Why it’s difficult for non Muslims to read the Quran

“Given the blank slate of sheer unfamiliarity with the Quran among Americans and Europeans, it is perhaps inevitable that certain cultural habits have become obstacles to an understanding of it. In the mood of anxiety and fear of the post-9/11 era, it is perhaps understandable that one of these habits would be the temptation to find quick answers in this ancient text, to provide simple solutions to an urgent modern political problem. Unfortunately, nervous haste all too readily leads to serious problems or misrepresentation, as isolated phrases are made to stand in for a whole text, a single text is made to stand for an entire religion, and extremist individuals magnified by the media are taken to be representative of hundreds of millions of people in dozens of different countries. These are not trivial mistakes; weighty and unfortunate consequences flow from any distorted prejudice that substitutes real knowledge.” 4

How to Read the Qur’an: A New Guide, with Select Translations by Carl W Ernst, published by Edinburgh University Press 2012

Carl W. Ernst is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also the director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations.

 

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Categories: Islam, Life in the West, Quran

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