Should Christians read the Qur’an? Convert to Christianity and popular writer Nabeel Qureshi answers that question with an emphatic no. He offers two basic reasons:
- As a collection of what were initially oral recitations, “the Qur’an was not designed to be read like a book.”
- “The Islamic way of life mostly comes from the hadith,” or traditions, not the Qur’an.
Both of Qureshi’s basic points are correct, but neither leads to the conclusion he draws from them. To begin, the Qur’an wasn’t compiled in written form till after Muhammad’s death because his culture was primarily oral. But Muslims have been reading their scripture in book form for well over a millennium now. And whether in written or oral form, the Qur’an is the ultimate basis of all Muslim belief and behavior. This means we must try to understand it.
Second, while most of the rhythms of Muslim life go back to the hadith, that’s no reason to avoid the Muslim scripture. In fact, the Qur’an and hadith fit together. For example, the Qur’an prescribed daily prayers, but the hadith fixed the number at five and told how they should be done. The Qur’an designated Muhammad the model for all Muslims to follow, but left the hadith to present the myriad of stories by which they copy him. So, it’s true that the Qur’an doesn’t give the full picture of how the Muslim faith works. But by the same token, without the Qur’an Muslims have no basis for following the hadith.
Qureshi may discourage reading of the Qur’an because it’s so hard to understand. But with such new tools as The Qur’an in Context available, ordinary readers can understand the Muslim scripture. He may also dismiss Qur’an reading because, for most Muslims, Islam is more about imitating right behavior than interpreting scripture correctly. But regardless of how Muslims absorb it, the qur’anic worldview has shaped their entire civilization and, individually, molds all their dreams. That makes the Qur’an the key to understanding Muslims, besides being the basis of all of Islam’s truth claims.
For these and many other reasons, my yes is just as emphatic as Qureshi’s no. Urging Christians not to read so important a book seems unhelpful and unwise to say the least.
 “Should Christians Read the Qur’an?” Christianity Today, October 22, 2013. Accessed October 30, 2016
Nice blog, Mark. Short, concise and well reasoned. Perhaps the point should be DON’T read the Qur’an in order to refute Muslims. You will only antagonize and prove your ignorance. However, DO read the Qur’an in order to understand some important background beliefs and assumptions that shape the lives of all practicing Muslims.
Thanks, Mark. Good point!