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Interpretation of the Koran Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 17th, 2021

Koran is the Book of Islam that was revealed to Muhammad between 610-632. The holy Book promotes belief in the oneness of Allah, encourages one to indulge in remembrance of Allah, be charitable to the poor, be clean and moral in thought and actions, be honest and fair in one’s trades, and establish harmony in society as a whole. The Koran touches upon almost every aspect of life.

Before the revelation of the Koran, Arabia was lost in ignorance, and women were traded like goats and mistreated severely. It was Koran that elevated the status of women while still emphasizing that women are of a slightly lesser status than men. The Koran says:

“And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but man has a degree (of advantage as in some cases of inheritance) over them” (2:228).

The Koran, thus, allows the men to have more than one wife at one time. The right is granted on the condition that all wives are treated equally. Interpreters of the Koran justify this as facilitation to the society where there may be more women than men and the men, by marrying more than once, will be supporting his wives. The Koran lays down the conditions:

“If you deem it best for the orphans, you may marry their mothers – you may marry two, three, or four. If you fear lest you become unfair, then you shall be content with only one or with what you already have. Additionally, you are thus more likely to avoid financial hardship.” (4:3)

However, polygamy is not encouraged by Koran. The door is just open. The Koran repeatedly discourages polygamy:

“You can never be equitable in dealing with more than one wife, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, do not be so biased as to leave one of them hanging (neither enjoying marriage nor left to marry someone else). If you correct this situation and maintain righteousness, GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (4:129)

The marriage laws are clear. A woman must marry in order to protect her piety. All individuals are encouraged to marry in order to maintain a harmonious society. Fornication is considered a sin, and people must bond in a lawful way in order to indulge in sexual activities.

“…when you have given them their dowries, taking (them) in marriage, not fornicating nor taking them for paramours in secret; and whoever denies faith, his work indeed is of no account, and in the hereafter, he shall be one of the losers.” (5:5)

Divorce should be the last resort in case of disagreements among spouses. A woman, at most times, is irrational, and if she is given the right to annul the marriage, she might do so at the smallest issue. A man should, however, be given the right with conditions ruling his ability to exercise his right. Divorce has been strongly condemned by the Koran and has encouraged reconciliation if it is possible:

“…if they decide to reconcile, GOD will help them get together…” (4:35)

Koranic traditions note that a woman attracts attention to herself, which may lead to sexual relations. A woman is vulnerable to disgrace on such acts, while a man may just get away with a few jealous looks from his fellow men. Thus, it becomes necessary that a woman be guarded against the gazes of strange men, and thus, she should ideally not work outside the home.

Despite all of this, equality of the women was emphasized repeatedly in the Book:

“And their Lord has accepted (their prayers) and answered them (saying): ‘Never will I cause to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female; you are members, one of another… (3:195; 9:71; 33:35-36; 66:19-21).”

The Koran believes that God is the giver and taker of life, and he has the sole right to decide when a person’s life should end:

“And that He it is Who causes death and gives life” (53:44)

Therefore, suicide is absolutely forbidden for the believers of the Book. Anyone who has faith is required to believe that God has given a personal life for a specific purpose, and the person cannot end it like that just out of his own free will. The person must find his purpose in life and continue living the life. Even if one is in a lot of suffering, one must have faith that pain is from God for a reason and that the person will have rewards for patience in the life hereafter.

War is not encouraged by the Koran, but the Koran does encourage its followers to fight against the enemies of God. The Koran says in the Torah “The Cow”:

“Fighting is enjoined on you, and his an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.” (2: 216)

And again:

“O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you, they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve because they are a people who do not understand.” (8: 65)

The believers are advised to be prepared to fight in the name of God. A good military is required by order of the Koran in the following verse:

“And prepare against them what force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them, whom you do not know (but) Allah knows them; and whatever thing you will spend in Allah’s way, it will be paid back to you fully, and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.” (8: 60)

The above verses seem to be encouraging followers of the Book to fight for no reason. However, there have been limits prescribed by the Koran. The Koran, in the following verse, asked the believers to fight only against those who initiated war:

“And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits.” (2:190)

The Koran asks to make peace with those who initiate peaceful relations with an Islamic state:

