The Qur’an – in the words of non-Muslim academics

Rev. G. Margoliouth describes the impact of the Qur’an.

“The Koran admittedly occupies an important position among the great religious books of the world. Though the youngest of the epoch-making works belonging to this class of literature, it yields to hardly any in the wonderful effect which it has produced on large masses of men. It has created all but a new phase of human thought and a fresh type of character. It first transformed a number of heterogeneous desert tribes of the Arabian Peninsula into a nation of heroes, and then proceeded to create the vast politico-religious organizations of the Muhammadan world which are one of the great forces with which Europe and the East have to reckon today.”

Karen Armstrong, a British author of a number of books on comparative religion, mentions about the Qur’an in her book: A History of God.

“It is as though Muhammad had created an entirely new literary form that some people were not ready for but which thrilled others. Without this experience of the Koran, it is extremely unlikely that Islam would have taken root. We have seen that it took the ancient Israelites some seven hundred years to break with their old religious allegiances and accept monotheism but Muhammad managed to help the Arabs achieve this difficult transition in a mere twenty-three years. Muhammad as poet and prophet and the Koran as text and theophany is surely an unusually striking instance of the deep congruence that exists between art and religion.”

A learned compiler of English-Arabic and Arabic-English dictionaries – Dr Steingass was quoted in Hughes’ Dictionary of Islam.

“Here, therefore, its merits as a literary production should perhaps not be measured by some preconceived maxims of subjective and aesthetic taste, but by the effects which it produced in Muhammad’s contemporaries and fellow countrymen. If it spoke so powerfully and convincingly to the hearts of his hearers as to weld hitherto centrifugal and antagonistic elements into one compact and well-organised body, animated by ideas far beyond those which had until now ruled the Arabian mind, then its eloquence was perfect, simply because it created a civilized nation out of savage tribe and shot a fresh woof into the old warp of history.”

The Qur’an is without a doubt one of the most widely read books in the world. It has been a source of interest since it was put together around fourteen hundred years ago. Read for religious purposes, spiritual purposes, intellectual purposes etc. Throughout history we can see both Muslim and non-Muslims looking at the Qur’an and scrutinizing and dissecting the book to understand it, and then concluding studies with completely opposing views to the other. And the debate of whether the Qur’an is a revelation from God or not is still on-going. With this small entry is an attempt to present a different perspective on the Qur’an, not in my own words but in the words of non-Muslim historians, popular intellectuals and outstanding personalities from the past. Though many a times now we hear hyped up negative interpretations of the Qur’an from non-Muslims, there are those who are not Muslims who speak positive of the holy Book, whose works on Islam we can truly appreciate. Such as the likes of Karen Armstrong, a non-Muslim who has written several books on Islam, her efforts of which are now valued by the Muslim community.

Hopefully I will be expanding on this article soon…

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