Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Satan and Islam: another reverberation

In a couple of p
revious essays here (e.g., Islam's Darker Source, as well as Islam and the Psychology of Satan: The Tragicomedy of Hell on Earth, I have flirted with taking a stab at explaining Islam as, in effect, a religion created by Satan.

The first problem with such an explanation is that I am not a Christian (nor a Jew, a Zoroastrian, or Muslim -- all of whom believe in the existence of Satan). As I explained in the second-linked essay above, I approach this from a comparative religions viewpoint, considering Satan as a mythopoetic symbolism -- which, incidentally, does not mean that, just because it is not considered a literalistic truth, it does not symbolize a reality.

At any rate, in addition to the glimmers of Satan in Islam I touched on in the two essays linked above (the temptation of a Paradise that is really a Hell; and the broader more overarching jealousy of Satan against the Man-God, Jesus), my attention was recently aroused by further echoes or parallels in this regard from the Koran, helpfully provided by the Jihad Watch reader "traeh", whose website of Islamic texts (Quoting Islam) I have put up on my blogroll (though I don't think he realized the full import of the quotes he was pointing out).

In the comments section of a Jihad Watch article about how the University of London College (sounds a tad redundant, eh?) is holding, or has held, a Christmas service featuring Koran readings, "traeh" pointed out some Koran verses that go profoundly against the Bible. I now quote from his comment.For example, in Qur'an Chapter 42, Verse 11:
The Creator of the heavens and the earth. He hath made for you pairs of yourselves, and of the cattle also pairs, whereby He multiplieth you. Naught is as His likeness; and He is the Hearer, the Seer.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness
In the Judeo-Christian conception, human beings, made in God's likeness, are children of God the Father. In the Qur'an, Allah never calls himself "Father," and in several places denies He has any sons or daughters. Rather, human beings are only Allah's servants or slaves. "I have only created jinns and men that they may serve me." (Qur'an 51:56)

End quote.

These two contrasts between the Bible and the Koran indicate a fascinating possibility. They document the envy of Satan for God's creation and His special creation, his creatures the human beings. While this envy is never spelled out in the Bible, it did become part of the Judaeo-Christian mythologoumena of Lucifer/Satan found copiously in the intertestamental literature. One
study of the period, for example, cites a typical idea expressed in such writings:

After Lucifer along with all the angels is commanded to adore God's latest creation, Adam, Lucifer says:

"I do not have it within me to worship Adam... I will not worship him who is lower and later than me... He ought to worship me..."

As the authors of that study note: This Luciferian envy "is cognate with the idea of angelic opposition to the creation of Adam, a subject that recurs in [early] Rabbinic literature..."

And let us recall that this intertestamental literature, which included much apocryphal, heterodox and outright heretical and Gnostic texts, continued to flourish throughout the first few centuries A.D. reflecting, and in turn causing, much of the heated debates and strife of the developing theology of the early Church. As Christianity slowly gained dominance by the latter part of the first half of the new millennium, those undercurrents of non-orthodox and anti-orthodox belief and literature never vanished, but only went more and more underground, finding expression in various sects that kept popping up here and there.

Until one hot day in the desert they found massive expression not merely in an odd little sect doomed to die out and remain only in the dusty pages of anti-heretical writings, but rather in what would become a major world religion: Islam.

Those passages from the Koran we quoted above indicate an envy on the part of Allah against humans -- an envy whose supposed victory one can see is to be ensured by the apodictic counter-claims against the Judaeo-Christian view of Mankind.

"No!" thunders Satan with his Allah-mask on, "Mankind has not been created in the likeness of God -- Mankind is nothing more than an animal, which I have created to be my slave!"

