Saturday, February 14, 2015

Al-Fatiha (The Opening)

Seven verses isn't really a whole lot to write an opinion off of, especially if it's praise for God (and the request for God's guidance) in similar terms that all the Abrahamic religions use. Wikipedia has a surprisingly lengthy entry on this particular Surah, stating that it's the most recited Surah in the Qur'an and is a terse preface for the rest of the readings. What I find curious is that other than the Arabic language (which is a quintessential part of the Qur'an, I'll admit), there's nothing wholly... unique about this particular God (I guess I'll refer to him as Allah from now on) compared to Yahweh or Christ. I'll obviously get a better picture as I continue to read, but if you recited to me "Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgement", I wouldn't necessarily know which of the three major religions you were referring to.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Preface - Qur'an

Hello there! I'm Darryl Steffen. I've read through the Tanakh, New Testament, and Intertestamental Apocrypha. For 2015 I'm going to be reading the entirety of the Qur'an, though it may take longer than a year. The version I will be using is the translation offered by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, though if I have various questions/inquiries the book doesn't answer I'll scour around online.

This preface is necessary because you'll need to keep in mind that I'm an irreligious man raised with secular values, and I tend to be more fascinated with the historical impact these texts have over the transcendental. I try my best to appreciate faith and the infinite effect it has on people, but I may gloss over certain lines of scripture that, due to being filtered through my narrow lens, may leave me unamused or unaffected. I'll try not to purposely offend anyone, but my crassness may not be the most savory thing upon your ears if you highly value any of the Abrahamic texts. This is especially true for God, whom I've struggled to find pleasant things to say about since Genesis.

With that out of the way, let me state that I'm very excited to give the Qur'an its due. While knowledge of the Bible/Christianity is a subliminal aspect of American culture that I've absorbed over my lifetime, I know very little of the prophet Muhammed or any of his teachings. Some things like the five pillars of Islam and mosque as a place of prayer have been taught to me, but outside of that I know startlingly, shamefully little of Muslim culture. Hopefully this journey will give me some insight into the vast, complex religion of Islam that nearly a fourth of the entire world practices.