Chapter 10: Other Teachings of the Qur’an
by Charles Welty
of the Qur’an span a broad spectrum of subjects, including the person and
work of Mohammed, interpersonal relationships, divorce, criminal law,
prayer, and diet.
The Qur’an on Mohammed
Mohammed is, in the words of the Qur’an, not just a man but a divinely
inspired and appointed “Apostle of God,” the last of the apostles sent out
directly by God to proclaim His message.
Say: “I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to
me, that your God is One God…”
Mohammed is… the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets: and God
has full knowledge of all things.
comments on these suras:
When a document is sealed, it is complete, and there can be no further
addition. The holy Prophet Mohammed closed the long line of
Apostles. God’s teaching is and will always be continuous, but
there has been and there will be no Prophet after Mohammed. The
later ages will want thinkers and reformers, not Prophets. This
is not an arbitrary matter. It is a decree full of knowledge and
wisdom: “for God has full knowledge of all things.”
Mohammed’s mission was, in the words
of the Qur’an:
a witness, as a bringer of Glad Tidings, and as a Warner; in order that
ye (O men) may believe in God and His Apostle.
The Qur’an claims in Sura 61:6 that
Jesus Himself predicted Mohammed’s coming:
And remember, Jesus,
the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the apostle of
God (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving
Glad Tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.”
Muslim apologists claim that the term
Ahmad is directly linked to the “one who would come” in the Gospel
of John. Ali comments in his Note 5438 at Sura 61:6:
or “Mohammed,” the Praised One, is almost a translation of
the Greek word Periclytos. In the present Gospel of John,
and xvi. 7,
the word “Comforter” in the English version is for the Greek word “Paracletos”,
which means “Advocate”, one called to the help of another, a “kind
friend”, rather than “Comforter.” Our doctors contend that
Paracletos is a corrupt reading for Periclytos, and that in their
original saying of Jesus there was a prophecy of our holy Prophet
Ahmad by name. Even if we read Paraclete, it would apply to
the holy Prophet, who is a “Mercy for all creatures” (xxi. 107) and
“most kind and merciful to the Believers” (ix. 128).
The Muslim position, then, is that
Mohammed is predicted by Jesus in John 14:16. (The Biblical picture
on this issue is discussed under “The Bible on the Holy Spiritbelow.)
The Qur’an on the Resurrection of the Dead
emphatically teaches the resurrection of the dead.
The Unbelievers deny the resurrection of the dead.
But the message here is that the dead
are resurrected so they may understand that they had surrendered to
falsehood. Judgment appears to be secondary.
They [the unbelievers] swear their strongest oaths by God, that God will
not raise up those who die: Nay, but it is a promise (binding) on Him in
truth: but most among mankind realize it not, (they must be raised up),
in order that He may manifest to them the truth of that wherein they
differ, and that the rejecters of Truth may realize that they had indeed
(surrendered to) falsehood.
The Qur’an on Hell
The Qur’an teaches that hell is a real place and that it is guarded by
Would that you knew what the fire of Hell is like! It leaves nothing, it
spares no one; it burns the skins of men. It is guarded by
Unlike the Bible, which teaches that
hell was originally created “for the devil and his angels,”
the hell of the Qur’an is created for evil men as well as angels.
will fill Hell with jinns [demons] and men all together.
Evil appears to be a relative term.
The Qur’an also teaches that hell is reserved for the hardened sinner.
I warn you, then, of the blazing fire, in which none shall burn save the
hardened sinner, who denies the truth and gives no heed.
It is a place where fire literally
burns the skin off its victims. The “roasted” skin is renewed again
and again, giving eternal torment to its victims.
Those who reject Our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: As often
as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh
skins, that they may taste the Penalty: for God is Exalted in Power,
The Qur’an on Marriage
The Qur’an teaches a somewhat contradictory message on marriage and
marital relations. On the one hand, the Qur’an teaches in one sura
that Muslims are not to have sexual intercourse outside of their Islamic
not have sex with unbelieving women (idolaters) until they believe: A
slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even
though she allure you.
The Qur’an also forbids the giving of
a young woman in marriage to, or for sexual relations with, a non-Muslim.
…Nor have sex with unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who
believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allure you.
On the other hand, the Qur’an also
teaches in another sura that marriage to or sexual relations with those
outside the Islamic faith, such as to Jews, is permissible.
(Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are
believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book…
Muslim man may marry a woman from their [Jewish] ranks on the same terms
as he would marry a Muslim woman; i.e., he must give her an
economic and moral status, and must not be actuated merely by motives of
lust or physical desire. A Muslim woman may not marry a
non-Muslim man, because her Muslim status would be affected: the wife
ordinarily takes the nationality and status given by her husband’s law.
A non-Muslim woman marrying a Muslim husband would be expected to
eventually accept Islam.
man is permitted under the Qur’an to marry up to four women, but only
insofar as he is able to provide for them equitably in terms of finances
Marry [lit, have sex with] women of your choice, two, or three, or four;
but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them),
then only one…
In actual practice, however, monogamy
was, and is, the norm. The Qur’an allows a woman only one husband.
Dowries are regulated in the Qur’an. When a man marries, if the
couple receives a dowry, it belongs to both the man and the wife.
If he divorces his wife prior to consummation of the marriage, he must
return his half of the dowry to his wife, thereby returning the entire
dowry to her. He is not allowed to keep any part of the dowry.
And if ye divorce them before consummation, but after the fixation of a
dower for them, then the half of the dower (is due to them) unless they
In terms of actual practice, however,
any divorce proceeding would most certainly come well after any
consummation. The entire dowry could be kept by the husband in such
The Qur’an regulates divorce, but as
we shall see, the standards for men are different than for women.
In the event of a divorce, the dispute is to be settled by two
arbitrators; one is selected from the man’s side of the family, another is
selected from the woman’s side of the family.
If ye fear a
breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family;
and the other from hers…
Divorces may be conditional; if a
couple divorces and reconciles, they may be re-united.
Reconciliations, however, are limited to two instances of divorce and
reconciliation among the same couple.
divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either
hold together on equitable terms, or separate with kindness.
Gifts given by the husband to the wife
are not supposed to be reclaimed by the husband.
is not lawful for you (men) to take back any of your gifts (from your
wives), except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep
the limits ordained by God.
Practically, however, the outworking
of “keeping the limits ordained by God” means that a woman often has to
purchase her freedom by giving up to her husband any financial gains
acquired during the marriage.
There is no blame on either of them if she give something for her
freedom. These are the limits ordained by God…
A woman is required to wait for three
months (that is to say, three monthly menstrual periods) after separation
until the divorce is final.
Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly
periods. Nor it is lawful for them to hide what God hath created
in their wombs…
After widowhood, however, the widow
must wait at least four months and ten days prior to remarriage.
any of you die and leave widows behind, they shall wait concerning
themselves four months and ten days. When they have fulfilled
their term, there is no blame on you if they dispose of themselves in a
just and reasonable manner.
The purpose of the waiting period, Ali
explains, is to account for the possibility that a child may have been
conceived just prior to the separation or death.
Islam tries to maintain the married state as far as possible, especially
where children are concerned, but it is against the restriction of the
liberty of men and women in such vitally important matters as love and
family life. It will check hasty action as far as possible and
leave the door to reconciliation open at many stages. Even after divorce a
suggestion of reconciliation is made, subject to certain precautions
(mentioned in the following verses) against thoughtless action. A
period of waiting (‘iddat) for three monthly courses is prescribed,
in order to see if the marriage conditionally dissolved is likely to
result in issue. But this is not necessary where the divorced woman
is a virgin: Q. xxxiii 49.
It is definitely declared that women and men shall have similar rights
against each other.
Ali’s statement that “women and men shall have similar rights against each
other,” the definite fact of the matter is that men and women’s rights are
far from “similar” in regards to divorce. It is interesting to note
that the prohibition on a widow’s remarriage prior to four months and ten
days is directed to men for instruction to their wives, and not to women
directly (i.e., “If any of you die and leave widows behind,
they shall wait…).
The Qur’an allows
a man to re-marry a woman after she has been married to and divorced by
another man after her initial marriage to him.
So if a husband
divorces his wife, he cannot, after that, have sex with her until after
she has had sex with another husband and he has divorced her. In
that case, there is no blame on either of them if they re-unite, provided
they feel that they can keep the limits ordained by God. Such are
the limits ordained by God, which He makes plain to those who understand.
This teaching is in direct
contradiction to the Old Testament law which prohibits re-marriage to a
partner who has subsequently been re-married and either divorced or
widowed. The Qur’an goes out of its way to claim the practice is
allowable and “within the limits ordained by God.” The Bible, on the other
hand, clearly condemns the practice as “detestable.”
