Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Qur'an

Today I was gifted my first Qur'an. From my optometrist.

Sincerely interested to learn about Islamic belief in the matter, I broached the topic of miracles (more specifically, miraculous healings) during my eye exam. Some how fasting had come up in conversation, so why not bring another theological matter into the mix?

A year later (this past August), pupils dilated and waiting patiently in the eye-chair, I asked if he could recommend a quality English translation of the Qur'an. Recently before that I recall hearing a sermon about how "if we want them to read our book, maybe we should start by reading their's". That's a poor, poor paraphrase for the depth of the sermon, because it wasn't about evangelizing Muslims. Had it been, I probably would have walked out. No no no. The sermon was about cross-cultural understanding. This is a major issue for Americans, and particularly Christians who think they have all the answers, and who think they have the only answers. Islam has it's extremists, and so does Christianity. I think ours might be worse, honestly.

Anyway, this sermon piqued my curiosity. I enjoy learning about God, and I'm starting to enjoy learning about other people, other cultures, hearing stories. So the one statement from the sermon really stood out, and I knew I desired to acquire a Qur'an. Since my social circle is sorely lacking of Muslims, my eye doctor was my best chance.

To my amazement, Dr Monzavi not only recommended a translation, he said he would send one to me. I gave him my card, and then waited patiently.

Well the package never came.

Then last week I went in to get fitted for contacts (which I'm getting used to now - got both in on the first try yesterday!). I mentioned I was still interested in a Qur'an, and mentioned I'm happy to buy one myself, but he insisted that he would send me one (and apologized that he'd not yet had the chance to do so). He still had my business card tucked away in his wallet, so I know he didn't forget about me.

This morning I got an email. He needed an address to ship to. Excitedly, I typed back that I was coming in to pick up my contacts prescription today, so I could save him the postage.

Lenses paid for, he heard me talking with the nurse and brought out his gift to me. A hard cover Holy Book that I will treasure. In it as well, a post-it note with some scholars I could email if I had deeper questions. We talked for a few minutes, briefly discussed the Qur'an's history, how it was written, cursory overview on how to read it, and then I left, clutching the Book tightly.

I look forward to reading it. I'm anxious to gain significantly deeper cross-cultural understandings that not many "Christians" ever take time to dive into. I desire to learn more about how my Islamic brothers and sisters encounter God. And perhaps most importantly, I'm excited to learn more about God. I know many Christians will disagree with this statement, but, Christians, Muslims, Jews, we all worship the same God. Yes, we have some different understandings of who God is, how God manifests in the world, etc. But if you look back we share a common ancestry, and One God. That's why this Book is Holy to me, as well.

I'm not out to "convert" anyone, and I'm not out to be converted myself. I remain a Christ-follower. I remain dedicated to living out God's love as best I know how. This is another step along that journey.


Dolores said...

If you read the Qur'an, you will be way ahead of most Muslims.. of course we can argue that having read the Bible you are ahead of most Christians..

the Qur'an is written in Arabic and not understood by many Muslims who read Farsi.. this is also a problem.. they recite certain things as truths, but don't understand them.. (like, the Lords Prayer recited by me in Chinese without knowing the English translation)

In my opinion, knowing what other people believe,whether you share that belief or not, goes a long way in learning about God..

You are welcome to borrow my book, The Soul of Rumi if you wish..

I will leave you with something that Muhammad supposedly said," A wise man will listen and be led by a woman, while an ignorant man will not." and Rumi adds,"Somone too fiercely drawn by animal urges lacks kindness and the gentle affections that keep men human."
.. another interesting comment of Rumi's is" ...Don't think all ecstasies are the same. Jesus was lost in his love for God. His donkey was drunk with barley...."

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