Seen from a certain angle, it becomes painfully clear what is going on. Satan could never handle his primal trauma -- the creation of, and favor for, Mankind by God. Satan wasn't about to ever forget that horrible wound. He nursed it throughout history, and finally found a way to assuage his pain -- an ingenious way: the creation of a major religion that avows fanatically to worship God, and God alone.
In light of this, a scholarly study of the Islamic sect of the Yezidis has this interesting information:

...the alleged devil-worshiping practices of of the Yezidis show less affinity with the strict dualism of the pre-Islamic and Indo-Iranian religious tradition of Zoroastrianism, which acknowledges a principle of Evil as being of nearly equal standing with the God of Good, than with the Islamic mystical vision of the devil or Iblis. In this vision, the devil is not so much the principle of evil, but in fact, the most devoted of all God’s servants, because in refusing to bow for Adam, he refuses the divine command but obeys the divine Will, which forbids God’s creatures to worship anything but Him. In other words, the devil is pictured as the strictest monotheist of all God’s creatures, and it is precisely his tragedy that he will not regain his rightful place next to God until the end of time.

Indeed, the genius of Judaeo-Christianity is not so much its crystallization of monotheism, as its elevation of Man, finding supreme expression precisely in the Trinity, wherein the Human God is part of the Godhead. Pace many of the fiercer Protestants (particularly Calvinists) who resemble more Muslims than Christians in this regard, this theanthropology found natural expression in, for example, the famous dictum of the Patristic theologian Athanasius:

"God became man, so that man might become deified."

Thus, one could say that Islam is not so much an assault against God and right worship of God -- but rather an assault against God's Creation and the crown jewel of His Creation, Mankind. Consider the centuries of grotesque and ghoulish carnage Muslims have been inflicting on humans -- not merely murdering and massacring them, but also torturing and mutilating their bodies, beheading them, raping them, enslaving them, and holding millions of women in bondage in a pathological puritanism and misogyny (a protracted orgy of carnage that is not a mere bizarre footnote in medieval history but, as we know all too well, is metastasizing horribly in our time with the global revival of Islamic jihad).  

The Judaeo-Christian theanthropology, by contrast, reflected a proper esteem for humanity, even if too often flouted in the breach; which made all the more grievous his fall from grace, and the tragedy of history requiring salvation. An esteem, and a tragedy, that was to find its fulfillment in the event of God becoming Himself human in Jesus Christ in order to recapitulate the life and death of man -- and, one hopes, the arighting of his original destiny. For, after all, as St. Paul symbolized, Christ was the "second Adam".

The mystery of Lucifer is that such a good, and apparently perfect, angel would begin to succumb to the itch of envy at this last creature, and allowed that itch to gnaw at his interior being until it transmogrified into a monstrous rebellion. Along the way, as history devolved, he found a grotesquely clever way to, let us say, channel his churning hatred for creation and its star. He founded Islam.

And through Islam, Man is seduced not so much to hate God directly, as to -- through the wickedly ingenious trick ot being fooled into thinking he is worshipping the true God -- hate himself, hate Creation, and hate all other humans who do not join this cult of supreme self-hatred.


Traeh said...

"Satan and Islam: another reverberation" is a fun and enlightening exercise in theological imagination, Hesperado.

You are right, I hadn't considered that aspect of the documents I quoted. You've uncovered a rather exciting interpretation of Islam.

I recall something relevant Spencer said. Maybe the passage I'm remembering is somewhere in "Blogging the Qur'an." It was in a context where Spencer mentions that Allah demands that Satan bow down to humankind. Commenting on that, Spencer seems a bit indefinite about whether it means that Islamic doctrine, like the Bible, sees human beings as made in the image of God. I take it Spencer meant that if even angels must bow down to man and worship him, that could suggest man has a high status -- worship suggests a godlike status. Spencer seemed to be a bit unsure, while finding it doubtful, that Islamic doctrine believes men are made in God's image.

I recall that I left a comment in response. I said I thought that Allah's demand that Satan bow down to human beings might not be an expression of any belief that human beings are made in the image of God. Allah's demand could merely have been a way to emphasize that angels -- including Satan -- are not to be worshiped by men -- Allah alone is to be worshiped. How could Allah possibly make that point more clearly than by going so far as to demand that Satan worship man? If Satan is to worship man, then Allah has clearly established a theological hierarchy where man need worship nothing but Allah.

