psalms, or Gospel, but something else) is sent down to an unnamed prophet in a work called the Criterion.

Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion to His servant that he may be a warner to all the nations.
Qur’an 25:1

The phrase “all the nations” seems reserved for Jesus and Mary in the Qur’an, meaning the unnamed prophet is associated somehow with bringing the Christ and the Virgin into the world:

And her who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and made her and her Son a sign for all the nations.
Qur’an 21:91

The identity of this prophet and his elaboration of the Book, the Criterion, is the dramatic tension that drives the opening of this chapter. So what do we know about the Prophet?

The Identity of the Prophet

The Prophet is embodied — he buys and sells. He is vulnerable to persecution — he does not have any visible angelic protection. He is limited as all men are limited — he does not possess unlimited wealth:

And they say, “What sort of apostle is this who eats food and walks in the marketplaces? Why has not an angel been sent down to him so as to be a warner along with him? Or why is not a fortune given to him, or does he have a garden from which he may eat?’ And the wrongdoers say, ‘You are just following a bewitched man.”
Qur’an 25:7-8

The prophet preaches to those who need conversion:

He was indeed about to lead us astray from our gods, had we not stood firm by them.” Soon they will know, when they sign the punishment, who is further astray from the Way.”
Qur’an 25:42

People will mock the prophet…

When they see you, they just take you in derision: “Is this the one whom God has sent as an apostle?!”
Qur’an 25:41

And if you need to re-read the above sentence: the prophet is you, insofar as you spread the good news of salvation and warm others of the wages of sin:

We did not send you except as a bearer of good news and warner. Say, “I do not ask you any reward for it, except that anyone who wishes should take the way to his Lord.
Qur’an 25:56-57

You and the Bishops and God

The Qur’anic authors views of the the Christ’s commissions to his disciples is much closer to the Presbyterian or Unitarian perspectives than to the Catholic one. The Qur’anic author clearly does not see a role for apostolic succession and does not believe Christ is establish it. Rather, Christ’s commissioning of the apostles is a type of the Holy Spirit commissioning men after Pentecost.

A notable difference int he Qur’anic authors terminology, as opposed to the early Protestant Reformers, is the use of “Prophet” as opposed to “Saint” to describe a follower of the Logos. The Qur’an presents the Logos as a passive Book to be read, rather than a an active Man united with God, so the prophetic rather than saintly aspects of a godwary Logos-follower are emphasized.

Thus, those who point away from God are basically anti-prophets, taking gods who are not God. Without God and His Logos these fake gods (and there was a species of bishop at the time who called themselves “gods”) are only men without the ability to truly destroy or create. (As with Reformation-era Presbyterians and Unitarians, the Qur’anic author is rather obsessed with the Catholic hierarchy.)

Yet they have taken gods besides Him who create nothing and have themselves been created, and who have no control over their own harm or benefit, and have neither control over death, nor life, nor resurrection.
Qur’an 25:3

Also like the Presbyterians and Unitarians of the Protestant Reformation, the Qur’anic author emphasizes the value of prophecy and ministry, against the Catholic view of office. Aaron’s role as the first High Priest is minimized, his personal role as a minister is emphasized:

Certainly We gave Moses the Book and We made Aaron, his brother, accompany him as a minister. Then We said, “let the two of you go to the people who have impugned Our signs.” Then We destroyed them utterly.
Qur’an 25:36-37

The “false gods” (the bishops) and the the “prophets” (the godwary) are both men. The Qur’anic authors emphasis of the incarnate nature of the bishops does not by itself deny their divine mandate, but does serve to emphasize that at best a bishop can point the way to God, but should not be taken for a God Himself:

Have you seen him who has taken his desire to be his god? It is your duty to watch over him?
Qur’an 25:43-44

The Justification of the Prophet by Works

The prophet — that is you — should not despair at the lack of conversion of the powerful. God will judge them in time. God will decide which of them are god-fearing and which are not. Judgment is reserved to God, even from those who are made to be prophets:

On the day that He will muster them and those whom they worship besides God, He will say, ‘Was it you who lead astray these servants of Mine, or did they themselves tray from the Way?’ They will say, ‘Immaculate are You! It does not behoove us to take any master in Your stead! But You provided for them and their fathers until they forgot the Reminder, and they were a ruined lot.”
Qur’an 25:17-18

They mock you as they do not see your guardian angel. But they will not be mocking when they do see the angles.

The day they will see the angels, there will be no good news for the guilty on that day, and they will say, “Keep off!” Then We shall attend to the works they have done and turn them into scattered dust.
Qur’an 25:22-23

Yet in at least one way the Qur’anic author would have been uncomfortable with the Protestant Reformers: his focus on the importance of good works. The righteous “prophets” are defined their actions, from social actions such as saying “Peace” to their manner of prayer:

The servants of the All-beneficent are those who walk humbly on the earth, and when the ignorant address them, say “Peace!” Those who spend the night for their Lord, prostrating and standing. Those who say, “our Lord! Turn away from us the punishment of hell. Its punishment is indeed enduring. It is indeed an evil station and abode.
Qur’an 25:63-66

Belief and action are not taken as separate things in the Qur’an, but as a unity. For instance, the right prayer itself is a work. The Qur’anic author does not make salvation as easy as a question of belief, but nor is it physically impossible for any accomplish:

And those who say, “Our Lord! Give us joy and comfort in our spouses and offspring, and make us leaders of the godwary.” Those shall be rewarded with sublime abodes for their patience sand steadfastness, and they shall be met there with greetings and peace, to abide in them, an excellent station and abode.
Qur’an 25:74-76

A Prophet, not a “God”

Unlike the bishops who during the Roman period say themselves as temporal rulers, the ruler of this world (According to the Qur’anic author) is clearly God: God organized the cosmos…

It is He who merged the two seas: this one sweet and agreeable, and that one briny and bitter, and between the two He set a barrier and a forbidding hindrance.
Qur’an 25:53

along the lines described by St. Ephrem the Syrian

The upper waters, because they had been separated on the second day from the lower waters by the firmament set between them, were also sweet like the lower waters. (The upper waters are not those that became salty in the seas on the third day.)
St Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis

God uses water to bring the dead to life:

And it is He who sends the winds as harbingers of His mercy, and We send down from the sky purifying water, with which We revive a dead country and provide water to many of the cattle and humans We have created.
Qur’an 25:48-49

And even water to create the first life:

It is He who created the human being from water, then invested him with ties of blood and marriage, and your Lord is all-powerful.
Qur’an 25:54

It is God, and not man, who placed the lights in the sky: For as these lights help man to know the night from the day, but cannot create themselves, so a prophet is a boon to his fellow man, but is not a god to be worshiped by him:

Blessed is He who appointed houses in the heavens and set in it a lamp and a shining moon. It is He who made the night and the day alternate for someone who desires to take admonition, or desires to give thanks.
Qur’an 25:61-62

Conclusion

The Criterion is the work of your life, you are the prophet who hears the Book from the Spirit. Does your prophecy point to God or to seductive idols? Do you look ahead to a house with many mansions, or to an evil abode in hell?

Qur’an 24: The Light

The twenty-fourth chapter of the Qur’an, “The Light,” uses mythic language to describe God and Christ in an Arian cosmology. God is a Light, and Christ (according to the Qur’anic author) a lamp who held the light upon a Tree, allowing it to shine to the world. The Light is known to the world through Water (a feminine, passive medium, and a type of Mary), through which The Light created the world. . The ideal life of the faithful is to be like pure water, receiving God and making Him known to the world.

Readings

Entrance Antiphon:

The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, she profanes her father. She shall be burned with fire.
Leviticus 21:9

A reading, from the Book of Genesis:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3

A Psalm, from the Psalms:

Sing to God, sing praises to His name;
Extol Him who rides on the clouds,
By His name YAH,
And rejoice before Him.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

O God, when You went out before Your people,
When You marched through the wilderness, Selah
The earth shook;
The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Psalms 68:4-8

A reading, from the Second Letter of St. Peter:

And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit…

But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.

These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
2 Peter 1:19-21,2:12-17

Alleluia, Alleluia

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

Alleluia, Alleluia

A Reading, from the Holy Gospel According to John:

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them…

Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
John 12:35-36,42-46

Communion Antiphon

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:17

A Qur’anic Homily

This is a chapter of signs, of symbols that point to the Way. You have to read and understand the sign. But with advice from God, and the clarity that comes from God, the meaning of these symbols should be clear. God is the source of knowledge and wisdom and, by understanding the signs in this chapter, you can grow in these things.

God advises you should you ever repeat the like of it, if you are faithful. God clarifies the signs for you, and God is all-knowing, all-wise.
Qur’an 24:17-18

The Signs of Light and Water

Consider the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the Spirit was over the Waters, and there was Light. As St. Ephrem the Syrian, a Doctor of the Catholic Church, wrote:

It was through light, then, and through water that the earth brought forth everything. Even though God was able to bring forth everything from the earth without these things, it was His will to show that there was nothing that was created on earth that was not created for the purpose of man or for his service.
St. Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis, c. AD 350

Remember the meekest, the most humble, the most passive, the most feminine part of this primordial creation: the Water

God created every animal from water. Among them are some that creep upon their bellies, and among them are some that walk on two feet, and among them are some that walk on four. God creates whatever He wishes. Indeed, God has power over all things.
Qur’an 24:45

The Waters is not a Creatrix because she is more powerful than God. The Waters is not a Mediatrix out of her own power. The special place of the Waters is in receiving the Spirit, and joining her heart to His. In the Qur’an the ideal human female — Mary — is contrasted against the false male ideal of the Bishop.

Femininity without the Logos is chaos that can never be light.

Masculinity and femininity are paired, and (in the Qur’anic view) methods of God revealing himself through the Logos, the Book: Vicious masculinity earns the response of vicious femininity, but we know God through orderly wisdom within the Book. Masculinity within the Logos is responded to by femininity within the Logos:

Vicious women are for vicious men, and vicious men for vicious women. Good women are for good men, and good men for good women. These are absolved of what they say. For them is forgiveness and a noble provision.
Qur’an 24:26

The limits of Gods love is only an individual’s ability to accept it. The only masculine response to chaos — femininity without the Logos — would be tyranny, and not God’s loving command of “Light.” The only right response to tyranny — masculinity without the Logos — would be chaos.

As for the fornicatress and the fornicator, strike each of them a hundred lashes, and let no pity for them overcome you in God’s law if you believe in God and the Last Day, and let their punishment be witnessed by a group of the faithful.
Qur’an 24:2

But we know God within the Logos – in Qur’anic terms, the Book, and He responds to a sliver of order with graceful wisdom, and a sliver of wisdom with merciful order:

Were it not for God’s grace and His mercy upon you in this world and the Hereafter, there would have befallen you a great punishment for what you ventured into.
Qur’an 24:13

Marry off those who are single among you, and the upright among your male and female slaves. If they are poor, God will enrich them out of His bounty, and God is all-bounteous, all-knowing.
Qur’an 24:32

The Sign of the Clouds

Look up in the sky, and you may see another sign sent by God, to remind you of the beginning: Light and water, mixed together in the Clouds. A dark cloud, without light, is foreboding and a great danger. Light without water is too bright to bare, one would die in the radiant summer of eternal sunshine. But for us creatures, light and water, held by the breathe of God in the sky, allow life to thrive. But light and water can be a reminder of the power of God too — hailstorms and lightning:

Have you not regarded that God drives the clouds, then He composes them, then He piles them up, whereat you see the rain issuing form their midst? And He sends down hail from the sky, out of the mountains that are in it, and He strikes with it whomever He wishes and turns it away from whomever He wishes. The brilliance of its flashes almost take away the sight.
Qur’an 24:43

It’s important to remember that Water, if not for Light, would become darker and darker, and fold in on itself. All life is created by Light and Water, the formlessness and chaos of Water without Light is not a condemnation of water, but a reminder of Water’s need for Light to produce life.

