Acknowledgment. I am grateful to Amy Peikoff, JD, PhD (dontletitgo.com), for organizing the Koran Reading Group (KRG). It ran from May to September, 2011; it met, for a nominal fee, weekly for an hour on audio through Webinar and in emails through Google Groups; and it achieved its goals: to do a slow, scheduled reading of the Qur'an and Robert Spencer's commentary on it, especially noting passages used by jihadists today to justify their attacks on non-Muslims. KRG also fulfilled my individual purposes: to become acquainted with the Qur'an as a whole and to learn Islam's view of reason and mysticism, as stated or implied in the Qur'an.
570 -- Birth of M. in Mecca, near w. coast of Arabia. (p. 279)
590? -- In Syria, on a caravan trading expedition, M. meets a Christian monk who tells M. that M. is a prophet. (p. 280)
605? -- M. has visions. (p. 280)
610 -- M. receives his first revelation, in a cave near Mecca. (p. 280)
632, March -- M. receives his last revelation, three months before his death. (p. 284)
632-656 -- Under the direction of the first three caliphs (Abuu Bakr, 'Umar, and 'Uthmaan), Muslims (such as M's secretary, Zayd ibn Thaabit) collect and sort written copies of M's recitations of individual revelations. ("Koran," CEI, p. 230) The edited collection, an artifact of human action, is the Qur'an, developed, Muslims believe, by God at the beginning of time.
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
1. When comes the Help of God, and Victory,
2. And thou dost see the People enter God's Religion in crowds,
3. Celebrate the Praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy).
The italicized line at the start is one of the standard invocations. In the last line, the translator and commentator, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, inserted the words in parentheses to make explicit the meaning he thinks is implicit in the Arabic text.
In the Qur'an, the politics of Islam is theocratic, that is, supporting a government that implements God's ethics. The Islamic political system, shown in the Qur'an in incipient form under Muhammad's reign, is a direct inference from the central Islamic principle, the doctrine of unicity: one God, one message, one set of rules for living for all individuals, everywhere, and at all times.
1. In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
2. Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds;
3. Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
4. Master of the Day of Judgment.
5. Thee do we worship and thine aid we seek.
6. Show us the straight way,
7. The way of those on whom thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who go not astray.
Supernaturalism is shown by the invocation of God. He has created this world on earth and another realm of heaven and hell. God did more than create this world back in time; readers of the Qur'an learn later, that God also sustains the world from moment to moment and can change it at any time. Mysticism is suggested here, by implication, in that praising God requires faith in God's existence and nature, and explicitly in that God's followers must have faith in His Word, worship Him, and seek His aid for humans in this world. Altruism is implied in the focus on God, who will tell us how to live ("the straight way"), which includes our duties to others, as Muhammad explains in later suras.
As presented in the Qur'an, Islam is a rotting log from which various ideological mushrooms grow. All are poisonous, some more quickly than others.
Author, The Power and the Glory: The Key Ideas and Crusading Lives of Eight Debaters of Reason vs. Faith, at http://www.reasonversusmysticism.com