I bought a copy of the Qur’an today. It seemed the best way to register my support to all my Muslim friends in the face of the media circus around this low-minded Florida “pastor,” whose behavior is so antithetical from the Christianity I learned as a child (a child in Florida, as it happens). Buying a Qur’an also seemed a good way to mark the anniversary of 9/11, in the face of the ugly protests against an Islamic Culture Center in Manhattan. Buying a Qur’an was also a way of reminding myself of the importance of these days for many of my new friends and clients in Egypt, here at the close of Ramadan.
In fact, I thought of all these things only after crossing the box on the book club order form. I had decided to order the Qur’an mostly because I thought it was time to read it again, considering where my work has taken me lately; and the translated edition on offer (Folio) was spectacularly beautiful.
I’m not a religious man, and I live in one of the world’s most secular nations, Sweden. But this is not the first time I’ve bought a copy of the Qur’an. At university I took a course in the Religions of Asia, and read the Qur’an (“Koran” then), the Pali Canon, the Bhagavad Gita, and many other sacred texts. They moved me, they stirred me, and they still do today. Where else can you read about what human beings have been striving after, for thousands of years? The Qur’an is a particularly stunning text, even in English translation; one takes it for granted, based on the evidence of centuries, that its Arabic is transformative in its poetry and power.
So I’ll say no more about the “pastor,” who does not merit the title; and I dearly wish the world’s media had simply ignored him. Instead, I’ll look forward to the delivery of this beautiful book, the sacred text of a religion whose name means “peace.” I’ll look forward to reading it, and seeing it beside my editions of the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and other holy texts that have been so inspirational to me over the years.
Today was my “International Buy-a-Qur’an Day.”