You suggest in your piece that Islam in a way is not so much about monotheism as about attacking God's creation and its crown, humankind. But the two goals -- Islam's extreme form of monotheism, and attacking humankind -- are one, as your piece itself suggests, in that Islam attacks humankind precisely by rejecting the Incarnation (the deification of a human being); by rejecting the Incarnation and triune monotheism, Islam at the same moment establishes an extreme and absolute form of monotheism, more uncompromising than that developed within Judaism as well. Islam's extreme form of monotheism is a central factor in the establishment of a totalitarian system that destroys man.

But one of course needn't expect every contradiction to be resolved in a sprawling doctrine like that of Islam.

I've become increasingly interested in comparing Judaism with Islam. It seems to me the differences are huge, and the similarities mostly superficial.

Traeh said...

I also found interesting your indication of a symbolic (not literalistic) approach to knowledge of spiritual realities. Often -- though not in your case -- a symbolic approach implies a debunking of spiritual realities. As you perhaps know, I consider the spiritual world real, and spiritual beings real, but I reject a purely literalistic approach to conceptualization of those realities. As I understand these things, our concepts can progressively approach closer and closer (asymptotically!) to the literal truth via symbolic action. But the whole truth always remains a bit beyond where we are. But concepts can also do something else.

To understand what I refer to, we need to ask why it is that thinking -- ordinary thinking at least -- is generally felt to be a qualitatively empty experience, by comparison with the world of perception. Thinking is felt to be so empty that many experts believe it does not have its own reality and is merely an epiphenomenon of electro-chemical reactions in the brain, and the like. For those experts, and less consciously, for many modern people, "thoughts," "I", "soul," "mind" are not non-material realities. The sense that they are non-material is an illusion created by the physical brain.

Leaving aside that whole debate, of whether the notion of "soul" or mind is nothing more than a superstitious ghost story told to itself by the purely physical machine of the human body -- leaving that debate aside, we can nevertheless note that that debate arises because, whatever the actual status of "soul," our ordinary experience of soul is something that, by comparison with the visible world of nature, often seems like a non-existent ghost in the machine, a mere rumor without basis, almost nothing. That is why many students of philosophy today laugh at Plato for talking about "mere" ideas as if they were as real as tables and chairs. After all, today we all know, don't we, that ideas are not anything like as real as chairs. At least that is the commonplace bias of today. "Ideas" are "really" just brain chemicals. Chairs and brain chemicals and other physical things are what is really real. The rest is a "merely" a fairy tale.

Naturally then, people often take physical reality to be the ultimate reality. Modern awareness generally experiences the world in that way.

But what if one could use thought in such a way that it became as evident a fact as physical nature? Evident differently, to be sure, but evident nonetheless? What if spirit could become as evident and rich a reality as nature?

How might one do that?
(continued in next comment)

Traeh said...

(continued from above)

It seems to me it has to do with learning to think in images. I don't refer to ordinary metaphor or poetry, but to something in some ways like poetry. But "poetry" that endeavors toward objective awareness and knowledge of objective realities normally hidden.

Ordinary thought relies not on images nearly so much as on abstractions. We use words that, by comparison with images, have a very limited, largely abstract verbal content. A few sentences in a dictionary -- sentences that are themselves abstract -- can sum up the meaning of most words. But what if one uses images, or metaphor, as a means toward spiritual experience of spiritual facts? What if one learns to think in images as well as in abstractions?

The thing about an image -- for example, say an image of a water drop, or a cat, or a piece of feldspar -- is that, like the thing itself in nature, the image has a certain inexhaustible quality. Just as an actual piece of feldspar has such an infinitude of qualities that one could never finish describing it, so the image of a piece of feldspar can embody that infinite richness to some extent. The image is the opposite of abstraction. It is the experience of endlessly describable -- i.e., concrete -- realities, that leads us to feel nature as undeniably real. But if one learns to use feldspar, or any natural or visible phenomenon, as an image-concept, a metaphor, then thinking, and in thinking, the spirit itself, begins to take on the factual quality of experience that today is usually only felt in the physical world. But the facticity that can emerge via thinking in images presents itself as specifically non-physical facticity. One becomes directly aware of a spiritual world as real, rich and qualitatively diverse -- or more so than the physical world, and from which the physical world is derived over time and at every moment.

