Summary: Every Christian in these trying times needs to have at least a basic understanding of Islam and its holy book. The following lessons will supply that need.
About this series of lessons
As a student and teacher of the Christian Bible, what we believe to be the very Word of God, I know what my faith teaches. I am now learning what Islam teaches. There is a huge clash.
The Muslim holy book is unknown to a large number of Muslims, and almost all Christians. But nearly one-fourth of our world is now Islamic, so it is probably time that we know what this book teaches.
After some introductory pieces, I will be taking you a chapter and verse at a time through the Koran. Not every verse. Not even every chapter. But you will be well introduced to the content of the Mulsim's Bible by the time our 36 lessons are completed.
You can also go to sermonaudio.com or youtube.com to find audio and video versions of this study.
These are serious days. Knowledge is not everything. But it is something. I trust you will take seriously the implications of this study.
Lesson 1 , The Koran and Islam, Some Facts
The book itself
The word Koran (I will use this anglicized spelling throughout) means "a reading". The sayings that reportedly came to the prophet Muhammad were meant to be read aloud, recited. The book is divided simply into a long series of chapters, known as "suras", 114 to be exact. There are no other "books" within the book. The term sura carries with it the idea of a series. Within the sura is a series of what we would call verses, but which in the Koran are "ayahs". Islam teaches that even the verse arrangement was ordered by Gabriel, the angel who supervised all.
Its popularity and size
As to its worldwide popularity over the years, the Koran is the third best seller of all times. Over 800 million copies have gone out, as compared to 900 million of Chairman Mao's Quotations, and 5-6 billion copies of the Bible. For further comparison, consider the Book of Mormon at 120 million.
It is roughly 4/5 the size of the Christian New Testament. That's like starting at Matthew and ending at Hebrews.
Its style and content
Its style is semi-poetic, forced throughout even in sections that would not normally demand a poetic adaptation. But to the Muslim, especially a devoted one, the Koran is the very essence of style and language.
Those who know the book well have further identified and classified content based on the location of Muhammad when uttered. There is an identifiable "Meccan" period, before A.D. 622, when he was a powerful leader in Arabia. The suras tend to be non-threatening in this period. At the other extreme, Muhammad is the despised preacher of Medina, to which he has run for cover. Under severe threats, he lashes out in suras that show us what Islam can be, and many want it to be, in our age. The heart of Muhammad is exposed. His religion turns out to be very human after all. One cannot help but think of the "gods" of the ancients who behaved incredibly like men.
The Speaker within the text is nearly always God. The Royal "We" is used, and the command for Muhammad to "Say" whatever it is that follows. The angelic Messenger behind the revelations is referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, or Gabriel.