Qu’ran reading experiment 1: Surah Al-Fatihah

Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect to Muslims when I criticize what I’m reading, I brought the same level of criticism to the New Testament and to the Buddhist Tipitaka. This criticism is aimed at books and belief systems, not at people. The Old Testament is a terrible, ghastly book, for example, but I know Catholics that ignore 99.99% of it and thereby become nice people. Yet those who adhere to every word of it often become hateful towards others and even self-loathing. That gives me good reasons to doubt the value of such books.

If you’re interestedin frank criticism by a guy who’s read a bunch of books, read on, but if you prefer not to read anything critical, just ignore me and read something else, please.


I decided to read the Qu’ran to get a better footing in it, especially seeing all the recent islamophobia. I’ve also read the New Testament and large parts of the Dhammapada, and some background information about Judaism. I’d consider myself a humanist buddhist pastafarian, but I won’t let that get in the way.

So here we have surah 1, Surah Al-Fatihah:

In the name of Allah , the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
[All] praise is [due] to Allah , Lord of the worlds –
The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,
Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
Guide us to the straight path –
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.

I don’t know if this Allah is especially merciful, the book surely hasn’t told me yet, it just establishes the fact out of nothing. What I’ve heard from rumors shows me that he or she isn’t, really. But OK, I’ll roll with it.

“It is You we worship”? That doesn’t apply to me, the reader, right now. I know nothing about Allah, why should I be ready to worship him? Should I worship anything or anyone at all? What about exploring that philosophical concept? This book establishes some things that might be correct for its authors, but not for me as a reader. I also don’t ask Allah for help for anything, I am my own person, I struggle with my own things, I solve my own problems. So on the very first page, the Qu’ran makes itself not very likeable to me.

The straight path seems to be reserved for those who this Allah likes, not for those who angered him. I don’t know yet if I would’ve angered him or what angers him, so I guess we’re fine so far? Also, do I want to be on the straight path? I’ve so far preferred the middle path of Buddhism (Majjhimāpaṭipadā) because there it least I know how to attain it. The Buddhist literature describes in great detail how to find the middle path, and the Tipitaka doesn’t really mention it until you’re ready for it. So as far as teaching is concerned, the Qu’ran could’ve benefited from a different didactic approach.

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