Or like the manifold darkness in a deep sea, covered by billows upon billow, overcast by clouds; manifold darkness one on top of another: when he brings out his hand, he can hardly see it. One whom God has not granted any light has no light.
Qur’an 24:40

But it is not God’s will that we know Him without Water — without Darkness.

God alternates the night and the day. There is indeed a lesson in that for those who have insight.
Qur’an 24:44

The Sign of the Light and the Tree

Consider the Tree of Olives, at the very center of the world. On this Tree is a lamp which holds the Light. On this tree is a Light that signs like a star. A tree on the very edge of turning into flames, but a Tree that is protected from all burning. This Tree is Light Upon Light.

If the meaning of this isn’t clear, the Qur’anic author spells this parable out in the first words: God is the light.

God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp — the lamp is in a glass — the glass as if it were a glittering star — lit from a blessed olive trees, neither eastern nor western, whose oil almost lights up, though fire should not touch it. Light upon light, God guides to His Light whomever He wishes. God draws parables for mankind, and God has knowledge of all things.
Qur’an 24:35

But this is not Nicene Christianity. The Son is not Water, but nor is He Light itself. Instead we have the Light, through a Lamp, through Glass, shines. This is a ordering of the Trinity — Father, Spirit, and Son (and thus the processional priority of the Spirit over the Son) also found in other places in the Qur’an:

They question you concerning the Spirit. Say, ‘The Spirit is the Word of my Lord, and you have not been given of the knowledge except a few.’
Qur’an 17:85

And in ancient Christian writing:

God caused that holy, pre-existent Spirit which created all things to dwell in a body which he chose. The body into which that holy Spirit was placed served the Spirit, walking rightly and purely in humbleness, never defiling that Spirit. The body obeyed that holy Spirit at all times, laboring rightly and virtuously with Him and not faltering in any way. That wearied body served in humility, but was mightily approved to god with the Holy Spirit, and was accepted by Him. This courageous course pleased God because e was not defiled in the earth but kept the Spirit holy. Therefore He called His Son and the glorious angels as fellow councilors, so that this body might be given a place of honor — since it had served the Holy Spirit blamelessly — and that it would not seem to have lost the reward of its service. For the body in which the Holy Spirit dwelt that has been found without spot of defilement will receive a reward.
The Shepherd of Hermas, “The Fifth Parable”

The Qur’anic then immediately transitions from this parable to an observable reality: monasteries. Relative to God all souls are feminine, because He is active and generating while we are receptive and receiving. The Spirit works through us, not us through the Spirit. The most virtuous mate of any soul is God, we are the water through which He is made known on the earth.

In houses God has allowed to be raised and wherein His Name is celebrated, He is glorified therein, morning and evening, by men whom neither trade nor bargaining distracts from the remembrance of God and the maintenance of prayer and the giving of alms. They are fearful of a day wherein the hearts and the sights will be transformed, so that God may reward them by the best of what they have done and enhance them out of His grace, and God provides for whomever He wishes without any reckoning.
Qur’an 24:36-38

You are Like Water to Light

You are the Water, the appropriated beloved of the Light. The Water makes the Light known, as an Apostle makes God.

One of the most common phrases in the Qur’an is “This is the Book,” — that is, “This is the Logos.” In Qur’anic theology any person who reads The Book (whether the Torah, or the Psalms, or the Gospels, or the Qur’an itself) is a prophet, and apostle, someone who repeats the word of God in human words.

You know what to do. You know what God wants. So command yourself, and do it.

All the response of the faithful, when they are summoned to God and His Apostle that He may judge between them, is to say, ‘We hear and obey.’ It is they who will be felicitous.
Qur’an 24:51

The Qur’anic author (foreshadowing not just centuries of protestant thought, but St Augustine) that Bishops are not mediators or “partners” of God. Worship God, don’t call creatures “god,” have faith, do good works, and you will inherit the earth:

God has promised those of you who have faith and do righteous deeds that He will surely make them successors in the earth, just as He made those who were before them successors, and He will surely establish for them their religion which He has approved for them, and that He will surely change their state to security after their fear, while they worship Me, not ascribing any partners to Me. Whoever is ungrateful after that — it is they who are the transgressors.
Qur’an 24:53-55

The cross that you carry — to the Qur’anic author — is your own. God has sent Signs to show you what to do, and to the Qur’anic author Jesus himself is a sign. You have no helper except God, and no worker for your soul except yourself:

Say, ‘Obey God and obey the Apostle.’ But if you turn your backs, he is only responsible for his burden, and you are responsible for your own burden, and if you obey him, you will be guided, and the Apostle’s duty is only to communicate in clear terms.
Qur’an 24:54

And the terms are, to the Qur’anic author, as clear as can be. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Give alms to the poor. Obey the words you know that you have spoken. And God will have mercy on you.takes

Maintain the prayer and give alms, and obey the Apostle so that you may receive mercy.
Qur’an 24:56

Conclusion

“The Light” describes Creation as ongoing, with The Light working through Water to be known. At the beginning this was the Deep, at the Incarnation she was Mary. The ideal for the believers is the monastery, where the Light that shone from the Cross is praised and remembered.

Qur’an 23: The Faithful

The twenty-third chapter of the Qur’an, The Faithful, re-iterates the attacks on the Catholic episcopacy in “Mary” and deepens themes found in “The Pilgrimage” (which still seems like it should be ordered as the last chapter). “The Faithful” is explicitly addressed to a population, that believes in God, that worships ‘gods,’ that believes there is some-kind of promise of salvation, but that it is unavailable to them. The Qur’an urges followers to repent directly to God, and go on a journey toward faith.

Noah speaks, and a new creation waits to be born. # Readings

A Reading, from the First Book of Enoch:

And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’ And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.’ Then swore they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And these are the names of their leaders: Samlazaz, their leader, Araklba, Rameel, Kokablel, Tamlel, Ramlel, Danel, Ezeqeel, Baraqijal, Asael, Armaros, Batarel, Ananel, Zaq1el, Samsapeel, Satarel, Turel, Jomjael, Sariel. These are their chiefs of tens.
1 Enoch 6:1-8

A Psalm, from the Psalms

Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His word,
But complained in their tents,
And did not heed the voice of the LORD.
Therefore He raised His hand in an oath against them,
To overthrow them in the wilderness,
To overthrow their descendants among the nations,
And to scatter them in the lands.

They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor,
And ate sacrifices made to the dead.
Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
And the plague broke out among them.
Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
And the plague was stopped.
And that was accounted to him for righteousness
To all generations forevermore.
Psalms 106:24-31

A Reading, from the Book of Jude:

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ…

These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Jude 4,12-15

Alleluia, Alleluia

Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Hebrews 7:27

Alleluia, Alleluia

A Reading, from the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew

And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast.

And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that you say this, when you see how high the palm tree is; and that you think of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle.

Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend your branches, and refresh my mother with your fruit.

And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who had commanded it to stoop.

Then Jesus said to it: Raise yourself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from your roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from you.

And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God.
Pseudo-Matthew 20

Communion Antiphon

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus
1 Timothy 2:5

A Qur’anic Homily

The Audience of the Qur’an

The Qur’an was written to a population that believed in God, was familiar with the Bible, were tempted by other ‘gods,’ and thought that death was the end.

They believed in God

Say, To whom does the earth and whoever it contains belong, if you know? They will say, ‘To God!’ Say, ‘Will you not then take admonition?

Say, ‘Who is the Lord of the Seven Heavens and the Lord of the Great Throne? They will say, ‘To God!’ Say, ‘Will you not then be wary of him? ‘

Say, ‘In whose hand is the dominion of all things, and who gives shelter and no shelter can be provided form Him, if you know?’ They will say, ‘To God!” Say, ‘Then how are you being deluded?’
Qur’an 23:84-89

Were familiar with the Bible:

Certainly We created man from an extract of clay.

Then we made him a drop of fluid in a secure abode.

Then We created the drop of fluid as a clinging mass.

Then We created the clinging mass as a fleshy tissue.

Then We created the fleshy tissue as bones.

Then We Clothed the bones with flesh.

Then We produced him as another creature.

So blessed is God, the best of creators!

Then, of course, you die after that.

Then you will indeed be raised up on the Day of Resurrection.
Qur’an 23:12-16

Were tempted by other gods:

We have indeed brought them the Truth and they are surely liars. God has not taken any offspring, neither is there any god besides Him, for then each god would take away what he created, and some of them would surely rise up against others. Clear is God of what they allege! The Knower of the sensible and the Unseen, He is above having any partners that they ascribe.
Qur’an 23:90-92

And believed death was the end:

Indeed, they say, just like what the former peoples said. They said, ‘What, when we are dead and become dust and bones, shall we be resurrected? Certainly we and our fathers were promised this before. These are nothing but myths of the ancients.
Qur’an 23:81-83

The reason, I believe, was the Qur’an was written to a Catholic population in the thrall of a forged document that borders on the heretical: the so-called Constitution of the Holy Apostles. This forged Constitution reflected the belief that the Bishops mediated the relationship between God and man, and the Old Testament Priests pointed, not towards Christ, but beyond him to the Bishops.

The bishop, is the minister of the word, the keeper of knowledge, the mediator between God and you in the several parts of the worship. He is the teacher of piety; and, next after God, he is your father, who has begotten you again to the adoption of sons by water and the Spirit. He is your ruler and governor; he is your king and potentate. he is, next after God, your earthly God, who has a right to be honored by you. For concerning him, amid such as he, it is that God pronounces: “I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are all children of the Most High.”
Constitution of the Twelve apostles II.IV.XXIV

The Bishops, the successors of the Twelve Apostles, are directly addressed by the Qur’anic author. Their actions are known by God, no matter what these “gods” do:

O Apostles! Eat of the good things and act righteously. I indeed know well what you do. This community of yours is indeed one community and I am your Lord, so be wary of Me.

But they fragmented their religion among themselves, each party boasting about what it had.
Qur’an 23:51-53

The Penitential Act

Like “Mary,” “the Faithful” contrasts the corruption of Bishops with the purity of Mary and her Son:

Certainly We gave Moses the Book so that they might be guided, and We made the Son of Mary and His mother a sign and sheltered them in a level highland with flowing water.
Qur’an 23:49-50

But while “Mary” is a sustained attack on the episcopacy, “The Faithful” has sustained sympathy for the community of believers. Those who follow the various Catholic creeds containing “We believe,” are welcomed in, and all who ask for the forgiveness of sins:

Indeed, there was a part of My servants who would say, ‘Our Lord! We have believed. SO forgive us and have mercy on us, and You are the best of merciful..’ But you took them by ridicule until they made you forget My remembrance and you used to lough at them. Indeed, I have rewarded them today for their patience. They are indeed the triumphant.
Qur’an 23:109-111

This is important because of the practice, ordered by Bishops at the time, of giving the Sacrament of Reconciliation only once or twice per lifetime. Those who mortally sinned after a the second reconciliation would be in grave danger of dying in mortal sin, and of losing an eternal reward. The Qur’anic author rejects this, and teachers instead to pray directly to God for forgiveness.

