The above was taken from a different thread. But I think it deserves a thread on its own.
Is the Qur’an as beautiful as muslims make it out to be? I was always under the impression that, from a literature standard, it is a poor piece of work. Apparently, the Arabic is not very good, the comprehension is worse, and it lacks context and chronology.
Anybody have any thoughts, or better yet, any links about the Qur’an and how it compares to good literature?
I’m trying not to be churlish here but I don’t see the attraction at all. What you observe is pretty much what I observe. Was it Byzantine emperial brutality or neglect that allowed this strange religion to gain a foothold or was it simply Muhammad’s charisma that built a nearly unstoppable army. There may be others who have a fuller insight, but I don’t see what it is about the Qur’an that attracts anyone.
Since, you have commented on the Arabic of the Quran;
May I ask you about your proficiency in the Arabic language?
As far as I know, its verses are often used as an example to ascertain the lexicon of the words/usages of the words of the Arabic language in almost all the renowned dictionaries of Arabic language, whether compiled by the Muslims or Christians/Catholics.
I think that is sufficient to prove that it is / and has been a standard of the living Arabic since Muhammad’s time to date, though I won’t emphasize it much as this is not the one and only miraculous characteristics of this beautiful Quran.
Nevertheless I would request my Catholic friends (and of course one Eastern Orthodox friend also), to mention if the OTBible is also used as a standard of the living language of say Hebrew; if that is the original language of the Catholic/Jews Word from God’s mouth. I doubt it very much.
I don’t think so.
I also understand that Catholic/Jewish Bible/Books are not of a homogenous Hebrew/Aramaic languages, different books are in different dialects/languages, and sometimes the dialects/languages of the Catholic/Jewish Bibles became lost/dead or got burnt due to the natural catastrophes and revived with great difficulties, meanwhile the original luster of the Word of GodAllahYHWH was lost, this aspect has been much covered by the translations/versions but the damage is immense, it could be understood.
I leave this aspect here, though sometimes later, I may take it again.
It would be not out of place to mention, that a good and delicious food if served in good crockery adds to its taste. The language is the crockery in which this spiritual/moral Word of GodAllahYHWH is served by the angels to the human beings, it is our common heritage.
I have told friends that I don’t debate with anybody.
If I had wanted to debate with somebody then I would have joined a debate forum, reason is that in a debate the first causality is love, and love is dearer to me than a debate.
I can say perhaps how it contrasts with good literature and with great literature: in translation, it strikes me, a lifetime student and teacher of both, as neither.
Remember, in the Middle East Islam is theocratic–as was Mohammed’s rule and religion–and that choice, like separation of church and state, is nothing at all there, a place which persecutes all of Islam’s infidels: see the Saint Barnabas Fund website for the statistics on persecution.
So such folk have Islam forced upon them by circumstance, from family to state. As circumstance is anything but kind to the Muslim world, they live in abject ignorance of the good and great literature–Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare–you and I can take for granted.
As for the Koran, it is no more surprising that it should be as central to Islam in the Middle East than that the Mormons, Christian Science, or JWs should have grown up in the U. S.: accidents of history, albeit sad ones.
Reading the Koran I have to remind myself of the tragic and backward history of the Middle East to see why that so-called holy book holds so little of value in style or in substance.
Whereas I would love to know Hebrew, Russian, or Polish because of the stupendous literature growing out of those languages, I am not just yet feeling underprivileged for not knowing Arabic. I suspect nobody could persuade me otherwise.
Oh, I differ. Yes I do indeed. Arabic is a solid contender for finest poetic tongue on this planet. Subtle, versatile, epic in epithet and quick in wit…I am no scholar of the language, but it sings clear in word and voice. I have little Latin and surely less Greek, yet I know beauty and wisdom when I hear it. Perhaps starting with the poetry of Rumi is a good place for anyone to start.
The Quran may not be the place to start, of you want to know the people of the Middle East and central Asia, any more than the Bible would tell you about the British, …or well, pick your cultural classic. I don’t identify by the Tain Bo myself, nor yet the great Heian classics.
I suggest learning at least a little bit. ‘Salaam alaikum’ is a very good start. Remember that ‘S’alam’ has been with us a long, long time. You’ve read your history even a little, you know about Salamis, and at Yom Kippur don’t you smile when your neighbors say shalom?
I am not Muslim, but if I were, I think I would have been very offended by this statement. Would the Bible qualify as “a piece of good work” “from a literature standard”? I honestly don’t know what would qualify as a “literature standard” for a religious text.
