I am sitting at one of my most frequent places of quiet contemplation: Starbucks. It is the place I go to get out of my room and away from the distraction of a decent internet connection. That being said, today is the day before Easter, the first I have spent away from family, it’s strange…. but I digress, this about my musing of the three things mentioned in the title: Easter, the Bible, and the Translation of the Qur’an*.
For one of my classes, I have been assigned to read the Qur’an (Currently at Surah 45). The Qur’an (Koran) is most definitely not a common text to be assigned for study at a conservative Christian university, but this assignment is for an entry level Communication course at a college who believes missions are of the utmost importance. At the introduction of the assignment, the professor said that little over one percent of people who claim Christianity ever read the Qur’an (I could not find a source, sorry). If we are Christians are going to enter into discussion with those who believer Islam, we must be able to find common ground and be clear of presupposition of those we wish to talk with.
According to atheismresource.com, less than ten percent of Christians in the America have read the Bible in it’s entirety (source). According to this Gallop poll taken in May 2011 (here), there is a divided view of the role and nature of the Bible in America- ranging actual words to inspired words to fables… If these statistic are correct, there are a lot of people who claim to be Christians who do not know what their holy book says nor believe it is from God. How can they speak about another’s person’s religion? What gives any sort of credibility to compare or contrast their religion with another?
(This is a personal blog; therefore, I am entitled to an opinion, right? But then again, everything written here could be though as of opinion… However, I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God; the writers were guided by the Holy Spirit but allowed to express the message with their own words and personality, ie plenary verbal inspiration. For the record, I have read the Bible in it’s entirety once and studied other section in greater depth.)
I was trying my hardest to focus on my homework, reading the Qur’an and looking for sections that talk about salvation- what is said outright, how it is achieved, and Allah’s disposition towards individuals seeking salvation. (I must say the later Surahs read much easier than the first 30, the writing becomes much more eloquent and organized.) I was struck by the lack of Jesus’s role in salvation- anywhere! It is made clear in the Qur’an that only Allah can save, Jesus plays no part in salvation for Muslims. For a Christian, Jesus is God- if he is no more than a prophet born of a virgin, then the Christian’s faith is dead and useless (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). For a Christian, the death and resurrection of the Jesus Christ is essential!
There is no Easter story, because Jesus only appeared to died at the hand of the Jews, but he was taken up to Allah, by Allah (Surah 4:157). Those who put trust in Jesus will be counted “superior” to those who rejected Allah, but will still be subject to judgment (Surah 3:55), but Jesus’ life does not provide any kind of saving grace, it does not pay the debt of the sins of man. Jesus was just a good man and a prophet, who can only provide a little leniency before Allah on the day of Judgment. Nothing more, nothing less, Jesus is not the way or a way of salvation. Allah only saves those who believe that he is the only God and Lord and do what is righteous according to Islam.
At this point, the life and teaching of Jesus becomes a guide to living a righteous life as Muslims.Sadly, this view is not far from how many people approach the Bible today; it becomes a guide to live a good and moral life- a law book for righteous living. By reducing the Bible to an instruction manual and story of a good person, it is stripped of the message- the good news of the Gospel, the salvation from sin, and gift of eternal life… Easter is the pinnacle of the Old Testament and the focus of the rest of the New Testament. The Old Testament foretells the coming of a Messiah and what was going to happen, the Gospels attest to how the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus, and the rest of the New Testament explain how the new covenant that we are under is played out in life and the ramifications it has on the world and those who follow God… It a story of life over death, and life after the death of sin and the freedom that we have in Christ’s death and resurrection,…celebrated by Easter.
Should every Christian read the Qur’an? Yes, I think so; however, I think that they ought to have read the Bible in it’s entirety and have with proper motive to be reading the Qur’an- to find common ground to open dialogue. Christianity Today did a wonderful job outlining why (and why not) Christians ought to read the Qur’an- Here is the article: Should Christians Read the Qur’an. Reading the Qur’an is not going to make God smite you nor make you all-knowledgeable about Islam, but will give you background to enter into conversation with Muslins without being completely ignorant. To be truthful, to better understand all that I am reading, especially doctrine, I would need a study guide of some sort; and a frame of reference that goes beyond seeing the Qur’an a just a literary work. I have so much to learn about the Qur’an and Islam- all I have is a rudimentary understanding.
As always, you’ve made it to the end of my ramblings, congratulations! I pray this read was edifying and caused you to pause and examine what you believe and think.
* I mention the term “The Translation of the Qur’an” because Muslins believe that translations are not truly the Qur’an, the meaning is lost, so those who can not read it in the original text are not privy to the full meaning of the text- the Qur’an was persevered for year via oral tradition before it was compiled in to written text. (I found in surah 41:44 it states that language irrelevant.) This information was found in a letter shared on a forum that gave the testimony of a Christian who converted to Islam, here (username Deepest-Blue). He writes about the things that compelled him to convert.