Say, ‘My Lord, forgive and have mercy, and You are the best of the merciful.’
Qur’an 23:118

The Journey of the Faithful

The Qur’anic author describes the faithful as on a journey, away from a corrupt world and towards God. In the preceding chapter, “The Pimgrimage,” the shocking destination of that journey (to a wholly new system of sacraments) is revealed. But that chapter may have originally been intended to be the Qur’an’s final chapter. In any case, the journey here is presented in more familiar terms:

Noah, fleeing a world, about to the drowned in water:

So We revealed to him: ‘Build the ark before Our eyes and by Our revelation. When Our edict comes and the oven gushes, bringing into it a pair of every kind, and your family, except those of them against whom the decree has gone beforehand, and do not plead with Me for those who are wrongdoers: they shall indeed be drowned.
Qur’an 23:27

(The infernal characterization of the flood comes from Jewish exegesis, which the Qur’anic author has incorporated before)

R. Johanan said: The corruption of the generation of the Flood is characterized as great, and their punishment is characterized as great. Their corruption is characterized as great, as it is written, And God saw that the wickedness of man, was great in the earth;2 and their punishment is characterized as great, as it is written, All the fountains of the great deep. R. Johanan said: Three of those [hot fountains] were left, the gulf of Gaddor, the hot-springs of Tiberias, and the great well of Biram.
Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 108b

The believer suffers in an unbelieving community, as have countless others before.

When We seize their affluent ones with punishment, behold, they make entreaties. ‘Do not make entreaties today! You will not receive any help from Us. Certainly My signs used to be recited to you, but you used to take to your heels, being disdainful of it, talking nonsense in your nightly sessions.
Qur’an 23:64-67

But remain steadfast, urges the Qur’anic author. When The Truth walked among men he did not serve the religious authorities by obeying them, but by obeying the true religious authority: God:

Had the Truth followed their desires, the heavens and the earth would have surely fallen apart with those who are in them. We have indeed brought them their reminder, but they are disregardful of their reminder.
Qur’an 23:71

And even the Apostle Paul wrote words that to all who reject the Donatist view of Bishops-as-Gods are important: bishops cannot be mediators because there is One Mediator, Jesus himself, the Word (or in the Qur’anic view, a Word in the Book)

Is it that they do not recognize their apostle, so they deny him? Do they say, ‘There is madness in him’? No, he has brought them the truth, and most of them are averse to the truth.
Qur’an 23:68-70

The “rebellion” of those bishops who have taken to calling themselves gods is like the rebellion of those false teachers. The fallen angels, the false teachers, the blaspheming bishops are malignant cancer.

Should We have mercy upon them and remove their distress, they would surely persist, bewildered in their rebellion.
Qur’an 23:75

But it is God, and not they, who will prevail.

When the Trumpet is blown, there will be no ties between them on that day, nor will they ask each other.
Qur’an 23:101

Conclusion

God, the Qur’anic author believes, urges men to repentance, and makes it available to them without an intermediary. There are in creation all sorts of creatures who would aggrandize themselves, and present themselves as “gods.” Indeed, one famous forgery even labeled bishop as such. But God does not tire of creation. God gives us all individually time to repent, and will wash creation of those who continue in their evil.

God is not tired of creation. For a while, he will let it continue to flourish.

Then after them We brought forth another generation.
Qur’an 23:31

Until the Trumpet blows. Then everything changes.

Qur’an 21: The Prophets

The twenty-first chapter of the Qur’an opens with the last of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist.
Time moves backwards as we meet his father Zechariah, other prophets, and and Tubal-Cain, and finally the moments before Creation. The Holy Spirit gives and we receive. The Holy Spirit overshadows the waters, overshadows Mary, and uses the prophets as mouthpieces. Through the Holy Spirit all things have immortality: the delights of the world will be for the just, but the wicked will see hell burn all the hotter for the creation they perverted.

Readings

Entrance Antiphon

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:2

A Reading, from the Book of Genesis:

Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son — Enoch. To Enoch was born Irad; and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methushael, and Methushael begot Lamech.

Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah. And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. And as for Zillah, she also bore Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every craftsman in bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah.

Then Lamech said to his wives:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech!
For I have killed a man for wounding me,
Even a young man for hurting me.
If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,
Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
Genesis 4:16-24

A Psalm, from the Psalms:

For evildoers shall be cut off;
But those who wait on the LORD,
They shall inherit the earth.

For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.

But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
Psalms 37:9-11

A reading, from the Second Letter of St Peter:

Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying,

“Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and

the earth
standing out of water
and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished,
being flooded with water.

But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:3-7

Alleluia, Alleluia

Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him.
Ezekiel 38:2

Alleluia, Alleluia

A Reading, from the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew

For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”

And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
Matthew 14:3-12

Communion Antiphon

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35

A Qur’anic Homily

The Specific: John the Baptist and Herod Antipas

These are the last days. They have been the last days since the interrogation of John the Baptist, in front of the idiot Herod Antipas, whose heart was so set on magic tricks and his eyes on a belly dance that his ears missed the Word of the Spirit.

Mankind’s reckoning has drawn near to them, yet they are disregardful in obliviousness. There does not come to them any new reminder from their Lord but the listen to it as they play around, their hearts set on diversions. The wrongdoers secretly whisper together, “Is this not just a human being like yourselves? Will you give in to magic with open eyes?”

He said, “My Lord knows every word in the heaven and on the earth ,and He is the All-hearing, the All-knowing.”

But they said,

“Muddled dreams!”
“He has indeed fabricated it!”
“He is indeed a poet!”
“Let him bring us a sign like those sent to the former generations.”
Qur’an 21:1-5

The way this all began — the way the world was created — certainly was for men like John the Baptist. But not for Herod Antipas, not for the squandering of creation but rather the glorification of God through it. The serpent may bight now, but Christ and His Mother will crush its head.

We did not create the heaven and the earth and whatever is between them for play. Had We desired to take up some diversions We would have taken it up with Ourselves, were We to do. Indeed, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it crushes its head, and behold, falsehood vanishes! And woe to you for what you allege.
Qur’an 21:16-18

But let’s think more of Herod Antipas. Yes, he wanted to see magic tricks. Yes, he enjoyed a lap dance. Yes, he was foolish in promises. But — he wanted to hear. And later, he wondered if Jesus could be John, raised from the dead. Herod remembered what people said of the prophets. Even a man as lost as he could still see — dimly — the consequences of the Lord God, of life returned:

Have they taken gods from the earth who raise the dead? Had there been any gods in them other than God, they would surely have fallen apart. Clear is God, the Lord of the Throne, of what they allege.
Qur’an 21:21-22

The Pattern: Zachariah and Tubal-Cain

But the stories of John the Baptist and Herod Antipas are not just of one man executed by another. Consider another pair, separated by thousands of years: the father of John the Baptist and (one might say) the father of Herod Antipas. John’s father was Zachariah, a priest, and a righteous man.

And Zechariah, when he cried out to his Lord, “My Lord! Do not leave me without an heir and You are the best of inheritors.’ So We answered his prayer and gave him John and cured for him his wife. They were indeed active in good works, and they would supplicate Us with eagerness and awe and were humble before Us.
Qur’an 21:89-90

But God’s credit does not end at the gift of a child. He also gave things that are missed. The Qur’anic author gives God credit for the invention of armor, which in the Biblical tradition is associated with Tubal-Cain. Tubal’s name is given to the land of Tubal, governed by Prince Gog of Magog. And as a man, Tubal-Cain was intermediary between the murderer Cain and the murderer Lamech:

We taught him the making of coats of mail for you, to protect you from your violence. Will you then be grateful?
Qur’an 21:80

There’s a pattern here, a pattern of what is good and how man uses it. How man receives the gifts of the Spirit. For the things that protect man cannot save him apart from God:

Do they have gods besides Us to defend them? Neither can they help themselves, nor can they shield from Us. We have indeed provided for them and their fathers until they lived on for long hears. Do they not see how We visited the land diminishing it at its edges? Are they the ones who will prevail?
Qur’an 21:43-44

And no deed done, for God, is without reward

Whoever is faithful and does righteous deeds, his endeavor shall not go unappreciated, and We will indeed record it for him.
Qur’an 21:94

Cain’s lineage is an early split in humanity: there’s an Enoch descended from Cain, and another Enoch who judged angles. Tubal-Cain is removed in bot ancestry and age from Zechariah. But as Jesus wished that we and He could be One as He and the Father are One, to the Qur’anic author reminds us of our common Lord and our common call. Catholics today may[] dare to hope that all may be saved](http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2019/12/31/impressions-of-dare-we-hope-that-all-men-be-saved-with-a-short-discourse-on-hell-by-hans-urs-von-balthasar.html) — the Qur’anic author seemed to, as well.

This community of yours is indeed one community and I am your Lord. So worship Me. They have fragmented their religion among themselves; everyone of them will return to Us.
Qur’an 21:92

The Elemental: The Spirit and the Deep

So see the pattern.

John the Baptist and Herod the Great. The prophet, and he who misused creation. For one, his life on earth was but the earliest part of his glory. For the other, the deeds of the earth are the makings of his torment.

And continue to Zechariah, and Tubal-Cain. Both famous fathers, one of John the Baptist, the other of armor. From God we have the greatness of what they crafted, his family and his ironworks. Zechariah, being faithful to God, sees the lasting legacy be something he intended. Tubal-Cain sees the kind parts of his invention remembered, while the cruelties have no life of their own.

This pattern extends beyond the material world. John baptized with water, the symbol of chaos, the thing over which the Spirit of God hovered at Creation:

Have the faithless not regarded the heavens and the earth were interwoven and We unraveled them, and We made every living thing out of water? Will they not then have faith?
Qur’an 21:30

The Spirit of God, who also overshadowed Mary:

And her who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and made her and her Son a sign for all the nations.
Qur’an 21:91

This combination of Spirit and the Deep — the life from beyond this world and the matter within this world — will either be the very thing that makes Hell so hot, or the very delights of paradise.

The Deep received the Spirit and, through Him, Creation.

Mary received the Spirit and, through Him, Jesus.

But human deeds and will, twisted, burn in the presence of the Spirit, for only Spirit upholds their existence, and the Spirit’s love to the wicked is as unquenchable fire.

Indeed, you and what you worship besides God will be fuel for hell, and you will enter it. Had they been gods, they would not have entered it, and they will all remain in it. Their lot therein will be groaning, and they will not hear anything in it.
Qur’an 21:98-100

So turn away from sin! Turn toward the Holy Spirit! The whole earth is given to you, as Christ’s life was given for you!

Certainly we wrote in the Psalms, after the Torah: “My righteous servants shall indeed inherit the earth.”
Qur’an 21:105

Even the end of the world, Gog and Magog, are part of the plan. With the Spirit all things will come to completion. Life and death, the Virgin Mary and Christ Jesus, the Natural World and the Supernatural Sacraments, all things are moved by the Spirit toward His ends!

It is forbidden for any town that We have destroyed: they shall not return until when Gog and Magog are let loose and they race down from every slope
Qur’an 21:95-96

Conclusion

The twenty-first chapter of the Qur’an, “The Prophets,” concerns the spokesmen for the Holy Spirit. The Qur’an author teaches that the Holy Spirit is at work in all things. The Qur’an’s author had earlier described the “We Believe,” the Nicene Creed, as emblematic of the rival non-Arian theology that he criticized. But in “The Prophets,” the Qur’anic author meets the Council, perhaps, halfway:

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life… who has spoken through the prophets.

