Problematic Verses in The Koran - A Dialogue with Contemporary Islam
This webpage is based on a theological debate I had with a muslim buddy of mine Abdul Rahman Hajar in ~ 2000.
I have problems with certain verses and concepts in the Kuran and I seek help in understanding them.
I am Greek Orthodox Christian for the record, half Lebanese of Greek decent and half Bulgarian. I was raised by a Communist father and a not-too-religious Slav Orthodox Bulgarian mother in West Beirut, Lebanon. I renounced all religions and became an atheist during the years of my scientific and philosophical quest for the Truth, partly owing to the atrocities that were committed in Lebanon during the civil war in the name of religion. I hold an MS in Industrial Chemistry and have a passion for the humanities and photography. I have worked as a Chemistry teacher, Researcher, IT Consultant, and I am currently working as a chemical engineer. My passion is Photography and Rumi poetry.
All this is done in the spirit of better understanding our religions, the common beliefs and the differences and in the hope of fostering tolerance and open mindedness. It is my personal belief though that as the Vedas put it "Truth is one. The sages speak of it in many ways", and that many of the differences are only superficial. By the way, there is one middle eastern poet that helped me "synthesize" all religions and that is Rumi. I strongly urge you to read his poetry...
Below I have compiled some of the Koranic verses that I have trouble accepting or understanding. I am using the Penguin Classics English translation of The Kuran by N.J. Dawood. I have also read the Koran in Arabic my mother language. At the end of this page, I am compiling some articles/references on Islam.
PS: Since I wrote this introduction, my views on Islam have changed owing to my reading of Jalaluddin Rumi poetry and some of Roger Garody's work (see amalid.org homepage for samples) which helped me reconcile what I used to perceive as irreconcilable differences between Islam and Christianity. Rumi helped me understand the beauty and depth of Islam. (March 10, 2005) and Garody helped me understand the fact that of the 6000 verses of the Quran, 200 of those are historical in nature and must not be taken out of social and historical context. For this reason, I have put together the following page:
cont'd: Problematic Quranic Verses and my Commentaries:
"Creator of the heavens and the earth. How should he have a son when He never had a consort?" Cattle - #100
I find the language of this verse very vulgar and offensive to the sanctity of the virgin Mary and the immaculate conception of Jesus. This verse is arguing 'how can god have a son when he never had a female consort?'. It's offensive to God. It is disrespectful to the Christian faith.
PS: One can reconcile these opposing views by referring to Bayazid Bestami's saying:
"I came out of Bayazidness and I found that Lover, Beloved and Love are one". Rumi puts it in the image of the branches of a tree that all connect to the same root, or the waves of the ocean that are all connected to the ocean and part of it and the essence of it.
Scientific and Spiritual Inaccuracies
"We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps, missiles to pelt devils with." Sovereignity (67) #4.
"We have decked the heavens with constellations and made them lovely to behold. We have guarded them from every cursed devil. Eavesdroppers are pursued by fiery comets" Al-Hijr 15:~18
"We have decked the lower heaven with constellations. They guard it against rebellious devils, so that they may not listen in to those on high. Meteors are hurled at them from every side, then, driven away, they are consigned to an eternal scourge. Evesdroppers are pursued by fiery comets." The Ranks 37:9
These verses claim that stars and comets are rockets fired by God at devils eavesdropping on Him.
"Say: 'Had the earth been safe enough for angels to walk on, We would have sent down to them an angel from heaven as an emissary.'" The Night Journey 17: 95
This one claims that angels (spirit beings) could get hurt on earth.
Obsolete and Harsh Social Teachings
"The adulterer and the adulteress shall each be given a hundred lashes. Let no pity for them cause you to disobey God, if you truely believe in God and the Last Day; and let their punishment be witnessed by a number of believers.
