Why a non-Muslim should know the Koran

The Qur’an is undeniably a book of great importance even to the non-Muslim, perhaps more today than ever, if that is possible. One aspect of Islam that is unexpected and yet appealing to the post-Christian secular mind is the harmonious interplay of faith and reason. Islam does not demand unreasoned belief. Rather, it invites intelligent faith, growing from observation, reflection, and contemplation, beginning with nature and what is all around us. Accordingly, antagonism between religion and science such as that familiar to Westerners is foreign to Islam.

This connection between faith and reason enabled Islamic civilization to absorb and vivify useful knowledge, including that of ancient peoples, whereby it eventually nursed Europe out of the Dark Ages, laying the foundation for the Renaissance. When Europe got on its cultural feet and expelled Islam, however, the European mind was rent by the inability of the Christian church to tolerate the indivisibility of the sacred and the secular that characterized Islam and had enabled Islamic civilization to develop natural science and abstract art as well as philosophy and social science. The result was a painful, ill-fated divorce between science and religion in Europe, one whose consequences have adversely affected the entire world.

In the post-Christian West, where thinking people, including scientists themselves once more, are seeking solutions to the difficulties created by the Christian divorce between religion and science, the Qur’an offers a way to explore an attitude that fully embraces the quest for knowledge and understanding that is the essence of science, while at the same time, and indeed for the same reasons, fully embraces the awe, humility, reverence, and conscience without which “humankind does indeed go too far in considering itself to be self-sufficient” (Qur’an 96:6-7).

Even for the secular Westerner, apart from any question of religious belief or faith, there are immediate benefits to be found in reading the Qur’an. First, in view of the sacredness and vital importance of the Qur’an to approximately one-fifth of all humanity, a thinking citizen of the world can hardly develop a rational and mature social consciousness without considering the message of the Qur’an and its meaning for the Muslim community.

With the fall of communism, it has become particularly clear that global peace, order, and self-determination of peoples cannot be achieved without intelligent respect for Islam and the inalienable right of Muslims to live their religion. The second immediate benefit in reading the Qur’an, therefore, is that it is a necessary step toward the understanding and tolerance without which world peace is in fact inconceivable.

For non-Muslims, one special advantage in reading the Qur’an is that it provides an authentic point of reference from which to examine the biased stereotypes of Islam to which Westerners are habitually exposed. Primary information is essential to distinguish between opinion and fact in a reasonable manner. This exercise may also enable the thinking individual to understand the inherently defective nature of prejudice itself, and thus be the more generally receptive to all information and knowledge of possible use to humankind.

 

Excerpted from "The Essential Koran" by Thomas Cleary. Thomas Cleary has translated various religious texts, including The Essential Tao, The Secret of the Golden Flower and the bestselling The Art of War.



By: thomas cleary | Source: IslamiCity | Category: Articles, Faith, Society | Topic: islam and science, quran | Views: 12,304 | Comments: 16

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16 Comments

  1. Why a non-Muslim should know the Koran? Should they?

    The best place to learn abt Islam come to Malaysia and speak separately with the non-Muslims who comprise 40% of the population. See how the majority Muslim immigrants who proclaim themselves ‘Malays’ from Indonesia, S India (Mamak) & the Middle East treat their fellow non-Muslim men.

    In the 6os the Muslim dominated military and police used the local militias to commit pograms & massacres against the minorities which resulted in the apartheid policy known as the New Economic Policy (NEP) favouring Muslims and discriminating against the non-Muslims in all spheres of public life till today. The public and quasi-public employment, state tertiary education, issue of licences & scholarhips, low cost housing, etc., became monopolised by Muslims. Btw, the day will come when the UN will get those in power to answer for the wicked crimes against humanity like what is already happening elsewhere. Otherwie the rising powers like India and China will.

    Enterprisng non-Muslims are urged to set up businesses in the dog-eat-dog environment to provide the taxes to the government to fund the NEP. Non-Muslims are issued with licences to open casinos, sell lotteries, sell liquor, etc., amongst thmeselves. Again the evil scheme to collect the haram tax monies to fund the NEP.

    Such is only a part of the grievences of the non-Muslim citizens. Though paying taxes, their children with better results, are unable to get into any state universities (reserved for Malays).

    Today, the % of non-Muslims continue to drop via migration from a high of 50 plus % to below 40% to more humane & fairer places like Australiasia, Singapore, etc.

    “Why a non-Muslim should know the Koran?” Sadly, the face of Islam is found on the faces of Muslims first. And Islam as a whole is tarnished by the Malaysian Muslims.