Qur’an 8: The Spoils

The eighth chapter of the Qur’an is famous for its violence, at least in anti-Islamic circles. Litanies like this…

.. give more examples of violent verses from the eighth chapter than from any other. The chapter’s name — “The Spoils” — hardly helps. Yet, the litany’s violent impressions of the first several chapters don’t match my impressions of chapter 2, “The Heifer,” chapter 3, “The Family of Amram,” or chapter 5, “The Table.” So is chapter 8, “The Spoils,” that bad in the context of the Bible?

Let’s use one verse as a key, and open the door of the Qur’an…

Prepare against them whatever you can of power and war-horses,
awing thereby the enemy of God and your enemy,
and others besides them,
whom you do not know, but God knows them.

And whatever you spend in the way of God will be repaid to you in full
and you will be not wronged.
Qur’an 8:60

Within this one voice, there’s promises of payback, victory, a faithless adversary, total consecration to God, and all things being made right.

Let’s dig in.

Pay Back

The Qur’an’s promise that God will pay to men what men deserve continues the Biblical theme of pay back:

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Mark 12:17

Christ himself references the Maccabean promise to pay back to the gentiles exactly what they deserved:

Judas Maccabeus has been a mighty warrior from his youth; he shall command the army for you and fight the battle against the peoples. You shall rally around you all who observe the law, and avenge the wrong done to your people. Pay back the Gentiles in full, and obey the commands of the law.”
1 Maccabees 2:66-68

As Christ ensured us to be sure that Caesar collects, and Judas Maccabeus wanted to ensure that Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Qur’anic author is warning the reader God can pay back to you, too. No debts will be left outstanding. But if you go with God, with way will be easier. This is because the burden we have been given from the Father is easy, and the burden manageable:

Now God has lightened your burden, knowing that there is weakness in you. So if there be a hundred steadfast men among you, they will overcome two hundred; and if there be a thousand, they will overcome two thousand, by God’s leave, and God is with the steadfast.
Qur’an 8:66

Or as Christ said:

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

Come to Me, all you who labor
and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.

Take My yoke upon you
and learn from Me, for I am gentle
and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.

For My yoke is easy
and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:27-30

Victory

The reference to the multiplicative power of God in the verse we began with — that God’s help makes your own efforts a rounding error — seems to reflect the reference to David’s successes relative to Saul’s.

Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said:

“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.”

Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said,

They have ascribed to David ten thousands,
and to me they have ascribed only thousands
.
Now what more can he have but the kingdom?”

So Saul eyed David from that day forward.
1 Samuel 18:6-9

The Qur’anic author, like Joseph Lozovyy in his analysis of David, Saul, and Doeg, views David’s success as the result entirely of God’s effort, and not reflective on David’s own skill or work. Faith — which the Qur’anic author sees as humility before God’s presence, and not as obedience to a king — makes one part of the heavenly host:

The faithful are only those whose hearts tremble when God is mentioned, and when His signs are recited to them, they increase their faith, and who put their trust in their Lord, maintain the prayer and spend out of what We have provided them. If is they who are truly faithful. They shall have ranks near their Lord, forgiveness, and a noble provision.
Qur’an 8:3-4

The righteous victory then is a victory where one does noting (except have hearts that tremble, put their trust in the Lord, maintain prayer, and use what God gives), and God smites the enemy. Faith, and not works, matter to the Qur’anic author. So the analogy of God smiting Pharaoh’s army, which the Israelites did little else to help other than escape…

Like the precedent of Pharaoh’s clan and those who were before them, who impugned the signs of their Lord; so We destroyed them for their sins and We drowned Pharaoh’s clan, and they were all wrongdoers.
Qur’an 8:54

… highlights perhaps the only work that God accepts, according to the Qur’anic author: belief.

Belief

After Pharaoh’s army was drowned, the Children of Israel were in the Wilderness between the sin of Egypt and the promise of Canaan. During this time, spies were sent into Canaan to investigate the land. All agreed with the basic facts — that the land of Canaan was good, but that it held the faithless — Amalekites:

Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.”
Numbers 13:26-29

The Qur’anic author summarizes what happened next:

As your Lord brought you out from your home with a judicious purpose, a part of the faithful were indeed reluctant. They disputed with you concerning the truth after it had become clear, as if they were being driven toward death while they looked on.
Qur’an 8:5

Caleb and Joshua advocated for an attack…

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

and [Caleb and Joshua] spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”
Numbers 13:30,14:7-9

but the other spies urged Israel to turn back, leading even Moses and Aaron to despair:

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
Joshua 13:31-14:5

The Qur’anic author identifies the fear of the ten as ultimately Satanic, as it placed trust in human strength and not God’s. In this view the purpose of the spies was simply to see what God had prepared for them, and not worry about the practicalities of seizing a new land:

Do not be like those who left their homes vainly and to show off to the people, and to bar from the way of God, and God encompasses what they do.

When Satan made their deeds seem decorous to them, and said, ‘None from among those people will defeat you today, and I will stand by you.’But when the two hosts signed each other, he took to his heels, saying ‘Indeed, I am quit of you. I see what you do not see. Indeed, I fear God and God is severe in retribution.’
Qur’an 8:47-48

The Lord does not need human strength. He will send Angels to give victory to those He wishes:

When you appealed to your Lord for help, He answered you: ‘I will aid you with a thousand angels in a file.’
Qur’an 8:9

Sure enough, when Joshua assumed command and led the people into Canaan, the Lord’s commander personally promised support:

Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”
Joshua 5:12-14

The Faithless Adversary

In our everyday life the faithless, according to the Qur’anic author, are those who label religion as superstition. Or, to put it another way, those who fail to see that ancient stories are are true:

When Our signs are recited to them, they say, “We have heard already. If we want, we can say like this: ‘These are nothing but myths of the ancients.'”
Qur’an 8:31

But in the Hebrew Bible, as referenced in the Qur’an, the paradigmatic unbelievers are the Amalekites:

Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
Exodus 17:8-16

Moses’s had to have his hands held up because of exhaustion. If man’s strength ensured success, implies the Qur’anic author, Moses would have been defeated. But victory comes from God. Perhaps he even gave Moses the exhaustion on purpose, to prevent Moses from being tempted to try to help himself:But even Moses’s exhaustion was not a weakness, it was from God. Sleep for a faithful warrior is not a dereliction of duty, but trust in God’s strength:

When He covered you with drowsiness as a security from Him, and sent down water from the sky to purify you with it, and to repel from you the defilement of Satan, and to fortify your hearts, and to make feet steady with it.

Then the Lord signaled to the angels: ‘I am indeed with you; so steady the faithful. I will cast terror into the hearts of the faithless. So strike their necks, and strike their every limb joint!”
Qur’an 8:3-4

Thus God granted Moses the victory, as he urged, with outstretched hands held up by others, the people to fight:

Oh prophet! Urge on the faithful to fight: if there be twenty steadfast men among you, they will overcome two-hundred; and if there be a hundred of you, they will overcome a thousand of the faithless, for they are a lot who do not understand.
Qur’an 8:65

Just as your own work cannot help you, nor can the work of others. Trusting in the work of others to save you is like trusting the Amalekites as you wander through their land. Would be intercessors should not be sought, according to the Qur’anic author, but dispersed. Trust only in God:

Indeed, the worst of beasts in God’s sight are those who are faithless; so they will not have faith. Those with whom you made a treaty and who violated their treaty every time, and who are not Godwary. So if you confront them in battle, treat them as to disperse those who are behind them, so that they may take admonition. And if you fear treachery, from a people, break off with them in a like manner. Indeed, God does not like the treacherous.
Qur’an 8:55-58

Consecration to God

The Hebrew word translated in the New Kings James Version as “utterly destroyed” is herem. The Hebrew word herem, translated as “under the ban,” “utterly destroy,” totally dedicate to God,” “strike with a curse,” or “reincorporate for God,” is a particularly regrettable example of most translations attempting to explain rather than translate the scripture. Literally “Herem” means to set-aside. like its cognate term harem. This literally means the transformation of the profane to the sacred.

From Lachish Joshua passed to Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it and fought against it. They took it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; all the people who were in it he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.

So Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, to Hebron; and they fought against it. And they took it and struck it with the edge of the sword—its king, all its cities, and all the people who were in it; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon, but utterly destroyed it and all the people who were in it.

Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and they fought against it. And he took it and its king and all its cities; they struck them with the edge of the sword and utterly destroyed all the people who were in it. He left none remaining; as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had done also to Libnah and its king.

So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded.
Joshua 10:34-40

The Hebrew Bible itself ends with the word herem, a threat (or hopeful promise!) of total dedication of Israel to God:

Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a utter destruction.”
Malachi 4:5-6

Christians, who know that John the Baptist is the new Elijah, believe that Israel was made herem as all things were restored to the position they were in Eden: totally dedicated to God. This dedication was made real by Christ’s conquests of the unseen realm.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
Matthew 17:11-13

This view is expressed by Mary’s words. Mary is important because what she is is what all are meant to be by the new Elijah’s work — by the total dedication of everything, by the restoration of everything to the way it was meant to be:

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Luke 1:38

This view of total dedication — of not treating God as transactional partner but as the object of total love — is the view of the Qur’anic author. Consider a tithe. From Genesis this was calculated as ten percent of the spoils:

Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.

And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. Abram and Melchizedek

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;

And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And he gave him a tenth of all.
Genesis 14:14-20

In the Qur’an, the tithe should be a fifth, not a tenth:

Know what whatever thing you may come by, a fifth of it is for God and the Apostle, for the relatives and the orphans, for the needy and the traveler, if you have faith in God and what We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Separation, the day when the two hosts met; and God has power over all things.
Qur’an 8:41

The purpose is not a mathematical formula, but an emphasis that mere rule-keeping is not the point. Consider how many times Christ told us to forgive, when asked for a rule by the first Pope:

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Matthew 18:21-22

It’s not that 420 (70×7) times is actually enough — it’s that if you’re counting, you’re missing the point. The world is herem, all things belong to the world.

The opposite of Mary, the opposite of “the apostle” led by God, is the first king of Israel, Saul. The eighth chapter of the Qur’an seems to lean on Saul (who lost control of the land of Israel) as an example of what not to do, and Joshua (who gained control) as the positive example.

A prophet may not take captives until he has thoroughly decimated in the land. You desire the transitory gains of this world, while God desires the Hereafter, and God is all-mighty, all-wise. Had it not been for a prior decree of God, there would have surely befall you a great punishment for what you took. Avail yourselves of the spoils you have taken, as lawful and good, and be wary of God. God is indeed all-forgiving, all-merciful.
Qur’an 8:67-69

While the new Elijah, John the Baptist, placed all of Israel under the Ban as part of lifting the covenant, Saul tried to prevent even giving to God what was his. Saul tried to trick God, placing only “under the ban” that which he did not want:

And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.
1 Samuel 15:7-9

Samuel the prophet was horrified. The ten spies had melted before the Amalekites — now Saul was letting greed overcome him. Saul did not trust God to provide:

So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?”
1 Samuel 15:17-19

The Qur’anic author generalizes Samuel’s excoriation of Saul to an instruction for all the faithful:

Fight them until persecution is no more, and religion becomes exclusively for God. So if they desist, God indeed watches what they do. But if they turn away, then know that God is your Master: an excellent master and an excellent helper!
Qur’an 8:39

God is not a cosmic foreign power capable of being negotiated with. The Biblical, and Qur’anic, view of the Divine is not the sort of statecraft imagined by Chinese Imperial Religion. God loves you, and wants your love.

