Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Qur’an Surah 53: The Star

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.

This Meccan surah begins with the prophet “proving” the truth of his message by referring to two special visits he received from the angel Gabriel.  This sort of uncorroborated testimony might have been enough for 7th century people, but it (frankly) doesn’t hold much water for me.  The surah asks, “Are you going to dispute with him what he saw with his own eyes?”  My response would have been, “Um, yeah.”

Then the prophet, oddly, criticizes the polytheistic Meccans for believing in their own miraculous things like the three daughters of God: al-Lat, al-Uzza, and Manat.  It’s actually unfortunate that these female deities were ultimately banished from Arabian cosmology, to be replaced with a singular (and probably quite lonely) God.  It seems to me that the three daughters might have kept some of Allah’s more patriarchal, domineering tendencies in check.  Alas.

The title of the surah comes from a reference to the star Sirius, which pre-Islamic Arabs worshipped, and then stopped worshipping when Islam won the day.

The star Sirius is located near the constellation Orion.

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