Translated with footnotes by N.J. Dawood, a British scholar
Penguin Books / paperback / 5 by 7 and 3 x 4 inches / 455 pages / 2003
With highlights of the life of Muhmmad (570-632)
Epigraph “The Exordium.” In it Muslims are to ask Allah (God) for help to “Guide them to the straight path.” (The Arabic name for Qur’an [Koran] means “The Recital.”)
Although “The Koran” is a sacred book–“the infallible word of Allah” to Muslims–it is repetitive, boring and a dull read for non-Muslims.
Hundreds of sections begin with the same phrase: “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.”
Seven times in just two pages Muslims are told to give alms.
Then, denying the injunction to be compassionate and merciful, it urges: “God’s curse be upon the infidels!…Ignominious punishment awaits the unbelievers.”
The section about “The Cow” asks: “Did you know that Allah has power over all things? Did you know that it is Allah who has sovereignty over the heavens and the earth and there is none besides Allah to protect you?”
After Muslims turn toward Mecca to pray, we are told: “Allah has knowledge of all things.”
Further in “The Cow” section we get the injunction: “Allah has forbidden you carrion, blood and the flesh of swine.”
Then this: ”The righteous man is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, in the angels and the Book (Koran) and the prophets.”
And this: “In the month of Ramadan the Koran was revealed, a book of guidance for mankind with proofs of guidance distinguishing right from wrong. Therefore, in that month fast.”
And this: ”Allah knows and hears all. Allah is mighty and wise.”
And this: “Say to the unbelievers: you shall be overthrown and driven into Hell—an evil resting place!”
And this: “The only true faith in Allah’s sight is Islam.”
Then we get 12 Allahs on one small page. It’s wearisome. And we’re only at page 58 of a 455-page tome.
“The Koran” is a tough slog for a non-Muslim.
IN MEMORIUM TOM HAYDEN
Tom Hayden, the magnificent antiwar activist in the 1960s counterculture, took on the high and mighty to make the country far better.
He was a defendant in the Chicago Seven (originally eight) case that put leaders of the anti-Vietnam War movement on trial in 1969. He was a fiery protestor who relished his role.
Hayden, 76, who died recently, was a civil rights activist and one of the key creators of the New Left after riots at the 1968 the Democratic Convention.
In its obituary, the New York Times wrote: “During the racial unrest and antiwar protests of the 1960s and early 1970s, he was one of the nation’s most visible radicals.
“Hayden was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the New Left. He went to Hanoi and escorted American prisoners of war home from Vietnam. As a civil rights worker, he was beaten in Mississippi and jailed in Georgia.”
While in prison he outlined the 25,000-word Port Huron Statement, the political manifesto of the SDS and the New Left. It envisioned an alliance of college students in a peaceful crusade to overcome what it called government repression, racism and corporate greed. (The Statement was finalized at a convention in Port Huron, Mich.)
The aim of the manifesto was lofty: to create a multiracial, egalitarian society.
The judge in the Chicago Seven trial in 1969 was grossly biased so the conviction and numerous contempt citations were easily overturned on appeal.
Hayden was accompanied by communist Herbert Aptheker and Staughton Lynd, a radical Yale professor, on a trip to Vietnam in 1965.
During the McCarthy era of the 1950s Aptheker was blackballed from academia for being a member of the Communist Party. He had been lecturing on communism nationwide on college campuses. A biographer of Aptheker called him “the most dangerous communist in the United States.”
While a student at the University of Michigan, Hayden was inspired by student protests against anti-communist witch hunts by the House Un-American Activities Committee and lunch counter sit-ins by black students at Greensboro, N.C.
He attended a parish school in Royal Oak, Mich. The pastor: the Rev. Charles Coughlin, the anti-Semitic radio priest of the 1930s and right-wing foe of FDR’s New Deal.
Hayden married Jane Fonda, a radical herself, in 1973.
ABSURD PAY FOR FOOTBALL COACHES
Despite all the strain and stress, anguish and agitation of college football coaches, it is beyond absurd to pay one of their “stars’ $10 million a year.
But that’s the sad reality of Jim Harbaugh, coach of the University of Michigan “professional” football team.
It also shows once again that coaches are considered more important than professors, that molding a triumphant football team is considered more important than molding student minds.
USA TODAY reported that Harbaugh is having an “exceptional year” with an “exceptional team.” So, the university is meeting its contractual pledge to set “an appropriate compensation.
A public policy specialist called it “a little bit shocking.”
No, it’s a dreadfully shocking erosion of values.
,Jake Highton is an emeritus professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)