Monday, September 13, 2010
Opening the Koran
Did you pick up a copy of the Koran/Qur'an this weekend?
If you're like me you don't know very much about this book. You're maybe aware of some of its more famous and/or infamous passages, you're probably aware of the millions of peaceful practitioners of Islam, and you're almost certainly aware of its fringiest, most militant elements.
But how well do you know the actual book and its contents?
"And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and they do nothing but conjecture." - The Koran, Surat Al-Baqarah 2:78
Fair enough. No more assumptions from this illiterate. I intend to attempt a rudimentary understanding of this revered book. Care to join me?
Starting tomorrow I'm going to begin reading the Koran and briefly commenting on it here - an exercise that I think will be interesting and conversation-provoking; illuminating for myself and, I hope, for some of you. Twice a week I'll read and comment on one or two Surahs (also spelt as "Sura," and the equivalent of the English word "Chapter") from the above-pictured translation of the Qur'an, and I'll invite you to read and comment with me. I expect that when I'm done I'll turn my attention to both the Bible and the Torah - books that I'm much more familiar with overall.
This is in no sense an attempt to convert any of you into "believers." I will not be endorsing religion or excoriating the non-religious, except to the extent that I will gladly celebrate those passages I find inspirational/beautiful/moving, and will likewise be critical of those passages which I find troubling/confusing/contradictory. I welcome my atheist and agnostic brothers and sisters to join in this little experiment with me. A lack of belief in the divinity of the Koran does not negate the text's importance to human history (past, present and future) and as always your thoughts and opinions are encouraged and desired. What do the words of these books make you feel? Are you able to separate out your feelings (both positive and negative) regarding the institutions that surround these books in order to approach them solely as texts? These are just some of the questions I'd like to ask of you as we go. I'd love to hear your thoughts and recieve your own questions.
In short, I'd like to have a discussion. I'm hoping you'll want to join in it with me, whether you're a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Deist, a Buddhist, a Wiccan, an Atheist, an Agnostic, a Rand-ian Objectivist, or whathaveyou. Remember that Verbosity is a place of respect, treat your fellow human beings as you would like to be treated, and know that all are welcome.