Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Catholic Reads the Qur'an: Sura 1

The first "sura" (chapter) of the Qur'an is short enough to quote in entirety:

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all Being,
the All-merciful, the All-compassionate,
the Master of the Day of Doom.

Thee only we serve; to Thee alone we pray for succour.
Guide us in the straight path,
the path of those whom Thou has blessed,
not of those against whom Though art wrathful,
nor of those who are astray.

This is the first sura in the "traditional" ordering of suras, however, I get the impression that most students of the Qur'an don't believe this traditional ordering to reflect the historical order of authorship. I also read that some scholars believe some suras to be composite works. As a student of the Bible, this is not terribly surprising to me because the Bible has some of these characteristics as well.

I have so many questions already, but the biggest one of them all is, "Who is speaking?"

The second sura is a lot longer than this one. I might need a lot more time to read it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Where am I going to find time to read the Qur'an?

A lot of forces are working together to pressure me into reading the Qur'an.

First, you've got Pastor Terry Jones at Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, FL, who's planning to burn copies of the Qur'an in just three days (on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks).

Second, a very large number of Americans seem to think we should not apply the the first amendment to the constitution in the case of a proposed Muslim community center three blocks from Ground Zero.

Third, there is the remarkably strange project.

Fourth, there are a billion Muslims on the planet. As a human being, shouldn't I be somewhat interested in the religious beliefs shared by a billion other human beings? There seems to be some element of moral obligation here. At the very least, it's a requirement of "cultural literacy".

Fifth, after all of the extremely negative things I've read about this book and its Prophet, I really do have a moral obligation to check the source and give the other side a chance to speak for itself.