ISBN : 9780190867683
Millions of non-Muslims know the name of the Muslim scripture, whether it is written as "Qur'an" or "Quran" or "Koran." But for most, that is all they know. Many have fallen victim to the mass of misinformation that circulates about the Qur'an. Others may have tried to read the Qur'an, but the text itself is tough to decipher. With no sense of context, chronology, or interpretive history, many would-be readers of the Qur'an quickly give up the effort. As for those trying to find out what the Qur'an says about any particular subject or issue, they, too, soon discover that this is not a simple or straightforward undertaking.
A clear, concise introduction to the holy book that guides the lives of 1.6 billion people on our planet, this brief volume opens the world of the Qur'an to interested readers who want to know where this scripture came from and how it has achieved a profound influence in today's world. Writing in an easy-to-read question-and-answer format, Jane McAuliffe, one of the world's foremost scholars of the Qur'an, introduces readers to this important text by discussing its origins, structure, themes, interpretations, and what it has to say about a host of critical contemporary issues. Where did the Qur'an come from? Do Muslims believe that the Qur'an is God's own word? How do Muslims study the Qur'an? What does the Qur'an say about God? About family? About ethics? About violence? By answering the questions that many people have about the Qur'an and its role in Muslim faith, this book offers an invaluable resource for anyone who is curious about one of the world's most important faiths.
The Text Takes Shape
o Where did the Qur'an come from?
o Who is Muhammad? Did Muhammad write the Qur'an?
o How did the Qur'an get its name?
o How long did it take to finish the Qur'an?
o Did Muhammad know any Jews or Christians?
o What happened to the Qur'an after Muhammad died?
o Does the Qur'an have different parts?
o Why do people say that the Qur'an is hard to read?
o Are some parts of the Qur'an more important than others?
o Is the Qur'an poetry or prose or both?
o Why do Muslims say that the Qur'an is God's own word?
o Who is Gabriel and what is his connection to the Qur'an?
o Does the Qur'an talk about itself?
o Do Muslims believe that the Qur'an existed from all eternity?
o Are all Qur'ans exactly the same or do different Muslim groups have different Qur'ans?
o Why do Muslims take a shower before touching the Qur'an?
Major Messages and Themes
God and Creation
o What does the Qur'an say about God?
o Is the God of the Qur'an the same as the God of the Bible?
o Does the Qur'an tell a creation story?
o How does the Qur'an talk about the natural world?
o What is the relation of human beings to God and to nature?
o Are there angels and devils in the Qur'an?
Revelation, Prophecy and History
o Why is Muhammad called both a prophet and a messenger?
o Does the Qur'an mention other prophets?
o Does the Qur'an talk about historical events?
Behavior and Judgment
o How does the Qur'an talk about death and life after death?
o Are there descriptions of heaven and hell?
o Is it true that the Qur'an promises a paradise of virgins?
o Does the Qur'an have commandments? Is it a law book?
o Do people determine their behavior or does God?
o If people sin, can they repent and be forgiven?
o Does the Qur'an predict the end of the world? Who is the AntiChrist?
o Why do Muslims pray five times a day?
o Does the Qur'an say that Muslims must fast for an entire month?
o Does the Qur'an require pilgrimage to Mecca?
o What does the Qur'an teach about charity?
Family and Social Relations
o What does the Qur'an say about love and marriage? About children?
o If a person dies, who inherits his or her property?
o Is there a concept of community in the Qur'an?
Other Religions and Nonbelievers
o Does that Qur'an tell Muslims how to treat non-Muslims?
o Can Muslims marry non-Muslims?
o Are there Qur'anic passages about other religions?
o Does the Qur'an promote religious tolerance?
Experiencing By Sound, Sight and Touch
o How do Muslims study the Qur'an? What if they don't speak Arabic?
o Why is the Qur'an always recited in Arabic?
o Do some people become famous for recitation?
o Are there university degrees in Qur'anic studies as there are in Biblical studies?
Ritual and Prayer
o Could you call the Qur'an a prayer book?
o Is the Qur'an used in public worship? In other formal ceremonies?
o What role does the Qur'an play in Islamic mysticism?
o Can the Qur'an keep bad things from happening? Can it secure blessings?
Manuscripts, Public Architecture and Material Culture
o How important is the Qur'an to art and architecture in the Muslim world?
o Is there a tradition of calligraphy and illumination for the Qur'an?
o Are verses of the Qur'an ever written on ordinary objects?
Interpretation, Influence (Intellectual, Artistic and Literary) and Global Diffusion
o Can the Qur'an be interpreted?
o What are hadith and are they part of the Qur'an?
o Do certain verses in the Qur'an guide its interpretation?
o Are there different schools of interpretation among Sunni Muslims? Among Shi'i Muslims?
o Who decides which interpretation is the right one?
o Can anyone interpret the Qur'an or do you have to be an expert?
o Are there modern and contemporary interpreters of the Qur'an?
o How have non-Muslims studied the Qur'an?
o If a non-Muslim writes a book about the Qur'an, will that offend Muslims?
o Is the Qur'an ever studied as a literary rather than a religious text?
Bible and Qur'an
o Is there a connection between the Qur'an and the Bible?
o Has the Bible been used to understand the Qur'an?
o How did the Qur'an shape Islamic philosophy and theology?
o What is the relationship between the Shari'a and the Qur'an?
o How do some Muslims make a connection between the Qur'an and contemporary science?
o What role does the Qur'an play in Arabic literature? In the literatures and folklore of other Muslim cultures?
Translation and transmission
o Are Muslims allowed to translate the Qur'an?
o When was the Qur'an translated into European languages? When was it translated into English?
o Was the Qur'an printed as early as the Bible?
o When did the Qur'an come to America?
o How has the Internet affected the teaching and transmission of the Qur'an?
What Does the Qur'an Say About:
· Veiling and separation?
· Multiple marriages?
· Circumcision and female genital mutilation?
· Hetero- and homosexual relations?
· Domestic violence?
· War and terrorism?
· Governance and politics?
· International relations?
· Financial transactions?
· Food and fasting?
· Drinking and drugs?
· Religious toleration/religious pluralism?