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Posted November 9, 2016 by Mark Anderson in Muslim-Christian dialogue Leave a comment

Christians SHOULD read the Qur’an. Here’s why.

Muslim convert to Christianity and popular writer Nabeel Qureshi and I agree on many points concerning the Qur’an. We both acknowledge the Qur’an’s importance and recognize that

  • Muslims consider the Qur’an God’s primary manifestation in creation, the closest equivalent to the biblical Word made flesh.
  • Together with Mecca’s Kaaba, the Qur’an is central in Muslim prayer and the “common denominator” between all Muslims.
  • “The Qur’an is the linchpin of the Islamic worldview.”[1]

That last point means that understanding the Qur’an is vital to understanding Muslims. Yet no sooner did Qureshi make that admission than he urged Christians not to read the Qur’an.[2] Reading between the lines, I wonder if he didn’t do so because most Muslims find interpreting the Qur’an difficult and he feared it would be even more difficult for Christians. But despite the challenges, ordinary readers can understand the Qur’an. Indeed, more tools are available to help Christian readers than ever before, The Qur’an in Context being a prime example.

Four more points show the Qur’an’s unparalleled importance to Muslims (Christians too):

  • The Qur’an is Islam’s founding document: without it, there would simply be no Islam.
  • Without the Qur’an’s presentation of Muhammad, Muslims would have no basis for venerating him or following the traditions (hadith) that shape their lives.
  • The sharia law would have no religious basis without the Qur’an as a primary source.
  • The Qur’an represents Islam’s primary challenge to Christian belief.

The final point here is the really big one, the one everything else points to. In fact, Muslims view the Qur’an as the singular fact—or miracle—authenticating their religion. Islam represents a huge challenge to Christianity and its entire challenge hinges on the Qur’an.

Thankfully, Qureshi doesn’t look down his nose at the Qur’an, but many Christian scholars do. They see it as a primitive document, mounting a shoddy challenge to a far superior Christianity. But regardless of the Qur’an’s intellectual merits or demerits, the time for all such smugness is long past. Already one out of every five people in the world reveres the Qur’an. Must we wait till it’s one in three—a mere generation away—before we take the Qur’an seriously? Already it’s the only book that regularly makes it into the news. Though most Christians still haven’t realized it, that makes it the big book we must engage with in our day. Now as never before, we need to understand the scripture that shapes Muslim thinking. “Ignorance of the Koran,” says Harold Bloom, “is foolish and increasingly dangerous.”[3] As Bloom hints, our very future may depend on our understanding of it. Urging Christians not to read so important a book is unwise. And ignoring it is simply no longer an option.

 

[1] “Should Christians Read the Qur’an?” Christianity Today, October 22, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2016, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/november/should-christians-read-quran.html

[2] Ibid. For my response to his argument, see “Ban on reading Qur’an inexplicable.”

[3] Harold Bloom, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (Orlando: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1994) 531.

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