The second Surah (chapter) is the longest surah in the Quran. It has 286 ayat (verses) and there’s no way I am going to try and run a commentary on the entire thing in one post. Even if I were willing to do so, I highly doubt even the most interested reader would have the patience to endure it. So instead I will try and divide it into sections of roughly 20 ayat each so that we can deal with it in bite-size chunks.
I will post the entire segment in English and then place the commentary underneath.
1. Alif, Lam, Meem.
2. This is the Book in which there is no doubt, a guide for the righteous.
3. Those who believe in the unseen, and perform the prayers, and give from what We have provided for them.
4. And those who believe in what was revealed to you, and in what was revealed before you, and are certain of the Hereafter.
5. These are upon guidance from their Lord. These are the successful.
6. As for those who disbelieve—it is the same for them, whether you have warned them, or have not warned them—they do not believe.
7. Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. They will have a severe torment.
8. Among the people are those who say, “We believe in Allah and in the Last Day,” but they are not believers.
9. They seek to deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive none but themselves, though they are not aware.
10. In their hearts is sickness, and Allah has increased their sickness. They will have a painful punishment because of their denial.
11. And when it is said to them, “Do not make trouble on earth,” they say, “We are only reformers.”
12. In fact, they are the troublemakers, but they are not aware.
13. And when it is said to them, “Believe as the people have believed,” they say, “Shall we believe as the fools have believed?” In fact, it is they who are the fools, but they do not know.
14. And when they come across those who believe, they say, “We believe”; but when they are alone with their devils, they say, “We are with you; we were only ridiculing.”
15. It is Allah who ridicules them, and leaves them bewildered in their transgression.
16. Those are they who have bartered error for guidance; but their trade does not profit them, and they are not guided.
17. Their likeness is that of a person who kindled a fire; when it illuminated all around him, Allah took away their light, and left them in darkness, unable to see.
18. Deaf, dumb, blind. They will not return.
19. Or like a cloudburst from the sky, in which is darkness, and thunder, and lightning. They press their fingers into their ears from the thunderbolts, in fear of death. But Allah surrounds the disbelievers.
20. The lightning almost snatches their sight away. Whenever it illuminates for them, they walk in it; but when it grows dark over them, they stand still. Had Allah willed, He could have taken away their hearing and their sight. Allah is capable of everything.
21. O people! Worship your Lord who created you and those before you, that you may attain piety.
22. He who made the earth a habitat for you, and the sky a structure, and sends water down from the sky, and brings out fruits thereby, as a sustenance for you. Therefore, do not assign rivals to Allah while you know.
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1. Each Surah in the Quran starts out with three Arabic letters. There is no real consensus on what they mean. In fact, the closest thing we can get to consensus is that nobody knows.
2. ذَٰلِكَ الْكِتَابُ لَا رَيْبَ ۛ فِيهِ ۛ هُدًى لِلْمُتَّقِينَ – “This book is, without doubt, a guide for the righteous.” I would personally translate this as “This book is unquestionably a guide for the righteous.” But if you look at various Islamic commentary websites, they pretty much all interpret this verse to mean that the righteous would not ever doubt this book. The implication being that anyone who doubts is unrighteous. If this is a more accurate translation then this is the first of many, many condemnations against doubting the Quran. Let’s forget the many scientific mistakes inside the Quran, (you can see them here) let’s ignore the many internal contradictions in the Quran, (here) and let’s forget the historical inaccuracies. (here) There is no doubt allowed.
3-5. If you believe and do all the right things, and do all the right things, you are certain of heaven. In many places, the Quran is a works salvation religion. In many other places, it is an “Allah will do whatever he wants” determinism. This is actually found in the very next two verses.
6-7. As for the unbelievers, it doesn’t matter if you warn them or not. They will not believe because God has blinded them and they are destined for hell. One of the major themes throughout the Quran is that Allah loves his followers but hates the unbelievers. (Especially the second half) Yet there are also many verses like this which clearly state that they are the way they are because God made them that way. Why would the Quran do this? It makes it easier to kill your enemy when you have thoroughly dehumanized them. Just as the Germans dehumanized the Jews, and the Hutu called the Tutsi cockroaches, so Muhammad and his followers dehumanized the “unbelievers” so as to make their wars of conquest more palatable.
2:8-10. “Among the people are those who say, “We believe in Allah and in the Last Day,” but they are not believers. They seek to deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive none but themselves, though they are not aware. In their hearts is sickness, and Allah has increased their sickness. They will have a painful punishment because of their denial.” Compare that with Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
6-20. Really, this is all more and more of the same. The unbelievers are doomed. They are diseased. They are fools. They are confused. They are deaf, dumb, and blind. They are cowards. So tell me really, Muhammad, how do you feel about the unbelievers?
21-22a. There is a brief exhortation for the believers to worship Allah, their creator and provider.
22b. And now we get to the brass tax. Who are the unbelievers? Those who assign an equal to Allah. This is the single greatest sin in Islam. They will say that God can forgive any sin except this one He will never forgive. I hear on an almost daily basis in my conversations with Muslims that the Quran tells us that they are to respect the people of the book. What they will not mention is that they also believe that a true Christian can only be one who denies the Trinity and that Jesus is the eternal uncreated Word of God. For the Muslim, most people who call themselves Christians are really idolators who have wandered away from true Christianity. We are the doomed, diseased, confused, fools who are deaf, dumb, and blind because we claim to believe in God, but we are only fooling ourselves. We have committed shirk and there is no hope for us. This is what Islam really believes about Christianity.
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” (Prov. 6: 16-19).