If a man marries a
woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent
about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and
sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes
the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes
her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his
house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not
allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be
detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the
Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
In all fairness to the Qur’an and
Islamic culture, the pre-Islamic marriage practices among Arabs were, in
many cases, far more restrictive and unfair to women than were the
comparatively liberal practices introduced in the Qur’an.
Specifically, the Arab practice of Zihar, in which the husband
virtually ostracized his wife, was quite common prior to Mohammed’s day.
is soundly condemned by the Qur’an. As a financial inducement for
avoiding Zihar, the punishment for the practice included the
freeing of a slave or, in the event the man was poor, a two month fast or
the feeding of sixty indigent members of the local society.
But those who
divorce their wives by Zihar, then wish to go back on the words
they uttered, it is ordained that such a one should free a slave…
And if any has not the wherewithal, he should fast for two months
consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so,
he should feed sixty indigent ones. This, that ye may show your faith in
Eternal, and not
just temporal, consequences are also threatened in other passages in the
Qur’an. In commenting on Zihar, Ali writes:
This was an evil Arab custom, by which the husband selfishly deprived his
wife of her conjugal rights and yet kept her tied to himself like a slave
without her being free to remarry. He pronounced words importing
that she was like his mother. After that she could not demand
conjugal rights but was not free from his control and could not contract
another marriage. See also lviii, 1-5, where this is condemned in
the strongest terms and punishment is provided for it.
A man sometimes said such words in a fit of anger: they did not affect
him, but they degraded her position.
prescribes a special provision for widows: a year’s maintenance and
residence was their right.
Those of you who die
and leave widows should bequeath for their widows a year’s maintenance
It must be noted, however, that the
Biblical pattern of laws and practices protected the rights of divorced
women and widows even far more than did the Qur’an or the abolishment of
the pre-Islamic Arab practice of Zihar by the Qur’an. Even
in New Testament times, it was common practice for widows to be cared for
by the church.
The Qur’an on the Creation of Man
The Qur’an paints
a somewhat contradictory picture of the creation of man. In Sura
15:26 we are told that God says
We created man from
from mud moulded into shape.
the angels are recorded as having been told by God to fall down “in
obeisance” to the newly created man.
Behold! thy Lord said to the angels: “I am about to create man from
sounding clay, from mud moulded into shape. When I have fashioned
him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down
in obeisance unto him.”
In Sura 96:1,
however, we are told:
Recite in the name
of your Lord and Cherisher who created, created man from clots of blood.
From which was man created: clay or
blood? And from whose blood? The answer is not given.
teaches that the Garden of Eden was not a literal garden and that Adam was
kicked out of this figurative place to dwell on earth. In Sura 2 we
We said: “O Adam!
dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things
therein as ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and
transgression.” Then did Satan make them slip from the (Garden) and get
them out of the state in which they had been. We said: “Get ye
down, all, with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your
dwelling-place and your means of livelihood for a time.”
Ali comments on
the fall of Adam from this allegorical Garden of Eden:
Was the Garden of
Eden a place on this earth? Obviously not. For, in verse 36
below, it was after the Fall that the sentence was pronounced: “On earth
will be your dwelling place.” Before the Fall, we must suppose Man to be
on another plane altogether—of felicity, innocence, trust, a spiritual
existence, with the negation of enmity, want of faith, and all evil.
Perhaps Time and Space also did not exist, and the Garden is
allegorical as well as the tree. The forbidden tree was not the
tree of knowledge, for man was given in that perfect state fuller
knowledge than he has now (ii. 31): it was the tree of Evil, which he was
forbidden not only to eat of, but even to approach.
picture of man, then, is that of a being created from either clay or
blood; who originally dwelt in an allegorical Garden of Eden which was not
actually on earth; and who was banished from the Garden to dwell on the
earth until he died.
The Qur’an on Dietary Restrictions
With only a few
exceptions, the Qur’an describes all foods as good and clean. Those
exceptions, however, are specific and are expected to be followed
He [God] hath only
forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on
which any other name hath been invoked besides that of God.
Strictly speaking, if a Christian were
to bless a meal in the name of Jesus, a devout Muslim could, conceivably,
refuse to partake of it. A provision for skirting this regulation
is made in the event of necessity, however.
But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor
transgressing due limits, then he is guiltless. For God is
Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.
Sura 5:3 adds
to the list of forbidden foods:
That which hath been
killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by
being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild
animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is
sacrificed on stone (altars)…
The Qur’an also forbids the
consumption of meat which has been obtained as a result of gambling.
