Monday, February 20, 2012

The Qur'an Dilemma by former Muslims

How can an English-speaking reader make sense of the Qur'an?
The authors of this work fulfill the need for an objective tool to investigate the sacred text of Islam in English. This book presents the text of the Qur'an (in English) with parallel commentary.
The commentary addresses important issues Muslim scholars have wrestled with for centuries, giving rounded views of the various schools of thought. It examines the Qur'an from three perspectives. First, it investigates and analyzes the historical, factual, and linguistic difficulties in the text. Second, it investigates the annulment of certain verses, that is, those verses which abrogate or nullify other verses. The third issue addressed is that of the variant readings.
The book also contains additional articles on the issues of the Qur'an. Topics such as the treatment of women, the compilation of the Qur'an, the treatment of people of other faiths, and the chronological sequence of its suras (chapters) are a few.
Helpful resources have been added to the back of the book, including definitions, additional reading, proper names, timeline, subject index, and maps.

The articles in part one of this book are a great introduction to the Qur'an, covering its name, structure, influence, origin and compilation. It was revealing to find that, at one point, Muhammad suspected that he had become mad. At other times he believed he had become a diviner.
A lengthy article covers the several compilations of the Qur'an and their differences. The Qur'an circulating among Muslims today is of two versions that have been revised repeatedly over the centuries.
In the article on abrogation, the authors note that, while abrogation was done by Muhammad himself, no one dares do it now. Many problematic verses of the Qur'an remain and it cannot adapt to the changing world of its followers. (86)
The article on the variant reading notes that, not only were there some during the time of Muhammad, but he approved them. (91) The authors state that there are several codices that differ in meaning. As a result, there are different religious rulings based on those different meanings. (98)
The article on women reveals that husbands can beat their wives and can take up to four wives.

The second part of the book consists of a short instruction on reading the Qur'an and then the text, with commentary, through Q 9:129. The Palmer translation is used.
The authors provide a short introduction to each sura. This alerts the reader to historical, linguistic, exegetical and other important issues. The authors have added though provoking questions at the end of many sections of commentary.

The third part of the book contains references and resources.

The work is the product of many former Muslim writers, Islamic specialists, scholars, editors, researchers, and translators. All are Christians. Some have revealed their association with this work while others will do so when the second volume is published.

This book is a great resource for Christians working with those of the Muslim faith. to see more about the book, ordering it, and many resources.  ISBN 9781935577034, $39.95.
Go to to read the blog of Al Fadi, the editor.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Glass Road Public Relations for the purpose of this review.

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