Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Lesson from the Qur'an

Yep, you read the title correctly. A lesson from the Qur'an. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not a Muslim. I did however recently go to the book store to purchase a Qur'an. I have read it before, online. I have spent some time learning about Musims and Islam in general. I have had a couple of classes that covered Islam and associated topics.

I decided it was time to get to know the Qur'an a little closer. So, I picked up a copy of the Qur'an, English translation and commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. It was during this search for the Qur'an at the bookstore that I came across an interesting challenge to Christians. A lesson that Christians should learn in regards to their own Holy Book. A lesson from the Qur'an.

They had a number of different copies of the Qur'an in the store. The cheap Dover edition, some other cheap copies printed on that newspaper type pages, and some middle grade copies. The not so cheap copies of the Qur'an were ornately decorated. Have a look at the one I picked up. Green and gold with an intricate design! This may just be aesthetics but, why don't they make Bibles this way? While it is just the cover it really adds a sense of awe and specialness that is missing from most Bibles that are made and sold today. I would enjoy seeing some nice designs like this on the modern Bibles they sell.

I made my choice about which Qur'an to purchase based on a few things. I wanted a good English translation printed on nice paper, not a cheap ($5-$10) super-mass-printed one. I will admit I wanted it to be sort of cheap. I got this one for about $25. I liked the cover too! Another reason I choose this copy is because it contains commentary. I knew that this commentary would help me to get an idea about how modern Muslims view the Qur'an and how they understand the different suwar (plural of surah) and ayat (plural of ayah). The average current American milieu I live in and experience day to day leaves me very little experience and familiarity with how Muslims think. Commentary is a wonderful thing! (See the bottom of my book reviews page for great Bible commentary resources.)

I also had a look inside of the various editions. This is where I spotted what should challenge the Christians of today. Here is what I found in the vast majority of the Qur'ans in the store. It might be hard to see so click on it for a better view. Yep, you are seeing right. That is the Arabic in the right hand column (opened to Surah 2, Al-Baqara). Not too much of a shocker if you have any familiarity with the Qur'an and Muslims in general. This is another reason that I chose this copy of the Qur'an. No, I don't read or understand Arabic, but I am impressed with the fact that they include it with their copies of the Qur'an.

This to me presents a major lesson to learn and challenge to Christians in general. Open up a Bible. What do you see? Original language next to the English? Probably not! Here is a picture of the nearest Bible to where I am typing. It's my ESV Johnny Mac. That is, the English Standard Version of the John MacArthur study bible. A fine Bible for sure, commentary included, but no original languages.

Now, I know it would make for an extremely thick book if we included the original langues next the the English, but I venture to say that the main reason such a bible is not available in the common book store is due to another reason. There is little demand for one! It would be unusable to most people! I hope this is starting to bother you a little.

Muslims get the original language of the Qur'an in the overwhelming majority of the copies published (if the ones available in the book store is any indication). It is reasonable to assume that this is because it is desired by the majority of Muslims that purchase them. This means that the majority of Muslims can read the original language their holy book was written in (or have a desire to do so). The vast majority of Christians on the other hand don't know that the Bible was not written in English!! Most of the ones who do know that fact have no desire to learn the languages themselves. Apathy! Wake up American Christians! Get involved with your faith at a deeper level.

As a side note, I also picked up a copy of the Hadith. It has the Arabic too!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Conversation With God - Book Review

I recently received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers. I was originally attracted to this book because it appeals to the average person. If you were to walk by this book in the bookstore you might stop and crack this one open just to see if your nagging question is addressed therein.

There are 55 questions that are addressed on different topics. The topics are: God, Bible, The Future, Pain and Suffering, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Heaven and Hell, Humanity, Christian Living, and Today's World. Each of these topics has at least five questions which are addressed.

So the answer given to the questions are not just quotations from the Bible. While this makes this type of book very risky to write, it turns out pretty well. The author runs the risk of speaking for God. Not a charge that he should take lightly. He pulls it off! He pulls it off by offering answers to the different questions not only from "God" but also from other biblical figures. You will see Paul, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Joshua, Lazarus, Moses etc. show up to help answer the questions as well. This make this book more like a conversation than just a Q and A book.

So, what about the theology? From what I can tell it is Evangelical. Not Calvinistic, but straightforward. The answers seem pretty good actually! Sometime the long route is taken to get to the root of the issue. That way the background can be set for a correct understanding of the answer. I am very pleased with this book overall. If you have a friend who asks a lot of questions, consider this book.