Muhammad points out that justifying one's actions by claiming that they are the practice of one's ancestors just isn't valid:
And when it is said to them, Follow what Allah has revealed, they say: Nay, we follow what wherein we found our fathers. What! Even though their fathers had no sense at all, nor did they follow the right way. (v.170)
Certain foods are prohibited in Islam:
He has forbidden you only what dies of itself, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that over which any other (name) than (that of) Allah has been invoked. Then whoever is driven by necessity, not desiring, nor exceeding the limit, no sin is upon him. Surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (173)
No meat off animals you just find lying dead, no blood, no pork, and no meat from an animal sacrificed to anyone or anything other than Allah.
Who is righteous?
...the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask and to set slaves free and keeps up prayer and pays the poor-rate; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who keep their duty. (177)
Not even the New Testament tells people to free their slaves.
War & Revenge I
Does Allah share Jesus' views on retaliation?
O you who believe, retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the slain: the free for the free, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if remission is made to one by his (aggrieved) brother, prosecution (for blood-money) should be according to usage, and payment to him in a good manner. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. Whoever exceeds the limit after this, will have a painful chastisement. (178)
If someone in another group kills a non-slave in your group, someone in your group is permitted by Allah to kill a non-slave in their group. The same applies for slaves and women. If a man in another group kills a woman in your group, you cannot--by this law--retaliate by killing the murder himself. You are, however, fully entitled to kill a woman in their group for revenge.
However, if you kill someone in another group and the family forgives you, you have to pay them "blood money".
And there is life for you in retaliation, O men of understanding, that you may guard yourselves. (179)
I.e., Allah is saying that this system saves lives. Is there a code that would save even more lives?
Fasting during the daylight hours for the month of Ramadan is perscribed here. However, if you are sick or on a journey, you may eat and fast on other days to make up for it. And if you "find it extremely hard" to fast and you need to eat, you "may effect redemption by feeding a poor man" (184).
You may also have sex with your wives during the night, but not during the day on Ramadan.
War & Revenge II
Does Allah agree with Jesus and the apostles on the subject of violent resistence?
And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you but be not aggressive. Surely Allah loves not the aggressors. (190)
You may fight and kill as long as the other side are the "aggressors". It is not clearly defined what constitutes "aggression" from one's enemies. Is the ambiguity intentional?
The next verses involve a tricky arabic word, fitnah. Here are some definitions:
In Islamic tradition, fitnah refers, first, to the opposition to Islam experienced by early Muslims and, second, threats to the health of the umma. In Arabic fitnah means "trial, testing." (http://atheism.about.com/library/gloss
Fitna is an Arabic word, generally regarded as very difficult to translate. It is often used to refer to civil war, disagreement and division within Islam and specifically alludes to a time involving trials of faith, similar to the Tribulation in Christian eschatology. The word also implies meanings including schism, secession, upheaval and anarchy. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitna
Fitnah means civil strife, war, riots. (http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/reference/g
Now...having said that....
Which is worse? "Fitnah," or "slaughter"?
And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, and persecution [al-fitnah] is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it; so if they fight you (in it), slay them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.
But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (191-192)
It is not specified how "kill them wherever you find them" fits in with the concept of strictly defensive warfare.
And fight them until there is no persecution [al-fitnah], and religion is only for Allah. But if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors. (193)
In their translation, "The Noble Qur'an", by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali, Ph.D. & Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, they translate "fitnah" in this verse as "disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah". In any case, the unbelievers must be fought until fitnah is ended and only Allah is worshipped.
Are the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount valid?
Whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you and keep your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty. (194)
All Muslims are required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives if they are able to do so. Some of the guidelines are given here. There should be "no immodest speech, nor abusing, nor altercation in the pilgrimage" (197).
Mankind is a single nation. (213)
They ask thee as to what they should spend. Say: Whatever wealth you spend, it is for the parents and the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatever good you do, Allah surely is Knower of it. (215)
War & Revenge III
Allah commands you to wage war, even if you hate doing so:
Fighting [jihad] is enjoined on you, though it is disliked by you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you; and Allah knows while you know not. (216)
Which is worse: fighting during Ramadan, or hindering another's practice of Islam?
They ask thee about fighting in the sacred month. Say: Fighting in it is a grave (offence). And hindering (men) from Allah's way and denying Him and the Sacred Mosque and turning its people out of it, are still graver with Allah; and persecution [fitnah] is graver than slaughter. (217)
And fight in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is Hearing, Knowing. (244)
You should not marry "idolatresses" (221). Nor should you give away your Muslim daughter to marry an idolator. "These invite to the fire..."
What should you do if one of your wives is menstruating?
And they ask thee about menstruation. Say: It is harmful; so keep aloof from women during menstrual discharge and go not near them until they are clean. But when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you. (222)
What is an appropriate way for a man to view women?
Your wives are a tilth for you, so go in to your tilth when you like, and send (good) beforehand for yourselves. And keep your duty to Allah, and know that you will meet Him. And give good news to the believers. (223)
"Tilth" means land to be plowed, as in agriculture. A man's wives are his tilth. "Men are a degree above" women (228).
If a man wants to divorce one of his wives, she has to be allowed to be celibate for three menstrual periods first to make sure that she isn't pregnant. Don't take back things you've given to your ex-wives unless "you fear that they cannot keep within the limits of Allah" (229). Divorce is only final if the husband pronounces it three times. When the divorce is final, don't take her back just so that you can abuse her (231), and don't prevent her from marrying another man (232).
Who caused Christians to disagree with one another after Jesus and Mary died?
And We gave clear arguments to Jesus son of Mary, and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit. And if Allah had pleased, those after them would not have fought one with another after clear arguments had come to them, but they disagreed; so some of them believed and some of them denied. And if Allah had pleased they would not have fought one with another, but Allah does what He intends. (253)
More Pleasant Quotations
There is no compulsion in religion--the right way is indeed clearly distinct from error. (256)
A kind word with forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury. (263)
If you manifest charity, how excellent it is! And if you hide it and give it to the poor, it is good for you. And it will do away with some of your evil deeds; and Allah is Aware of what you do. (271)
The sura ends with a prayer to Allah. The last line reads:
Thou art our Patron, so grant us victory over the disbelieving people. (286)