The adulterer may marry only an adulteress or an idolatress; and the adulteress may marry only an adulterer or an idolater. True believers are forbidden such marriages." Light 24: 2-
Note: This teaching of Mohammad contradicts the Law of Moses in the Old Testament which commands that adulterers be stoned to death. And the punishment prescribed seems too "easy" for the offense when compared to theft, whose punishment is cutting off the hand of the thief. It is believed that there is a Koranic "lost verse of stoning" for adultery" (Ibn Warraq, Why I am Not A Muslim).
Compare this sentence to what Jesus Christ said when Jews brought to him a woman who had been caught in the act of commiting adultery (whom must be stoned according to the law of Moses): "He that is without sin among you, let him cast a stone at her" John 8:7 King James Version of the Bible. In regards the second teaching, some Arab societies would imprint 'ADULTERESS' on a woman's ID (I personally learned of this practice in Lebanon).
"Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women... Stay in your homes and do not display your finery as women used to do in the days of ignorance4" The Confederate Tribes 33:31
This verse is I believe is the source of the Islamic teaching which leads to the practice in some Islamic societies of forbidding women from working (ex. Afghanistan under the Taliban, ex.2 Saudi Arabia the birthplace of Islam - where women can't even drive).
"Prophet, We have made lawful for you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave-girls whom God has given you as booty; the daughters of your paternal and maternal uncles and of your paternal and maternal aunts who fled with you..." The Confederate Tribes 33:50-
Marriage of cousins is still common amongst less modern Muslims. Modern day genetics has proven that this practice is unhealthy and increases the genetic probability for retardation.
PS: I now find this argument of mine weak: There are occurences in the Old Testament of marriage of cousins and even incest. Also, King Solomon had hundreds of wives in apparent contradiction of Old Testament teaching.
"You may put off any of your wives you please and take to your bed any of them you please. Nor is it unlawful for you to receive any of those whom you have temporarily set aside. That is more proper, so that they may be contented and not vexed, and may all be pleased with what you give them." The Confederate Tribes 33:51
This verse speaks of women as if they were mere objects of sexual satisfaction.
"Prophet, enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers to draw their veils close round them. That is more proper, so that they may be recognized and not be molested. God is ever forgiving and merciful." The Confederate Tribes 33:59
Veiling of women is common practice is muslim societies. Could it be though that it was just a "sign" to distinguish them from unbelieving women?
"As for the man of woman who is guilty of theft, cut off their hands to punish them for their crimes. That is the punishment enjoined by God. God is mighty and wise. But whoever repents after committing evil, and mends his ways, shall be pardoned by God, God is forgiving and merciful." The Table 5:~39
There is no such law in Judaism or Christianity... And it's savagery is obvious. I believe one should be punished less severly and given a chance to repent before he/she lose their hand.
"But God has permitted trading and made usury unlawful" The Cow 2:~276
"Believers, have fear of God and waive what is still due to you from usury, if your faith be true; or war shall be declared against you by God and His apostle. If you repent, you may retain your principal, suffering no loss and causing loss to none." The Cow 2:~278
Usury is the practice of lending money at exorbitant interest rates.
"Those that make war against God and His apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land" The Table #32
"You shall not kill a man whom God has forbidden you to kill, except for a just cause." The Night Journey 17:~33
"Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it." The Cow 2:216
"Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter, fight for the cause of God; whoever fights for the cause of God, whether he dies or triumphs, on him We shall bestow a rich recompense." Women 4:74
These and many other verses in the Kuran I find to be the source of Militancy in Islam. How can we avoid the misuse of these verses by Islamic militants and terrorists? The second one seems to sanction killing in the cause of God. The third one is proof that jihaad is military not spiritual as some muslims claim. The fourth one can easily be used to brainwash a suicide terrorist into blowing himself up.
Click here to read the Hadiths (sayings of the prophet) on Jihad.
