There has been much talk of the Koran — or Quran, to keep the Arabic origin of the word — in recent weeks, including one fool’s plan to put a pile of the Muslim holy books to the torch. But how much do people really know about this book that is sacred scripture and instruction to two billion people? Here is an interesting New York Times blog by religion writer Robert Wright.
Here’s the link to the site:http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/the-meaning-of-the-koran/?src=me&ref=homepage
Test your religious literacy:
Which sacred text says that Jesus is the “word” of God? a) the Gospel of John; b) the Book of Isaiah; c) the Koran.
The correct answer is the Koran. But if you guessed the Gospel of John you get partial credit because its opening passage — “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God” — is an implicit reference to Jesus. In fact, when Muhammad described Jesus as God’s word, he was no doubt aware that he was affirming Christian teaching.
Extra-credit question: Which sacred text has this to say about the Hebrews: God, in his “prescience,” chose “the children of Israel … above all peoples”? I won’t bother to list the choices, since you’ve probably caught onto my game by now; that line, too, is in the Koran.
I highlight these passages in part for the sake of any self-appointed guardians of Judeo-Christian civilization who might still harbor plans to burn the Koran. I want them to be aware of everything that would go up in smoke.
But I should concede that I haven’t told the whole story. Even while calling Jesus the word of God — and “the Messiah” — the Koran denies that he was the son of God or was himself divine. And, though the Koran does call the Jews God’s chosen people, and sings the praises of Moses, and says that Jews and Muslims worship the same God, it also has anti-Jewish, and for that matter anti-Christian, passages.
This darker side of the Koran, presumably, has already come to the attention of would-be Koran burners and, more broadly, to many of the anti-Muslim Americans whom cynical politicians like Newt Gingrich are trying to harness and multiply. The other side of the Koran — the part that stresses interfaith harmony — is better known in liberal circles.