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Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations Paperback – January 1, 2007
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Prof. Sells said that the problem in translating the Qur'an comes from the huge grammatical differences between Arabic and English, the difficulty of translating poetry into another language, and the fact that the Qur'an has always been recited out loud. In English, he says, God in the Qur'an sounds angry, whereas in Arabic, God in the Qur'an sounds sad and compassionate. That's a big difference. Sells also says that the grammar in Arabic allows the tone of the Qur'an to achieve "ultimate majesty" at the same time as "personal intimacy." Because of the linguistic difference, that is very difficult to carry over into English.
Therefore, this book is Sells' attempt to get around these difficulties in accessing the Qu'ran. He gives the translation of the surah and then he gives his commentary and explanation of it. There's a CD in the back that has recitations in Arabic, so we can hear that it is poetry and it really does even rhyme and hear how the recited Qur'an can affect a person differently from the printed Qur'an. Sells said, in his talk, that students have actually come up to him with tears in their eyes to tell him that they had previously never had any idea what the Qur'an was like.Read more ›
But I was pleasantly surprised. The approach that Prof. Sells has taken is refreshing in that he treats the Qur'an as literature. Some Muslims may find this objectionable. But I find it helpful to be able to put the suras in the context of popular Arabian culture of that time. I had never actually thought of Qur'anic text in this way before, having learned it in the traditional fashion, by wrote memorisation of the Arabic verses, and then later, reading commentary.
The CD included with the text was also unexpected. I hadn't seen an analysis of the 'soundscape' of the Qur'an before. I do like listening to beautiful recitations of the Qur'an, but I hadn't considered an analysis of the sounds and how they are put together. I had come across something similar in English literature classes that I took in college; and it makes sense that if one is treating the Qur'an as poetry, one could use similar tools for analysis.
The CD and the analysis of the sounds were the best part of the book. Even if one is not a Muslim, I think it is possible to appreciate the beauty of Qur'anic recitation. As an example I have been able to appreciate the beauty of Gregorian chants even though I did not know what was being said or recited.
I am mystified by the controversy surrounding this book. I wonder if the people that brought the lawsuit against UNC ever actually bothered to read the book. Let's hope that this sort of reactionary ignorance doesn't prevail in our country.Read more ›
I defenitely recommend this book to any non-Arabic (and Arabic-speaking) person who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the main messages of the Quran and Islam.
Sells noticed the unusual effect the recited Qur'an has on its audience, sometimes moving even those who may not be particularly religious to tears. In fact Qur'an literally means " The Recitation". Sells found that Westerners, who do not read or speak Arabic, cannot appreciate the beauty and power of the Qur'an, because the standard written English translations fail to retain the inner rhythms, sound patterns and textual dynamics of the original. In this book Sells' goal is" to allow those who do not have access to the Qur'an in its recited Arabic form to encounter one of the most influential texts in human history in a manner that is accessible", and "to present in English some of the texture, tone, power and subtlety of the Arabic text". I think the author has definitely succeeded in this respect.
The 30-page Introduction contains valuable information about the historical and cultural background of Arabia, the core teachings of Islam, the narrative style of the Qur'an, and an interesting discussion of the difficulties inherent in any translation, but especially in the translation of the Qur'an and the author's different and distinctive approach to translating the early Suras (Chapters). Contrary to the opinions expressed by many viewers, who gave this book bad reviews because it contains only the early revelations, Sells' aim was not to promote the Qura'nic message by omitting disturbing verses (if there is such a thing!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book to begin any education into the Islam religion. I have learned so many ideas that I never knew and ideas that everyone should know before judging this... Read morePublished 4 months ago
Phenomenol book. Where do I begin to write all that it revealed and all the thoughts it triggered.
Let me begin by saying that Sells has written a masterpiece. Read more
Amazing book, just looking at the Quran from a literary point of view.Published 13 months ago by F. Abdullah
Thoughtful, concise introduction to some of the early revelations in the Quran. Whether you already know anything about the Quran or not (1 of each reading this), it brings... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Geofredo
As a Lutheran pastor, I felt the need to know more about other faiths and their scriptures. It is always daunting to dig into a completely different religion and cultural... Read morePublished on July 3, 2014 by sirsir
It doesn't come with a CD anymore, but with a code to download the audio files from a website. The book is pretty good, extremely enlightening to the meaning of a few verses of the... Read morePublished on June 21, 2014 by Amazon Customer
This is a great introduction to one of the most important holy books in existence. Few books and movements through history, except perhaps Christianity and Buddhism, can rival... Read morePublished on June 6, 2014 by Lars Tackmann
I recently started reading the Koran (Qur'an) and felt that I would benefit greatly from some kind of commentary on the text, as well as historical and cultural background. Read morePublished on December 16, 2013 by Emmanuelle Rose
Although this item did not come in a quick amount of time (took over 2 weeks), it was a good buy. The notes in it did not interfere with my reading and it helped a lot!Published on October 6, 2013 by Brittany WIlson