Reading the Qur'an (for the Second Time)

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I’m reading through the Qur'an for the second time. The first time I read through it, I was in Pasadena California at the Zwemer Institute for Muslim Studies (which has since relocated to Columbia University in South Carolina). It was a good break from a cold January in Winnipeg, Canada and while we enjoyed the warmth, I diligently read the Qur’an from beginning to end.

What fascinated me at the time was the approach that we used to read the Qur'an. The Qur'an is arranged from the longest surahs (or chapters) to the shortest. It is much more interesting to read the revelations as they were believed to come to Muhammad — from the earlier to the later revelations. When we read the Qur'an in this way, we can compare his earlier surahs (from his time in Mecca when he was a spiritual leader) to his later surahs (his time in Medina when he became more of a political/military/spiritual leader). Muhammad’s transformation from a persecuted prophet to a military commander is striking — as well as the change in his attitude towards the People of the Book, Jews, and Christians.

That was my experience.  I encourage others to read the Qur'an for two reasons:

First, there are about 1.7 billion Muslims in the world today. Every day in the media we read about them, and many of those stories are negative. Under the influence of the media many of us are forming opinions about Muslims, yet few of us have ever read their most prized book. By reading the Qur'an we can begin to understand how Muslims think and what they believe. The Qur'an is approximately the size of our New Testament.

Second, if you have a Muslim neighbor or friend, they will greatly appreciate your interest in their holy book. This will increase good will and understanding and may eventually open up a door for you to share your faith. The end result is better relationships between Christians and Muslims, and if God allows, opportunities to share Jesus Christ. That to me is a win-win situation.  If you don’t have a Muslim friend or acquaintance at this point, reading the Qur’an is still valuable because Muslims will continue to influence world affairs for years to come. Plus, you never know when you will meet a Muslim. When you do, you will have something to talk about.

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