Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Qur'an Surah 13: Thunder

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Qur'an: a Book Report, in which I read each surah of the Qur'an and write about what I learn.  I will also include some original Arabic text, because it is very beautiful.

The 13th surah of the Qur'an seems to have been prompted by people questioning the legitimacy of Muhammad and his message.  The people ask for a miracle to confirm what he says.  Muhammad's answer is that the real miracles are God's creation, and that true faith is shown through action, not mere belief.

The surah begins, "These are the signs of the Scripture," and goes on to list beautiful examples of how God creates and sustains nature and the universe: "He has subjected the sun and the moon each to pursue its course for an appointed time; He regulates all things, and makes the revelations clear so that you may be certain of meeting your Lord."  The argument here is that true miracles and revelations are shown through nature.  The title of the surah, "Thunder," comes from a verse that continues this theme: "the thunder sounds his praises, as do the angels in awe of Him."  Miracles and signs, this surah seems to suggest, are not magic tricks performed by holy men.  Miracles and signs are all around us, all the time.

Once this deep understanding of God's revelation through nature is taken to heart, the surah explains, it will affect one's actions.  The surah says, "Only those with understanding will take it to heart; those not break their pledges...who keep up the prayer; who give secretly and openly from what We have provided for them; who repel evil with good."

This surah suggests that faith derived from supernatural magic tricks is not a necessary foundation for faith.  It's just not how the world works.  Nature is miraculous enough, and true faith is about how one behaves in this wondrous world.

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