Water for Pilgrims (Blog a Koran Day)

Today is September 11 and as I promised, I am blogging a verse from the Koran which I hope will help create understanding and respect between Muslims and Christians.

List of Bloggers for Blog A Koran Day:

Randy Olds
Jeremy at HackingChristianity
Andrew Parle
Eddie Gonzalez
Wolfgang Fernandez
Melody Harrison Hanson
Matthew Kelly
Alley C

Jason Coker
Andrew Jones
Joshua Seek
Hannah P

Thanks everyone for participating!! Not all of them are posted yet because of the different timezones so check them out during the day.

We were all very upset about the proposed plans by a Florida pastor to burn a Koran but, thankfully, the “Burn a Koran Day” was cancelled about 6 hours after we announced “Blog A Koran Day” and its very possible that efforts like ours made a difference in that decision.

This morning I was reading through the Koran online because my hard copy is back home and I am traveling. And I found this passage:

Sahih International:

Have you made the providing of water for the pilgrim and the maintenance of al-Masjid al-Haram equal to [the deeds of] one who believes in Allah and the Last Day and strives in the cause of Allah ? They are not equal in the sight of Allah . And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.

The “water for pilgrims” stood out to be because in my email box this morning is a number of requests for projects that are bringing water to dying people around the world, and in particular the need to get clean drinking water to the flood victims in Pakistan. I have heard the Pakistan army is doing a lot of good work and this is commendable. But people from around the world are getting involved involved also.

At first glance, this passage in the Koran seems to be saying that giving water to pilgrims is what characterizes wrongdoing people who are inferior to those who believe in Allah and strive in his cause. You might almost think Muslims should not care about the homeless Pakistanis or the children who die every day due to illnesses caused by of lack of water.

But this is not what the verse says.  A good explanation of the verse suggests that the passage is prioritizing the inner faith of one who is submitted to God over the external forms, like giving water and working on the Mosque.

Muhammad Asad states in his commentary:

It would, therefore, appear that what is meant here is the superior value of faith in God and struggle in His cause as compared with acts which, however meritorious, are concerned only with outward forms: in brief, the immense superiority of real-surrender to God over mere ritual.

This passage reminds me of a story from the Christian Bible which was also about water for a pilgrim and a holy place of worship. Jesus was traveling through Samaria and asked a women at a well for a drink. He offered her streams of living water [spiritual life]. When she asked which mountain was the best place to worship, Jesus told her that a time was coming when true worshippers of God would worship not at a location but in “spirit and in truth”.

Both Christians and Muslims would agree that a deep spiritual submission to God is our highest calling, and yet there is still a place for physical acts of service that flow from that submission. Like giving water to pilgrims and homeless families. This morning I joined the “WaterAid: A burden for thirst” cause on Bloggers Unite which hopes to save 4000 children by providing clean water.

Thanks for reading my post. May God’s peace be on you. And btw I think “Koran” is probably a better translation for English speakers than Qur’an so I am sticking with it. Thanks Ed Cook for your post on that.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


Leave a Reply