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The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. [2:185]
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  1. #1
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    Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an (OP)


    Greetings,

    I have begun re-reading the Qua'ran online for educational purposes. For those interested, I'd like to document my experience on this thread.

    Currently, I'm using this translation: http://www.noblequran.com/translation/

    I'd welcome advice for other translations, especially if they have footnote references for further study.

    Thanks,

    --Dan Edge
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

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    It's been far too long since I worked on this project. But better later than never, right?

    Analysis of Surah Yusef

    Here we have yet another story with which I am already familiar due to my Christian upbringing: the story of the Prophet Joseph (pbuh). I re-read Genesis in the Bible recently, so I'm going to do my best to empty my mind's vessel and read this alternative perspective from a fresh point of view. For inspiration, I have BBC's "Nature's Greatest Events" playing in the background.

    In the first few verses of this Surah, the author makes clear that these revelations are being made specifically to Muhammad (pbuh), and that Muhammad (pbuh) was "among those who knew nothing about it." I had assumed that he was aware of these ancient teachings due to reading them or was taught during his childhood. Given the time and place he was born, one would think he already had exposure to these writings. Regardless, it gets me to thinking about Muhammad's (pbuh) childhood. What was it like? What did his parents impart to him? What games did he like to play? What was his first job? He was human, after all, and it's interesting for me to think of these things on a human level.

    One moral the story clearly illustrates is the hazardous nature of jealousy, especially within the family. But the horrible, premeditated actions of Joseph's (pbuh) brothers are just pure evil! To throw your brother down a well and leave him to die, then lie to your father about it!?! They even go through the effort of putting false blood on Joseph's (pbuh) clothes to corroborate their story. (These are like Disney character bad guys, their evil seemingly too complete and obvious to be real.) But their father Jacob (pbuh) is too wise and too keen. Somehow, he finds "patience" within himself to discover the truth eventually.

    I'm inspired by verses 19-20. A group of travellers find a boy at the bottom of a well and sell him for pennies, not knowing that this boy was worth more than the fortune of an entire kingdom. He can read dreams! But the true value of a man is not always easily seen. It reminds me of another man of immeasurable value whose life was sold for 30 pieces of silver. Note to self: never try to put a price on a human being. Even the lowliest of us is worth more than all the wealth that ever was.

    Many of Joseph's (pbuh) experiences resonate in modern times. Instead of violating his moral principles and giving in to a woman's lust (what a problem to have! ), he opts to go to prison instead. And there he stayed for years, despite his display to the prisoners of his power to interpret dreams. Echoes of Ghandi, Mandella, MLK, Solzhenitsyn, and many others come to mind. It's good to see that both the prisoner and the lusty wife redeem themselves in the end. After gaining his position of power, Joseph (pbuh) could have sought retribution, but he didn't. Like Noah (pbuh) and others, he forgave those who wronged him and left it to a higher power to be the final arbiter.

    Joseph (pbuh) even finds room in his heart to forgive his brothers, who had treated him so horribly...but not before he taught them a little lesson in humility . It was a sort of convoluted plot to get his family together, but things worked out well in the end. Jacob's (pbuh) faith and patience paid off, and he was rewarded by finally reuniting with his long lost son. I love happy endings!

    As a post-script, I note that there is no reference in this Surah to People of the Book, unlike most previous Surahs. The adversary here is not Christians or Jews, but the polytheistic Egyptians. So the primary distinction drawn by the author is Monotheism vs Polytheism. This makes sense because the story is drawn from much older writings, some translation of the Pentateuch (Genisis, Exedous, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).

    I am reminded yet again that Jews, Christians, and Muslims share much more in common than many would like to admit. They come from the same lands, the same culture, the same blood. And Civil Wars are always the most brutal, the most bloody. Can these ancient brothers ever acheive peace, despite their non-essential differences? One can only hope.

    --Dan Edge
    Last edited by DanEdge; 01-21-2019 at 02:24 PM. Reason: grammar
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    Greetings and peace be with you Dan

    I am reminded yet again that Jews, Christians, and Muslims share much more in common than many would like to admit. They come from the same lands, the same culture, the same blood.
    And we are all created by the same God; and the same God hears all our prayers.

