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Towards the end of this summer, I started studying Islam in greater depth, to understand more of the faith as Muslims see it. I've been reading the Qur'an with traditional commentaries (but reading the suras in chronological order), as well as a few academic books on the early history of Islam to give me some much needed historical context.

My main intention is to understand the Qur'an and Islam as a lived religion, as Muslims themselves perceive it. Islam is of course very varied, and though I try to understand how the main schools approach the Qur'an and Islamic law, my emphasis is, at the moment, particularly on Sufi readings, partly because I interact most with Sufi Muslims (through work and through the community in which I live), but also because I find it the most beautiful form of Islam.

I'm slowly nearing the end of the Qur'an, and am beginning to look at what to read next. If you have any recommendations for further reading, please let me know. Though I am primarily looking for classical works of Islam (Sufi or otherwise), preferably in the realm of theology, I am open to other suggestions as well. I do not care much for overly polemical critiques of Islam (of which I can find enough online), but if you know of a good book that critiques Islam fairly and dispassionately, please feel free to suggest it. Also, if you know of any good works of comparative theology (comparing Christianity & Islam), please let me know.
Maybe you should read a copy of the Hadith.
(09-20-2014, 08:18 AM)ThomasTheDoubter Wrote: [ -> ]Maybe you should read a copy of the Hadith.

Thank you for the suggestion. I've read a lot of passages from the hadith, as many Qur'anic commentators cite from them, but have not read them themselves, primarily because it is a bit of a daunting task. Bukhari's collection alone, which is generally considered the most reliable, is 9 volumes (in translation with Arabic text)!

Have you read any? If so, do you recommend a specific collection or edition?

Not really. But I've learned many years ago that Muslims follow teachings from two main sources, the Hadith and Quran. Many people assume that it's only the Quran, but the prophet's tradition is also important to understand Islam. I haven't done a formal study of Islam so I cannot help you there.
I have also been studying Islam as of late, at least in the form of reading the Quran on the side. The translation I'm using is of more recent and it's a translation done by an Islamic scholar (I forgot his name, but I think he teaches at Oxford or Cambridge). I find that reading the Quran can be difficult because  Arabic translated into English  (even done in contemporary English) doesn't flow as good as "natural" English.

There are a lot of references to the "People of the Book" and "disbelievers" in the beginning of the Quran. My question is, are these "disbelievers" considered the pagans who were persecuting early Muslims or are they referring to Jews/Christians as the disbelievers? This is a lot of confrontation with Judaism, at least.

There is also a book I found called "The Bible and the Quran" published by Ignatius Press, which is apparently a reprint of the same book done by an author named Jacques Jomier in the 1950's. Is this a good comparison to read? I feel like I should read an introductory book like this before delving further into the Quran for study.
I did some study of Islam in college.  It was fascinating, and it really helped me to solidify my opposition to the entire religion political movement.  The professor was shocked that I could come to such a conclusion--that I might actually oppose the religion. 

I was equally shocked at her shock.  How could one NOT be opposed to such a system of slavery, murder, and degradation?
(09-20-2014, 02:48 PM)Sequentia Wrote: [ -> ]There are a lot of references to the "People of the Book" and "disbelievers" in the beginning of the Quran. My question is, are these "disbelievers" considered the pagans who were persecuting early Muslims or are they referring to Jews/Christians as the disbelievers? This is a lot of confrontation with Judaism, at least.

The people of the book are indeed the Jews and Christians. I'm reading the Qur'an in the chronological order (in the order that the suras were revealed), and what really strikes me is that there are hardly any negative references to Christians and Jews in the beginning of Muhammad's life as a prophet, and most of the references to people of other faiths (generally pagans) are along the lines of "let them be. God will deal with them." But in the earlier suras it is generally the Arab pagans that are condemned, and relatively little is said about contemporary Jews and Christians (though the claim that God has no sons is made quite a few times).

I really recommend reading the Qur'an in chronological order (see here for that order). I attempted to read the Qur'an before, but never got very far, as the first suras in the traditional order are difficult to get through without knowing some background to them. Now, when I started reading the Qur'an in the chronological order, the book really opened up for me, and it is much more enjoyable to read, as you see themes recurring, ideas developing, and Muhammad growing in his role as prophet and religious leader.

The two translations I have been mainly using are those by N.J. Dawood (Penguin Classics), which is quite beautiful, and by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, which is often recommended by Muslims.

A good and very detailed book on the style and structure of the Qur'an is "Discovering the Qur'an: A contemporary approach to a veiled text" by Neal Robinson (Second edition, SCM Press, 2003). I found a pdf of it here.
I've read the Koran some years ago. Indeed you won't find outright condemnation of Christians as such. What you will find is that the Gospels were corrupted and what passes as Christians were actually some pagan thing. Its the same with the Jews: the OT was all right, but they altered so much with it its no longer revelation (and its even blasphemous, according to the koran).
So basically, any orthodox Christian is grouped among pagans.

One must remember that the koran was written along 28 years. As the years went by and as Mohammed gained military victory the koran acquires a more violent/military tone.

I've heard that to understand Islam today one must study the works of Qutb The Shadow of the Koran (30+ volumes, so good luck!), wherein he tries to establish what sort of politics the koran implies.
And what I said in the first paragraph is crucial, because he defines a just state as one in which one allows what God allows and forbids what God forbids, anything deviating from it constitutes an unjust rule. But the only true revelation of God, so it goes, is the one in the koran, anything differing from it is unjust (note, islam from the beginning adopts a gross voluntarism, so one cannot view God as reason, love, etc., but rather as will -- and if allah loves or reasons, he does so only because he wills to love and to reason this or that way).

As someone said here, the hadiths are also very important to muslims. They definitely reject sola scriptura.
The following gives you an insight into what Muhammad considered essential in the Qur'an.

According to the hadith, Muhammad asked his followers to recite one third of the Qur'an each night. When they said that was too difficult, he said they could recite just Sura 112, which was the equivalent of a third of the entire Qur'an.

Sura 112 -- Al-Ikhlas (The Purity of Faith) Wrote:In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
And there is none like unto Him.

And the following sura (99) he claimed to be the equivalent of half the Qur'an:

Sura 99 -- Al-Zalzala (The Earthquake) Wrote:In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

When the earth is shaken to her (utmost) convulsion,
And the earth throws up her burdens (from within),
And man cries (distressed): 'What is the matter with her?'-
On that Day will she declare her tidings:
For that thy Lord will have given her inspiration.
On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they (had done).
Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it!
And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it.

The first is an early revelation (the 22nd); the second is one from Medina.
(09-20-2014, 04:15 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: [ -> ]I've heard that to understand Islam today one must study the works of Qutb The Shadow of the Koran (30+ volumes, so good luck!), wherein he tries to establish what sort of politics the koran implies.

That is only necessary if you want to know the Muslim Brotherhood's understanding of Islam. Sayyid Qutb was an Islamist, and is really not representative of modern Islam. He was even declared heretical by some leading Islamic scholars after his death.
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