Opening the Qur'an
Introducing Islam's Holy BookBook - 2008
Opening the Qur'an can be a bewildering experience to non-Muslim, English-speaking readers. Those who expect historical narratives, stories, or essays on morals are perplexed once they pass the beautiful first Surah, often shocked and then bogged down by Surah 2, and even offended by Surah 3's strictures against nonbelievers. Walter H. Wagner "opens" the Qur'an by offering a comprehensive and extraordinarily readable, step-by-step introduction to the text, making it accessible to students, teachers, clergy, and general readers interested in Islam and Islam's holy Book.
Wagner first places the prophet Muhammad, the Qur'an, and the early Muslim community in their historical, geographical, and theological contexts. This background is a basis for interpreting the Qur'an and understanding its role in later Muslim developments as well as for relationships between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He then looks in detail at specific passages, moving from cherished devotional texts to increasingly difficult and provocative subjects. The selected bibliography serves as a resource for further reading and study. Woven into the discussion are references to Islamic beliefs and practices. Wagner shows great sensitivity toward the risks and opportunities for non-Muslims who attempt to interpret the Qur'an, and sympathy in the long struggle to build bridges of mutual trust and honest appreciation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
"Walter Wagner's Opening the Quran: Introducing Islam's Holy Book raises excellent questions designed to draw in curious readers. He then follows up with sound analysis that is easy to grasp. Wagner has clearly learned much about the Qur'an and Islam. What is more he has found a most appealing way to speak about what he has learned to his fellow non-Muslims. --Charles E. Butterworth, University of Maryland, College Park
"A number of observers, like Mahmood Mamdani, have pointed out that contemporary events have led to an expansion in the market for translations of the Qur'an. This book will assist and guide readers of these Qur'an translations in the English language. This book could be used in introductory courses on Islam or advanced courses focusing exclusively on Islam's holy Book, the Qur'an . . . general readers outside the academy may also find it useful in helping them understand how to use and make sense of the Qur'an." --A. Rashied Omar, The Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
"The QurÕan can be terra incognita for the non-Muslim reader. Walter Wagner's learned book brings us to terra firma. With clear, empathetic, religiously sensitive yet historical-critical commentary,Opening the Qur'an makes sense of Islam's holy book. Wagner is a rare guide: a committed Christian who has listened carefully and sympathetically to Muslims, who understand the Quran as God's word. Wagner conveys their faith without compromising his own. This is more than a work of scholarship and pedagogy; it is an act of respect from one great tradition to another." --Alan Mittleman, The Jewish Theological Seminary
"This is not just a book that is being introduced but a context, a culture, its teachings, and the way Muslims have been interpreting, finding meaning, and living in obedience to the Qur'an over the centuries. What for many non-Muslims has been a puzzling, bewildering, and perplexing book now begins to come alive and to make some sense. . . . I highly recommend this book for use in schools and seminaries and even church study groups where people are serious about learning why the Qur'an is considered by Muslims to be God's final revelation. The book's step-by-step procedure and the important glossary of key terms in the back are extremely useful for readers who are being introduced to the Qur'an for the first time." --Harold Vogelaar, Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice, Lutheran School of Theology
Opening the Qur'an Wagner (history and biblical studies, Moravian Theological Seminary and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia) describes the content and intent of the Qur'an for fellow Christians with the intention of fostering understanding of Islam and its practices. He focuses on the spiritual depth of the Qur'an as a whole rather than on specific passages, thereby explaining its attractions to diverse and interethnic communities. He is particularly careful to explain how the Qur'an addresses readers about their own situations, and the similarities of intent between Islam and Christianity. Other topics include the Arabian contexts of Islam, structure, methods of transmission, interpretation according to the society in question, the most cherished and influential passages, the roles of woman and women, the place of Jews and Christians, and the place of the Qur'an at the end of the world. The book includes a glossary and an index of religious texts. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)