IN A RECENT conversation with Bill Warner, I understood something about the Quran I have never considered before: That the Quran might becoded.
I told him when I first tried to read the Quran, I found it almost impossible. And I'm a good reader. My reading comprehension has been tested and it is very high. Yet I found my standard Quran confusing and frustrating to read.
Bill said, "That's because it's in code."
The message is scrambled, just as military communications are sent in code in times of war. Or, as Bill put it, "the text was randomized."
Whether it was done intentionally or not, the message written in the Quran has been significantly garbled, and that discourages almost all non-Muslims and a significant percentage of Muslimsfrom reading it.
Non-Muslims are almost entirely in the dark about the political duties incumbent on every Muslim revealed in the Quran, even though any normal bookstore in the Western world sells numerous copies translated into English. And most Muslims must rely on their imams to tell them what Islam is about, which explains much of the Muslim confusion about their own religion.
In what way is the message scrambled? First, the chapters are published out of order in every standard Quran. Rather than printing them using the chronological order in which they were revealed, the 114 chapters (suras) of the Quran are arranged using a baffling method: They're arranged in order from the longest chapter to the shortest. That's the traditional order.In addition, each chapter seems randomly ordered. Most chapters are a collection of many different topics, and often one topic ends and an unrelated topic begins abruptly.
When you read a standard Quran straight through like a normal book, the message is disjointed and the story jumps around and seems contradictory. One very important consequence of this curious disorder is that it hides the clear progression from Mohammad's semi-tolerance of non-Muslims to his violent hatred toward them.The second way the message has been made difficult to decipher is by the principle of abrogation, which means that some later chapters (suras) contain passages that override passages from earlier chapters. Because the chapters are not published in chronological order, this means that hardly anyone who reads the Quran knows which passages are abrogated and which are not.
Out of the 114 chapters, only 43 are not affected by abrogation. The majority of the chapters of the Quran cannot be taken at face value.
The third way the Quran has been put into code is by putting the key somewhere else. Much of the Quran cannot be understoodwithout being familiar with the life of Mohammad (by reading the Sira and the Hadith). These are primarily about Mohammad — what he said and did.
In other words, the Quran — the source book, the single most important holy book in Islam — can't be understood without the key, and the key can only be found somewhere else, which is similar to one of the ways a message can be written in code: Put the key to understanding the message somewhere else besides including it in the message.