[002.001] Alif-Lâm-Mîm.[Translators note: These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur'ân and none but Allâh (Alone) knows their meanings.]
[002.002] This is the Book (the Qur'ân), whereof there is no doubt,
Hold it, right there: I am still in doubt what the first verse means! We are only 14 words into the text, and the first thing we're asked to do is to accept an obvious contradiction at face value, and thus implicitly to be willing to abandon logic and critical thinking, as if we were requested to leave shoes outside the door. 2:2 continues:
a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqûn [the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism who fear Allâh much
The next thing the Quran asks for is fear. That's not a pleasent feeling. Other religions may choose to start with love, but this is Islam. Fear is also more useful for keeping adherents in a state of submission (the word 'Islam', literally translated, means 'Submission').
Now, Allah doesn't do much by himself, locked up in a corner of the Kaaba without means of communication to make his demands known. Thus, we instead have to use complex and frequently even contradictory interpretations of old books.
abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allâh much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)].
After requesting to abandon rationality, then stating that the pious are to be in a state of fear, the Quran moves on to declare Islam a guide to the life of all believers, regulating their lives. In other times and places, that would be called totalitarian. Detailed commands follow in sura 2:3:
[002.003] Who believe in the Ghaib (Note 1) and perform As-Salât (the prayers), (Note 2) and spend out of what We have provided for them [i.e. give Zakât (obligatory charity), spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, and also give charity to the poor and also in Allâh's Cause – Jihâd].
A lot goes on here. Let's take it bit by bit:
[002.003] Who believe in the Ghaib (Note 1)
'Ghaib' means all kind of unseen and unprovable things – angles, miracles, books sent down from various places in the universe – and belief in this is a requirement in Islam. As is, according to the footnote, accepting everything in the Quran at face value, including the rather unusual shots at explaining things better left to science to take care of. Rational thinking would require evidence to make the claims to science credible, but the believers are requested to believe without that.
and perform As-Salât (the prayers), (Note 2)
As-Salât, as mentioned before, is the ritual prayer that shows submission and obedience to the 'divine' will. The footnote in the 'Noble' Quraan requests also gender segregation, forcing children to perform the prayers from the age of 7, and to beat the children into performing this religious duty from the age of 10 onwards. This is all explained by the representatives, who benefit from:
and spend out of what We have provided for them
Here's something easily missed: "We have provided"? The underlying principle here is that all things, material, immaterial and living beings, ultimately belong to Allah. This is a despotic point of view, where obedience to the ruler is absolute, including sacrifice of life if needed for the rule of the absolute despot. The contrary principle is that of private property, where individuals are the ultimate owners of what they have, not some abstract or even imaginary deity.
[i.e. give Zakât (obligatory charity),
Hardly surprising, parting with money comes early on the list of religious duties. Fascist regimes need resources to purchase loyalty and implement an effective totalitarian rule. Islam, as a political ideology, is similar.
For those who wondered how long it would be before this would point towards war, comes this:
spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, and also give charity to the poor and also in Allâh's Cause – Jihâd].
First, a list of less important reasons (not 'excuses' according to Islamic tradition), and then comes what matters: Benefiting Islam (and by implication its representatives working for the 'Cause'). That 'Cause' is the expansion of Islamic rule, and 'Jihad' is the effort to do so. As to whether Jihad is violent or not, the best response might be "As required".
[002.004] And who believe in that (the Qur'ân and the Sunnah) which has been sent down (revealed) to you (Muhammad [sal-Allâhu 'alayhi wa sallam]) and in that which was sent down before you [the Taurât (Torah) and the Injîl (Gospel)] and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter. (Resurrection, recompense of their good and bad deeds, Paradise and Hell).
Here it's worth noting that what is in parenthesis has been inserted by the translators to clarify difficult points in the text. Of which there are many, again contradicting the initial statement that this is a book free of doubt. Effectively, books like the Noble Quraan become Quran commentaries in themselves, removing ourselves somewhat from the original (supposedly perfect) text. Removing the comments can be interesting:
[002.004] And who believe in that which has been sent down to you and in that which was sent down before you and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter.
A lot of insight into Islam can be gained from the first few verses of the Qur'an. To read more click here..