Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reading the Koran... What Can I Learn?

With all the talk in the last 10 years about Muslims and their beliefs that come from the Koran, I decided to read the Koran.

I was warned by people, who heard I was going to read it, that
  •  it was going to be harder to understand than the Bible, 
  • I would have difficulty correctly interrupting it, and
  •  it would be best if I had a Muslim teacher of the Koran help me read it.
I don't like hearsay, and I especially don't like to speak about something, especially a book, until I have at least read it for myself. So, I decided to give it a try before doubting my ability.

I am almost 50 years old. I have been a Christian for 30 years. I have been a student of the Bible doing deep inductive Bible Studies going back to the original text of Hebrew and Greek, and learning how to properly translate, interrupt and apply the Bible to life. 

Therefore, I felt a little experienced in reading spiritual books. I decided to find out firsthand what the Koran really said since I have heard so many people make contradictory claims about its teachings. 

While I have not finished, I have read about 1/3 of the beginning and 1/3 of the ending. That may seem like a kind of odd way to read but it is a pattern I have used a lot to get a quick but in-depth preview of a book's storyline, message, or theme.

I have been surprised by what I have read. Here are a few of my preliminary impressions:
  • The Koran is written at an elementary reading level. I found it quite simple. Its text was not mysterious or hard to comprehend.
  • It frequently repeats. Reading the Koran can be monotonous. I keep waiting for a new concept but just keep reading the same theme, and often the same identical wording over and over.
  • The tone is very punitive. I found it to be much more doom and gloom - fire and brimstone - than positive. It is not tolerant to any other beliefs or disobedience. Mohammed's writings are claimed to be absolute truth, and anyone who does not believe in the Koran is going to burn in hell forever.
  • Much of the Koran recounts biblical stories asserting old testament people of the Bible and did what they did. It does add to Bible stories or takes away some of the details to get to its intended point. Abraham, Issac, Lot, Moses, Noah, Mary, and Jesus are all spoken about. Abraham and Moses are most frequent.
  • Jesus is stated to be an Apostle, the son of Mary, and absolutely not God, or God's son.
  • The Koran talks very about sin, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, resurrection, judgement, Paradise, Hell, and Satan, but the meanings of these words are not always the same as Biblical meanings of these same words.
As I continue to read, I will write again, but I wanted to get my first impression written while it was fresh on my mind from reading the past few days.

Lastly, one of the biggest overall reviews of the Koran is that it does not read like a spiritual text. The words read much more like instructions for daily life, than inspired words written by God. I suppose this should not be surprising by this since, the Koran is written by Mohammed, who is referred to as the Apostle, and he is writing what he says he was told by the angel Gabriel. But after reading the Bible for so many years, and studying it, a casual read clearly shows a marked difference in inspired writing.

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