Two versions of the Koran are presented here: That from Project Gutenberg translated by J.M. Rodwell (ROD), and that of Translator Shakir (SHA), M. H. provided by the University of Virginia. They are in ASCII DOS text format - easily downloaded and transferred into a standard word processor.
We use the word and title Koran rather than Qur' an, since the former is the traditional English form of the actual word, even though the latter may be considered by some to be the more scholarly during these modern times.
The SHA translation is divided into chapters and verses similar to traditional Biblical references. The ROD version is not. However, the ROD translation has an excellent introduction, as well as excellent footnotes following most chapters. The SHA translation does not have these. Also, the SHA translation is an interpretive translation, while the ROD translation is a "straight" translation which uses footnotes to explain rather than interpret in the translation. For these reasons, we prefer the ROD translation over the SHA.
The ROD translation does not follow the traditional order found in the Arabic editions in that the Suras are arranged in chronological order which follows the traditions of the "Muhammadans" and the ancient chronological lists, and considers the subject matter of the Suras. The ROD translation does contain a (concourses) table which correlated the ROD translation chapters to the Arabic Suras or chapters. This correlation table can be used to correlate the ROD and SHA translations. The SHA translation follows the order or sequence of Suras as established by Zaid under the insistence of Othman, who feared warfare amongst the different factions who disputed various Suras. Zaid did not put the Suras into any order, not chronological, not by subject matter. He apparently, literally, compiled them as he received them, placing the longest and best known Suras first - immediately after the Fatthah (the opening chapter, which ROD places eighth). Zaid also often placed late Medina Suras before early Meccan Suras, and embedded verses of Meccan origin in Median Suras.
A healthy mentality will arrange the concepts generally into something which is in accord with the ROD format. However, an unhealthy mind can use the Zaid format's disjunctive attributes to accommodate a multitude of "things".
We now comment on the status and importance of the Koran in the world of Islam. "The closest analogue in Christian belief to the role of the Kur'an in Muslim belief is not the Bible, but Christ." (Encyclopedia of Islam, 1981; What is the Koran, Toby Lester, The Atlantic Monthly, January 1999). Muslims believe that the Koran came from God intact, and has not undergone revisions or modifications. Just as Christians believe Christ is God and the Son of God, so too do Muslims believe every chapter, verse, individual word, and syllable, of the Koran, is a direct utterance of the Most High, of Allah, of God. (John William Burgon, and Lester, supra)
However, the accepted history of the Koran as presented in the beginning of the ROD translation shows that the Koran has undergone many revisions.
Now there is physical proof that the Koran has undergone many revisions and modifications, for versions of the Koran from before 750 A. D. have been found in the Great Mosque of Sana'a in Yemen. These clearly prove that the Koran evolved - that it was neither presented nor received in its current form. There are even fragments which under ultraviolet light reveal even earlier Koranic writings underneath, and fragments which clearly have been washed off and re-written. (See, Lester, supra).
This brings the viability of the current form of the Koran into question, and with it, the Islamic faith.
Since we are Orthodox Christians, we have no problem with questioning the viability of the Koran and of the Muslim faith, but we must staunchly defend the right of every Muslim to exercise his God given free will and to follow the faith espoused by Mohammed. We must also attempt to convert every Muslim to the Orthodox Faith - but that is convert, not force.
We also strongly recommend the Koran be studied so-as-to comprehend the religious beliefs espoused by so many people, and to hopefully advance them to Orthodox Christianity. But even if conversion proves unsuccessful, there is no reason why we can not have our farms, flocks, and places of worship, work and residence, right next to each other. This is not a matter of tolerance, for one tolerates an annoyance such as a mosquito or a loud and continuous noise. This is a matter of respect, of respecting each human made in God's image and likeness, according to God's plan, and the Free Will with which God has endowed every human being.
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