Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Allah The Unit And Muhammad The Tool I: Sometimes A Forelock Isn't Just A Forelock

Mount Hira, not far from the outskirts of Mecca, the year 610 CE, a Tuesday evening in late August. A middle-aged citizen of Mecca named Muhammad is on a spiritual retreat in a cave in the side of the mountain, meditating and worshiping a god known in his culture as Allah. Much of the Arabian peninsula tends to be obnoxiously hot during the summer; the cave is a furnace, so Muhammad's devotions are punctuated by occasional naps. He has been having auditory and visual hallucinations for some years: disembodied voices wishing peace upon him and referring to him as "Messenger of God," and dreams that he later deems to have been somehow prophetic.

Muhammad has drifted off to sleep for the hundredth time today, but this time he awakens with a start, sensing someone else in the cave. The Archangel Gerbil stands before him, holding a scroll. It bellows at him the word, "Read!" It seems that Gerbil wants Muhammad to read the scroll aloud. Muhammad, wondering how a servant of the Supreme Being can be so out of the loop as to be unaware of Muhammad's lifelong illiteracy, counters, "I don't know how to read!" The angel knows exactly how to solve this problem: it grabs Muhammad and squeezes him, unbearably, until he can't even breathe. Finally, it lets him go, somehow believing that assault is an effective means of imparting its desire, and demands again, "Read!" Poor Muhammad, not realizing the depths of Allah's blend of cruelty and willful stupidity, tries again, "I don't know how to read!" But this time he attempts some crude sign language, in case this weirdo is deaf or simply doesn't speak Arabic. Gerbil was hoping to have another chance to make him suffer. It repeats its boa constrictor act, causing Muhammad to think that his lungs will burst. The sadistic, dumbass angel, hoping to hurt Muhammad again, repeats itself: "Read!" Muhammad has had enough of this; realizing that pointing out the obvious is getting him nowhere, he changes tack, and in desperation asks Gerbil, "What should I read?" The angel, disappointed that it now must stop injuring poor Muhammad, delivers its amazing introductory revelation, the prologus to the ultimate message from the Supreme Being to its final Prophet.
Invoke the name of your Lord
for having created,
created man from clay.

Invoke! For thy Lord is the most generous
for having taught by the pen,
taught man what he didn't know.
Huh? This is how the Supreme Being introduces itself? Spouting bullshit about humans being created from clay? And, rather mockingly, it seems, stating that it teaches by the pen, when obviously Muhammad has never learned anything by the pen in his entire life, and, as any omniscient being would have known quite well, that Muhammad never will learn anything by the pen for the remainder of his life? We're off to a dubious start here.

Why wasn't the message something like this: "Muhammad, I'm Gerbil. Allah sent me. It has chosen you to be its final spokesperson to humans. Hold still for a second." Gerbil touches Muhammad's forehead with its index finger and intones, "Be Good!" Suddenly Muhammad knows how to read and write. Then Gerbil hands a scroll and a pen to Muhammad and sits on a nearby rock, saying, "Ok, Mo, here's the deal. It's time for some serious reform down here. First thing we need to do is get people to stop killing their infant daughters. You are not going to run around punishing people or publicly humiliating them. Instead, you will appeal to their sense of compassion and the value of all human life. Uhh, you should be writing this down, doofus."

No, the Supreme Being, infinitely wise, chooses a language that could not possibly be less suited for communicating a clear message, chooses an illiterate messenger who has to memorize the message, chooses one of the most backward societies on the planet as the keepers of the glorious revelation. Jesusianismists like to quote their New Testament, "God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise." I have to imagine that Muhammadanismists have a similar attitude. This is not a good god. Either it's evil, or it's an idiot, or both. Why would it put so much emphasis on these so-called humble circumstances, rather than on imparting a comprehensible, impossible-to-misinterpret, and—most of all—useful message?

In the written Qur'an, there is a bit more to this Sura, but for the life of me I can't figure out when Mo received it. Definitely not at the same time as the aforementioned drivel. The remainder of the Sura gives Allah a chance to whine about how humans don't acknowledge their reliance on it. How insecure can a deity be? It even challenges independent man to a contest, which turns out to be not so much a contest as an opportunity for Allah to give a few good pulls to man's...uhh...forelock (since Allah doesn't have one of its own). It challenges man to call upon his human associates for help, then says that its response will be to call on the guards of hell, whoever they are, to kick man's ass. Seems like an omnipotent being wouldn't have to call on anyone for such services.

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