This is a letter to my friends on Facebook, all of you, and also to any new readers who maybe stumbled upon this in the WordPress search engine. I would like to invite you to join me as I investigate one of the most relevant topics of present America: the Quran.
When I started this blog I mostly expected it to stay anonymous.
…and I was fine with that. My main goal was to force my brain to practice expressing itself and check for coherence and consistency. Plus I just liked writing, even though I was inconsistent in output, and writing a blog is more fun to me than writing a journal.
But then I started my Quran project. Far from being a hobby, it started to get in the way of my responsibilities. Each post averages 20 hours to write, and my reading and downtime is trending more and more towards supporting my research into Islamic culture and history. If I want to keep my blog a private endeavor, then I end up with very little to talk about amongst friends. Moreover I want to talk about my research, but now that I am reading the Quran myself, I am becoming increasingly aware of just how many people haven’t read it. So I hope with this post to invite you all to join me in investigating these things.
Reading the Quran is just a natural development of my desire to learn Arabic. All my life I’ve been drawn to admire anything foreign. My parents each had different experiences living abroad, and their stories always inspired in me interest to meet people whose cultures are different than mine (always helped by my parents’ respect and praise of those cultures). I long held a pet hope to one day learn either Chinese or Arabic. Those two cultures were the ones that I knew to be both monumentally important, and also almost completely overlooked in my history books. Chinese was perhaps the more pragmatic option, particularly since I already had Chinese friends, but I never had hope of being able to read it. Arabic was definitely the more taboo and impractical, but I found a Youtube channel that taught me the alphabet clearly. I quickly discovered that Arabic is quite fun. Most people –even Arabs!– react to my efforts with an incredulous…
But there is a logic to the language that makes for rewarding puzzles. It also enriches my Bible readings since Arabic has much in common with Hebrew and I can sometimes make connections.
Once I got started in the language, it only made sense to investigate the statistically likely religion of the people I’d be talking to. And I confess the religious connotations attracted me to Arabic as well. Part of being drawn to “foreign” things includes learning about other religions. Islam exists in history like a giant rebuke to Christianity, and as such I want to know what it is and what it has to say about my culture.
I want to be up front with my western friends and my Muslim friends:
- I am not approaching the Quran to debunk it. Anyone who looks for flaws in a thing will surely find it, even if it’s by their own imaginations. Approaching this document with cynicism is intellectually dishonest and also reveals a willful disdain for the millions of people on Earth who claim this book as their guidance.
- I am not approaching the Quran to accept it. With this I must apologize to my Muslims friends who might view this approach as sinful or flawed, but it is equally intellectually dishonest for me to accept a thing that I have not questioned and explored. It also would not be honest with the place that my current faith holds in my life to say that I’m looking to supplant it.
That being said, this does not mean that I will not let myself be skeptical of the Quran’s claims at times, nor does it mean that I won’t let the Quran challenge my faith. My own faith and ideas will still be seen in my analyses; the Quran’s worldview and messages will inevitably bring into relief what I believe and help me understand myself too. My posts will still be opinions, but I am going to try as much as humanly possible to be fair and to educate myself as I go.
If you are interested, I’d encourage you to start down the list of past posts. And don’t forget to subscribe!
And at the least I thank you for reading through this appeal!