Thursday, May 22, 2008

Genesis in the Quran

The Bible paints the flaws of its characters so vividly it has been accused of being a violent and pornographic text. From Moses burying the body of a slain enemy in the sand to Samson cavorting with prostitutes, few details are left out.

The Quran is different. Muslims believe that Allah protects Prophets from ever committing such gross sins. The Arabic word used to describe this situation, "ma'sum", carries the connotation of infallability that Catholics attribute to the Pope when he is speaking ex cathedra. The Quran extends this idea to include the Prophet's entire life. Descriptions such as the failings of King David, where he engaged in sexual relations with a married woman and then had her husband killed so he could marry her, are what have led Muslims to conclude that unsavory Jews must have altered the original Biblical texts. To them it is inconceivable that a Prophet would do such a thing.

I thought of this last evening while watching a Quranic-based documentary on the life of Lot. The Bible presents him as a rather pitiful man. Greed drove him to Sodom, even though he did not share its homosexual lifestyle. He hosted angels in the form of men who came to warn him that God was going to destroy the city. When the men of the city surrounded his house demanding that he give them sexual access to the angel guests, Lot pleaded with the men to take his daughters instead. The Bible quotes him as saying, " I have two daughters who are virgins; take them and do anything you want with them, but please do nothing to my guests." Lot did at least honor the Middle Eastern tradition of protecting one's guests.

The clerics who explained the story on TV last evening saw it quite differently. It would be inconceivable for a Prophet to stoop so low as to throw his daughters out to a gang of rapists. In their account, Lot tried to persuade the men of the village to become heterosexual and renounce their homosexual activity. He was telling them, in essence, "Why don't you change, and marry women such as my daughters?"

In the study of history, older texts are usually granted greater authority. If a book written 400 years ago claimed that William Shakespeare was born near London and an author who lived 200 years ago claimed that Shakespeare's birthplace was Brussels, no-one would give any credit to the later claim. It is only in Islam that credit is always given to the later text.


Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here:

Anonymous said...

can't there be one unbiased source of comparison online? just ONE???