While they made mistakes, the chief teachers of the sort of systematic imagination I have in mind seem to be Goethe -- in his attempts at creating a qualitative science (his theory of colors, his botany, his discovery of the human intermaxillary bone, his other attempts at science) -- and then later, whatever the flaws in his views, Rudolf Steiner, who worked to develop and understand Goethe's approach to science, and was a sort of master of mythopoesis, but mythopoesis that wished to be more cognitive than poetry. Steiner sometimes sounds literalistic in his approach, but that appearance is just window-dressing put up for the sake of the positivistic fashion of Steiner's time. Steiner understood positivism with crystal clarity and was in fact way beyond it. If one reads his early, purely philosophical works, especially his Ph.D. thesis (Truth and Knowledge), or his book The Philosophy of Freedom, or his first book An Epistemology Implicit in Goethe's Worldview, one sees that. One also sees that he understood that imagination underlies every concept, even the most "literal," and that he thought that art could mediate objective knowledge. As to literalism, Steiner often said that the process of thinking was much more important than the fixed or sedimented results. Steiner distinguished between the letter and the spirit of his own statements, although his students sometimes fail to do so. It's more difficult to catch the drift of a statement than to repeat it like a parrot.

(continued below)

Traeh said...

(continued from above)

If one takes Steiner's ideas too literally, they become false, nothing more than theories, and not necessarily good ones, about the world. But if instead one takes them as a kind of mythopoesis, I've found that they can indeed mediate a kind of superconscious awareness of living spiritual realities as real and convincing as the physical realities of nature. Within the limits of mythopoesis, Steiner's thinking can also mediate valuable objective theories about the world, as well as direct experiences of concrete spirit. But those theories about the world are mere approximations, and sometimes bad ones, as Steiner himself admits. What is most notable is how, if one works with those approximations intensively enough, one's attention can be withdrawn from the whole question of how or whether they are true about some objective state of affairs. One's attention is drawn instead to a strange life -- like higher spiritual realities, awakening in one's awareness through those approximations. This is much more true of some of Steiner's books than others.

Steiner claimed to have met Christ as a spiritual being, and held that Christ was the pivot of cosmic and human evolution. But Steiner's views of what happened with the Incarnation are sometimes bizarre and extremely heterodox. But again, the most important thing is not, in my view, whether his statements are entirely true about some state of objective affairs external to the statement. The most important thing is the manner or conceptual style of those statements, which in some cases mediates a new, because Western, form of superconsciousness. I call it "superconsciousness" because it is a consciousness that is no longer ghost-like. It is in a spiritual sense "densified." It seems superabundant and sun-like. The spiritual world it reveals seems more indubitably real than the very real chair you can stub your toe on. At any rate, that is how I would describe such intimations of it as I have encountered in my own experience.

Hesperado said...

Thanks Traeh, interesting stuff.

I'm dubious about Steiner, and I'm not sure I'd want to plow through hundreds of pages of mythopoesis; particularly since I already believe in its validity.

Your last paragraph of your last comment evokes quite strongly Plotinus. Not sure if you intended that. If you haven't read much of him, you might find him very relevant. He took Plato's "real Ideas" idea and ran with it, so to speak. Also, he was firmly anti-Gnostic, which bodes well.

As for the Koran passage you alluded to -- about Allah commanding Satan to worship humans, if you could locate the verse, I'd appreciate it greatly. Somehow, I suspect there's a caveat lurking in that verse which would distinguish it from all the other Christian and Jewish texts pertaining to that meme.

Also, pertaining to Islamic monotheism and my theme in my essay: the point I'm suggesting is that Islamic monotheism and the submission to God alone is a mask -- a re-direction of submission to Satan, through duping humans into thinking they are practicing a "pure" monotheism. This then is convolved with Satan's envy and angery against the adoration of humans. By cleverly co-opting Monotheism, Satan ensures that no adoration will also flow to humans -- the humanity of Adam, and the humanity of the second Adam, Jesus.

