A unique comparison of the Bible and the Qur’an.
Pulitzer Prize winner Miles (Emeritus, English and Religious Studies/Univ. of California, Irving; Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God, 2001, etc.) approaches the Qur’an with respect and curiosity while acknowledging the fact of his roots as a Christian believer and scholar. He sets out to discover who God is in the context of the Qur’an and how God interacts with humanity. Part of the author’s motivation is to bring readers closer to an understanding of their Muslim neighbors and how they may view Allah through scripture. Miles studies the Qur’an alongside the Jewish/Christian Bible, comparing and contrasting how the two holy books—and, by extension, the religions they undergird—view deity. “We must learn,” he writes, “to read one another’s scriptures, be they secular or sacred, with the same understanding and accommodating eye that we turn upon our own.” The author focuses on characters familiar to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus, all of whom appear in the Qur’an with stories far different from those that appear in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. Miles discovers an author, Allah, who is interested above all else in the conversion of individuals and nations. His all-consuming interest is for his creation to believe in him; to that end, he “corrects” prior scriptures that record the tales of the precursors to Muhammad in a differing manner. Noah is not singled out to be saved so much as he preaches the message of Islam to unbelievers. Abraham is less the father of a nation than he is an ultimate example of a good Muslim, submitting to God’s word. Jesus is not a figure of redemption, sacrificing himself for others, but instead a prophet and an example of submission. Ultimately, the author has produced a thoroughly readable, literary, and astute approach toward understanding Allah, as God, through basic literary criticism.
Good reading and an excellent tool for interfaith dialogue.