Getting to Know Allah


 “Déja Vu All Over Again” Yogi Berra

54:40 We have, indeed, made the Qur’an easy to remember. Is there, then, any one who will remember?

As toilsome reading as I ever undertook. A wearisome confused jumble, crude, incondite; endless iterations, long-windedness, entanglement.

Thomas Carlyle [1795 - 1881] on the Koran

Could these "endless iteration" be a symptom of a memory recall problem that is not unique to Allah, as we have gotten to know Him in Getting to Know Allah?[67] Of course, omniscient beings don’t experience memory lapses, but humans do.

Narrated Aisha:

The Prophet continued for such-and-such period imagining that he has slept (had sexual relations) with his wives, and in fact he did not.

Bukhari 73.89

In Shared Prophets (Boreal Books), I offer a practical answer that has to do with the way an illiterate might handle such a monumental task as communicating the content of a book written by a god. In my books on the Koran I have taken at face value that the Koran is, in part, a history crafted by God about how, from Adam to Muhammad, He chose people to speak on His behalf and deliver the message that He is the only god worthy of the title, how He should be worshipped and how we should behave if we wish to eventually join Him in Paradise.

In From Merchant to Messenger: The Prophet Muhammad’s struggle for legitimacy as revealed in the Koran, Boreal Books, which documents Muhammad’s difficulties getting his brethren to accept him as the genuine article, it is obvious that the incessant indictments communicated on behalf of the god for whom he claimed to speak—the most distracting, those against the other gods and their worshippers—were not helping. These “endless iterations” may have even forced God’s Hand, making it inevitable that He would decide to use force and declare a proxy war against the unbelievers (see Jihad in the Koran, Boreal Books), which will not end until all of humanity bows down before Him.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' and whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,' his life and property will be saved by me except for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah, (either to punish him or to forgive him.)"

Bukhari 52.196

It is also apparent in the Koran, and even more so in the hadiths (see 1001 Sayings and Deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, Boreal Books) that Muhammad not only received communications from God via His Messenger to the Messenger, the angel Gabriel, but that the angel carried messages back to the Sender. With what was at stake, you might have expected that, if it was really God repeating himself, His spokesman might have asked Gabriel to let Allah know that this invited incredulousness. Then again, the stories repeatedly recited and the iterate rants may be part of God’s plan to “make the Koran easy to remember.” It is also a way of getting people to buy into just about any message by having them repeat it ad infinitum. Maybe that was the idea all along. And it worked, with Islam poised to be, according to Stephen Prothero, author of the NY Times bestseller Religious Literacy, “the religion of the twenty-first century”; and for many centuries to come, I suspect.


[67] God’s predilection for repeating Himself is also evident in His retelling of stories of prophet’s from the Bible (see Shared Prophets – Biblical Figures in the Koran, Boreal Books) with Adam‘s creation recounted six times, Noah ten times, Eber/Hud three times, the story of Abraham and that of Lot related five times, Moses nine times…with slight, sometimes significant variations in each retelling.