Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On Reading the Qur’an Straight Through

I just finishing reading the Qur’an straight through. It was an eye-opener—and a bit of a chore, really. Since there’s not a narrative structure, no suspense pulled me forward. Instead I was driven by (a) wanting to complete the goal of reading it seriatim in a about month, and (b) trying to understand what Muslims believe.

Having finished this book that’s revered by a billion people on this planet, I asked myself, what struck me personally? My notes are entirely impressionistic and perhaps idiosyncratic, but three themes hit me in the face. First of all, judgment—the pleasures of heaven, but particularly the horrors of Hell—seemed to appear on every page I turned. This theme is related to a second: That the Qur’an is God’s perfect speech given through his Apostle, Muhammad. It is the “glorious Qur’an” (Suran 85) and the “best of scriptures” (Surah 39). I couldn’t totally shake the less-than-reverent thought that this represents a sustained work of promoting the Cause. It certainly reinforces Muhammad’s position. E.g., “Obey God and his Apostle” (Surah 64). Finally—and this is a little more devout—I was moved by passages that describe God’s ultimate glory: “There is nothing in the heavens or the earth beyond the power of God.”