    After gaining his position of power, Joseph (pbuh) could have sought retribution, but he didn't. Like Noah (pbuh) and others, he forgave those who wronged him and left it to a higher power to be the final arbiter.
    If you see great moral qualities in Noah and Joseph, pbut, ( peace be upon them) that is because they reflect the qualities of Allah. As part of your reading study the 99 names of Allah, we should also strive to be the same.

    Blessings
    Eric
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    Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    You will never look into the eyes of anyone who does not matter to God.

  5. #63
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    Quote Originally Posted by DanEdge View Post
    post-script, I note that there is no reference in this Surah to People of the Book, unlike most previous Surahs.
    Greetings Dan,
    That’s because the Books were revealed after Joseph’s (peace be upon him) time. This is one of the Surahs in the Quran in which a true story is told, and apart from the introductory 3 verses and the concluding few verses, all of it is the story.
    Generally, you’ll find the Makkan Surahs (ie those revealed at Makkah before migration to Madinah), of which this is one, mention polytheists and pagans more, while the Madinan Surahs, revealed after migration to Madinah, where there were larger communities of Jews and Christians, tend to mention people of the book.
    Peace
    Last edited by Insaanah; 01-29-2019 at 10:43 PM.
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    Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an


    Stunningly beautiful adhaan from the Dome of the Rock in Masjid ul Aqsa
    Download (right click and choose "save target/link as").


    This is a clear message for mankind in order that they may be warned thereby, and that they may know that He is only One God, and that those of understanding may take heed (14:52)


    Indeed Allah knows, and you know not (16: 74, part)

  6. #64
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    @DanEdge i suggest reading surat al kahf (the cave) (chapter 18) I Highly recommend it, it is a check against the materialism of our times, and contains rational proofs and wisdom as you said in the post about surat hud. and is said to be a protection against the Muslim antichrist known as Mesih-ad-dajjal. The first ten and in other versions last ten verses when memorized are especially useful for protection against his fitnah (corruption, trial), but anyway, im rambling. the story contains many stories that are useful in our times. feel free to ask questions because they contain eschatological material at the end.
    Last edited by SintoDinto; 01-27-2019 at 09:40 PM.
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    Quote Originally Posted by SintoDinto View Post
    @DanEdge i suggest reading surat al kahf (the cave) (chapter 18)...
    I will get there, my friend. One Surah at a time.

  9. #66
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    ​Analysis of Surah Ar-Ra'd

    This Surah was a very interesting read for my hungry mind. While it appears to be written in the same style throughout (i.e., same author), I noted two distinct parts.

    The first part, verses 1 - 17, was of particular interest to me because it displays scientific and logical thinking on the part of the author. In previous Surahs, the wonders of nature are presented as proof of the existence of the one God (swt). But in Surah Ar-Ra'd, we are given more details about the author's understanding of natural phenomena.

    The best example of this comes from verse 17. The author displays acute understanding of how ores (iron, flint, etc.) are deposited in valleys by the flow of water. He specifies that these materials are used to build utensils and other tools.

    The second part of this Surah seems to be an argument from authority flowing from the first part. The author has proven in the first part that he is wise, and he argues that his wisdom is the results of following a long line of Prophets (pbuta) who followed the one God (swt).

    Overall, I was impressed by the quality and seemingly high level of education of the author of this Surah. Not only is he familiar with the scripture of People of the Book, he seems also to be familiar with other predominant religions of that era and of previous eras.

    In verse 5, there is a reference to those who believe in reincarnation. Though there are many religions that believe in this, the largest and the closest geographically in the era that this was written was Hinduism. So I wonder if the author is referring specifically to Hinduism, or if not, to what specific religion or set of religions?

    This may be over-reaching, but as I was reading this I got the strong impression that the author was familiar with ancient Greek writings. For one, the title of the Surah means “thunder,” and the phenomenon of lightning is presented as evidence of God's (swt) power. As we know, the greatest god in ancient Greek mythology was Zeus oh, the god of lightning.

    Also, the polemical nature of the second part of the Surah reminds me very much of Plato's writing: When person ‘A’ says this, then person ‘B’ ought to to reply with such and such logical argument. There is a lot of this kind of polemics in the second half of this Surah.

