Shuck and Jive

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Qur'an Cover to Cover in 2009

In 2008, in honor or our 225th anniversary (actually our 226th, but we kept the party going) my little club of bandits read the Bible (including Apocrypha) cover to cover. I created a blog for it, Bible and Jive, which I will keep posted.

For 2009, we are going to read the Qur'an cover to cover. I have created a blog for it--you guessed it--Qur'an and Jive.

I am way out of my element on this one. I don't even know a decent English translation to read. By "decent" I mean something that is easy to read, is true to the Arabic, and one that may have historical/critical notes. In other words, I am looking for a translation/edition of the Qur'an that a religion professor who is committed to the principles of the Enlightenment would use in a university religion class.

In seminary, I took a course on Muslim-Christian relations and we read the translation by Dawood (Penguin). There must be some better translations since that one.

The Qur'an isn't that long. We will read about a 12th of it each month. For January, if you would like to join us, read "The Opening" and "The Cow." I will spend at least one Sunday per month speaking about what we have read during worship.

If you have suggestions for introductions to Islam or guides to the Qur'an, that would be helpful. I'll post a bunch of links on the blog.


  1. My Muslim friends tell me that there is no such thing as a good translation. You have to learn Arabic.

    To be sure, there are linguistic elements to the Qur'an that cannot be translated. And due to the similarities between Arabic and say Aramaic and Hebrew, the study of the Qur'an raises inevitable questions regarding the study of the Bible.

    Specially when it comes to Gringo Centric interpretations.

    Should be interesting...

  2. It will most certainly be a gringo centric reading. Since the Qur'an is available in English and since neither I nor the vast majority of those who will read this blog will learn Arabic, this is the next best option!

  3. "The Quran With Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" looks plausible.

    It is definitely the norm, in Islam, to learn Arabic, so I honestly haven't seen that many annotated Qurans in English. Having said that, I also must admit that I haven't looked rigorously...

  4. Doug,

    That looks like a good choice. I have also ordered the new Penguin version by Tarif Khalidi

  5. The Yusuf Ali translation is a pretty good one. You should also check out Michael Sells' book "Approaching the Qur'an" It's a must read for anyone studying the Qur'an for the first time.

  6. Definitely on the Michael Sell's book as mentioned by another commenter. I took a History of Islam course while at Milligan and that book was very enlightening! Let us, your faithful blog readers, know which version you do end up using as I may join in on this interesting journey.

  7. Thank you Joseph. I will check out the Sells book and the translation by Yusuf Ali.

    Andy! Super! Hope you can join us. I would love to read your insights.