Summary: We enter cautiously into the very unusual world of Islam via the first 3 chapters of its holiest book.
Lesson 14 , More Introductory Matters, and Sura 1
Note: From this point on, all quotations from the Koran are taken from The Generous Qur'an, copyright 2009, used by permission of Usama Dakdok Publishing, LLC.
So we enter in.
Here in my hand is a Koran. Well, not really. It is very like a Koran, but in Arabic thinking, it's not a real Koran if it's not in Arabic. This is the closest I could come up with, since I don't speak that language. An English translation.
Now there are quite a few English translations out there. But I doubt if there are others translated by evangelical believers in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, this is what I hold before you. Please understand that I am in no way selling Korans nor representing the ministry of this translator. Nevertheless, I would be amiss not to tell you a little of how I was made aware of this particular Koran.
I am on the mailing list, somehow, of Worldview Weekends, an organization that has mini-conferences that deal with issues affecting the Western Church and the conservative worldview of politics, too. It's a very patriotic Bible-believing bunch of folks.
I had just decided that it would be profitable for me to research and write about and publish a description of the innards of the Koran. So I began praying about and thinking about, where shall I begin here? I did some preliminary research online, and was debating between 2-3 different Korans, and then my email came. There was to be a Worldview Weekend in Rockford, Illinois, and here were the speakers.
My eye gravitated to the name Usama Dakdok. The notice said that he was Egyptian-born, and a born-again Christian who was visiting the American churches, warning them of the dangers of Islam, and showing them what the Koran actually said.
I investigated him more and found that he also had, with much assistance of course, translated the entire Koran into an English that was not politically correct. Those kinds of translations are my favorite. I hate compromise. I wanted to read the Koran as it was meant to be read, not as some had doctored its pages with cover-ups to hide the real meaning.
I ordered his Koran, and here it is. And so, all quotations from the Koran in my work will be taken from The Generous Qur'an, copyright 2009, used by permission of Usama Dakdok Publishing, LLC.
I guess we should start with the title, shouldn't we? There is no such book as "The Holy Koran." Those who suggested the same were trying to elevate the Koran in Western eyes to the level of the Holy Bible. Our brother had to start his corrections of western Korans right there. The word is generous, not holy. I'll leave it at that for now.
More information about Brother Dakdok in a minute. Some, though not all, of the ideas I'm about to share now are from him, though.
Let me give you an idea of how long we will be in this study. Instant scholars may not apply. It's true that this book is only 80% of the size of your New Testament, but recall that your New Testament is written in very small letters. This Koran, in normal size print, is 360 pages. I shall not be reading every single word on every page and giving you a commentary on it. But expect to spend a considerable amount of time. Be patient.
Now, a couple reasons why it won't be necessary or possible to give you a word by word explanation.
First, up to 20% of the Koran is undecipherable even by Muslim scholars. They simply don't know what it means. Lots of unnecessary guesswork would only waste our time.
And second, there is much repetition in the Koran. I will do my best not to repeat.
Thirdly, I am seeking mainly to find those things that are clearly different from the Christian faith, and there are a lot of them!
I will tell you up front that there is much in the Koran that is similar to our beliefs, even exactly like them. That is because much was copied directly from the Christian and Jewish Scriptures that were easily available to the people of Muhammad's day. Even if one did not possess a scroll, the story of Christianity and Judaism was a tale oft told. The differences were either mistakes or deliberate perversions. Some of both, we believe.
I shared with you earlier that the Koran is ordered by the size of its chapters, not by chronology or time considerations. The suras are totally jumbled, and scholars through the years have had to ascertain which sura came out of Muhammad's days in Mecca, when he was just beginning, and which from his Medina years, when he was a fugitive and under pressure from many enemies. The findings of these scholars have been handily reduced to a chart in this Koran, sura by sura. Next to the sura number is the city where he was supposed to have been when it came forth.