    P.S. Everyone knows the Red Indians of Malaya, Sawarak & Sabah (Malaysia) are the Orang Asli, Ibans & Kandaza

  2. What happens when that same science questions legitimacy of Adam & Eve, or prancing around some meteorite out in the middle of the desert? Science is just as much an anathema to Islam as it is to Christianity.

  3. I challenge Samy to prove the following claim :

    Who are these local militias that you are refering to ?

    What were the massacres ?

    What were these discrminatory policies ? Do you know that as a matter of fact when some universities abolish the quota system, Indians of Tamil origin find it’s hard to get in ? Why is that so ? Because they are academically unqualified. On matters of social contract, every historian in Malaysia agree that the agreed arrangements before independance is the basis of this contract, the Constitution itself provides for this. Look at article 150 – 150 of the Federal Constitution. The Malays or the Muslims did not draft the constitution. The Reid Commission, set up by the British did.

    Have you look at the statistics from the Education Ministry, on the low passing rate for Indians ? How many Indians get straigt As in their Form 5 or SPM exams ? This year for last year exams ? Almost nil.

    If you want to talk about discrimination, you may well go to Sri Lanka, that’s where you see on.

    I am not saying that what the Sri Lankan government did was wrong, Sri Lanka has every right to uphold her sovereignity, the LTTE Tamil tigers are terrorists, even the U.S and U.N recognised them as terrorist organisation.

    Surprisingly even in Delhi, when the Sri Lankan government mounted the succesful operations, I am not able to see any protest at all from the Indians.

  4. Non Muslims must read authentic Quran or atleast its translation.

    This will show that it has a chapter of Mary, Moses and talks about all prophets that are mentioned in Bible & Torah. It gives details about the Jesus, Moses who are the main figures in their books.

    Quran does not blame/speak bad about any prophet from Adam to Muhammad(compared to their books-man made, edited, changed & distorted versions)like Adam -Eve(apple-Paradise), Lot(daughters), Moses-sins, Abraham(Hagar-Ishmaeel) David(adultery & Killing) Aaron(Cow ) & so on.

    Quran is a copmlete guide to way of Life & based on Quran a country can be ruled.( Other holy books are incomplete-that is why west has “State & Religion Seperate”) Quran says ” That I have completed this religion….

  5. A non Muslim must know basics of authentic Quran or atleast its translation of specific chapters.

    1) Quran is a collection of word of same God Who sent His word thru Abraham, David, Moses, Jesus, saleh. It is a Final Testament & sealed given to Final Prophet-Muhammad.

    2)Quran talks about all prophets from Adam to Muhammad( including Jesus-Mary, Moses,David, Solomon, Jonah, Joseph & Zachariah)

    3) Quran talks good & respect all prophets,as they were chosen by God(compared to other holy books talking differently about Adam-Eve, Lot, david, Solomon, Abraham, Moses & Muhammad).

    4) Quran is in authentic, original form in arabic that is not changed even by Muhammad( other holy boks got corrupted, hidden, changed & edited for their benefits)

    5)Quran talks about rights, law, Sciences, Medicins, Geography etc based on which we can run a nation’s politics ,justice system.( other books do not-State & Religion seperate).

    6)Quran talks about the powers & oneness of God,miracles of Prophets, people of book-Jews & christians, Non belivers-Atheists & tribes.

    7)Quran talks about Jihad, war/fights is a complet guidelines for all humanity(individual & group level).

  6. hmmm…. the author is correct but highly optimistic. from my experience hardly anyone really understands the importance of getting as close to primary information as possible, in order to accurately assess something – even some science researchers, who should know better than to cite references that are in other references, instead of the original. the regular person totally does not place importance on accuracy, instead relying on hearsay and personal experience, and in fact *prefers* not to know the original source in case it forces him to change his opinion.

  7. Hello Y.S

    Y.S It’s easy to drop a couple of lines about such debateable subject just to hide your ignorance about certain belief. Just the way you heed to the finding of scientists be equally open minded when it comes matter of belief. Only then you will be able to find your answers correctly. If some christians have misinterpretted their books they speak for themselves. They don’t speak for Islam. Read about the creation of Adam and Eve again and over and pay close attention. Go do some research in library. Sit down and contempalte on the issue. Try to find supportive material and you will find the truth. But not with the mind set of proving some one wrong against your belief but to find the actual truth. And muslims do not worship or prance around some meteorite in the middle of the desert. Again, just simple ignorance and very quick way to pass your judgement about certain religion or belief. Not at one time but many time around and at many places it has been cleared that the black stone is just a corne stone of the building we call Kaaba or house of God. The uniqe black stone was embedded there just as a marking point to keep count of circumambulation around the Kaaba. Now you would ask why the circumambulation? well again, that’s another lenghty topic to talk about and yes it does have it’s own significance. I invite you to find out. Come to peace, come to the truth. It will set you free.

