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The Koran: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – June 15, 2000
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"In a beautifully written, concise, and insightful study... Michael Cook makes clear some of the mysteries of this holy book....Evocative and explanatory.... For anyone, at almost any level of knowledge, wanting to learn more about the Qur'an, this is a wonderful place to start."--First Things
"Professor Cook's book is informative, witty, and rich with insight. The author firmly places the Koran within its broader context, lending his treatment depth and vigor."--Mohamed Mahmoud, Tufts University
About the Author
Michael Cook is Cleveland E. Dodge Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University.
Top Customer Reviews
However, like the Hebrew Bible with its Midrashim and Talmud, and New Testament with the writings of the church fathers, the Koran has gathered around itself a enormous body of commentaries to help explain its difficult and contradicory texts. Many Islamic beliefs that are attributed to the Koran are actually based on the commentaries of its interpreters.
I liked this book because it focused solely on the Koran itself.Read more ›
Pious Muslims may feel that in the presence of the text and its commentaries, they do not need Professor Michael Cook's "very short introduction" to the Koran. The pious may also wish to stay away because Professor Cook was once associated with the notorious "Hagarene hypothesis" (put forth in the 1977 book: Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World by Patricia Crone and Michael Cook) though he has since backed away from some of the more extreme claims of that book. But "The Koran, a very short introduction" turns out to be a very witty and interesting book, full of insights that the most pious Muslim will find informative and stimulating.
There is a tendency to avoid difficult issues at a time when Likudniks, oil barons and Christian fundamentalists are trying to permanently colonize huge chunks of the Middle East, but it is unlikely that the Binladens of the Islamic world will be able to provide an intellectual framework adequate to the task at hand. Un-nerving as it may be, Muslims have no choice but to re-examine and reconstruct their faith. Professor Cook's "short introduction" may lead on to better and bigger things.
Professor Cook starts by discussing what constitutes a sacred scripture and the forms such scriptures have taken in different civilizations. He then outlines the role the Koran plays in Muslims culture and how this is similar and how it differs from the role played by the Bible or the Vedas in their cultures. A few short selections from the Quran (the Fatiha, surah alfeel, the "throne verse", the "sword verse", among others) are presented in standard translations and used to illustrate the Quranic message and how it is perceived.Read more ›
Obviously one of the first places to start is with the Qur'an itself. But to Westerners who've never opened it, the book can be intimidating and arcane. Michael Cook's little volume on the Qur'an is a decent introduction to its structure, basic principles, interpretation, and history.
Some points in Cook's book are of more immediate service to the beginner than others. Cook's discussion of the difficulties encountered in translating the Qur'an's Arabic into other languages may not be of great interest to the beginner. But his overview of the various Muslim schools of exegesis or interpretation certainly will be, for this discussion begins to reveal to the reader that there's no more of a uniform way of reading the Qur'an than there is of reading the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. As a consequence, Qur'anic verses can mean different things to Muslims coming from different exegetical traditions. Cook illustrates this point in Chapter 4 by discussing the "sword verse" (Sura 9:5) and the "tribute verse" (Sura 9:29). These two verses are frequently appealed to by commentators on Islam's attitude to "infidels." Cook does a fine job of showing that the verses can be read either as harshly intolerant or as live-and-let-live, depending on how one parses the text.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I set out to genuinely gain a modicum of understanding of this this religion but learnt virtually nothing. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Southern Man
I read this book and the Very Short Introduction to Islam (3 stars) consecutively, I found VSI: The Koran to be a better work (4.5 stars). Read morePublished 3 months ago by JustinHoca
Cook makes the fatal mistake of mistaking Allah for God.
Muhammad was the messenger of Allah, not God.
The Qur'an is all about Ilah, Almighty God and Allah the god. Read more
Very tough to read and understand, not unlike that religion in many ways, I expect, for an American from a Christian background. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Gerald A. Curtin
This book has three main sections: "The formation of the Koran", "the Koran in the traditional Muslim world" and "the Koran in the modem world". Read morePublished 7 months ago by HH