Call it a day
Well after midnight last night I completed the 83rd and final weekly segment of the Jihad Watch Blogging the Qur’an series, which began a year and a half ago, in May 2007. This Sunday that segment will go up, and thus endeth the series.
Although the series was inspired by Slate’s “Blogging the Bible” and bears a similar name, it was never as personal or idiosyncratic as that series was. I opted instead to report on what the most respected and authoritative Muslim commentators say about the various passages of the Qur’an, so as to inform non-Muslims about what are generally the mainstream understandings of the Qur’an. Accusations have come, as always, that I have selected the commentaries to quote from from a negative bias and ignored more pacific and benign interpretations of various passages; this charge, however, generally comes from non-Muslims who don’t even know which commentaries on the Qur’an Muslims generally consider most reliable, and just assume that I must be doing that.
My exclusive reliance on Islamic commentaries has, I’m afraid, often made the series as “wrist-slittingly boring” as John Derbyshire once termed the Qur’an itself, despite my best efforts. The Qur’an itself is extremely repetitive, and so any chapter-by-chapter overview will inevitably be repetitive also. In any case, I intended it all along to stand as a reference source for any and all interested parties, and it will remain here at Jihad Watch as a resource as long as there is a Jihad Watch. The ongoing translations of the series into Italian, German, Czech, and Danish indicate that some people have found it helpful, and I thank them for that.
Whatever else it may be, this Blogging the Qur’an series is certainly unique. Ziauddin Sardar’s series of the same name at The Guardian, which began a few months after mine, stopped going through the Qur’an passage-by-passage in June (after completing just the first two suras), and appears to have petered out altogether in October after 41 segments. Sardar complained that “the exercise turned out to be much harder than I expected” and that “by far the hardest thing for me to do was to answer all the questions raised by Madeleine [Bunting] and other bloggers.” Yet the questions at The Guardian were always screened and controlled. Questions on this series have always been open and free, and I always took care to answer every one that I saw.
Those of you who have read all or most of the segments (I know there must be one or two of you out there!) might think for a moment about subjects that never came up in the Qur’an. What is not there is of almost as much interest as what is. If you have any final or summary questions, have at it now or Sunday on the last segment.