  8. I commend the author for his rational suggestions. A little knowledge may drive prejudices away.

    Now, which God-forsaken Westerners in Oh-so-free-speech-loving Western country suggested banning sale of the Qur’an in bookstores during the height of post-9/11 Islamophobia?

    Double-standards, at any level, betray genuine propaganda, not honesty, rationality or democratic dialog.

    Now, why is it that human beings are so easily influenced by bad habits, illogical thoughts, dangerous behaviors — and not the good ones?

  9. Thomas Cleary’s translation is the best translation of Qur’an I have come across. I have a little story to share with you! When he came to our class in “Comparative Religion” in Los Medanos College in Pittsburg Ca, he was the only speaker who was not ridiculed by at least by one student like other speakers from the Jewish and Christian faith. He was well respected and the students listened attentively to him reading from the “Essential Koran”. In the following session after Thomas Cleary gave his lecture, our comparative religion professor wanted to challenge the students understanding of the message that Thomas Cleary conveyed by asking about the following verse “How many a town have We destroyed! And Our punishment came upon it by night or while they slept at noon (7:5)”, the professor asked “who is speaking here?” implying that early “Muslim terrorist” have established the practice of terrorizing people while peaceful people are shopping or sleeping. He asked almost the whole class ladies and young men and all the answers were the same “God is”. The professor later asked me on many occasions to talk about Islam in his classes but I declined since Thomas Cleary was available and willing to do the lectures. Thomas Cleary, I love you for the sake of Allah.

  10. I agree with the principle in the article that the church has artificially divided science and faith. I think that in addition to non-muslims learning the Quran, though, Muslims need to learn the Jewish and Christian Scriptures as well. They are the primary sources for true Islam, as everyone agrees. They have not been corrupted to the degree that Muslims claim, and that can be seen by the consistent message that true religion is submission to the Creator’s will. There is no doubt that even in their current form they teach this.

    The fact that those who identify themselves culturally or ethnically or religiously as Jews or Christians don’t submit themselves to the Creator is no more an argument against their scriptures or the “truth” of their teachings than muslims who commit heinous atrocities are an argument against Islam. It is hypocrisy, thats all. Its our nature to be hypocritical when we don’t truly submit to the one true God who created us in his image.

  11. Yes I agree it is important and necessary for non-Muslims to really develope their position and understanding of Islam they must read The Holy Quran. Too much of the body of information about Islam is provided by the uneducated media and too much of the information is also erroneous. In working towards a united global community, the facts about Islam must be revealed.

  12. Rasulullah (S.A.W) and his Companions were like walking Quran.It is

    good as suggested in the article for the non Muslims to read Quran.But

    one thing which we should all remember guidance is in the hands of one

    who gives guidance.So all we can do is to show best example as they

    say actions speak louder than words at the same time make dua for the

    guidance of the whole humanity collectively and individually.Be nice

    to our non-Muslims friends and neighbors removing the misconception

    they may have regarding this Deen showing them that it is for the

    benefit of the whole humanity and in the night make dua for thei

    guidance.

  13. Whenever christians read the Quran,its for an ulterior purpose.The Quran is not a secular book and most of the verses can be misinterpreted if not rightly guided.Inna mol aamol bi niyyah ,and Allah knows best

  14. This is very wishful thinking but noble. The average American is to busy watching CSI whatever to read ANYTHING let alone the QURAN. People WANT to remain clueless thus the election of Bush not once but Twice ! No the dumbing down of the American is already to far gone to bring back to life. The Fox news channel is the source of all that is true and the Tea Party where our future lies.

  15. the beauty of al-quran is that since it is the very word of GOD, it is a living being just like

    any other living being. it teaches the reader those things that the reader is intending to

    read it with. i think there is an ayah saying this very same thing. the quran is aware of

    the reader’s intention in reading it and it makes sure that the reader gets out of it what

    he/she intended to get out of it. right in the sura baqara it says that this book is

    guidance for those who intend to seek guidance. if someone is trying to seek

    misguidance then the al-quran misguides them and actually “proves” to them that they

    are correct in their wrong intentions about it. this is certainly the sufi understanding of

    the quran. there are innumerable times when i was having a problem and i opened the

    quran for guidance and immediately i would be “taken” to that portion where the

    solution to my problem was present. each time i read it with the intention to increase my

    knowledge about the quran i am surprised how i end up reading passages that i feel that

    i had never read before though i have read those very same passages a hundred times

    before. it is truly a miracle from G-D. in short i really believe that quran knows the

    intention of the reader and so when one reads it for guidance then one should have that

    intention, otherwise it can destroy your iman if you read it to create mischief like the

    extremists do to support their ulterior motives. jazakallah.

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