Summary: How vastly different is the Bible narrative from the Koran. Yet Muhammad and his "angel" and 1 billion people on the planet today want us to believe that the Prophet of Mecca/Medina has merely updated God's revelation. See for yourself.
Lesson 32, Talking Ants, Messenger Birds, and Frail Spiders.
Today, suras 25-29
Sura 25 is about "the discriminator," a special gift given to Muhammad, to rightly discern what is true and what is not. Unfortunately his first act of discrimination in this chapter is to deny that the God of Heaven ever took a son, an oft repeated theme of the Koran.
As stated much earlier, Muhammad's detractors are given a lot of space within the book, giving rise to many of our own objections. This time the Koran is called by enemies "but a fraud of his own devising and other people assisted him...and legend of the ancients," given by a mere mortal, perhaps bewitched at that.
It was a bit startling to me to see a call for holy war in this Meccan sura, verse 52: "So do not obey the infidels, and perform jihad against them..."
Following is a simple statement by Muhammad that Allah has "mixed the two seas", that is, fresh water and salt water. As Dakdok points out, there is no great scientific revelation here, though Muslim scholars want to say there is. The circulation of fresh and salt water currents had been known since at least the first century.
Chapter 26 is called "the poets". They are mentioned only once, and that in a derogatory way, as one of the many groups Allah is going to judge eternally.
The Bible story of this chapter: another visit to Moses' time. Moses was placed in the Nile River at his birth, discovered by the Princess of Egypt, and raised in the Pharaoh's home. That Pharaoh was still living when Moses made his move against the Egyptians, when he saw one of his own being abused. He fled to Midian, was told by God that all who sought his life were dead, and he was sent back to meet the new Pharaoh.
But Muhammad again has not heard all the details of the story, and tries to make the two Pharaohs into one: "Did we not see you as a child among us, and you stayed among us many years of your life?" says Pharaoh to an 80-year-old Moses.
There is also some confusion about what land God had in mind for the Israelites. Allah is quoted here as saying that "We bequeathed [Egypt] to the children of Israel." That's a convenient statement for those who want to muddy Israel's claim to old Canaan.
Next to sura 27, "the ants." Right away we continue with another Moses story. Moses announces to his family one day that he has seen a fire. He promises to keep them posted on what's going on out there, and maybe even bring them back some of the blazing branches with which they can keep warm.
Of course, it is God he has encountered. "O Moses, surely I am Allah, the dear, the wise," titles we have come to associate with the Koranic recitations. He instructs Moses to throw down his rod, and the rod starts to shake before he can even let go. He then instructs him to place his hand into his pocket, and when it comes out it is white, that is , pure from evil. Leprosy is not mentioned. This latter sign is to be one of the nine plagues that will come to Egypt. I said "nine."
Then follows the tale of Solomon and Sheba. I say "tale" because it is far from the Biblical truth, and because it makes me begin to wonder if Muhammad truly believed the Bible stories, or the stories he was telling. Did he think that Bible history was just legend that he could play with in this way? That there was a truth behind the facts that was more important than the facts? I am making him sound like a Protestant liberal scholar, but it is hard for me to comprehend how he could have come up with these stories in any other way.
Translator Dakdok offers that at least a part of this tale is from the mythical The Second Tergemon of the Book of Esther.
Anyway, passing over the section about some talking ants, we move to the inspection of a very special bird of Solomon's day. He is identified here as a "hoopoe", but in the myth as a rooster. The hoopoe is missing one day because he has been traveling around, and has discovered an infidel kingdom ruled over by a woman, Sheba. They are sun-worshipers.
Solomon tells the hoopoe to deliver a book to her. He is to throw it down, and see what happens. Sheba receives the present. She reciprocates with a cash gift, which Solomon rejects, threatening to remove her from power. A demon of the jinn variety volunteers to bring the actual throne of Sheba to Solomon's palace. Sheba is escorted there too and after some difficult exchanges, she surrenders "with Solomon to Allah, the lord of the worlds."