On The Holy Spirit
"We gave Jesus son of Mary veritable signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit" The Cow #86
"The Holy Spirit brought it down from your Lord in truth to reassure the faithful, and to give guidance and good news to those that submit" The Bee #101
The Holy Spirit to us Christians is one manifestation of God, one of the Holy Trinity (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit). What is the Holy Spirit in Islam?
PS: I now think these verses should be used to reconcile rather than stress differences between Islam and Christianity.
On Poets and Art In General
I could never believe this is the infallible word of God. This verse denigrates poets and poetry and calls men that love poetry "erring". I passionately believe that through music, art and poetry we come closer to God. I believe this verse can explain why the Taliban's interpretation of Islam, as some call it "the purest form of Islam", bans music, singing, etc.
PS: After some further studies into Jahilia and Abbasid poetry, I can see Mohammed's point in denigrating poets, for there where many genres of poetry like Abu Nuwas's and other court poets that got swept away in lust, pleasure and materialistic pleasures contrary to Islam's call for spirituality and humility.
Ibn Warraq in his book Why I am Not A Muslim quotes Islamic tradition quoting Mohammad saying "A belly full of purulent matter is better than a belly full of poetry". The hadith are full of condemnation for "makers of figured pictures, who are called the worst of men. They are condemned for competing with God, who is the only creator." (p. 1, Introduction).
Iban Warraq stresses the fact that "the creative impulse underlying Islamic art, Islamic philosophy, Islamic science, and Islamic literature came from outside Islam from contact with older civilizations with a richer heritage... Without the influence of Greek philosophy or science, there would have been no Islamic philosophy or Islamic science... Without Byzantine art and Sassanian art, there would have been no Islamic art because Islam was hostile to its development... Some of the greatest figures in Arabic poetry, prose and science, for example, Ibn Al Mokaf'aa (one of the fathers of Arabic prose), Abu Nouwas (famous for his Wine poetry), Al-Mutannabi (one of the greatest Arabic poets of antiquity), Al-Ma'aarri (Arabic poet), and Al-Raazi (the greatest physician of the middle ages), were totally hostile to every tenet of Islam. Al Raazi went as far as denying the prophethood of Mohammad" (Why I am Not A Muslim, p.2+).
On Unbelievers, Idolaters, and Militancy
"Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and deal sternly with them. Hell shall be their home, evil their fate"
"Unbelievers are those that say: 'God is the Messiah, the son of Mary.' For the Messiah himself said: 'Children of Israel, serve God, my Lord and your Lord.' He that worships other deities besides God, God will deny him Paradise, and the Fire shall be his home. None shall help the evil-doers. Unbelievers are those that say: 'God is one of three.' There is but one God. If they do not desist from so saying, those of them that disbelieve shall be sternly punished." The Table #71-
"When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly. Then grant them their freedom or take a ransom from them, until War has laid down her burdens."
"When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful." Repentance (9) #5.
"Fight against those to whom the Scriptures were given as believe in neither God nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what God and his apostle have forbidden, and do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." Repentance (9) #28
"Therefore do not falter or sue [or call] for peace when you have gained the upper hand" Mohammad (47) #34
"Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme" The Spoils 8:~40
"God revealed his will to the angels, saying: 'I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!'
"This is because they defied God and His apostle. He that defies God and His apostle shall be sternly punished by God." The Spoils 6 8:12-
So we, Christians, are evil doers, Unbelievers, and we ought to be sternly punished in war, ambushed and slain, and utterly subdued. Any anyone who defies God and His apostle shall be sternly punished. I hear on TV that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. How? Is this only when Muslims are the weaker party?