So Samuel said:

Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”
1 Samuel 15:22-23

This means when God wins something, he does not just demand its destruction: He demands that thing is for Him, as well. The spoils of war are not merely material things: they are the souls of those who submit to God — including yourself:

They ask you concerning the spoils. Say, ‘The spoils belong to God and the Apostle.’ So be wary of God and settle your differences, and obey God and His Apostle, if you are faithful.
Qur’an 8:2

All Things Made Right

Nothing is bad in itself. When God does prohibit things, like certain foods (as described by both the Qur’anic author and Christ), the things are prohibited for our good, not because they are unclean in themselves.

As an example, take riding horses.

Joshua led an army without horses, and so it was natural that God commanded him to destroy the horses he encountered:

But the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow about this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” So Joshua and all the people of war with him came against them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and they attacked them. And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who defeated them and chased them to Greater Sidon, to the Brook Misrephoth, and to the Valley of Mizpah eastward; they attacked them until they left none of them remaining. So Joshua did to them as the Lord had told him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.
Joshua 11:6-9

Later, King David (who finishes the conquest by taking Jerusalem), has different actions. The horses are not fully destroyed, for now the Lord has willed that Israel is capable of learning how to ride horses:

David also defeated Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his territory at the River Euphrates. David took from him one thousand chariots, seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. Also David hamstrung all the chariot horses, except that he spared enough of them for one hundred chariots.
2 Samuel 8:3-4

The Biblical completion of this is Christ riding on a colt to Jerusalem. What was God had prohibited, Christ now does in glory:

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples; and He said to them, “Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. 3 And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and immediately he will send it here.”

So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?”

And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
Mark 11:1-8

The Army that once helped Joshua, the animal that served Jesus, all are included in glorious End:

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Revelations 19:11-15

The moral lesson of all this — of Joshua’s hope and faith, of the belief that the impossible is possible if God wills it, is a lesson of redemption. No matter your sins, God can forgive you. Don’t trust in your own strength. It is God who will save you:

O you who have faith. If you are wary of God, He shall save you, and absolve you of your misdeeds, and forgive you, for God is a dispenser of a mighty grace.”
Qur’an 8:29

Conclusion

The eighth chapter of the Qur’an combines the stories of Moses and Joshua’s, Samuel’s and David’s, conquests to explain how God is sovereign, but provides and tools and possibilities of all he desires. The faithful do not despair, but obey God, fear Him and not the world, and strive to do His will.

So, is “The Spoils” in particular, and the Qur’an in general, an eliminationist screed? Is it as violent as the anti-Qur’anic litany implies?

Consider two verses, not mentioned above:

Like the precedent of Pharaoh’s clan and those who were before them, who denied God’s signs, so God seized them for their sins. God is indeed all-strong, severe in retribution.
Qur’an 8:52

and

Indeed, the faithless spend their wealth to bar from the way of God. Soon they will have spent it, then it will be a cause of regret to them, then they will be overcome, and the faithless will be gathered toward Hell so that God may separate the bad ones from the good, and place the bad on one another and pile them up together and cast them into hell. It is they who are the losers.
Qur’an 8:36-37

The first states that God will destroy an entire clan of a leader who disobeys. The second is that the faithless themselves are sorted, and the “Bad” faithless are cast down.

To me this is exactly as contradictory on its surface — and exactly as wise — as the Scriptural verse it reference:

You shall not bow down to them nor serve [idols]. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Exodus 20:5-6

Hear, o readers of the Torah and the Gospels, that the Lord our God is one Lord, and you should love him with all your heart, all your mind, and all your life.

Qur’an 7: The Elevations

The seventh chapter of the Qur’an is named “The Elevations.” The Elevations refers both to purgatory — the realm between heaven and hell — and the life of the believer struggling with sin. The Qur’anic author mixes references to both to emphasize the moral sense of the scripture, as did St Paul and the Church Fathers. Obedience to the Apostles of God is urged: every believer with the Book in him is an apostle. That belief, that the Scriptures speaks directly to the believer and that no teaching authority is needed has been widespread in Christian history, down through Blesseds of the Church and popular Christian music.

Paradise, The Elevations, and the Fire

In the Gospels, Christ gave a parable of communication between those in different places or states in the afterlife. In part:

So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'”
Luke 16:22-26

What Christ described as part of the afterlife, the Holy Spirit (speaking through the Prophets) described as part of life: a mark caused by man’s sin:

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

To the others He said in my hearing, Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple.”
Ezekiel 9:3-6

The Qur’anic author combines both references, as he combined the stories of Mary and Miriam, or the Catholic ideas of Sonship and Spouseship:

The inhabitants of paradise will call out to the inmates of the fire. ‘We found what our Lord promised us to be true; did you find what your Lord promised you to be true?’ ‘Yes,’ they will say. Then a caller will announce in their midst, ‘May God’s curse be on the wrongdoers!’ — Those who bar from the way of God, and seek to make it crooked, and disbelieve in the Hereafter.

There will be a veil between them. On on the Elevations will be certain men who recognize each of them by their mark. They will call out to the inhabitants of paradise, ‘Peace be to you!’ They will not have entered it, though they would be eager to do so. When their look is turned toward the inmates of the Fire, they will say, ‘Our Lord, do not put us among the wrongdoing lot!

The occupants of the Elevations will call out to certain men who they recognize by their marks, ‘Your rallying did not avail you, nor what you used to disdain. Are these the ones concerning whom you swore that God will not extend them any mercy?’ Enter paradise! You shall have no fear, nor shall you grieve.
Qur’an 7:47-49

The Qur’anic author is using the moral sense of the scripture, as “the elevations” are, for him, the life of the believer who has not yet ascended fully into grace. The elevations are elevations only relative to the Fire. Compared to Heaven they are below. This is why writers from Dante to Thomas Merton have described purgatory as a “mountain.”

The Moral Sense of the Scripture

This sense — the sense of the application of the scripture to one’s personal life — is the moral sense of the scripture. The underworld, the wilderness, Egypt — all of these are what God saves us from…

Fleeing Egypt — that is, fleeing worldly things — they have killed Pharaoh and drowned all his army in the waters of baptism. Now, after the devil has been killed, they long for the springs of the Church : the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
Homily on Psalm 41 to the Newly Baptized,” St. Jerome

the analogy works the other way direction too: the Exodus as a type of baptism:

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
1 Corinthians 10:1-5

So We took vengeance on [Pharaoh’s men] and drowned them in the Sea [“Yamm”], for they impugned Our signs and were obvious to them.

We made the people who were oppressed heirs to the east and west of the land which We had blessed, and your Lord’s best word was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of their patience, and We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people had built and whatever they used to erect.
Qur’an 7:136-137

that which we sin by our desire to return to, by worshiping those foreign gods:

We carried the Children of Israel across the sea, whereat they came upon a people attending to certain idols that they had. They said, ‘O Moses, make for us a god like the gods that they have.’

He said, ‘You indeed are an ignorant lot. What they are engaged is is indeed bound to perish, and what they have been doing shall come to naught.

He said, ‘Shall I find you a god other than God, while He has graced you over all the nations?’
Qur’an 7:138-140

And lacking gratitude for the One who sustains us:

And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Exodus 16:1-3

But from the beginning, even before the Jews, men knew the forces of chaos could not withstand the wrath of heaven:

The Sea [“Yamm”] collapsed! He fell to the earth!
His joints trembled, his frame collapsed
Ba’al destroyed and drank Sea!
He brought Judge River to an end!
The Ba’al Cycle

The Mission of the Apostle

The righteous will be those who have been guided by the apostles:

As for those who have faith and do righteous deeds — We task no soul except according to its capacity — they shall be the inhabitants of paradise and they shall remain in it. We will remove whatever rancor there is in their breasts, and streams will run from them.

They will say, ‘All praise belongs to God, who guided us to this. Had not God guided us, we would have never been guided. Our Lord’s apostles have certainly brought us the truth,’ The call will be made to them: ‘This is the paradise, which you have been given to inherit because of what you used to do!’
Qur’an 7:42-43

But the Qur’anic author believes that apostolic succession was broken — there was a “gap in the apostles” (Qur’an 5:19) which ended an earlier apostolic age So not only can’t the Apostles on earth intercede from us, they do not share their offices linearly from the Twelve, but from another source:

Certainly We have brought them a Book which We have elaborated with knowledge, as guidance and mercy for a people who have faith. Do they await anything but its fulfillment? The day when its fulfillment comes, those who had forgotten it before will say, ‘Our Lord’s apostles had certainly brought the truth. Do we have any intercessors to intercede for us, or could we be returned, so that we may act differently from what we used to?! They have already ruined their souls, and what they used to fabricate has forsaken them.

Your Lord is indeed God, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and then settled on the Throne. He draws the night’s cover over the day, which pursues it swiftly, and the sun, the moon, and the stars, disposed by His command. Lo! All creation and command belong to Him. Blessed is God, the Lord of all the worlds.
Qur’an 7:52-54

So who are The Apostles and The Apostle, referenced in the Qur’an?

Those who follow the Apostle, the gentile prophet, whose mention they find written with them in the Torah and the Gospel, who bids them to do what is right and forbids them from what is wrong, makes lawful to them all the good things and forbids them from all vicious things, and relieves them of their burdens and the shackles that were upon them — those who believe in him, honor him, and help him and follow the light that has been sent down with him, they are felicitous.
Qur’an 7:157

Clearly, whoever the Qur’an is addressed to:

Say, ‘O mankind! I am the Apostle of God to you all, to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth There is no god except Him. He gives life and brings death.’

So have faith in God and His Apostle, the untaught prophet, who has faith in God and His words, and follow him so that you may be guided.
Qur’an 7:157-158

The Jewish and Christian Foundations of Qur’anic Thought

The Qur’an insists over and over again on The Book:

A Book that has bee sent down to you and as an admonition for the faithful; so let there be no disquiet in your heart on its account that you may warn thereby.

follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord, and do not follow any masters besides Him. Little is the admonition that you take!
Qur’an 7:2-3

The word of God in Christ is seen by the Qur’anic author as part of the Book, along with other revelations:

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:14

The Book does not stay in heaven, but has been handed down to all believers:

The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the LORD will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

“For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
Deuteronomy 30:9-14

The Apostle spoken of in the Torah is, I think, the reader of the Book

Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘ Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed.
Exodus 3:16-21

On the Elevations, the Apostle can know he is not in the Fire, but also that he is not in Paradise yet:

And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

“I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
John 5:37-47

Words from a Book

The focus on the Book is not a denial of Christ’s priority, either as the first Created:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
John 1:1-3

Or as the first-born of the dead::

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or [e]principalities or [f]powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Colossians 1:16-18

For the temporal order of things, nor the material of things, indicate their value in thees of God:

Certainly We crated you, then We formed you, then We said to the angels, ‘Prostrate before Adam.’ So they prostrated, but not Iblis: he was not among those who prostrated.
Said He, ‘What prevented you from prostrating, when I commanded you?’
‘I am better than him, ‘he said. ‘You created me from fire and You created him from clay.’
Qur’an 7:11-12

Similarly, the Blessed Joachim of Fiore taught the Age of the Son succeeded and perfected the Age of the Father, and that the Age of the Holy Spirit would in turn succeed the Age of the Son:

There are three states of the world, corresponding to the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. In the first age the Father ruled, representing power and inspiring fear, to which the Old Testament dispensation corresponds; then the wisdom hidden through the ages was revealed in the Son, and we have the Catholic Church of the New Testament; a third period will come, the Kingdom of the Holy Spirit, a new dispensation of universal love, which will proceed from the Gospel of Christ, but transcend the letter of it, and in which there will be no need for disciplinary institutions.
Joachim of Fiore,” Catholic Encyclopedia

Thus, as Christ (in the Arian or Qur’anic perspective) was created first, it is the book he taught, as the mission to the Apostles was given first, but with the Holy Spirit it is not known that “you” — all believers — will speak through the Holy Spirit:

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel…

See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Matthew 10:5-6,16-20

The Qur’anic author and Blessed Joachim seem to share a similar view of salvation history, that the sacraments and apostolic succession were instituted, but following the new order are no longer needed. The “Everlasting Gospel” has been proclaimed

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.
Revelations 14:6

Now the believer has two tasks: to proclaim his status as an apostle to the world, and have faith that God will give him the right words to say. The children of the Qur’anic author preach this version of the Gospel to the present day:

I wear the black for those who’ve never read Or listened to the words that Jesus said About the road to happiness through love and charity Why you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me
Johnny Cash, “Man in Black

Qur’an 6: The Cattle

The sixth chapter of the Qur’an is centered around the soul’s individual and direct connection to God. The Qur’anic author teaches that no intermediary of any kind or nature can help or hinder the soul’s relationship with God. He believes his teaching is a summary of the scriptures. The Church, the Holy Spirit, the Papacy, even Wisdom are found lacking by the Qur’anic author. There is only God, Who said “Be,” and all was.

