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Understanding the Koran: A Quick Christian Guide to the Muslim Holy Book Paperback – June 6, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (June 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310248124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310248125
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

What You Should Know about Islam’s Holy Book How is it like the Bible? How is it different? Why is it important?

Muslims believe the Koran exists as a literal book in heaven and was dictated to the prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. It is only the length of the New Testament, yet a fifth of the world claims it is the complete revelation of God. To most Americans, though, the Koran remains a mystery.

Did you know that the Koran teaches the virgin birth and miracle-filled, prophetic ministry of Jesus? Claims to fully embrace his teachings? Reveres Abraham, Moses, Jonah, and other biblical prophets?

Find out how the Koran resembles the Bible—and the drastic ways in which it differs. Understanding the Koran gives you a fascinating essential grasp of Islam’s holy book: where it came from, what it teaches, how Muslims view it, and how the Allah of the Koran compares with the God of the Bible.

Cherished as the final, perfect revelation of God’s will by 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide, the Koran has become a part of American life. Today, those who read and memorize it may work in your town, shop where you shop, or send their children to the same school your kids attend. What do you know about the holy book that shapes the lives and eternal destinies of your neighbors and a fifth of the world’s population?

While some similarities exist between the Koran and the Bible, the differences are striking. Written by a pastor who was born to a Muslim father and raised in Saudi Arabia, Understanding the Koran gives you a fascinating, easy-to-understand overview that will show you:

• Why the background behind the Koran is important • How the Koran came into existence • A summary of the main teachings of the Koran, including what it says about Jesus and the crucifixion • Similarities and differences between Muslim and Christian views of God • What the Koran teaches about Jihad and holy war • What the Koran teaches about heaven and hell

More than furnishing you with an essential grasp of Islam’s holy book, Understanding the Koran points you to the one thing that can draw your Muslim friends to Jesus—his love, demonstrated to them through you. Discussion questions enable you to use this book in group studies

About the Author

Mateen Elass (PhD, University of Durham in England) was raised in Saudi Arabia in a Muslim environment. He holds degrees from Stanford University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the University of Durham in England. He has served in a church in Colorado and currently serves as senior pastor of a Presbyterian church in the Midwest. He has written feature articles for Moody magazine, including "What Muslims Think of America."

More About the Author

Mateen Elass (PhD, University of Durham in England) was raised in Saudi Arabia in a Muslim environment. He holds degrees from Stanford University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the University of Durham in England. He has served in a church in Colorado and currently serves as senior pastor of a Presbyterian church in the Midwest. He has written feature articles for Moody magazine, including "What Muslims Think of America."

Customer Reviews

Elass clearly does not assume a neutral standing on the subject of Christians vs. Muslims.
Reader
He is respectful of Islam throughout the book, but it is clear that he is writing from the Christian perspective.
DWD's Reviews
In these times anyone wanting to have a better understanding of Islam should read this book.
Thomas S. Golich

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Erik Olson VINE VOICE on October 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
It's vital for Christians to intimately know their foundational holy book, the Bible. But it's also important to have an idea of what other religions teach as well, if only for facilitating respectful dialogue with those of different beliefs. With the plethora of resources available, there's no excuse for ignorance in this regard. However, it can be tough enough mastering Christian doctrines, much less trying to learn tenets of other faiths. "Understanding the Koran" is a welcome help in that regard (please keep in mind that it's written with a Christian slant, as you've probably guessed).

The author discusses some surprising and relevant facts about the Koran. For example, he reveals how the standard version of the Koran was decided upon more for political than religious reasons. As for doctrinal issues, he spotlights Koranic vs. Biblical views of God (one God/one person vs. one God/three persons) and Jesus (human prophet vs. fully human/fully God savior/intercessor). That was particularly interesting to me, since some claim that all religions point to the same God. If so, then how can two of the world's largest religions differ concerning His nature, character, and how we must relate to Him? Perhaps a choice must be made - one that has both earthly and eternal consequences.

At any rate, some of the critiques he uses on the Koran's origin and canonization have also been leveled against the Bible (just ask the "Gospel of Thomas" advocates, or any skeptic). However, the author doesn't really acknowledge those issues. I would have appreciated seeing the two compared and contrasted, especially how the Bible's creation and compilation stacks up to that of the Koran.
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49 of 55 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on July 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
Short summary:

Mateen Elass is uniquely qualified to write such a book. His father was a Muslim. He was raised in Saudi Arabia. He is now a Presbyterian minister in the United States. His short, 10 chapter book introduces the reader to the Koran by telling its history and the common touchpoints that it shares with the Bible, Christian tradition and Jewish tradition. Elass also introduces the reader to the proper handling of the Koran and has a balanced discussion on the role of Jihad in Islam, as defined in the Koran. An optional Bible study is located at the back of the book with lots of questions designed for group discussion.

My review:

An absolutely excellent book! The reader is not required to be a Christian to understand the book - but a working knowledge of Christian tradition and the Bible would help. Mateen Elass has produced a wonderful introduction to Islam and the Koran. He is respectful of Islam throughout the book, but it is clear that he is writing from the Christian perspective.

I have but one complaint: he has excellent commentary in his endnotes that complement the text. Unfortunately, I discovered this about halfway through the book. I wish it had been footnotes instead.

I'll be on the lookout for another book by Elass. Might I suggest a book on Islam itself? Or, perhaps Muslim customs and holidays?
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
Written by a Christian who was raised in a Muslim family "Understanding the Koran" is one of the most even-handed and accurate treatments of the Koran by a Christian writer that I have read. This book stands out as a refreshing breath of fresh air in an area far too crowed by prejudiced and misleading books based more on fear than anything else. Author Mateen Elass provides an understanding not only of the Koran but also of the Muslim faith in general. She discusses history, traditions, and religious custom as well as the belief system itself. If you are tired of the multitude of books that tell you what the Koran says when it is obvious the authors have obviously never read it themselves you will be delighted with this one with an author that obviously has an intimate knowledge of Muslim and Christian religious texts, practices, and beliefs. "Understanding the Koran" is highly recommended to all readers and given the current state of inaccurate propaganda being spread from all quarters it is required reading for anyone who wants an accurate portrayal of the Koran.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Truth Teller on January 13, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For all who are interested in a balanced, introductory study of issues related to the Quran and the claims of Islam, this is the book for you. Written by one of Muslim background, who grew up in the Middle East, but who subsequently earned a Ph.D. in New Testament studies at a highly acclaimed British university, this book brings a much needed perspective to the often murky debates between Muslims and Christians.

Contrary to the statement in another review, the name "Mateen Elass" clearly indicates a Muslim family origin, as any who know Arabic and Islam will quickly attest.

Though written particularly for Christians to help them understand the role and meaning of the Quran for Muslims (in comparison with the role and meaning of the Bible for Christians), this book is also being read with profit by Muslims. I personally know two Muslims who have read this book and subsequently become Christians, after being encouraged to think through the evidences presented.

I would encourage all readers to consider objectively the material presented by the author, rather than be swayed in advance by any particular party line. Those who do will come away impressed by the irenic but bold, well-defended positions offered by an individual with much experience and expertise to back up his perspectives.
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