Friday, September 17, 2010

Islarme, Religion of Tears IX: Hey Mo! I'd Like to Buy A Vowel!

Continuing my explorations of Islarme. Having finished The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Koran, I'm now moving on to 101 Questions & Answers on Islarme, by John Renard.

Who were the other prophets besides Smokin' Mo?

Renard names the usual suspects: Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and a few others. The juicy part of the answer is an aside that provides some quick and interesting observations on the Arabic language.

Semitic languages such as Arabic, when written down, treat vowels in a way that is unfamiliar to Western readers. In fact, it's so unfamiliar to me that I don't think I can explain it adequately. The gist is that only certain vowels are represented in written Arabic, resulting in consonant-only words whose meanings tend to be rather imprecise, based on word roots rather than specific terms with specific denotations. According to the New Testament, a character known as "parakletos" appeared after Jesus' departure, occasionally endowing some Jesusianismists with magical powers. Medieval Mohammedanismist scholars saw this Greek word and concluded that the Jesusianismists had simply used the wrong vowels when writing it down. Substituting the correct values they translated the word as "periklutos", meaning "the highly praised one". If you've been able to keep up with this rather dry lecture, here's your reward: you'll never guess what Muhammad means. When Jesus announced that this new counselor was coming, he meant in a few hundred years, not right away.

How did the Qur'an develop?

When Smokin' Mo was about 40 years old, he claimed to have begun receiving divine revelations, which continued for some 23 years. Usually he would only hear a voice, but sometimes his hallucinations were visual as well as auditory. Although the Supreme Being of the universe was speaking directly to humans in the purest, clearest way possible, no one ever deemed any of this transcendent revelation worth writing down until 20 years or so after Smokin' Mo died, in the year 632. Up until that time, the words of the Almighty were simply memorized by Mo's followers--not by him, apparently. So he never bothered to memorize this ultimate message, and he couldn't write any of it down, because Allah was either too weak or too stupid to command Smokin' Mo to learn how to read and write, or better yet, to miraculously endow him with literacy. If Jesus could make blind people see, why couldn't Allah make Smokin Mo' literate, as his message was demonstrably more important than that of Jesus, given that Allah has allowed all scripture besides the Qur'an to be corrupted over the years?

Are there any religious books other than the Qur'an considered by Mohammedanismists to be authoritative?

There is a large body of Mohammedanismist literature known as the "Hadith", purported to be the sayings of Smokin' Mo, not the direct, literal word of Allah, but still of divine origin, if somehow colored by Mo's own style. As with the Qur'an, there was an inexplicable interval between the time the sayings were pronounced and the time they were written down. In this case, the interval lasted some 200 years. If the Hadith are worthwhile, then why wouldn't an omniscient god have instructed its followers to write them down as they arrived? Doesn't the disdain shown by Allah indicate that the Hadith and the Qur'an are crap?

How did Mohammedanismists carry on after Smokin' Mo died?

They squabbled over leadership from the very beginning. This movement cannot possibly have been endorsed by an omniscient being that intended, out of love for humans, to offer salvation. Either it's not omniscient, or it doesn't love us.

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