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The Qur'an: Books That changed the World Paperback – February 18, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"This book, like the book it studies, is meditative and unique, a lovely read for any spiritual person, Muslim or not."
"Timely and provocative . . . Lawrence's history of the Qur'an [is] highly instructive. . . . The history of the book is a map of the world we live in today."
"Standout . . . [Lawrence] presents in the most readable manner what for some will be a new topic. For Muslims who seek to deepen their faith and for non-Muslims who seek to understand that faith, The Qur'an is a valuable resource."
Top Customer Reviews
After two chapters on Prophet Muhammad and one on A'isha (the `favorite' wife of his later days in Medina after a long monogamous marriage to Khadija), chapters are about the Qur'an and its interpretation, introducing issues in simple and effective terms via those who have written about and been inspired by the Qur'an.. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Taj Mahal have extensive quotations carved into them, one emphasizing the oneness of God and the other the character and image of Paradise.
Others chapters introduce writings and inspiration for the likes of Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Iqbal in India, Ibn Arabi the mystic and philosopher, and still others. In this way one begins to see "life story" -- the role of traditional interpretation, the critical importance of in depth study to understand, as well as the place of "science" and inspiration. One Another chapter discusses Osama bin Laden's warped use of the Qur'an - so very like the selective quotations to portray Islam by its detractors. Of course detractors and bin Laden "feed" off each other.
This well written "biography" is about interpretations and many important people moved by the Qur'an.
(There are other books in the series - major books of Plato, Darwin, Marx, Thomas Paine - and more to come. The first reviewer missed the point of the series and yet still enjoyed this book.)
The first chapters are on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his followers, his wars, and on one of his youngest wives, A'isha. These chapters will introduce the reader to how and why the Qur'an descended to the people of the world. The rest of the chapters are about how Muslims have used and interpreted the Qur'an.
I did enjoy the chapter on the use of the Qur'an for healing. According to the author, Muslims have used the Qur'an to heal themselves from diseases such as cancer and AIDS. Qur'anic verses have also been used to adorn murals such as in the Mosque of the Dome and the Taj Mahal, and the author does a great job explaining their history.
The author points out that not all Islamic scholars or Imams interpreted the Qur'an in the same way. This caused branches in Islam, among which are the Sunnis, Shiites, Sufis, Wahabis, Dancing Dervishes, and Nation of Islam, to name just a few. The author goes through some of these branches of Islam and he does a great job explaining their origins.
I did also enjoy the chapter on jihad, a subject captivating the minds of everyone after 9/11. Some Muslim scholars view Jihad as a means of fighting your enemies (e.g. Osama Binladen), while other scholars view Jihad as a spiritual struggle within oneself.
The author talks about prominent Muslim figures from the United States, India, and Pakistan, and about their differing views on how one should approach the Qur'an. Those chapters were fascinating.
Overall, this is an excellent book for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
I say "quirky" because Lawrence organizes his book, and presents the Qur'an, through a series of what he calls "vignettes" -- separate chapters that the author claims "can be read consecutively or selectively" and each of which, according to Lawrence, "has a distinct geo-historical context." If the intent was for each vignette to be a piece of a mosaic, the overall design fails because at the end of the book no clear, coherent picture of the Qur'an emerges. Instead, the book has an episodic feel -- snapshots of the Qur'an through time.
The book is short -- just less than 200 pages, type-set in a reader-friendly fashion that has relatively few words per page (it can be read in an afternoon). It contains brief accounts of the Prophet Muhammad as the recipient/source of the Qur'anic revelations/recitations and his wife 'A'ishah and her role in preserving the Qur'an for future generations. In addition, there are individual chapters on seven of the principal "interpreters" of the Qur'an through history, as well as chapters on the Dome of the Rock and the Taj Mahal as architectural embodiments of the Qur'an. Finally, the book closes with three "vignettes" that cursorily discuss the Qur'anic background for three contemporary issues: racial equality, "jihad" a la Osama bin Ladin, and the Qur'an as a cure for AIDs and other earthly illnesses.
The book is well-written. My problem with it is that it is not sufficiently informative, even as an introduction.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not what I was looking at all. What audience was this intended for? I guess the author assumed the readers were already quite familiar with the Koran. Read morePublished 5 months ago by merrill mason
I bought this book wanting to understand why Allah wants Muslims to kill everyone that isn't Muslim. It's not in there. There should not be a star rating for this book... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Steven C. Tolan
This is a review of the unabridged CD audio book
The most important critique of this audio book, as shallow as it is, is the reading of this audio book. Read more
I knew very little about Islam before taking a class in college. This book helped shed some light on a controversial (within the USA) religion.Published on February 21, 2013 by ARFedewa
An excellent effort to respectfully acknowledge the global, historical and continuing impact of the Divine Revelation, the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad. Read morePublished on August 18, 2011 by Rashidah
Content Summary: In this short work Bruce Lawrence gives some important context for understanding the Qur'an, the Prophet Muhammad. Read morePublished on August 9, 2010 by Will Jerom
Despite its short length, Bruce Lawrence's work is an excellent historic survey on the Qur'an. At times I wished for more material, but I was glad to move quickly through the... Read morePublished on November 21, 2007 by Gregory A. Newkirk
Non-Muslim readers - and some Muslims also - may be put off by the simplistically written first two chapters dealing with the life of Muhammad, in which no distinction is made... Read morePublished on September 30, 2007 by Ralph Blumenau