Partners to God

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:16-17

Christians believe the Church is the Bride of Christ — that God has a spouse. For most Christians through most of history this has meant the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, including both the visible church ministering sacraments and the invisible Church known only to God. A lot of Christian history has been disputes over degrees of meaning in these descriptions of the church. The Qur’anic author denies this, and thus separates himself from the religion of the monk Arius as well as billions of other Christians through the millennia.

On the day when We gather them all together, We shall say to those who ascribe partners, ‘Where are your partners that you used to claim’ Then their only excuse will be to stay, ‘By God, our Lord, we were not polytheists.’

Look how they forswear themselves, and what they used to fabricate has forsaken them!
Qur’an 6:22-24

The Qur’anic author states that believers will be together in the end for judgment. But this gathering is not an entity in itself, anymore than the author believes the Church is an entity. The Church is not purified at the judgment — to paraphrase Ayn Rand

The “Christian Church” (or “the bride of Christ”) is an undefined and undefinable concept: there is no such entity as “the Church,” or “the Synagogue”; the people of God (or Jesus or Israel) is only a number of individual men. Nothing can be good for the Church as such; “good” and “value” pertain only to a ensouled organism—to an individual ensouled organism—not to a disembodied aggregate of relationships.
with apologies to Ayn Rand, “The Common Good,”

At the end of the world, according to the Qur’an, the Church will not be there anymore than she is now here:

And We gave [Abraham] Isaac and Jacob and guided each of them. And Noah We had guided before, and from his offspring David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron — thus do we reward the virtuous — and Zechariah, John, Jesus, and Elijah — each of them among the righteous — Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot – each We preferred over all the nations — and from among their fathers, descendants and brethren — We chose them and guided them to a straight path.

That is God’s guidance: with it He guides whomever He wishes of His servants. But were they to ascribe any partners, what they used to do would not avail them.

They are the ones whom We gave the Book, the judgment, and the prophethood. So if these disbelieve in them, We have certainly entrusted them to a people who will never disbelieve in them. They are the ones whom God has guided. So follow their guidance.
Qur’an 6:85-90

Virtually the entire canon is surveyed, with perhaps the notable exceptions of letters at the end of the Christian New Testament. Jews (Aaron, David, Solomon) and Non-Jews (Noah, Lot, Ishmael), Moses who created the covenant and Elijah who tried to destroy it, and Jesus who did both: all are both mentioned. They share a similarity: no plain reading of any word for any of them would imply the existence of a “church” that is primarily viewed as God’s wife. (Jeremiah, who hilariously writes of God seeking a divorce from Israel, is not mentioned.)

Intercessors

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15-18

The Qur’an and the New Testament both speak of the Holy Spirit — but then so do the Psalms. The Qur’anic author’s point seems to be either the Holy Spirit is an angel or aspect of God, but not as equal to God. In this the Qur’an accords with a plain reading of the Psalms.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psalms 51:10-11

Warn by its means those who fear being mustered toward their Lord, besides whom they will have neither friend nor intercessor, so that they may be Godwary.

Do not drive away those who supplicate their Lord morning and evening, desiring His face. Neither are you accountable for them in any way, nor are they accountable for you in any way, so that you should drive them away and thus become one of the wrongdoers.
Qur’an 6:51-52

The Qur’anic author quotes the Psalms, both in reference to times of prayer and also in reference to God’s role as savior. The Qur’an omits the mid-day prayer mentioned in the same list, but perhaps there is a point: if the Scripture is so detailed about times of days to prayer, would not it have been equally detailed about a need for intercessors?

As for me, I will call upon God,
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
Psalms 55:16-17

The first sign given so that people would believe was given to Moses:

And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
Exodus 4:3-5

and later Christ was explicit in linking the signs to epistemology, though it’s interesting that Christ demands obedience, not belief:

Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”

The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”

Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.”
John 4:48-50

The Qur’anic author sees the same path — the goal is obedience, but faith in signs is an easier first rung of the ladder of righteousness:

When those who have faith in Our signs come to you, say, ‘Peace to you Your Lord has made mercy incumbent upon Himself; whoever of you commits an evil out of ignorance and then repents after that and reforms, then he is indeed all-forgiving, all-merciful.
Qur’an 6:54

The Qur’anic author adores Jesus, but along the lines of the most beloved Prophet, as Jews adore Moses or Catholics adore Mary. Christ cannot bare the burden of sins, not because he is week or without righteousness, but because there is no intermediary between God and man:

Say. ‘Shall I seek a Lord other than God, while He is the Lord of all things?’

No soul does evil except against itself, and no bearer shall bear another’s burden, then your return will be to your Lord, whereat He will inform you concerning that about which you used to differ.
Qur’an 6:164

Papacy

Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 16:16-19

Christ explicitly made Peter his Prime Minister, giving him the Keys of the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Heaven. But the Qur’anic asserts that Christ’s keys (whatever the specific nature of his Kingdom) are either still in heaven or returned to heaven upon Peter’s death:

With Him are the keys of the Unseen; no one knows the except Him. He knows whatever there is in land and sea. No leaf falls without His knowing it, nor is there a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor any fresh or withered but it is in a manifest Book.
Qur’an 6:59

The Qur’anic author accepts there may be a worldly entity known as the church, and it may even be the source of prophets and righteous men, but the church is more of a concept than an entity. It is not the Church that delivers…

Say, ‘Who delivers you from darkness and land and sea, you invoke Him suppliantly and secret;y “If He delivers us from this, we will surely be among the grateful.”
Say, ‘It is God who delivers you from them, and from every distress, then you ascribe partners.’
Qur’an 6:63-64

and when there are prayers or signs, those are to individual believers. This accords with Paul, if body is assumed be a collective association and not a metaphysical reality:

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:27-28

This individual-level reality includes non-human and even non-material individuals.

O community of the jinn and humans! Did there not come to you apostles from yourselves, recounting to you My signs and warning you of the encounter of this Day? They will say, ‘We do bear witness against ourselves,’ The life of this world had deceived them, and they will testify against themselves that they had been faithless.
Qur’an 6:130

An “angel of the church” is simply another entity who has his or own or its own relationship with God:

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,

‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:
Revelation 2:8

It is thru these non-material creatures that John warned Babylon, a coded reference to Rome:

The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written:

MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
OF THE EARTH.

I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.
Revelations 17:4-6

It is this great woman, this great city, that the Qur’anic author also warns. She who claims a special relationship to revelation. She who claims to be a mediatrix. She claims her priests bring the true presence to earth:

Blessed is the Book that We have sent down, confirming what was before it, so that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it, and they are watchful of their prayers.

Who is a greater wrongdoer than him who fabricates lies against God or says, ‘It has been revealed to me,’ while nothing was revealed to him, and says, ‘I will bring the like of what God has sent down.’

Were you to see the wrongdoers are in the throws of death, and the angels extend their hands, ‘Give up your souls! Today you will be requited with a humiliating punishment because of what you used to attribute to God untruly, and for your being disdainful towards His signs.
Qur’an 6:92-93

The Qur’anic author contrasts his own work with this Mother of Cities: he does not add or subtract from the Book, and indeed his authority is simple paraphrasing of what has already been said and done:

Thus do We paraphrase the signs variously, lest they should say, ‘You have received instruction,’ and so that We my make it clear for people who have knowledge.

Follow that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, there is no god except Him, and turn away from the polytheists. Had God wished they would not have ascribed partners. We have not made you a caretaker for them, nor is it your duty to watch over them.

Do not abuse those whom they invoke besides God, lest they should abuse God out of hostility, without any knowledge. That is how We have made their conduct seem decorous to every people. Then their return to their Lord and He will inform them concerning what they used to do.
Qur’an 6:105-108

God does not need a mechanism or suffering to save others, according to the Qur’anic author, just his will:

You Lord is the All-sufficient dispenser of mercy. If He wishes, He will take you away and make whomever He wishes succeed you, just as He produced you from the decedents of another people.
Qur’an 6:133

It is this view Paul adopts once — God as the nailer to the cross, and not the nailed:

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Colossians 2:11-15

Wisdom

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.: So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
Luke 4:20-22

The Qur’an insists on the reality of the celestial Book, the equivalent to The Book of Jubilees Heavenly Scrolls, that have been revealed to a few men, to Christ, and also to Moses:

Then We gave Moses the Book, completing on him who is virtuous, and as an elaboration of all things, and as guidance and mercy, so that they may believe in the encounter with their Lord.

And this Book We have sent down is a blessed one; so follow it and be Godwary so that you may receive mercy.
Qur’an 6:154-155

But the book is to be understood with Wisdom. So, for instance, the counterposition of different rules against “mixing” in the Old Testament:

“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor shall the fat of My sacrifice remain until morning. The first of the first fruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.
You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.
Exodus 23:18-19

Is with Wisdom interpreted as a prohibition against the ultimate mixing — polytheism.

Meat boiled in milk is undoubtedly gross food, and makes overfull; but I think that most probably it is also prohibited because it is somehow connected with idolatry, forming perhaps part of the service, or being used on some festival of the heathen. I find a support for this view in the circumstance that the Law mentions the prohibition twice after the commandment given concerning the festivals “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God” (Exodus 23:17, 34:73, as if to say, “When you come before me on your festivals, do not seethe your food in the manner as the heathen used to do.” This I consider as the best reason for the prohibition: but as far as I have seen the books on Sabean rites, nothing is mentioned of this custom.
Moses ben Maimon, Guide for the Perplexed, Ch 48, AD 1190.

The Qur’anic author uses the same pattern. Food laws are not given because the food it was unclean. They are given. Because the followers of God are unclean. (It is from this passage that the chapter gets it title, “the Cattle”):

And two of camels and two of oxen. Say, ‘Is it the two males that He has forbidden or the two females, or what is contained in the bombs of the two females? Were you witnesses when God enjoined this upon you? So who is a greater wrongdoer than him who fabricates lies against God to mislead the people without any knowledge? Indeed, God does not guide the wrongdoing lot.

Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone should be forbidden to eat anything except carrion or spilt blood, or the flesh of swine — for that is indeed unclean — or an impiety offered to other than God.’ But should someone be compelled, without being rebellious or aggressive, indeed your Lord is all-forgiving, all-merciful.

To the Jews We forbade every animal having an undivided hoof, and of oxen and sheep We forbade them their fat, except what is borne by their backs, or their entrails, or what is attached to the bones. We requited them with that for their rebelliousness and We indeed speak the truth.
Qur’an 6:144-146

To a follower of Christ who denies His Divinity, Wisdom is a useful parallel. The world may have been created with the word Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
John 1:1-3

but it was already created by Wisdom, and no one worships her:

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew…

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.”
Proverbs 3:19-20, 8:22-23

The Creator

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
Genesis 1:14-15

The Qur’an agrees with the Bible that God created the heavens for keeping time:

Splitter of the dawn. He has made the night for rest ,and the sun and moon for calculation. That is the ordaining of the All-mighty, the All-knowing.
Qur’an 6:96

But the bigger point is that God created. He is the Creator, and all other things are creatures:

It is He who created the heavens and the earth, and with consummate wisdom, and the day He says, ‘Be!’ it is, His word is the truth, and to Him belongs all sovereignty on the day when the Trumpet will be blown. Knower of the sensible and the Unseen, He is the All-wise, the All-aware.
Qur’an 6:73

All things besides the Creator become more or less great as they change. Abraham uses this rustic logic to conclude that the stars should not be worshiped, as they become less great as they pass over the horizon:

Thus did we show Abraham the dominions of the heavens and the earth, that he might be of those who posses certitude, ‘When night darkened over him, he saw a star an said, ‘This is my Lord! But when it was set, he said, ‘I do not like those who set.’
Qur’an 6:75

John the Baptist at least partially agreed with this:

John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:27-30

Though many Christians would disagree with an obvious, if implied, corollary: anything that is made more or less great cannot be God.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
buried with Him in baptism, in which
you also were raised with Him
through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Acts 2:11-12

The Qur’anic author denies both that God the Father has a son, and that God the son has a spouse. He denies the plurality of persons of God at all. To him there is one God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, of the sensible and the invisible.

The originator of the heavens and the earth — how could He have a child when He has had no spouse? He created all things and He has knowledge of all things.
Qur’an 6:101

Qur’an 5: The Table

The fifth chapter of the Qur’an, “The Table,” refers to the Table of the Lord’s Supper. The theme of “The Table” is the sacraments, and the break in many sacrament that Arian Christianity suffered in areas subject to Emperor Justinian’s rectification campaigns. This break made it impossible to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, Confession, Confirmation, or Holy Orders. The persecuted Arian members of the Church saw themselves as the new Israel, as did the persecuted Christians under the pagan Roman emperors. Allegiance to the Arian church fathers did not prevent suffering, but provided a meaning and hope to that suffering… until the emergence of the ‘apostle.’

The Loss of the Sacraments

Given that the Qur’an seems to have been written by a late Arian writer, a man who saw himself as Catholic but held the heretical belief that Jesus was created, it’s no surprise that sacraments play a role in the Qur’an:

O you who have faith! Do not violate God’ sacraments, neither the sacred month, nor the offering, nor the necklaces, nor those bound for the Sacred House who seek their Lord’s bounty and pleasure. But when you emerge from pilgrim sanctity you may hunt for game. Ill feeling for a people should not lead to to transgress, because they barred you from the sacred place of prayer. Cooperate in piety and Godwariness, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression, and be wary of God. God is indeed severe in retribution
Qur’an 5:2

The Qur’anic author’s interpretation of sacraments seems to include Holy Orders. The kindness of Christians to the Qur’anic community is because they understand the Qur’an’s calls, and because of the presence of these religious:

Surely you will find he Jews and the polytheists to be the most hostile of all people towards the faithful, and surely you will find the nearest of them in affection to the faithful to be those who say, ‘We are Christians.’ That is because there are priests and monks among them, and because they are not arrogant. When they hear what has been revealed to the Apostle, you see their eyes fill with tears because of the truth that they recognize.

They say, ‘Our Lord, we believe; so write us down among the witnesses. Why should we not believe in God and the truth that has come to us, eager as we are that our Lord should admit us among the righteous people?’

So, for what they said, God has requited them with gardens with streams running in them, to remain in them, and that is the reward of the virtuous.
Qur’an 5:82-85

The reference to “We believe” seems to be to the original Nicene Creed, though later variations include the same opening:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father…
Nicene Creed,” Wikipedia

“Those who say ‘We believe'” is used as a way of saying Nicene Christians — those still in communion with the apostolic Church, and their reception of the sacraments continued in spite of their unbelief in the Arian fathers and councils:

When they come to you, they say, ‘We believe.’ Certainly they enter with disbelief and leave with it, and God knows what best what they have been concealing. You see many of them actively engaged in sin and aggression and consuming illicit gains. Surely, evil is what they have been doing. Why do not the rabbis and the scribes forbid them from sinful speech and consuming illicit gains? Surely, evil is what they have been working.

The Jews says, ‘God’s hand is tied up.’ Tied up be their hands, and cursed be they for what they say! No, His hands are wide open: He bestows as He wishes.

Surely many of them will be increased in rebellion and unfaith by what has been sent to you from your Lord, and We have cast enmity and hatred amongst them until the Day of Resurrection.
Qur’an 5:61-64

and again:

O Apostle! Do not grieve for those who are active in unfaith, such as those who say ‘We believe,’ with their mouths, but whose hears have no faith, and the Jews who eavesdrop with the aim of lies and eavesdrop for other people who do not come to you. They pervert words.
Qur’an 5:41

Muslims, a religious community in which the text of the Qur’an is one important feature to their religion, generally hold the Qur’an’s composition dates no earlier than AD 610. This is in the middle of the last stage of the life of Arianism. This is 50 years after Justinian I_ eradicated Arianism in the Empire and North Africa and 30 years after the date Spain rejected Arianism. But it is before the last Arian king in Europe.

I say this because the Qur’anic author mentions a ‘gap in the apostles’, until ‘our apostle’ arrived. Something ended between the last of the apostles and ‘our apostle.’ The simplest explanation, to me, is apostolic succession — or at least the recourse to it in the near East.

O People of the Book! Certainly Our Apostle has come to you, clarifying for you after a gap in the apostles, lest you should say, ‘There did not come to us any bearer of good news nor any warner.’ Certainly there has come to you a bearer of good news and a warner. And God has power over all things.’
Qur’an 5:19

Emperor Justinian I criminalized Arianism in the Empire. This adds some depths to the Qur’anic author’s rewording of Paul

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.
1 Corinthians 10:23-26

As the Arian religion itself was said to no longer be lawful:

They ask you as to what is lawful for them. Say, ‘All the good things are lawful for you.’ As for what you have taught hunting dogs, teaching them by what God has taught you, eat of what they catch for you and mention God’s Name over it, and be wary of God. God is indeed swift at reckoning.
Qur’an 5:4

The focus of “The Table” on the sacraments — indeed it opens with them — help explain why the Qur’anic author accuses Christians of not following the Gospel — the Christian emperor is not allowing what he saw as the licit mass to be held, and may indeed have made it impossible to be held! Note the defensiveness of the Qur’an — “it is they who are the transgressors” implies an accusation that the Qur’anic author or community have been accused of transgressing the Gospel:

We followed them with Jesus Son of Mary to confirm that which was before him of the Torah, and We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light, confirming what was before it of the Torah, and as guidance and advice for the Godwary.

Let the people of the Gospel judge by what God has sent down in it. Those who do not judge by what God has sent down — it is they who are the transgressors.
Qur’an 5:45-47

and:

So, ‘O People of the Book! You do not stand on anything until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been sent down to you from your Lord.’
Surely many of them will be increased in rebellion and unfaith by what was sent down to you from your Lord. So do not grieve for the faithless lot.
Qur’an 5:68

The New Israel

As John connected the Christians to Israel, and emphasized that the true Israelites were the early Christians and not those who remained in the culturally ‘Jewish’ places of worship, the Qur’anic author sees his community as the continuation of God’s people:

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,

‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
Revelations 2:8-11

The Qur’anic author picks up this theme, to insist this new persecuted community of believers, the Qur’anic community, is continuous with Israel and the early Christians. In the same way the Qur’anic author interlaces Mary-sister-of-Moses and Mary-mother-of-Jesus, the Qur’anic author interlaces the two Twelves — the twelve chiefs of Exodus, the twelve apostles of Acts:

Certainly God took a pledge from the Children of Israel, and We raised among them twelve chiefs. And God said, ‘I am with you! Surely, if you maintain the prayer and give the zakat and have faith in My apostles and support them and lend God a good loan, I will surely absolve you of your misdeeds, and I will surely admit you into the gardens with streams running in them. But whoever of you disbelieves after that has certainly strayed from the right way.’
Qur’an 5:12

The grammatical response to God saying ‘I AM with you’ would be to say ‘God with us’ — IMMANUEL

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:22-23

Faith and Suffering

Fittingly for a group of persecuted believers in Christ, suffering is central to the sacraments. Two explanations of suffering are given. One, a result of faithlessness:

Had the People of the Book believed and been Godwary, We would have absolved them of their misdeeds and admitted them into the gardens of bliss. Had they observed the Torah and the Gospel, and what was sent down to them from their Lord, they would have drawn nourishment from above them and from beneath their feet. There is an upright group among them, but what many of them do is evil.
Qur’an 5:65-66

The other, a result of faith, as for the first martyr:

Relate to them truly the account of Adam’s two sons. When the two of them offered an offering, it was accepted from one of them and not accepted from the other. Said, ‘Surely I will kill you.’

Said, ‘God accepts only from the Godwary Even if you extend your hand toward me to kill me, I will not extend my hand toward you to kill you. Indeed, I fear God, the Lord of all the worlds.’ I desire that you earn my sin and your sin, to become one of the inmates of the Fire, and such is the requital of the wrongdoers.’
Qur’an 5:27-29

Faith does not protect one from suffering.

They supposed there would be no testing, so they became blind and deaf. Thereafter God accepted their repentance, yet many of them became blind and deaf, and God watches what they do.
Qur’an 5:71

But it creates meaning in the suffering, and hope for the last things:

Indeed, the faithful — the Jews, the Sabeans, and the Christians — those who have faith in God and the Last Day and act righteously — they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
Qur’an 5:69

The Lord’s Supper

“The Table” began with the sacraments, and ends with the sacrament: the Lord’s Supper.

When the Disciples said, ‘O Jesus son of Mary! Can your Lord send down to us a table from the sky? Said he, be wary of God, if you are faithful.’

They said, ‘We desire to eat from it, and our hearts will be at rest, we shall know that you have told us the truth, and we will be among witnesses to it.’

Said Jesus son of Mary, ‘O God! Our Lord! Send down to us a table from heaven, to be a festival for us, for the first ones among us and the last ones and a a sign from You, and provide for us; for You are the best of providers.’

