To understand the motives and goals of Islamic jihad terrorists, a good place to start is to explore what they themselves say about why they’re doing what they’re doing, and what they want. That leads directly to the Qur’an (or Koran), the Islamic holy book.
The jihadists quote the Qur’an frequently and portray themselves as those who are following “pure Islam,” the genuine article as it is taught in the Qur’an and Islamic tradition. Yet Islamic groups in the West — such as the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations — insist that the jihadis are misusing the Qur’an, and that non-Muslim analysts who trace the jihadis’ activity to the Qur’an are “cherry-picking” violent passages and quoting them “out of context.”
The Obama administration has crafted its entire Middle East foreign policy based on this claim.
From Nigeria to Iran, the administration believes that promoting the “in-context,” complete message of the Qur’an will bring about a peaceful, safer Middle East.
So we’re going to read the Qur’an. All of it. Nothing “cherry-picked” or “out of context.”
And we’re going to invite elected officials, journalists, and other newsmakers who have made public claims about the nature of Islam to debate and read along with us.
The inspiration for this, back in 2007, was David Plotz’s series on Slate, “Blogging the Bible.” But this series will be fundamentally different than that one: rather than just write about what I think or feel about a certain passage, as Plotz did regarding his own thoughts, I will refer to commentaries — all Muslim ones — on the Qur’an.
I’ll try to explain how mainstream Muslims who study the Qur’an will understand any given passage.
This is important, and is the only point in doing this: I will be posting on what the major translations and commentaries used by the world’s Muslims have to say about the Qur’an.
Not what I say, not what the Obama administration says, not what the terror-tied CAIR says, not what John Kerry says.
Written by Allah vs. Written by Men
Here is a good Arabic/English text. In Islamic theology, the Qur’an is essentially and inherently an “Arabic Qur’an” (as the Qur’an describes itself repeatedly: see 12:2; 20:113; 39:28; 41:3; 41:44; 42:7; and 43:3). In Islamic belief, the Qur’an’s meaning can be rendered in other languages, but those translations are not the Qur’an, which when no longer in Arabic is no longer itself. Some Muslim scholars even claim that the Qur’an cannot be fully understood except in Arabic.
But the blizzard of translations made by Muslims for Muslims who don’t speak Arabic — who are the great majority around the world today — as well as to proselytize among non-Muslims belies that claim.
Two of the most popular and widely used English translations of the Qur’an were written by Muslims: Abdullah Yusuf Ali, and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall. Those can be found here, along with four other translations by Muslims and four by non-Muslims.
(Revised March 2015)