More perhaps later to comment on with regard to your interesting remarks above.

Traeh said...

I found in Spencer's Qur'an commentary the passage I was remembering:

2:30-39 tells the story of Adam and Eve, in a manner suggesting that the hearers of the recitation are already familiar with the story. Allah tells the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam (v. 34), a command that appears to depend upon the Biblical notion of mankind’s having been created in the image of God, although that idea does not appear here. According to Ibn Kathir, “Allah stated the virtue of Adam above the angels, because He taught Adam, rather than them, the names of everything.” Satan refuses to prostrate himself, thereby becoming an unbeliever (v. 34), and tempts Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit. Allah promises revelations to guide mankind, warning them that those who ignore these revelations will be punished with hellfire. -- Qur'an 2:1 through 2:39

Here are some relevant Qur'an passages:

And He imparted unto Adam the names of all things; then He brought them within the ken of the angels and said: "Declare unto Me the names of these [things], if what you say is true." -- Qur'an 2:30

They replied: "Limitless art Thou in Thy glory! No knowledge have we save that which Thou hast imparted unto us. Verily, Thou alone art all-knowing, truly wise." -- Qur'an 2:31

Said He: "O Adam, convey unto them the names of these [things]." And as soon as [Adam] had conveyed unto them their names, [God] said: "Did I not say unto you, `Verily, I alone know the hidden reality of the heavens and the earth, and know all that you bring into the open and all. that you would conceal'?" -- Qur'an 2:32

And when We told the angels, "Prostrate yourselves before Adam!" -they all prostrated themselves, save Iblis, who refused and gloried in his arrogance: and thus he became one of those who deny the truth. -- Qur'an 2:33

And these:

[And God] said: "What has kept thee from prostrating thyself when I commanded thee?" Answered [Iblis]: "I am better than he: Thou hast created me out of fire, whereas him Thou hast created out of clay." -- Qur'an 7:12

[God] said: "Down with thee, then, from this [state] -for it is not meet for thee to show arrogance here! Go forth, then: verily, among the humiliated shalt thou be!" -- 7:13

Said [Iblis]: "Grant me a respite till the Day when all shall be raised from the dead." - 7:14

[And God] replied: "Verily, thou shalt be among those who are granted a respite." -- 7:15

[Whereupon Iblis] said: "Now that Thou hast thwarted me," shall most certainly lie in ambush for them all along Thy straight way, -- 7:16

and shall most certainly fall upon them openly as well as in a manner beyond their ken, and from their right and from their left: and most of them Thou wilt find ungrateful." -- 7:17

[And God] said: "Go forth from here, disgraced and disowned! [And] as for such of them as follow thee - I will most certainly fill hell with you all! -- 7:18

More in next comment.

Traeh said...

Here's another location:

AND [remember that] when We told the angels, "Prostrate yourselves before Adam," they all prostrated themselves, save Iblis: he [too] was one of those invisible beings, but then he turned away from his Sustainer's command. Will you, then, take him and his cohorts for (your], masters instead of Me, although they are your foe? How vile an exchange on the evildoers' part!
-- Qur'an 18:50

That's all I could find at the moment...

Traeh said...

I should know more about Plotinus. My understanding of him is that he is a bit of a laggard who brings a vestige of pre-Christian ancient Greek consciousness into Christian times. I'm thinking of his emphasis on "the One" -- Unless I'm mistaken, for him, what gives the individual his individuality is not something non-physical, but merely the bodily container. The individual is not truly individual, any more than the water in a glass is individualized. Once the bodily container goes, the "individual" merges into "the One" rather as the water in a glass merges with the sea if one pours the glass into the sea. If that's correct of Plotinus, then I suppose he is pre-Christian, in terms of the evolution of consciousness. I gather Ibn Rushd (Averroës) held similarly to Plotinus in that respect -- but Aquinas differed with Averroës: the individual is not merely a temporary illusion due to a bounding physical container. The spiritual world is not merely "One." It is irreducibly both one and many. In its oneness it is at least as differentiated, rich, and variegated as the visible world. One can perhaps get some idea of that by considering a color spectrum -- you have distinct colors, yet they flow continuously and without break into one another.