The Intolerance of Islam As A Religion
"Unbelievers are those who do no judge according to God's revelations. We decreed for them a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and a wound for a wound" The Table #43-
"He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will surely be among the losers" The Imrans #85
"Believers, do not befriend your fathers or your brothers if they choose unbelief in preference to faith. Wrongdoers are those that befriend them." Repentance (3)#23
"Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends1. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number. God does not guide the wrongdoers." The Table (5) #51. (Response 1, 2)
"Muhammad is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another." Victory 48:29
"Believers, do not make friends with any but your own people. They [the unbelievers] will spare no pains to corrupt you. They desire nothing but your ruin. Their hatred is evident from what they utter with their mouths, but greater is the hatred which their breasts conceal." The Imrans 3:118
Again according to Islam, the Shari'a (God's Law) is the only acceptable form of political Rule and Islam the only acceptable religion in the eyes of God. There is no democracy in Islam. Even your brother or father is not your friend if he chooses a different religion. And Jews and Christians are collectively shunned. Muslims are enjoined to be ruthless to the unbelievers. Where is the tolerance?
Denial of the Crucifixion of Jesus - The Heresy of Islam
"They denied the truth and uttered a monstrous falsehood against Mary. They declared: 'WE have put to death the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the apostle of God.' They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did." Women #157-
Islam flat-out denies the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Many witnessed the Roman soldiers hammering nails into Jesus. There are four eyewitness accounts of the Crucifixion (The Four Gospels). The body was never recovered. How can someone make such an unfounded claim? The explanation of this heresy, I believe, can be the following: Mohammad's first wife, Khadija, was Christian. Her cousin, Ibn Warraq, was a Nestorian Christian. Nestorians were heretic Christians that, such as other heretic sects as the Essenes or the Great White Brotherhood, denied the divinity and/or the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Mohammad obviously must have fallen under the influence of heretic Christian teachings. The reference in the Koran to many apocryphal stories about Jesus (such as him speaking in the cradle, his fashioning a bird out of clay and breathing life into it) reinforce this theory.
"Because of their iniquity, We forbade the Jews wholesome things which were formerly allowed them; because time after time they have debarred others from the path of God; because they practice usury - although they were forbidden from it - and cheat others of their possessions." Women #159
"You will find that the most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful are the Jews and the pagans..." The Table (2) #81
"Say: 'People of the Book2, is it not that you hate us only because we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and to others before, and because most of you are evil-doers?'" The Table (5) #58
"The Jews say: 'God's hand is chained.' May their own hands be chained! May they be cursed for what they say! By no means. His hands are both outstretched: He bestows as He will" The Table (5) #64
"The Jews say Ezra is the son of God, while the Christians say the Messiah is the son of God. Such are their assertions, by which they imitate the infidels of old. God confound them! How perverse they are!" Repentance (9) #29
"... We have stirred among them [The Jews] enmity and hatred, which will endure till the Day of Resurrection. Whenever they kindle the fire of war, God puts it out. They spread evil in the land, but God does not love the evil-doers." The Table (5) #65
"The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures." The Proof (Al-Bayyinah - 98) #5
These verses among others worry me a lot. I find them apparently very racist and preaching and promoting blind hatred for the Jewish and Christian people. The last one is too much... To make the claim that Jews "spread evil in the land" is unforgivable slander for a holy book. Let us not forget that the greatest pacifist of all time - Jesus Christ - was a Jew.
On Women - The Inferior Sex
"Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme." Women 4:33
No Comment. Speaks for itself.
"If you two [Hafsah and Aisha - two wives of the prophet] turn to God in repentance (for your hearts have sinned) you shall be pardoned; but if you conspire against him [The Prophet Mohammed], know that God is his protector, and Gabriel and the the righteous among the faithful. the angels too are his helpers.
It may well be that, if he divorce you, his Lord will give him in your place better wives than yourselves, submissive to God and full of faith, obedient, penitent, devout, and given to fasting; both formerly wedded and virgins." (Prohibition 66: 4-6)
I find these verses very demeaning of women.