(Forbidden) also is
the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety.
The reference here is to the
pre-Islamic Arab custom of shooting arrows at a carcass of meat to
determine the owner by chance or skill. Exceptions are allowed for
But if any is forced
by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, God is indeed
Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
The exceptions make one wonder if the
restrictions have any real meaning at all.
The Qur’an on Alcohol and Gambling
intoxicants of any kind, and gambling are strictly forbidden by the
O ye who believe! intoxicants and gambling,
(dedication of) stones,
and (divination by) arrows,
are an abomination. Of Satan’s handiwork, eschew such (abomination)
that ye may prosper.
position on intoxicants is further illustrated by this Sura:
In them is great
sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit.
Modern interpretation of these
provisions of the Qur’an by predominantly Islamic countries make the use,
possession, or sale of illegal drugs a serious religious, as well as
The Qur’an on Prayer
consider Islamic culture, the first picture that comes to their mind is
the masses of Muslims that kneel together in prayer. The Qur’an
enjoins Muslims to pray five times a day and in a posture which faces
Mecca. One of the key verses of the Qur’an which enjoins multiple
daily prayers is Sura 11:114:
regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the
night: for those things that are good remove those that are evil: be that
the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord).
Ali comments on
prayer at the “two ends of the day” and at the “approaches of the night”:
morning prayer is the Fajr, after the light is up but before
sunrise: we thus get up betimes and begin the day with the remembrance of
God and of our duty to Him, just as an ambassador might start on his
journey after saluting his king and receiving his blessing. The
early afternoon prayer, Zuhr, is immediately after noon: we are in
the midst of our daily life, and again we remember God.
…it is reasonable to
argue that at least three “approaches of the night” are meant. The
late afternoon prayer, ‘Asr, can be one of these three, and the
evening prayer, Maghrib, just after sunset, can be the second. The early night prayer, Isha, at suppertime when the glow of
sunset is disappearing, would be the third of the “approaches of the
night” when we commit ourselves to God before sleep. These are the
five canonical prayers of Islam.
Prayer is strictly enjoined by the
Qur’an in other verses as well:
Guard strictly your
(habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer
and stand before God in a devout (frame of mind).
The Qur’an also specifies the
direction and posture of prayer. The direction is called Qibla
and always points to Mecca.
We see the turning
of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens: now shall we turn thee to a
Qibla that shall please thee. Turn then thy face in the direction
of the sacred Mosque: wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction.
In the early days of Islam, the
direction was toward Jerusalem. Many Moslem commentators draw
parallels between the Islamic Qibla and the Old Testament prophet
Daniel, who is recorded as having knelt in prayer “as was his custom”
three times a day toward Jerusalem.
Now when Daniel
learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs
room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got
down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had
Although the times and posture of
prayer is quite clear and proscribed strictly according to the verses
cited above, the Qur’an does have practical exceptions in the event of
trouble. For example, Sura 2:239 says:
If ye fear (an
enemy), pray on foot, or riding (as may be convenient), but when ye are in
security, celebrate God’s praises in the manner he has taught you, which
ye knew not (before).
The Qur’an on Angels
teaches the existence of angels. Two of the principal angelic
characters in the Bible, Gabriel and Michael, are key angelic characters
in the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, however, Gabriel is recorded as
dictating the recitations, or Suras, to Mohammed.
Say: Whoever is an
enemy to Gabriel—for he brings down the (revelation) to thy heart
by God’s will, a confirmation of what went before, and guidance and glad
tidings for those who believe,… is an enemy to God…
We are told in the Qur’an that angels
are never dispatched except for just cause.
We send not the
angels down except for just cause…
Exactly what a “just cause” may be, we
are not told specifically. The Qur’an also teaches that God sends
down his angels to such of His servants as he pleases.
He doth send down His angels with inspiration of His Command, to such of
His servants as He pleaseth…
One of the missions of the angels, the
Qur’an teaches, is to pray for the forgiveness for all on earth.
And the angels celebrate the Praises of their Lord, and pray for
forgiveness for (all) beings on earth…
The angels are the noblest and purest beings of whom we can conceive. …Believers
and unbelievers alike are included in their solicitude and prayer.
They thus proclaim in their own being and in their prayers the Greatness
and unbounded Goodness of God.
The Qur’an teaches that angels are
given charge over the protection of the faithful.
