Books Review

THE KORAN FOR DUMMIES

By: Sohaib Sultan. Wiley Publishing, Inc. USA pp. 362, $ 21.99 US. ISBN: 0-7645-5581-2 Reviewed by: Asmer Beg

The book under review provides a basic and focused understanding of the Quran and its role in the life of a Muslim. The author Sohaib Sultan is an American Muslim, whose effort is to present a precise and easy-to-understand perspective of the Quran. The book has been written basically for the western reader.

The author presents the context, stages and phases of the revelation of the Quran. The themes of various Surahs have been given for the convenience of the reader. He tries to see how the Quran relates to the Judeo-Christian scriptures. A chapter is devoted to explanations about the Arabic language and the unique literary style of the Quran. The Science of interpreting Quran has been explained alongwith the techniques used by scholars to understand it.

Sohaib defends Saiyyid Qutub against the charge generally leveled against his writings, that the terrorists of today draw their inspiration for their ideology and objectives from them. Other Sunni and Shiite Quranic interpreters also find mention in this section.

The author goes on to explore the concept of God in Islam and explains what the Quran expects of the humankind. He highlights the idea of tolerance which Islam promotes and its respect for diversity and freedom of choice. He calls upon all those who find some passages in the Quran controversial and use them as a stick to beat Muslims, to make a contextual study of the Quran.

Explaining the Quranic view of the self the author brings out the relationship between Nafs, Qalb and Ruh. Against this backdrop the desirable qualities which the Quran expects in a person have been outlined. He also explains the divine mission of Prophet Mohammad and its importance.

Sohaib Sultan brings out the importance of the institution of family in Islam, an institution which is struggling for survival in the West. He clarifies a lot of misconceptions about Quranic teachings. The often misunderstood concept of Jihad has been explained and its defensive nature highlighted. He also explains the main features of Islamic law and the inherent logic therein.

He explains the compatibility of Islam with modernity. How Islam was ahead of the West in many respects has also been brought out. Much before the much celebrated Geneva Conventions, Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, gave the ethics of armed struggle. The rights which the Quran gave to women were unprecedented. Rights in the public sphere which the West has been able to concede fully only in the 20th century, find mention in the Quran.

Overall, it is a useful book for those who want to know the truth about the Quran. The author to his credit has been able to quote the relevant verses from the Quran, to support his arguments. The presentation catches the eye and the ‘icons’ used in the book make the reading easier. It could be a good first book for ‘Dummies’.

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