    I am reminded that my Muslim friends have told me how the Quran is compatible with science. That sentiment very much holds true for this Surah because, while it makes references to natural phenomena and make some explanations for them, it stresses that man cannot fully understand it. That is the reason why Allah (swt) explains things in parables (verse 17).

    A final note: the pronoun usage in this Surah was confusing to me. For the most part, it reads like a letter from Allah (swt) to Muhammad (pbuh). So sometimes the Surah is written in the first-person. But then at other times, it switches to third person, eg, “He has revealed 'x’.” Yet other times, it switches to first person plural, eg, “We have revealed 'x’.” I don't know if this was intentional or just a matter of translation. It doesn't make the Surah hard to follow, but it was still very strange from a grammatical perspective.

    As usual, I appreciate any feedback and references for further learning.

    Dan Edge
    Last edited by DanEdge; 02-07-2019 at 01:20 PM.

  10. #67
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    A final note: the pronoun usage in this Surah was confusing to me. For the most part, it reads like a letter from Allah (swt) to Muhammad (pbuh). So sometimes the Surah is written in the first-person. But then at other times, it switches to third person, eg, “He has revealed 'x’.” Yet other times, it switches to first person plural, eg, “We have revealed 'x’.” I don't know if this was intentional or just a matter of translation. It doesn't make the Surah hard to follow, but it was still very strange from a grammatical perspective.
    Greetings Dan,

    See this:

    https://islamqa.info/en/answers/2090...aculous-nature

    And Allah knows best.

    Peace
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    Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an


    Stunningly beautiful adhaan from the Dome of the Rock in Masjid ul Aqsa
    Download (right click and choose "save target/link as").


    This is a clear message for mankind in order that they may be warned thereby, and that they may know that He is only One God, and that those of understanding may take heed (14:52)


    Indeed Allah knows, and you know not (16: 74, part)

  11. #68
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    Quote Originally Posted by Insaanah View Post
    Greetings Dan,

    See this:

    https://islamqa.info/en/answers/2090...aculous-nature

    And Allah knows best.

    Peace
    I love how you guys give me such excellent answers to my questions. Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an From the link provided:

    "Praise be to Allah.

    The Qur’an was revealed in a plain Arabic tongue; one aspect of the literary style of the Arabs is that the speaker may refer to himself sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third person, sometimes in the singular and sometimes in the plural. This variation is part of eloquence and good style."

    So it's really a simple matter of language and style. Thank you very much Insaanah for this feedback.

    Dan Edge
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    Hi Dan,

    Sorry, I would like to thank you for this fascinating thread.
    Reminds me of my younger teenage ( 30years ago ) when I started questioning my faith.
    I started it as atheist and tried to grab any knowledge I could get with limited resources ( reading Qur'an translation, Bible, any books I could find )

    Until when I was 23 ( 15yr ago.. ) I decided to accept Islam after being "blasted" by surah Al-Ikhlas which clearly defines the God that I was searching for.

    Again, thank you and may Allah The Most Merciful shows you and all of us the right path.
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    Re: Non-Muslim Reading the Qur'an

    Quote Originally Posted by loneseeker View Post
    Hi Dan,

    Sorry, I would like to thank you for this fascinating thread.
    Reminds me of my younger teenage ( 30years ago ) when I started questioning my faith.
    I started it as atheist and tried to grab any knowledge I could get with limited resources ( reading Qur'an translation, Bible, any books I could find )

    Until when I was 23 ( 15yr ago.. ) I decided to accept Islam after being "blasted" by surah Al-Ikhlas which clearly defines the God that I was searching for.

    Again, thank you and may Allah The Most Merciful shows you and all of us the right path.
    Thank you very much for your kind words. I have enjoyed participating in Islamic Board over the years, and it has inspired an ongoing process of cultural enlightenment in my life.

    Since joining IB, I have correspondent with new friends all over the world. I have also connected with my local Muslim community, met with a local imam, and attended outreach events at the Islamic Society of Greenville, where I live.

    it's been a wonderful experience, and I have all of you to thank for it.

    Sincerely,

    Dan Edge
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