What's the Quran equivalent of "My Utmost For His Highest"?
December 8, 2013 10:56 PM   Subscribe

I have a family member who is interested in Islam and wants to read the Quran. I want to get him a devotional study companion. He's not a convert (yet?) but wants to learn more, explore a little, and maybe start up a discussion group with others. Assuming my friend is totally new to Islam and wants a non-technical, relatively easy read, can you suggest a good one, ideally with a Kindle edition? I am open to other suggestions if you have a better Quran companion in mind.
posted by blnkfrnk to Religion & Philosophy (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can't speak for separate companions, but this version of the Sahih International translation features appendices and surah introductions that clarify a lot and provide some useful historical context.

It's also cheap as the proverbial chips.
posted by Ted Maul at 1:58 AM on December 9, 2013


Oh, and from the "haven't read it but keep meaning to" pile, I've heard this is a very good introduction to the life and teachings of Mohammad. Not on Kindle, unfortunately.
posted by Ted Maul at 2:02 AM on December 9, 2013


I first read Qur'an using Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall's near-legendary interpretive translation, "The Meaning of the Glorious Qur'an." It's from the 1930s, so it is not at all timely, but generations of English readers have used it to come to the sacred text. The complicated issue is that unlike Christian and Jewish scripture, the Qur'an is *literally* the word of God; the actual words, in Arabic, were revealed to the Prophet. That is why so much emphasis is placed on the oral transmission of the text in recitation. The form of the words is part of the meaning of the words. So *any* translation is a step removed -- an interpretation. You can interpret the text in diverse contexts, but the crucial initial context would seem to me to be the actual historical context of the Prophet's life and the subsequent consolidation and spread of the faith.

Luckily, Pickthall's translation is in the public domain (everywhere *but* the US, where it will be in a couple of years) and Sacred-Texs.com has published the entire thing (Indian government publication) online in a very nicely done version. You can check it out.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/pick/

Pickthall himself, one of the greatest Western scholars of Islamic history of his era, was a convert from Christianity to Islam. That makes his translation/concordance/interpretation perhaps especially interesting to a Westerner knowledgeable about Judeo-Christian scripture.
posted by spitbull at 4:28 AM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also very nice is Approaching the Quran by Michael Sells. He provides a nice modern translation of the early revelations with short commentaries on each surah and a CD with readings of some of the surahs. The Quran is more than a written book, it is also an evocative oral experience, and the CD and Michael's discussion about this aspect give you a bit of that taste.

Overall, it is a lovely introduction to the Quran and the tenets of the faith.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 11:22 PM on December 9, 2013


Oh my goodness, how could have I forgotten Carl Ernst's Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World? Dr. Ernst is a prominent scholar in Islamic Studies but he also has a deep love for the Quran and the Muslim faith. His book is a great introduction to Islam and its history. It might not be a devotional book per se, but it has been well received by scholars and groups in the Muslim community. It is particularly useful for someone coming from another faith tradition open to thinking about Islam from its own perspective.

* full disclosure: I might be a little biased, as Dr. Ernst was my undergraduate advisor for a couple years.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 11:44 PM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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