Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
A valuable insight into a different thought-world
on 26 September 2013
With only a general background knowledge of Islam, and coming from a Christian background, I wanted to know more of what the Koran taught: it's themes and teachings and structure.
The first thing I learnt was that the Koran is not an Islamic Bible. The two are not only different in style and content but very different in the way they are used. This is evident from the way that this short introduction is organised. Of its 14 chapters, just one is devoted to the message of the Koran, and that's placed in the Introduction. This whole book is organised into four main sections: Introduction, The Koran in the modern world, the Koran in the traditional Muslim world and the Koran in the lifetime of the Prophet.
What I had to come to terms with is that the Koran does not contain the same kind of narratives and teachings as a Bible and neither is it used in worship in the same way. It is recited rather than read; memorised not referred to, and the detail and organisation of the original Arabic script is really important in a way that never arises in a Bible, which is by its nature a translation from Hebrew and Greek through Latin into English. Most of Michael Cook's work is about the Koran's language and text, as codex, truth and holy object. I realised how important it is to understand that to Muslims the Koran itself is a holy object, not just its teachings. This affects everything in the way it is used and regarded.
If you're looking for a textbook to teach you the contents of the Koran I'm not sure this will help, but if you are prepared to accept the profoundly different way of thinking between Muslims and Christians about their respective holy books then this has much to offer. I'm very glad I read it, and if nothing else I realise how different are the thought-worlds and assumptions of Muslims and Christians. We need to understand each other better. Here is a good start.