Friday, July 20, 2007

I bought some books

As per my previous post titled 'Infidel,' I went to Chapters in search of a copy of the Quran, the holy Islamic text. I was inspired to read it for myself after reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali's assessment of it and of her experience with Islam. I discovered a copy that was translated by two impressive sounding scholars, one of whom is an expert in Rumi poetry and has translated several of Rumi's texts into english, so I thought this was a pretty good selling feature. A translator of a holy text MUST have hefty experience with poetry. Well, I found this copy and was suitably impressed, and it was only $6.99! I guess people around Langley don't read the Quran much? So I also purchased a book of Rumi's poetry translated into english, also $6.99, and quoted below. I'm so fascinated by what I've learned so far! Islam is younger than Christianity, which I never knew; I thought that Islam was about as old as Judaism, but the Prophet Muhammad lived and had his ministry in the 7th century A.C.E. Also, many of the Islamic people in Ali's book referenced the Prophet's own life as exemplary of how to live their own lives, but the forward to my Quran mentions that much of the Prophet's actual personal life is unknown, which is interesting.
So far I am partway through the first book. The books are baisically scribal recollections of the Prophet's sermons and teachings, and are arranged from longest to shortest, rather than chronologically. I believe they were written a generation or two after the death of the Prophet. What has struck me thus far is a passionate commitment to the holiness of Allah, and a rather passionately negative attitude towards the 'unholy'~ not violent in the stereotypical fundamentalist sense, but rather in the angry, rejecting, and exclusional language sense. There are people who are 'in' and people who are 'out.' Allah seems to be (thus far! I have much more to read) holy, compassionate, wise, and ONE in the sense of strict monotheism, and also strictly exclusive. He is holy, compassionate, and wise to his followers, and scornful of his non followers. It is also fascinating to read a holy text with a fresh perspective and with fresh eyes, because I have been a Christian for long enough that I no longer have a fresh read of anything in the Bible. I still learn new things and gain new perspectives, and feel I've barely scratched the surface of God's character and the wisdom in our holy text, but when I read it my mind references classes I've taken on that or related books, sermons I've heard, or perceptions I hold on God's character or the purpose behind a section of the text. A fresh read of a holy text is quite interesting.
Also, I was struck by the book's commitment to and elevation of the act of prayer. Strict muslims pray five times a day, facing Mecca, and following a basic prayer format which includes some required and some optional prayers. If Christians prayed with this level of commitment, we could change the world.

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