God said, ‘I will indeed send it down to you. But should any of you disbelieve after this, I will indeed punish him with a punishment such as I do not punish anyone in all creation.’
Qur’an 5:112-115

The Qur’an uses the prototype of the Last Supper, Christ’s feeding of the multitudes:

Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:30-33

with the actual last meal:

“Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
John 14:8-11

The ‘gap in the apostles’ ended the presence of the men who were capable of speaking for God. In Catholic (and thus Arian) thought, the teaching authority of this role was given to the Church through the Holy Spirit:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:15-18

The Qur’anic author identifies ‘His Apostle’ as the resumption of this office. God, the faithful, and ‘His Apostle’ together are able to teach, as the Church once taught for them:

Your guardian is only God, His Apostle, and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down. Whoever takes God, is Apostles, and the faithful for his guardians — the confederates of God are indeed victorious
Qur’an 5:55

The Qur’anic author likewise quotes Christ from after his resurrection, emphasizing his continuity with John:

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'”
John 20:15-17

But with an addition of the question of partners, which only became an issue worth comment during the Arian crisis. The Qur’anic author loves to sacraments but does not believe that the Church is the bride of the man-God:

There are certainly faithless who say, ‘God is the Messiah, son of Mary.’ But the Messiah had said, ‘O Children of Israel! Worship God, my Lord and you Lord. Indeed, whoever ascribes partners to God, God will forbid him paradise and his refuge will be the Fire, and the wrongdoers will not have any helpers.’
Qur’an 5:72

Deus Vult

Throughout all this the community is protected by God, the ‘apostle,’ and the faithful.

As he surveyed the splitting of God’s people into numerous communities, the Qur’anic author took solace that it only is because God permits it:

For each among you We had appointed a code and a path, and had God wished He would have made you one community, but that He should test you with respect to what He has given you.

So take the lead in all good works. To God shall be the return of you all, whereat He will inform you concerning that about which you used to differ.
Qur’an 5:48

Years later the Catholic pope would echo these words:

The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race, and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives.
Bishop of Rome Francis and Great Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyib, “A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” 2019

Perhaps one day these communities would indeed be one

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Romans 11:25-29

The Book of Jubilees

I have not been as excited reading extra-biblical scriptures since I read The Assembly of the Gods.

The Book of Jubilees, or Little Genesis, at first glance is like a lot of Biblical fan fiction. Famous characters return (in this case Adam through Moses), details are expanded upon (like some extra kids for Adam and Eve), and more time is given to the Biblical stories we know and love. It even incorporates some of them — adventures in The Book of Enoch such as the Watchers and the Giants are mentioned.

Except, it has a few pointed innovations.

And it is the literary basis of the Qur’an.

A Brief Introduction

Jubilees is interesting to me in how it sets the literary basis for the Qur’an. The angelic "We," the narration of history and theology to a Prophet, the written nature of the Logos, and the intentional changes from the Biblical text are all similar to the Qur’an. Before that, though, a few words from the Catholic Encyclopedia on it. In this case, while the Encyclopedia is unfriendly to Jubilees, it is also accurate:

An apocryphal writing, so called from the fact that the narratives and stories contained in it are arranged throughout in a fanciful chronological system of jubilee-periods of forty-nine years each; each event is recorded as having taken place in such a week of such a month of such a Jubilee year. The author assumes an impossible solar year of 364 days (i.e. twelve months of thirty days each, and four intercalary days) to which the Jewish ecclesiastical year of thirteen months of twenty-eight days each exactly corresponds. The whole chronology, for which the author claims heavenly authority, is based upon the number seven.

Except for the fact the author seems to be a supporter of the Maccabees, using the Maccabeen phrase "God Most High" regularly, it’s hard to really understand the author’s motives.

It is somewhat difficult to determine the particular Judaistic school its author belonged to; he openly denies the resurrection of the body; he does not believe in the written tradition; he does not reprobate animal sacrifices, etc. . . . and the fact that he wrote in Hebrew excludes the hypothesis of his Hellenistic tendencies. Equally untenable is the hypothesis advanced by Beer, that he was a Samaritan, for he excludes Mount Garizim, the sacred mount of the Samaritans from the list of the four places of God upon earth, viz. the Garden of Eden, the Mount of the East, Mount Sinai, and Mount Sion.

The oddness of the author’s identity is another similarity to the Qur’an, which sometimes feels integrated, sometimes seems to have two voices, and sometimes even more.

The Royal We

Jubilees narrated by a mysterious "We"…

And thereupon we saw His works , and praised Him, and lauded before Him on account of all His works; for seven great works did He create on the first day.
Jubilees 2:3

as is the Qur’an

We said, ‘O Adam, dwell with your mate in paradise, and eat thereof freely whensoever you wish, but do not approach this tree, lest you should be among the wrongdoers.’
The Heifer 35

… who turns out to be a collection of Angels…

He hath bidden us to keep the Sabbath with Him in heaven and on earth. And He said unto us: ‘Behold, I will separate unto Myself a people from among all the peoples, and these shall keep the Sabbath day, and I will sanctify them unto Myself as My people, and will bless them; as I have sanctified the Sabbath day an do sanctify unto Myself, even so will I bless them, and they shall be My people and I will be their God. And I have chosen the seed of Jacob from amongst all that I have seen, and have written him down as My first-born son, and have sanctified him unto Myself for ever and ever; and I will teach them the Sabbath day, that they may keep the Sabbath thereon from all work.
Jubilees 2:19-20

Presumably these angels are intended to be the same audience God spoke to elsewhere when discussing our species

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech."
Genesis 11:5-7

The Prophetic Hearer

Jubilees is narrated to a prophet, Moses, in the past tense, with changes both small

Amram thy father taught thee writing, and after thou hadst completed three weeks they brought thee into the royal court. And thou wast three weeks of years at court until the time when thou didst go forth from the royal court and didst see an Egyptian smiting thy friend who was of the children of Israel, and though didst slay him and hide him in the sand.
Jubilees 48:10

Parts of the Qur’an also seem to be narrated to Moses, though the identity of the hearer is fluid

When we delivered you from Pharaoh’s clan who inflicted a terrible torment on you, and slaughtered your sons and spared your women, in that there was a great test from your Lord.

And when We parted the sea with you, and We delivered you and drowned Pharaoh’s clan as you looked on.

And when We made an appointment with Moses for forty nights, you took up the Calf in his absence, and you were wrongdoers.

Then We excused you after that so you might give thanks.
The Heifer 49-52

An age of 21 makes more sense than 40 for a crime of rage, but it indicates either a different tradition of exegesis than that held by the author of Acts of the Apostles, or at least an intentional change from it:

"Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian."
Acts 7:23-24

Whatever the details, Jubilees is clearly supposed to be spoken to Moses. The Qur’an likewise a spoken to a prophet — possibly the reader, and at times possibly Moses.

The Written Logos

Jubilees focuses on a celestial Logos, the Tablets of Heaven:

And the judgment of all is ordained and written on the heavenly tablets in righteousness — even all who depart from the path which is ordained for them to walk in; and if they walk not therein, judgment is written down fore every feature and for every kind. And there is nothing in heaven or on earth, or in light or in darkness, or in Sheol or in the depth, or in the place of darkness; and all their judges are ordained and written and engraved.
Jubilees 5:13-15

These Tablets seem to be the Book the Qur’an mentions:

This is the Book, there is no doubt in it, a guidance to the God-wary, who believe in the Unseen, maintain their prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them; and who believe in what has been sent down and what was sent before, and are certain of the Hereafter.
The Heifer 2-5

The Tablets records specific sins and is itself the law by which sin is judged

And for this reason the commandment is written on the heavenly tablets in regard to her that gives birth: if she bears a male, she shall remain in her uncleanliness seven days according to the first week of days, ad thirty and three days shall she remain in the blood of her purifying, and she shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor enter into the sanctuary, until she accomplishes these days which in the case of a male child. But in the case of a female child she shall remain in her uncleanness two weeks of days, according to the first two weeks, and sixty-six days in the blood of her purification, and they will be in all eighty days.
Jubilees 3:10-11

as well as the future itself. The heavenly Tablets, the Logos of this world, are the beginning and end of all things.

And Sarah laughed, for she heard that we had spoken these words with Abraham, and we admonished her and she became afraid and denied that she had laughed on account of these words. And we told her the name of her son, and his name is ordained and written in the heavenly tablets, Isaac, and when we returned to her at a set time, she would have conceived a son.
Jubilees 16:2-3

that have been given to humans multiple times

God — there is no god except Him — is the Living One, the All-sustainer. He has sent down to you the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it, and He had sent down the Torah and the Evangel before as guidance for mankind, and He has send down the Criterion. Indeed, there is a severe punishment for those who deny the signs of God, and God is all-mighty, avenger.
The Family of Amram 2-4

This is all in opposition to the Christian idea, that the logos is not a creation of God, but God Himself:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1:1-5

Jubilees and the Qur’an both point to written document in heaven of which all Scriptures are an incarnation.

Meaningful Changes

Jubilees changes the Biblical narratives, as for example of Jacob killing Esau!

And after that Judah spake to Jacob, his father, and said unto him: "Bend they bow, father, and send forth thy arrows and cast down the adversary and slay the enemy, and mayst thou have the power, for we shall not slay thy brother, for he is such as thou, and he is like thee let us give him honor. Then Jacob bent his bow and sent forth the arrow and struck Esau his brother, and slew him.
Jubilees 38:1-2

instead of the Biblical narrative of a heart-felt reconciliation

But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, "Who are these with you?" …

And Jacob said, "No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. 11 Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have [a]enough.” So he urged him, and he took it.

Then Esau said, "Let us take our journey; let us go, and I will go before you."
Genesis 33:4-5,10-12

(The Qur’an also changes this by omission — though Jacob called Israel appears many times in the Qur’an, his brother Esau is never mentioned.)

These same traits — the scripture narrated by "We, the prophet, the Book in heaven, the changes — are are attributes of the Qur’an. To give just one example, in Jubilees names the animal:

On the the six days of the second week we brought, according to the word of God, unto Adam all the breasts, and all the cattle, and all the birds, and everything that moves on the earth, and everything that moves in the water, according to their kinds, and according to their types: the beasts on the first day; the cattle on the second day; the birds on the third day; and all that which moves on the earth on the fourth day; and that which moves in the water on the fifth day. And Adan named them all by their respective names, and as he called them, so was their name.
Jubilees 3:1-2

As Adam does in the Bible:

Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
Genesis 2:19-20

But in Qur’an he is told the names:

When your Lord said to the angels, ‘I am indeed going to set a viceroy on the earth, they said, ‘Will You set in it someone who will cause corruption it it and shed blood, while we celebrate Your praise and proclaim Your sanctity?’ He said,’Indeed, I know what you do not know.’

And he taught Adam the Names, all of them; the presented them to the angels and said, ‘Tell me the names of these, if you are truthful.’

They said, ‘Immaculate are You! We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed, You are the All-knowing, the All-wise!

He said, ‘O Adam, inform them of their names and when he had informed them of their names, He said, "Did I not tell you that I know the Unseen of the heavens and the earth, and that I know whatever you disclose and whatever you conceal?’
The Heifer 30-33

The changes are striking and thought-provoking if one has already read Genesis. But I do not know if Jubilees was supposedly to be in opposition to Genesis, or to replace it.

Final Thoughts

I was as excited reading The Book of Jubilees as The Assembly of the Gods. Here is why. Assembly was the first time I read the stories of ancient Canaan. Reading it I understood the world of the early prophets and the patriarchs, What those stories from ancient Canaan were to the Old Testament, Jubilees is to the Qur’an. The rhetorical strategies adopted by the writer of the Qur’an are the same as the writer of Jubilees. I assume the author of the Qur’an read Jubilees.

To understand the texts of the Old and New Testaments, one needs to read of Ba’al, Asarte, Lady Anat, Old Judge River, and El.

To understand the text of the Qur’an, and how the Scriptures are extended and modified into Qur’anic religion, one needs to read the Book of Jubilees.

I read the Book of Jubilees in the Kindle edition.