If you hold the Bible next to say, the poems of Rumi, the Bible would pale in comparison as a piece of “beautiful literature”. I don’t think we should apply this standard to religious texts.
Shalom Aleichem (Hebrew version of Salaam Aleikum)
But this is, sorry, just silly, with an unhappy reference to the word peace in the last sentence: I have lots of Greek and Latin, and several modern languages, and I fail to see how you could know one way or the other about Arabic as a poetic language since you don’t know Arabic.
Anyway, the post was on the Koran: if it pleases you as a non-Catholic to say what you will here, God bless you.
Rumi wrote in Persian, a relative of English, not Arabic.
But yes Arabic possess a fantastic literature, much of which ended up in translation in Europe (one thing comes to mind is English’s first novel Robinson Carouso is based on an Arabic one, Hayy ibn Yazqan).
Thanks for your replies… (although that diversion to the crusades was uncalled for)
As you know, much of the Bible appears in our culture. There are movies about it, and we know so many bible characters (such as Noah, and Moses and King David etc). Bible verses are everywhere - on greeting cards and billboards and even on T-shirts.
Even other religions are getting into our pop culture; I’ve got a book mark somewhere with a quote from the Dalai Lama (something like “my religion is kindness”).
I’ve got an English translation of the Qur’an at home, and I’ve tried reading it a few times, but it is very hard to read - It’s kind of like reading Shakespeare’s English… I just can’t comprehend it.
You never see any Qur’an verses on greeting cards etc. What can we take from the Qur’an? Or is it against Islamic etiquette to do so?
Does anybody have an inspiring Qur’an story, or an inspiring Qur’an verse they could share? The most famous one I know is “Islam is a religion of peace”, but I’m not sure where they quote originated.
(P.S. I know there are bad Qur’anic verses, but don’t bother; that’ll just bring up bad Old Testament verses, or the crusades, or Hitler etc.)
I too have trouble following the Qur’an. What I have read seems like never-ending stream of conciousness. Perhaps I have read the wrong chapters, but what I have read has not inspired me to read more, or to even study the the culture. When I read the Bible, for example the Book of Kings, I am eager to find out more about the historical background and the customs of the times. For it is in understanding the audience to which the verses are directed that we understand the meaning.
I find it very - alien, for want of a better word; which is probably much how Muslims feel when or if they try to read our Books.
Appreciation of it is not helped by its arrangement - apart from the short opening Sura, it is so arraged that the longest is the second Sura over all, with the 114th as the shortest & last.
As the Suras are called by names - “The Cow”, “The Blood-Clot”, “Women”, etc. - this adds a further hint of strangeness; though there is some similarity to this in the traditional headings of certain Psalms.
I think it would have been more interesting if it had covered a longer period of time than 20 or so years, & had been more varied - the sheer variety of the Bible’s contents can be a difficulty, but it also helps in avoiding monotony. (One way of responding to that, is to say that because the Bible is not (so to say) a Divine monologue, but is a thoroughly human thing, it is not as truly Divine as the Koran.)
None of which would mean much, if one accepted the Koran as a sacred & unchangeable revelation - if one does not, then one has greater freedom to treat it as a literary work. One of the things I like about the Bible, is that one can do both; which - AFAICS - is not possible for a Muslim who receives the Koran as a divine revelation.
The Bible is a very different production - apart from anything else, it is not a book, but a library; unlike the Koran.
Literary worth is not dependent on whether a text is religious or not. The Iliad & the Odyssey are outstanding as literature - the book of Revelation, rather less so. From a purely aesthetic POV, there is plenty of literature, of very high quality indeed, in the Bible - it is cause for thanks that this is so, but even if it were not so, the books would still be the inspired & revealed Word of God; that much of the Bible is literature of a high order, is a bonus.
I disagree with your last sentence - unless you mean that we should not use literary excellence as an argument for religious authority. On the whole, I don’t think we should. It counts for something, certainly - but it is not in itself so important that, if a book is not of high literary worth, it is therefore not inspired. That would be a dodgy argument, because aesthetic excellence, though important, is not so important as to be religiously essential - otherwise, the ugliness of the Death of Christ would be an argument against the genuineness of His Work, & bodily ugliness would be incompatible with Christian holiness Christian faith & aesthetic values (such as literary excellence) are related - but not in that way. (C.S. Lewis has a good deal to say on this issue.)