“And if they incline to peace, then incline to it and trust in Allah; surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing. And if they intend to deceive you– then surely Allah is sufficient for you; He it is Who strengthened you with His help and with the believers.” (8: 61-62)

The Koran requires believers to be charitable and sympathetic towards the needy. The Koran believes in setting up an economic system where there is equity through the redistribution of income. This equity is legislated through the payment of Zakat or a tax. The tax is paid out of one’s idle income or wealth and is 2.5% of that. The money should ideally be collected by the state and be utilized to provide support to the needy. Zakat has been mentioned several times in the Koran. Zakat is supposed to instill in man the love of God and humanity instead of a love for wealth. The payment of Zakat is repeatedly emphasized in the Koran as it is one of the five basic pillars of Islam on which the structure of Islam rests.

“And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves to perdition with your own hands, and do good (to others); surely Allah loves the doers of good.” (2: 195)

The Koran says that Zakat is a form of purification. Just as the other rituals prescribed by the Koran are meant to cleanse a man’s soul, Zakat is a way of cleansing man of greed and selfishness and instill in his love for his fellow men. The Koran describes the purpose of Zakat in the following words:

“Take from their money a (sadaqah)charity to purify them and sanctify them. And salaat for them, for your salaat, reassures them. The GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.” (9:103)

The Koran even prescribes where exactly the Zakat should be applied and for what purposes it is legal to use the money:

“Charities shall go to the poor, the needy, the workers who collect them, the new converts, to free the slaves, to those burdened by sudden expenses, in the cause of The GOD, and to the traveling alien. Such is The GOD’s commandment. The GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.” (9: 60)

Dietary laws make up a huge part of the faith of Islam. The Koran talks about them in detail and defines the boundaries of ‘Halal’ (allowed) and ‘Haram’ (prohibited).

“O people, eat from the earth’s products all that is lawful and good, and do not follow the steps of Satan; he is your most ardent enemy.” 2:168

The Koran very clearly outlines the Halal and Haram in the following verse:

“O you who believe, eat from the good things we provided for you and be thankful to God if you do worship Him alone. He only prohibits for you the eating of animals that die of themselves, blood, the meat of pigs, and animals dedicated to other than God. If one is forced without being malicious or deliberate, he incurs no sin. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (7:172-173)

Alcohol has been considered unlawful in the Koran. The reason for this has been the intoxicating effects that drinking produces. The Koran condemns any substance that makes a man lose his senses and behave immorally. The condemnation is given in the following words:

“Forbidden unto you are carrion and blood and swine-flesh….” (5: 3)

Further verses explain why drinking is forbidden:

“O you who believe! Strong drink and games of chance and idols and divining arrows are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. Leave it aside in order that ye may succeed.” (5: 90).

And: “They question you about strong drink and games of chance. Say: In both is great abuse and usefulness for mankind, but the abusive side of them is greater than their usefulness.” (2:219).

The Koran as the Book of Islam is greatly criticized for its strict laws, for encouraging unfair and cruel treatment of women, for being too stringent in the laws governing marriage and divorce, and in dietary restrictions. None of the other heavenly books, such as the Bible or the Old Testament, are as strict as the Koran. Both the Bible and Torah (Old Testament) allow alcohol, any kind of meat, condemn war, and do not enforce a Zakat system. In this, it is discovered that there are fundamental differences between the laws given by the Koran and by other Holy scriptures, which means that the religion of Islam would have difficulty in finding compatibility with the other religions and convincing them that the religions have common elements as the Islamic scholars have been trying to do for years.

Bibliography

  1. Faruq, M. (n.d.). Alcohol in the Quran. Free-Minds. Website.
  2. . (n.d.). Farlex. Web.
  3. . (n.d.). Wikibooks. Web.
  4. Khan, Haroon. (n.d.). Dietary Prohibitions. Free-Minds. Website.
  5. Kyle. (n.d.). Zakat in the Koran. Free-Minds. Website.
  6. Muslim. (n.d.). The Koran and Women. Islamic World. Website.
  7. Sura – 4 Women (Al-Nesaa’). (n.d.). Submission. Website.
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