This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here and you can read the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.The Koran claims to be a book that is easily understood; one that presents the commands of God in a way that all can understand, believe, and follow. In this since, it claims to be unlike former revelations from God that left people at variance as to what to believe and left them fighting and wrangling over their differing views of what God had really said.
"And We have not sent down upon thee the Book except that thou mayest make clear to them that whereon they were at variance [the subject of their wranglings], and as a guidance and as a mercy to a people who believe." (Koran 16:66)
"and We shall bring thee as a witness against those [these Meccans]. And We have sent down on thee the Book making clear [clearing up] everything, and as a guidance and a mercy, and as good tidings to those who surrender." (Koran 16:91)
"an Arabic Koran, wherein there is no crookedness [free from torturous wording]; haply [to the intent that] they will be godfearing" (Koran 39:29)However, history has shown that there is much in the Koran that is ambiguous and difficult to understand. Even today we see a wide disparity of beliefs in Islam with doctrinal and religious wranglings between many of the competing factions. For example, here is but one example from the Koran of a verse that is far from clear.
"And say to the believing women, that they cast down [refrain] their eyes and guard their private parts [observe continuance], and reveal not their adornment [ornaments] save such as is outward [external]; and let them cast their veils over their bosoms, and not reveal their adornment [ornaments] save to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands' fathers, or their sons, or their husbands' sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons..." (Koran 24:31)This verse is far from clear as to what and how a woman should cover herself. Some have taken it to mean modest dress, some a covering of the hair, others covering the entire face, and still others covering the entire body including the hands. For a revelations that is supposed to be clear and free from ambiguity, there is much that still remains uncertain within.
The Koran also claims that it clears up and settles every matter of disagreement between various Jews, Christians, and each other.
"This Koran could not have been forged [devised] apart from God; but it is a confirmation of what is [revealed] before it, and a distinguishing [clearing up] of the Book [of the Scriptures], wherein is no doubt, from the Lord of all Being." (Koran 10:38)
"And not a thing is there hidden [no secret thing] in heaven and earth but it is in a Manifest Book [the clear Book]. Surely this Koran relates [declareth] to the Children of Israel most of that concerning which they are at variance [most things wherein they disagree]; it is a guidance, and a mercy unto the believers [faithful]." (Koran 27:78-80)
However, history has again shown that the Koran has offered little in the way to clear up the differences and disputes regarding their scriptures by either the Jews or the Christians. In fact, the Koran stands at odds against much of what was previously written in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. In my opinion, the Koran offers little light as to the message and the revelation of God other than what had already been revealed in the scriptures prior to the coming of Muhammad.
Finally, it appears that Muhammad himself, later in life, understood that the Koran was not as clear and direct as had been previously claimed in the Koran itself. In a later revelation, he adds this caveat.
"It is He who sent down upon thee the Book, wherein are verses clear [Some of its signs are of themselves perspicuous] that are the Essence [basis] of the Book, and others ambiguous [are figurative]. As for those in whose hearts is swerving [given to err], they follow the ambiguous part [follow its figures], desiring dissension [discord], and desiring its interpretation; and none knows its interpretation, save only God. And those firmly rooted in knowledge say, 'We believe in it; all is from our Lord'; yet none remembers, but men possessed of minds [endued with understanding]." (Koran 3:5)
If the Koran were really as clear as it claims to be then there would be no need to warn its readers that parts of it are figurative and, in fact, not clear. Even more so, while admitting that parts are figurative and parts clear, it fails to identify what is figurative and what is clear. Leaving us once again without guidance and direction; left to our own opinion as to what the book really means; left again with a book uncertain.
More to come...