Reading the Koran. 5


A famine overtook the Quraysh and Mohammed’s uncle Abu Talib had a large family. Abu Talib was a well respected tribal leader, but had fallen on hard times. Mohammed went to another uncle, Al Abbas, and they both went to Abu Talib and offered to help raise two of his children.

Ali went into Mohammed’s house to be raised by him and Khadija. When Ali turned ten he joined with Mohammed in his new religion, Islam.

Mohammed and Ali used to go to the edge of town to practice their new ritual prayers. One day Abu Talib came upon them and asked what were they doing? Mohammed replied, “Uncle, this is the religion of Allah, His angels, His prophets and the religion of Abraham. Allah has sent me as an apostle to all mankind. You, my uncle, deserve that I should teach you the truth and call you to Islam.” His uncle said that he could not give up the religion of his ancestors, but that he would support Mohammed.

The native Arabic religions were tribal in that every tribe had its deities, but the ceremonies and traditions were passed down by oral tradition, not in writing.

Mohammed lived in Mecca, which had been a religious center for many generations. It had a stone building that was roughly shaped like a cube and was called a Kabah. There were at least five other Kabahs in other towns in Arabia. The Kabah was a religious center for many of the native religions. Some sources say that there were as many as 360 deities worshipped in Mecca, a city that was profoundly polytheistic and tolerant.

There were religious festivals that involved pilgrimages to Mecca, so at different times of the year, many tribes would gather to trade and do religious ceremonies.

One of the many gods in Mecca was Allah, a moon god. The native religions did not have any formal structure to the many deities, but Allah was a high god. Allah was the primary god of the Quraysh tribe of Mohammed, and Mohammed’s father was named Abdullah, slave of Allah.

The idea of having an Arabian prophet was new. The sources of the native religions were unknown, but the new religion of Islam had a self-declared prophet. The Jews had prophets, and now the Arabs had a prophet in Mohammed.

87:1 Praise the name of your Lord, the Most High, who has created and proportioned all things, who has determined man’s destinies and guided them, who brought forth the pasture, and reduced it to dusty stubble.

87:6 We will teach you to recite [the Koran] so that you do not forget, unless Allah wishes. He knows everything manifest and secret, and We will make it easy for you [Mohammed] to attain a state of ease. Therefore give warning because the warning is profitable. He who fears Allah will receive the warning, and only the most unfortunate ones will avoid it.

They will be flung into Hellfire, in which there is no death or life.

Since Mohammed was a prophet, it was natural that the Koran should pick the thread of the history of the Jews and their prophets, such as Abraham and Moses.


51:24 Have you heard the story of Abraham’s honored guests? They went to him and said, “Peace!” And he replied, “Peace, strangers.” And he went among his household and brought out a fatted calf, and he set it before them and said, “Do you want to eat?” They did not, and he became afraid of them. They said to him, “Do not be afraid,” and gave him the news that he was going to father a wise son. Abraham’s wife came forward with a cry, striking her face, and said, “But I am old and barren!”

51:30 They said, “Your Lord says it is true, and he is wise and knowing.”

51:31 Abraham said, “What errand are you on, messengers?” They replied, “We are sent to a wicked people, to shower them with stones of clay, sent by your Lord for their excesses.”

51:35 We went to evacuate the believers in the city, but We only found one Muslim family, and We left signs warning those who fear the painful punishment. Moses was another sign. We sent him to Pharaoh with manifest authority. But Pharaoh was confident of his might and turned his back and said, “You are a magician, or insane.” So We seized him and his army and cast them into the sea, and he had only himself to blame.


79: 15 Have you heard the story of Moses? How his Lord called to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa, saying, “Go to Pharaoh. He has rebelled, and say, ‘Do you want to be purified?’ Then I will guide you to your Lord so that you may fear Him.”

79:20 And Moses showed Pharaoh a great miracle. But Pharaoh denied it and disobeyed. Furthermore, he turned his back and rebelled against Allah. He gathered an army and made a proclamation, saying, “I am your lord, the most high.” So Allah punished him and made an example of him in this life and the hereafter. Surely this is a lesson for those who fear Allah.


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