"Women shall with justice have rights similar to those exercised against them, although men have a status above women. God is mighty and wise." The Cow 2:28
"And let them [believing women] not stamp their feet when walking so as to reveal their hidden trinkets." Light ~24:31
NOTE: Some Hadiths go to extremes in their demeaning views of women. For example:
"Women are naturally, morally and religiously defective". (Bukhary - from http://www.submission.org/women/equal.html)
Women are not even supposed to be heard when they walk !
The Muslim Paradise: Dark Eyed Virgins, Good Food and Drink, Expensive Jewelry and Nice Clothes
"But the true servants of God shall be well provided for, feasting on fruit, and honored in the gardens of delight. Reclining face to face upon soft couches, they shall be served with a goblet filled at a gushing fountain, white, and delicious to those who drink it. It will neither dull their senses nor befuddle them. They shall sit with bashful, dark-eyed virgins, as chaste as the sheltered eggs of ostriches." The Ranks (37) #42-
"As for the righteous, they shall be lodged in peace together amid gardens and fountains, arrayed in rich silks and fine brocade. Even thus: and We shall wed them to dark-eyed houris5. Secure against all ills, they shall call for every kind of fruit; and, having died once, they shall die no more. Your Lord will in His mercy shield them from the scourge of Hell. That will be the supreme triumph." Smoke (44) #50-56
"As for those that have faith and do good works, We shall not deny them their reward. They shall dwell in the gardens of Eden, where rivers will roll at their feet. Reclining there upon soft couches, they shall be decked with bracelets of gold, and arrayed in garments of fine green silk and rich brocade: blissful their reward and happy their resting place!" The Cave (18) #30
"As for the righteous, they shall truely triumph. Theirs shall be gardens and vineyards, and high-bosomed maidens for companions: a truly overflowing cup." The Tidings (78) #31-
"Such is the Paradise which the righteous have been promised: Therein shall flow rivers of water undefiled, and rivers of milk for ever fresh; rivers of wine delectable to those that drink it, and rivers of clarified honey..." Mohammad (47) #15-
"They [the righteous] shall recline on couches ranged in rows. To dark-eyed houris We shall wed them" The Mountain 52:19
"Fruits we shall give them, and such meats as they desire. They will pass from hand to hand a cup inspiring no idle talk, no sinful urge, and there shall wait on them young boys of their own, as fair as virgin pearls" The Mountain 52:21
"They [the righteous] shall recline on jewelled couches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and a cup of the finest wine (that will neither pain their heads nor take away their reason); with fuits of their own choice and flesh of fowls that they relish. And theirs shall be the dark-eyed houris5, chaste as virgin pearls: a guerdon for their deeds." That Which Is Coming 56:15-
I find the Islamic concept of Paradise too materialistic, too physical. There is no spiritual element to it. Paradise is a spiritual dwelling place. I highly doubt there are couches and wine and all-you-can-eat meat and wedding with high-bosomed virgins there or as Paul the Apostle put it "For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" Romans 15:17 NIV Bible. Jesus said "At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven." Mathew 22:30 NIV.
Mohammed Was A Prophet, Jesus Is The Messiah
In this section I contrast many of Mohammed's teachings with those of Jesus Christ, and the person of Christ with that of Mohammed.
The Koran teaches "for who but God can forgive sin?" The Imrans 3:134
Jesus FORGAVE SIN: "Some men brought to him [Jesus] a paralytic. When he saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
"Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" Mathew 9:2 NIV
The Koran teaches "If you avoid the enormities you are forbidden, We shall pardon your misdeeds and usher you in with all honor." Women 4:30
"You have heard it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy. [Deuteronomy 23:6]. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than the others? Do not even the pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Jesus Christ - Mathew 5:43-48 NIV
The Koran teaches "We decreed for them a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and a wound for a wound." The Table 5:44
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' [Exodus 21:24] But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Jesus Christ - Mathew 5:38-42 NIV
I myself rejected Christianity when I was an atheist and I found this teaching to be one of the "contradictions". One of the laws that went "against human nature". It was not until I realised that we are from born dust to dust, that we are just temporary visitors in this world, that I saw the unfathomable depth of this teaching of Jesus Christ... I told one of my muslim friends, Ibrahim El Sayed, once: "it takes a much nobler heart, a greater-than-life strength of mind, a complete surrender of Ego and denial of self, to forgive and love, rather than to hate the enemy...".