But verily over you (are appointed angels) to protect you…
The Qur’an teaches that each
individual has two guardian angels which record all that is done and
(guardian angels) appointed to learn, one sitting on the right and one on
the left. Not a word does he [the individual] utter, but there is a
sentinel by him, ready (to note it).
Ali says the angels’ actions are figurative, but then comments in a
somewhat contradictory note that the recordings are quite real:
This must of course
be taken figuratively. Two angels are constantly by him to note his
thoughts, words, and actions…. One sits on the right side and notes his
good deeds and the other on the left, to note his bad deeds….
Then each “word” spoken is taken down by a “sentinel”… The Recorders
mentioned… make a complete Record, in order to supply motives and springs
of action, which will affect the degrees or status in the spiritual
The notion of fallen angels, or
demons, is not supported by the Qur’an. A form of evil spirit
called a Jinn, however, is supported by the Qur’an. Ali
The theory of fallen angels is not usually accepted in Muslim theology.
In xviii. 50,Iblis
is spoken of as a Jinn.
Sura 18:50 reads:
Behold! We said to the angels, “Bow down to Adam.” They bowed down, except
Iblis. He was one of the Jinns and he broke the Command of his
What, then, is a Jinn?
The Qur’an teaches that the Jinn were created from “fire free of
And He created Jinns from fire free of smoke.
Beyond this description, Muslim
commentators are in disagreement. Ali comments:
I do not wish to be
dogmatic, but I think, from a collation and study of the Quranic passages,
that the meaning is simply “a spirit,” or an invisible or hidden force.
In folk-lore stories and romances like the Arabian Nights they become
personified into fantastic forms, but with them we are not concerned here.
The Qur’an teaches, then, that angels
serve as messengers of God and recorders of men’s actions, whether for
good or evil. Evil spirits, or Jinns, are not fallen angels.
The Qur’an on Friendship with Non-Muslims
teaches that Muslims ought not to form friendships with Jews and
O ye who believe!
Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they
are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you
that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily God guideth
not a people unjust.
The Qur’an also teaches the Muslim
faithful that their personal relationships are to be found only among
other faithful Muslims.
Your (real) friends
are (no less than) God, His Apostle, and the (Fellowship of) Believers,
and those who establish regular prayers and regular charity, and they bow
down humbly (in worship).
Those who mock
Islam are to be avoided.
O ye who believe!
Take not for friends and protectors those who take your religion for a
mockery or a sport, whether among those who received the Scripture before
you, or among those who reject Faith; But fear ye God, if ye have faith
It is not right that
we should be in intimate association with those to whom religion is either
a subject of mockery or at best is nothing but a plaything. They
may be amused, or they may have other motives for encouraging you.
But your association with them will tap the earnestness of your Faith, and
make you cynical and insincere.
It must be
noted, however, that most Muslims have various levels of friendships with
people who are Jews and Christians.
The Qur’an on Theft
The Qur’an is
quite harsh in its treatment of the crime of theft. Sura 5:38
As to the thief,
male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example,
from God, for their crime: and God is exalted in Power.
The Canon Law
jurists are not unanimous as to the value of the property stolen, which
would involve the penalty of the cutting off of the hand. The
majority hold that petty thefts are exempt from this punishment.
The general opinion is that only one hand should be cut off for the first
theft, on the principle that “if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut
them off, and cast them from thee” (Matt. xviii. 8). Apparently in
the age of Jesus[,] thieves were crucified (Matt. xxvii.38).
The Qur’an on Jihad
Unlike Christianity, Islam was born from a sword. The
term jihad refers to a war or battle in the name of Allah to spread
the religion of Islam. It is always aggressive, fanatical, and without
quarter for those against whom the jihad is waged.
Killing is prescribed upon you….
Kill in the cause of
Kill in the cause of
Allah against who fight you… and kill them wherever you catch them… If
they fight you, kill them. Such is the reward of those who suppress the
Faith… And kill them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and
there prevail justice and faith in Allah.
Let those who kill in the
cause of Allah, who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter, to him
who kills in the cause of Allah… Soon shall We give him a reward of great
Another part of jihad is the killing of
those who convert from Islam to Christianity.
…if they turn
apostates, seize them and kill them wherever you find them….
…seize them and kill them wherever you get them….
The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and his apostle… they
shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall be
struck off alternately, or they shall be banished from the land.
The Qur’an, then, sets forth many
guidelines for Muslims as to marital and personal relations, civil law,
and religious duties. It also claims its laws and regulations are in
complete harmony with both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Our
examination of the Biblical picture, however, will tell another story.