Opening the Qur’an, By Dr. Walter Wagner

Avatar wiseinstitute | August 20, 2019

The words with which the Qur'an begins open us to understanding this holy Book of Islam and through it Islam, Muslims, contemporary situations, and ourselves. The Gambian Muslim scholar Sulayman Nyang advised a group of non-Muslim professors who ventured to teach others about Islam that if we began with and stayed focused on the Qur'an everything would follow naturally. He was absolutely right. The Qur'an is the basis for Islamic piety, politics, social life, mission, and more. It is the daily comfort, guide, resource, liberating power, incentive for hope for over a billion people, and more. For Muslims the Qur'an is al-Furqan, the Criterion, revealed to Muhammad as “an admonition to all creatures...sent down by Him Who knows the mystery in the heavens and on the earth.” (Opening the Qur'an, viii)Misunderstanding of the Qur'an by Muslims and and non-Muslims alike, especially in the late twentieth and into the twenty-first century, have led to and still generate distortions and hostilities. Concepts such as jihad (struggle), martyrdom, the roles of women, and the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority societies- all subjects dealt with in the Qur'an and in this book- have fueled fears, rumors, and conflicts. I follow Nyang's advice; my, aim here is to engage the Qur'an's spiritual depth and recognize it impetus to foster a devout inter-ethnic community so to as foster an understanding of Islam and, with Muslims, create equitable social orders. (Opening the Qur'an, x)

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