Opening the Qur an
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329 pages
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Description

Opening the Qur'an can be a bewildering experience to non-Muslim, English-speaking readers. Those who expect historical narratives, stories, or essays on morals are perplexed once they pass the beautiful first Surah, often shocked and then bogged down by Surah 2, and even offended by Surah 3’s strictures against nonbelievers. Walter H. Wagner “opens” the Qur’an by offering a comprehensive and extraordinarily readable, step-by-step introduction to the text, making it accessible to students, teachers, clergy, and general readers interested in Islam and Islam’s holy Book.

Wagner first places the prophet Muhammad, the Qur'an, and the early Muslim community in their historical, geographical, and theological contexts. This background is a basis for interpreting the Qur'an and understanding its role in later Muslim developments as well as for relationships between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He then looks in detail at specific passages, moving from cherished devotional texts to increasingly difficult and provocative subjects. The selected bibliography serves as a resource for further reading and study. Woven into the discussion are references to Islamic beliefs and practices. Wagner shows great sensitivity toward the risks and opportunities for non-Muslims who attempt to interpret the Qur'an, and sympathy in the long struggle to build bridges of mutual trust and honest appreciation between Muslims and non-Muslims.


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Publié par
Date de parution 02 juillet 2010
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9780268096540
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,2000€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

Extrait

OPENING THE QUR’AN
Introducing Islam’s Holy Book
WALTER H. WAGNER
University of Notre Dame Press • Notre Dame, Indiana
Copyright © 2008 by University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 www.undpress.nd.edu -->
All Rights Reserved
E-ISBN 978-0-268-09654-0
This e-Book was converted from the original source file by a third-party vendor. Readers who notice any formatting, textual, or readability issues are encouraged to contact the publisher at ebooks@nd.edu Manufactured in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Wagner, Walter H., 1935– Opening the Qur’an : introducing Islam’s holy book / Walter H. Wagner. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-268-04415-2 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN-10: 0-268-04415-5 (cloth : alk. paper) 1. Koran—Criticism, interpretation, etc. 2. Koran—Hermeneutics. 3. Koran—Reading. 4. Koran—History. I. Title. BP130.4.W24   2008 297.1'2261—dc22 2008027221 ∞ The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources . -->
CONTENTS
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chronology, from 570 to 680 CE
PART I. APPROACHING THE QUR’AN
ONE Risks, Perspectives, and Understandings
TWO Basic Narratives for Judaism and Christianity
THREE Islam’s Basic Narrative and Core Positions
FOUR The Setting: Reflections on Arabia
FIVE Times and the Messenger
SIX The Origin, Transmission, and Structures of the Qur’an
SEVEN Interpreting the Qur’an
PART II. THE QUR’AN OPENED
EIGHT Four Cherished Passages
NINE The Qur’an on the End of This World and Life in the Hereafter
TEN The Qur’an on Woman and Women
ELEVEN The Qur’an on Biblical Figures, Jews and Christians
TWELVE The Qur’an on Justice and Jihad
PART III. THE EVER-OPEN QUR’AN
THIRTEEN Challenges from the Qur’an
FOURTEEN Challenges to the Qur’an
FIFTEEN The Qur’an Opened and Open
Appendix A. Traditional Names and Order of Surahs
Appendix B. Biblical Figures Mentioned in the Qur’an
Appendix C. Glossary of Key Terms
Notes
Selected Bibliography General Index 516 -->
Index of Religious Texts
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Many persons over nearly twenty years have assisted, encouraged, and helped make this study possible. The selected bibliography recognizes the community of scholars whose insights stand behind the text. I am grateful to student and faculty colleagues at Muhlenberg College (1984–93) and the Moravian Theological Seminary (1993 to the present) plus congregational and community members who endured various versions of this work. Their comments and reactions are appreciated.
The editorial staff of the University of Notre Dame Press, especially Charles Van Hof, Rebecca DeBoer, and Sheila Berg, provided more than ink and paper. They have shared insights and assistance. I am particularly indebted to the members of the Islamic Education Center of Pennsylvania, Allentown, especially to Ruhi Subzposh and Ayman Kanan, Arief Subzposh and Eman Elseyyid for their patience, skill, and, above all, witness to God as they shared their understandings with me. Maria Ruby Wagner deserves special thanks for reading and commenting on the manuscript and proposing corrections and nuances. Naturally, I am responsible for any errors and misunderstandings in the book. Even more patient and supportive by living with me, open Qur’ans, and scattered papers has been my wife, Deborah. The book is dedicated to Nathan and Maria. May their ways always be straight and loving.