Traeh said...

Hesperado said:
Also, pertaining to Islamic monotheism and my theme in my essay: the point I'm suggesting is that Islamic monotheism and the submission to God alone is a mask -- a re-direction of submission to Satan, through duping humans into thinking they are practicing a "pure" monotheism. This then is convolved with Satan's envy and angery against the adoration of humans. By cleverly co-opting Monotheism, Satan ensures that no adoration will also flow to humans -- the humanity of Adam, and the humanity of the second Adam, Jesus.

Yes. A fascinating line of thought.

Traeh said...

Very interesting that you are neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim, yet, unless I'm misreading you, you seem to acknowledge a spiritual world and spiritual beings. Are you adherent to any of the major religious traditions? Are you agnostic? You don't seem to fit into any pigeon holes!

Hesperado said...


Thanks for those Koran passages. They certainly show a copious evidence of having borrowed from the surrounding Judaeo-Christian mythologoumena about Satan. I couldn't detect any loophole in them; though it's possible that in the original Arabic some wry sarcasm, lost in the translation, may be evident, which may substantiate my theory. Otherwise, it would indicate of course that my Satanic theory isn't literally true -- or if true, only partly so, in a context of a mishmash of conflicting (and when put together incoherent) meanings due to a promiscuous borrowing of a patchwork of texts (including heretical and Gnostic).

As for Plotinus, I don't think he was quite as simplex as you portray him. I think he preserved the tension of the One and Many -- but that tension is tensional to a great extent precisely through its imbalance: it's not an eternal equipoise to rest in, but a disturbing dynamism whereby the logic of the One is undermined by the facticity of the Many while at the same time it is the only logical conclusion unless one is going to be a nihilist. Again, Plotinus may often give the impression of a dogmatic equanimity about the "end game" so to speak; but if one reads him more carefully (and he's extraordinarily complex), the paradox becomes more evident. He wasn't a stupid man; therefore he had good reason to articulate reality in a complex way -- and reality wouldn't be complex if the One were the only reality.

Many thinkers do elaborate in complex terms the contradiction of asserting the One to be the only reality while obviously acknowledging the competing reality of the Many through the very act of having to complicatedly deny its reality! But I really think Plotinus was above such transparent (albeit all-too common) nonsense.

As for where I stand, I have been greatly influenced by Voegelin, and I like to think he was correct in his claim that he was bringing nothing new to the table, but largely simply clarifying the classic wisdom of the West (the pre-Socratics, Homer, Hesiod, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Chrysippus, Cicero, etc., and then all the Christian philosophers -- not to leave out Israel (he wrote an entire volume, Israel and Revelation), as a precursor to his study of the Graeco-Roman philosophical tradition) which had gone through a complicated process of becoming considerably obfuscated by the epochal transition into modernity.

[continued next]

Hesperado said...


In that complex context, I'd say I am agnostic, yet also a believer with hope, faith and love -- and that this is, in fact, the perennial core of the Western way, obscured by writings and traditions that have tended to feel the need to over-emphasize the dogmatic aspect in order, as Voegelin put it, to protect the core truth. The problem happens when the protective covering over time becomes hardened or in Voegelin's terms "hypostatized" and the outer shell becomes a substitute for the transcendent, and therefore inescapably elusive, center which is the reality being protected. But Voegelin did not merely see himself as restoring the transcendent content obscured by "dogma" -- he also saw, from the other end so to speak, another major problem to modernity: the skeptical denial of the content by the anti-dogmatists, insofar as they have tended to agree with the dogmatists that it is the shell which must be fixated upon. One side defends the shell; the other side rejects it. The latter have good reason to, Voegelin says; while the former, on the other hand, were really protecting something worth protecting, which has been lost. And the anti-dogmatists, for the most part, have "thrown out the baby with the bathwater" -- since they found no "baby" anyway. A few moderns Voegelin approved of, as showing signs of groping in the right direction to restore the classic experience of reason -- e.g., Albert Camus.

