Tuesday, February 06, 2007


It occurred to me yesterday that what my blog needs, besides someone to read it, is a regular feature. I considered a sports theme, but that didn't seem deep enough. No one political issue is likely to keep my interest for very long. I don't do fashion or entertainment. I'm not into reality TV, or reality blogging. So all I am left with is the Quran.

So, I will read the entire Quran, sura by sura and verse by verse, and comment on what strikes me as interesting. I have already read many excerpts, and have embarked on a complete reading on three occasions. I have made it as far as Sura 11. This time will be a complete success, and I will turn to the Old Testament.

I am not an Islamic scholar, but that is surely not a requirement for reading the Quran. I am not pretending to have any sort of authority. I will not be issuing fatwas. I will simply be voicing my opinions.

I will not be reading it in Arabic either, but that shouldn't matter at all. Allah spoke to the inhabitants of Arabia in Arabic because he speaks to each people in their own language. He wouldn't expect me to have to learn Arabic to receive his word. Too often Muslims and non Muslims alike confuse Arab with Muslim. The two are not the same.

No two translations of the Quran into English are the same. I will be utilizing translations into English by Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad. The rest of this post will pertain to how I received the Muhammad Asad translation, with my musings on the Sura Al-Fatiha following tomorrow.

I received a beautiful and very big copy of the Quran in the mail from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). They were distributing the Quran free of charge. All I had to do is go to CAIR's website, click a box indicating an interest in receiving the Quran, and enter my address. With the Quran I received a letter. It began with a quote from the Quran. Of course it did. I mean a quote from Daniel Pipes would hardly have been appropriate. The quote was from Sura 14: "This is a book that We have revealed to you (Prophet Muhammad) so that you may lead mankind out of the depths of darkness into the light." (14:1) What a quote. I mean, who wouldn't want to be led out of the darkness. Maybe some goth-types, but certainly most of us would love to be brought into the light ... unless that means into THE LIGHT, in which case most of us would like to delay that. I took it to mean enlightenment, though, so I was intrigued. They next sentence referred to the Quran as a "revealed text," which is important. Christians may speak of the bible as a "revealed text," but most of us accept that it was written by ordinary men and, in most cases, was written many years after the events described in the text. This is the way Muslims see the bible. It is God's word, distorted by early Christians. The Quran is the Word of God. "As you know, Muslims regard the Quran as the inerrant Word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century CE. Conveyed by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in Arabic, the word 'Quran' itself means 'recitation.'" Nihad Awad, the signatory of the letter, assures me that although translations of the Quran are an approximation of the Arabic revelation, "the larger themes of monotheism, justice, and brotherhood transcend the limitations of language." Whew, am I relieved. Although I am troubled that all I will be able to be sure of is the biases of the translator. The letter identifies mutual understanding and tolerance of religious diversity as the goals of CAIR's distribution of the Quran. I can't argue with those goals. I also can't argue with their request that I not keep the Quran in dirty or wet areas, near their feet, on the floor, or near the sink. It is a little sad that there would be a need to make such a request, but I don't doubt that at all. Some good Christian whose heart is filled with love and compassion probably has ordered a Quran just so that he or she can deface it. I do believe that reading the Quran would be an important eye opener for a lot of Americans, and I also believe that very few Christian Americans will ever pick up a Quran. Maybe an effort like this one will make a difference. Maybe not. At any rate, kudos to CAIR and Thank You.

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