To Allah belong the East and the West;
Withersoever ye turn, there is Allah’s countenance.
For Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.
Surah 2:115, al-Baqarah, the Cow or Heifer
INTRODUCTION

In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful . . .
The words with which the Qur’an begins open us to understanding this holy Book of Islam and through it Islam, Muslims, contemporary situations, and ourselves. The Gambian Muslim scholar Sulayman Nyang advised a group of non-Muslim professors who ventured to teach others about Islam that if we began with and stayed focused on the Qur’an everything would follow naturally. 1 He was absolutely right. The Qur’an is the basis for Islamic piety, politics, social life, mission, and more. It is the daily comfort, guide, resource, liberating power, incentive for hope for over a billion people, and more. For Muslims the Qur’an is al-Furqan, the Criterion, revealed to Muhammad as “an admonition to all creatures . . . sent down by Him Who knows the mystery in the heavens and on the earth.” 2
Still, reading the Qur’an can be a bewildering experience. It is a book, yet more than a book. The word Qur’an means “proclamation” and “recitation.” Muslims believe that the Speaker of each word and Arranger of its order is the One-Only God. So its words, spoken, chanted, preached, quoted, and written in seventh-century Arabic, are holy and are to be heard, handled, interpreted, and applied with reverence. Al-Qur’an al-Karim (the Noble Qur’an) or al-Qur’an al-Majid (the Glorious Qur’an) is unlike any other book. Expecting something like the Bible’s books, chapters, and verses, readers instead encounter 114 sections called surahs, divided into units called ayas. One surah may consist of more than two hundred or fewer than half a dozen ayas. Likewise, ayas are of different lengths, ranging from a few to scores of words. Each surah has a traditional name, some sounding odd to unopened ears, such as Cow (Heifer), Ants, Spider, and Flame, and others that are familiar, such as the Arabic equivalents of Mary, Noah, Abraham, and Jonah. I use the traditional title and number when citing a passage for the first time; thereafter, I use only the number.
Readers who expect historical narratives, stories, logical sequences of ideas, or essays on morals, are puzzled once they pass the beautiful first surah (which I examine in detail) and often are shocked and then bogged down by Surah 2 (the Cow) and even offended by Surah 3’s (Family of Imran) strictures against nonbelievers. Those familiar with biblical accounts may be startled by Quranic versions of stories about Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Instructions to maim thieves, flog adulterers, and slay opponents, along with descriptions of the agonies of Hell and the delights of the eternal Gardens, have been criticized for inculcating cruelty, violence, and lust. At the same time, sections such as the Throne and Light ayas (both of which are considered in detail), Purity of Faith (al-Ikhlas, Surah 112), and portions concerning the beautiful coherence of creation soar with poetic images, express the compassion of God, and challenge all humans to establish justice and peace.
Misunderstandings of the Qur’an by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, especially in the late twentieth and into the twenty-first century, have led to and still generate distortions and hostilities. Concepts such as jihad (struggle), martyrdom, the roles of women, and the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority societies—all subjects dealt with in the Qur’an and in this book—have fueled fears, rumors, and conflicts. I follow Nyang’s advice: my aim here is to engage the Qur’an’s spiritual depth and recognize its impetus to foster a devout interethnic community so as to foster an understanding of Islam and, with Muslims, create equitable social orders. This book by a non-Muslim offers other non-Muslims an entry into the Qur’an and ways in which readers may start to understand, assess, and perhaps adapt Quranic aspects to their own situations.
O PENING THE Q UR’AN ’S P ROCEDURE
This book offers a step-by-step procedure that makes the Quranic message accessible to students, teachers, clergy, and general readers. Following this introduction is a basic chronology from the birth of Muhammad (ca. 570) to the death of his grandson, Husayn (680). Three parts and three appendices follow. These provide comparative religious, geographic, and historical contexts together with accounts about the Qur’an’s origins, structures, contents and issues, and some views of those who reject its claims. The selected bibliography serves as a resource for further reading and study. Woven into the informational material are references to Islamic beliefs and practices. I suggest that readers move straight ahead from start to finish and then return to portions for more thorough examination.
A fuller description of this book will be helpful. Although lengthy and sometimes complex, Part 1, Approaching the Qur’an, is essential to our whole task. Chapters 1 and 2 recognize that Judaism and Christianity as religions and Jews and Christians as individuals and communities were important in the development of Islam and are prominent in the Qur’an. Given concerns about the three religions’ claims to God’s truths, chapter 1 deals with the risks and opportunities for non-Muslims who attempt to interpret the Qur’an; several approaches to the important and recurring question of whether Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in the same God; and the Qur’an’s place in Muslim worship, practice, and theology. Chapter 1, therefore, raises key questions and issues that are implicit in the rest of the book and reappear explicitly in the final chapter. Chapter 2 continues the comparisons between the three religions by dealing briefly with basic Jewish and Christian beliefs, using the theme of covenants to set the stage for relating and contrasting those beliefs to Islam. The covenant motif is continued in chapter 3’s extended discussion about Islam (largely but not exclusively in its Sunni aspect) in the c

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