I sincerely hope Muslims are not offended by my comments and I hope you can help me better understand your religion. It has happened to me before that I misunderstand a verse so if that happens, and I make no claim that I am infallible, please correct me and forgive my offense.
Final note: There are many beautiful verses in the Koran that preach forgiveness, tolerance, doing good to the poor and parents but I find the above quoted verses to contradict them. That's what I am trying to reconcile. I would also like to mention that it is unfortunate that the Islamic Sufi tradition has given way to the more legalistic contemporary practice of Islam. One of the most beautiful lines of poetry I have ever read was said by the Master, Sufi Persian Muslim poet Bayazid:
"I came forth from Bayazid-ness as a snake from its skin. Then I looked. I saw that lover, beloved, and love are one, for in the world of unity all can be one." Bayazid as cited in The Legacy of Islam, T.W. Arnold and A. Guillaume, editors, Oxford Press, 1931 p. 216. I find this line of poetry as one of the most beautiful illustrations of the Holy Trinity. God is Love the Bible teaches...
Click here to read interesting article on the History of The Koran.
Click here to read my article on The Fallacy of The Scientific Inimitablity of The Koran.
Click here for article on Textual Criticism of The Koran
"The History of The Koran" by Ibn Warraq - This book is an editorial compilation of many articles written by western scholars of Islam. Issues such as the history of the compilation of the Koran, the lack of systematic analysis of the Koran which the Bible has been subjected to for many centuries, Christian heretic, Jewish and Zoroastrian influences in the Koran, contradtions between many Koranic teachings and the Bible, and many other very interesting issues are presented with solid proof, logic and historical references. This book is a challenge for every muslim's faith.
"Why I Am Not A Muslim" by Ibn Warraq. Ibn Warraq (a pseudonym after Khadija's Christian Nestorian cousin, Ibn Warraq) was born a Muslim in an Islamic republic and has rejected Islam and views it as a form of "Bibliolatry". He is a professor at a university in Ohio. He offers proof in his book that shows why "the Koran cannot be considered of divine origin - it was composed sometime between the seventh and the ninth centuries, full of borrowings from Talmudic Judaism, apocryphal Christianity, the Samaritans, Zoroastrians, and pre-Islamic Arabia." He expounds how Islam contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in its treatment of women, slaves, non-Muslims) and how its practice is incompatable with modern day free democracy. Ibn Warraq points out the numerous contradictions, grammatical mistakes, and weakness in the style of the Koran as well as in its doctrine.
"The Rushdie Affair" by Daniel Pipes
"Twenty Three Years" by Ali Dashti
With All Due Respect,
1. Arabic word is "Awliya'a" which can also mean protectors.
2. People of the Book: Jews and/or Christians
3. Mohammed, we are told, was once found by his wife Hafsah with a Coptic slave from whom he had promised her to separate. Of this Hafsah secretly informed Aisha, another wife of his. To free Mohammed from his promise to Hafsah was the object of this chapter. Some of the references are obscure (Commentary from the Penguin Classics Koran by N.J. Dawood)
4. Days of ignorance: Pre-Islamic days.
5. Houris: Bashful virgins in the Muslim paradise.
6. This chapter in the Koran is about Muhammad's plan to attack an unarmed caravan belonging to the Quraysh tribe of Mecca on its way from Syria to that city. An army of Meccans marched to its assistance. Some of the Muslims wished to attack the caravan, others the Meccan army. Muhammad's forces, only 319 strong, routed the Meccans, who were nearly 1000 in number. (commentary of N.J. Dawood)