If you’ve read the Qur’an, as I have, you’ll realize that it is hardly the book to absorb if you want a peaceful and loving way of life. The verses written later, in particular, are bloodthirsty, oppressive, and misogynist, and those parts, as all Muslims know, take moral precedence over the nicer and earlier parts.
There used to be a fully annotated “Skeptic’s Annotated Qur’an” on the Internet, which singles out Qur’anic verses (using symbols like skulls or question marks) as being violent or promulgating injustice, cruelty, misogyny, intolerance (especially to those who don’t believe in Islam), and so on. I finally found that annotated version, and you can read it here. There’s also an annotated Bible, Book of Mormon, and even a Bhagavad Gita. The point of all this annotation was to show that the “good books” aren’t so good at all. Sure, you can cherry pick them to find stuff like “thou shalt not kill”, but by and large these book are divisive and, above all, promote both superstition and a suggestion that you lead your life according to dictates of a fictional god. And among these four (I’ve read all of them), I found the Qur’an is the most divisive, full of hatred, oppression, threats of hellfire, and words from god to kill nonbelievers and apostates.
The bad stuff in the Qur’an, mainly the surahs (chapters) written later, which are the ones pious Muslims take most seriously, has of course brought about a lot of death, hatred, and oppression. It is in the name of the Qur’an, as the word of God, that the butchery of October 7 took place. Now Islam didn’t become toxic until the Qur’an began being read literally; before that one might have seen Christianity as the most toxic religion. But I think most people would agree with Hitchens’s point that, at this present moment, Islam is the most pernicious of all religions. In one of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s books, Heretic, she argues that Islam can only be made moderate if people stop taking the Qur’an literally.
Not, though, according to the Guardian, which has published an article so unbelievably misguided that it makes that paper, the worst of all MSM when it comes to Islam, look even worse than it has in the last few years, and that’s saying a lot.. For this article tells about (and apparently appproves of) young Americans reading the Qur’an and finding in it solace and peace. It also, so the piece goes, helps them understand how Palestinians can be so resilient (apparently in this war).
Click to read, and have a bottle of Pepto-Bismol handy
Here are some bits from the article:
After 9/11, the Qur’an became an instant bestseller, though at the time many Americans purchased it to confirm biases they held about Islam being an inherently violent religion. “The difference is that in this moment, people are not turning to the Qur’an to understand the October 7 attack by Hamas,” [Zareena] Grewal said. “They are turning to the Qur’an to understand the incredible resilience, faith, moral strength and character they see in Muslim Palestinians.”
That’s what made Nefertari Moonn, a 35-year-old from Tampa, Florida, pick up her husband’s Qur’an. Moonn considered herself spiritual, not religious, and described her husband as a non-practicing Muslim. “I wanted to see what it was that made people call out to Allah when they stared death in the face,” she said. “Seeing passage after passage resonated with me. I began to have such an emotional attachment to it.”
Because of this, Moonn also decided to take the shahada, becoming a Muslim revert (a term some Muslims prefer for joining the religion).
“I can’t explain it, but there’s a peace that comes with reading the Qur’an,” she said. “I feel light, like I came back to something that was always there and waiting for me to return.”
Misha Euceph, a Pakistani American writer and podcast host who studies progressive interpretations of the Qur’an, has held her own Qur’an Book Club Instagram series since 2020. She says certain themes in the text align with the values of young, left-leaning Americans.
Well, I feel sorry for young, left-leaning Americans. Could it be that because they’re more sympathetic with Hamas than are older Americans, they find what they want to find in the Qur’an, and ignore the bad stuff? Not only that, but they apparently read modern values into the Qur’an (see below). It’s environmentalist! It’s feminist! It’s scientific! Here’s how the young Americans read it:
“The Qur’an is full of nature metaphors and encourages you to be an environmentalist,” Euceph said. “The Qur’an also has this anti-consumerist attitude, the sense that we’re all stewards of the earth who shouldn’t establish an exploitative relationship with the world or fellow human beings.”
Unless, of course, those relationships involve slavery, which the Qur’an condones (though criticizes), nonbelievers (who must be killed), and especially women, who are explicitly given far fewer rights than are men. Here’s more approbation by Ms. Euceph:
In the Qur’an, men and women are equals in the eyes of God, and Rice and other TikTok converts say their interpretations of the text back up their feminist principles. It also engages with scientific explanations for creation, with verses in the Qur’an covering the big bang and other theories.
“Usually, we’re so used to the religious community combating science,” Rice said. “Now I’m seeing a religion embrace science and use its holy texts to back it up.”
As for how the Qur’an urges Islam to treat women, have a look at this page of “the top ten rules in the Qur’an that oppress women“. Or these questions:
Have these women read and understood such passages of the Qur’an as 2:282 (devaluing women’s testimony), 4:11 (devaluing women’s inheritance rights), 4:24 (allowing for polygamy and sex slavery), 4:34 (allowing for the beating of disobedient women), and 65:4 (allowing for the marriage and divorce of prepubescent girls)? Almost certainly not.
Most Muslim societies do indeed oppress women, treating them poorly or denying them opportunity, and much of this is based on the Qur’an or the hadith, the reported sayings of Muhammad handed down for centuries. The hadith, for example, have also been used to justify female genital mutilation (FGM), which is largely (but not exclusively) confined to Muslim societies, and is given a religious justification by clerics. (I must add that some Muslim clerics explicitly decry FGM.) If you want to get your moral compass from Islam, you must of course be familiar with the hadith and the Qur’an, because both are god-inspired words of Muhammad.
Oh yes, and the Qur’an promotes science! See the statements above about how the Qu’ran backs up the Big Bang and other theories. That’s hogwash, of course. The Big Bang is no more backed up by the Qur’an than it is by the Bible: it posits a creation event by Allah. Likewise the Qur’an, like the Bible, is unscientific in that it posits an instantaneous creation of flora and fauna, including humans. If you want to see the ridiculous lengths that Muslims go to when trying to comport their science and their faith, read the pages on Islam in my book Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible. (Just check the index under “Islam”). (Of course literalist Christians face the same problem, and have done similar contortions to reconcile Christianity and evolution.)
All this cherry-picking could be avoided, of course, if people turned to secular humanism instead of religion to either confect a morality or to examine the beliefs they already have. What is going on with young people and the Qur’an appear to be this: “progressive” young people are sympathetic to the Muslims of Palestine, perhaps because they’re underdogs and figure that their “resilence” must be due to their faith, which of course comes directly from the Qur’an. So they read it, ignore the horrible bits, and find solace in the good bits. Grewal explicitly notes this:
Grewal, the Yale professor, believes that people often begin reading texts hoping to back up the worldview they already have. “Just as racist people are looking for verses to confirm their racial biases, people on the left are looking to this book to confirm progressive messages,” she said. “Every scripture is complex and invites multiple readings,” and TikTokers “are coming to the text looking for what they hope to find”.
This is pure confirmation bias, and is no way to lead an examined life. And I’m not sure what multiple reading you can find for stuff like a woman’s testimony being worth only half of a man’s:
Sura 2:282 says: “And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her.”
There are a lot more places where you’d be hard pressed to read something bad as actually being good, but I’ll just urge you to look into the Qur’an itself. By making the Qur’an seem like a very good guide to life, the Guardian is fomenting division, hatred, superstition, and misogyny. It would be hard to find an article as misguided as this one.