A clear and well-written introduction to Voegelin's thought is the biography by Eugene Webb, Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History -- particularly the introduction, which lays out the essentials.

Traeh said...

Thanks Hesperado, probably I've oversimplified Plotinus. I'm not familiar with Voegelin but am now curious.

Traeh said...

A few more Qur'an verses about prostrating angels.

And (remember) when your Lord said to the angels: "I am going to create a man (Adam) from sounding clay of altered black smooth mud. So, when I have fashioned him completely and breathed into him (Adam) the soul which I created for him, then fall (you) down prostrating yourselves unto him." So, the angels prostrated themselves, all of them together. Except Iblis (Satan), - he refused to be among the prostrators. S. 15:28-31

And (remember) when We said to the angels: "Prostrate yourselves to Adam." They prostrated (all) except Iblis (Satan), who refused. S. 20:116

(Remember) when your Lord said to the angels: "Truly, I am going to create man from clay". So when I have fashioned him and breathed into him (his) soul created by Me, then you fall down prostrate to him." So the angels prostrated themselves, all of them: Except Iblis (Satan) he was proud and was one of the disbelievers. S. 38:71-74

Hesperado said...

Thanks again, Traeh.

In light of all these seemingly contra-indicating Koran verses, I went back to the YAQUB site that has 10 different translations (http://www.quranbrowser.com/).

There, I re-examined one of the first verses you had quoted which I used for my essay (51:56) and found an interesting thing: Six of the translations have "worship" while four have "serve". Thus, for example, Palmer's translation has:

And I have not created the ginn and mankind save that they may worship me.

Furthermore, two of the Muslim translators (Hilali-Khan and Khalifa) translate such that they emphasize the "worship" part with "me alone":

I did not create the jinns and the humans except to worship Me alone.

(It's possible that as Muslims, they took liberties with the Arabic in order to emphasize the submission aspect to Allah.)

The Arabic word all ten seem to be translating as either "serve" or "worship" is contained in:


-- which you may readily recognize as a permutation of the same linguistic particle for "slave" (Abd).

At any rate, there seems to be a hint, at least, of a contradiction between this verse, and all those verses (which are all more or less repetitions of each other, probably borrowed from some Jewish or Christian and/or heterodox sectarian source) enjoining the angels to bow down to Adam.

Traeh said...

Yes. I'd say more than a hint of contradiction.

Be that as it may, recall Muhammad temporarily yielding to polytheism in his Satanic verses. I wonder if the contrasting verses that speak of Allah telling Satan and the angels to worship man come after the Satanic verses, as a kind of "over-correction" or the like. If not for the verses about Allah humbling the angels beneath man, the natural assumption presumably would be that, though the angels are lower than Allah, they are higher than man, and Muslims might have been tempted to worship the angels along with Allah or as intercessors with Allah.

In any event, here's a webpage that has thirty or forty translations of 51:56.


I see that the overwhelming majority of the translations there use "worship".

The use of "serve" as an occasional alternative translation demonstrates in Arabic an overlap in the meanings of "worship" and "serve," and I wonder if that overlap is more pronounced in Arabic than in Western languages.

Anonymous said...

when God speaks, God use We/I/Us/Me, but you can NEVER find verses referring to God as “They/Their”.

Then God said, “Let Us make man ‘in Our image, according to Our likeness’; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26

God was speaking with majestic authority thus using Us/Our in Gen1:26.

God said clearly “in Our Image according to Our likeness” referring to mankind becoming rulers and creators on earth. Not by any means using the physical of God to create shape of man and female, but rather figure-like to that of God having dominance over universe, but for mankind they having dominance over other living creature on earth.

And God created man ‘in His (notice verse do Not use THEIR) own image, in the image of God’ created He him; male and female created He them. Genesis 1:27

And if we use Pauline-Christian logic. Who's image was the verse referring to? Father? As Christians should know that Word and Spirit do not have image.
Do Christians believe Father/Word/Holy Spirit have image or all three were imageless?