Then why you use a misnomer. Does the word Bible not mean a book?
There are about 120+ writers who wrote a sort of history books about the time of Jesus, that could be logically accepted as a historical source and truth could be searched out of it like we do from other sources of history on merit of each event unbiased. All these 120+ books must be treated at par but unfortunately some have been selected by the clergy and are known as NTBible while others have been discarded. The historians should come forward and sift the material for truth, if found, on equal footing from all of these 120+ books, with reason, rationality and valid arguments acceptable to the whole world, as these are claimed to be Universal.
These 120+ you speak of are not “Universal”. The canon
of the Old and New Testaments was decided by Church council.
Guided by the Third Person of the Trinity, the Spirit. The others were tried and found wanting.
I think you might have to make a little more research. The first Surah and the last Surah (number 114) are almost the same size. In fact, there is no end of the Quran, we have been instructed by our Beloved Prophet Muhammad, whenever we reach to Surah# 114 ,while reciting Quran, , we have to read Surah# 1 immediately after that, thereby conveying to us that Quran never ends, it is round like natural planets in the Universe, in a round shape depicting ONENESS of GodAllahYHWH.
The shortest Surah is perhaps # 112 or # 108 nevertheless not shortest in the meaning or in their importance. I quote hereunder Surah 112 for the Catholic friends:
The Holy Quran : Chapter 112: Al-Ikhlas
112:1] In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.
[112:2] Say 'He is Allah, the One!
[112:3] Allah the Independent and Besought of all.
[112:4] 'He begets not, nor, is He begotten,
[112:5] And there is none like unto Him.
There are many lengthy Surah in Quran, Surah Al-Maida, Surah Al-Ana’m, Surah Ale-Imran, Surah Al-Kahf and Surah Maryam about Catholicism and its refutation, please don’t mind it. Surah / Chapter 112: Al-Ikhlas of Quran summarizes them all in refutation of Catholicism and in very straight short sentences covers all of the basic issues related to Catholicism. I am sorry, I respect your faith, but I have to state what is written in Quran. In fact all short Surah at the end of Quran are summaries of the long or detailed Surahs. Isn’t it miraculous? Indeed it is, THE BEAUTIFUL QUR’AN. Quran I love you, from the core of my heart.
** ## **If you are talking about the NT apocrypha, the great majority of them excluded themselves, either because they were in contradiction to what had been accepted into the NT by the date of their rejection, or because they were unChristian, or because they claimed to be by by an OT character, or because they were too recent, or because they were heretical. None of them was ever in the NT, though some floated around on the fringes for a while, or in various parts of the Church. Some took on a life of their own as what might be called Christian legends - such as the Gospel of Nicodemus, which was very popular in the fifteenth century. Some of the apocrypha about the BVM was very influential for the development of Christian art.
There is nothing historical about the Revelation of Stephen, or the Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Eve, the Letters of Paul to Seneca, the letters of Seneca to Paul, the Apocalypse of Paul, & the rest. Many of these writings are nothing but mediocre forgeries. Some are of great interest for the history of ideas or culture, but that doesn’t make them of any religious value to Christians. Unfortunately most people are ignorant of the history of the Apocrypha, so they are easily swayed by nonsense about them - as the kerfuffle about the “Gospel of Judas” shows
The historians should come forward and sift the material for truth, if found, on equal footing from all of these 120+ books, with reason, rationality and valid arguments acceptable to the whole world, as these are claimed to be Universal.
English “Bible” is from the Latin noun “Biblia [Sacra]” - in English, “the [Sacred] Book”. Which is in turn a translation of the Greek neuter plural “Ta Hiera Biblia”, “the Sacred Books”. In Latin, the neuter plural was mistaken for a feminine singular, which is why the Romance languages, derived from Latin, follow Latin in making the word a feminine singular noun.
Grammar & names apart, it should be pretty obvious that Genesis & Matthew (say) are as different in origin, & as unconnected in themselves, as anything by (say) Rumi or Firdausi - whose works are obviously not the same books Unfortunately a thread is no place for even a potted history of the development of the Bible, which is a gigantic subject
As for the sort of study of the Bible you recommend - it’s been going on for centuries. As the books of the Bible are of very different literary genres, dates, & purpose, it’s not enough to treat them all as though they were history - many of them are no such thing. History is one mode of truthfulness - & only one. Our posts are not works of history - that doesn’t affect whether they are truthful or not
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