Brisbane, March 11, 2016 (Alochonaa):The Qur’an is one of the most important, most talked about and controversial books ever written, yet the vast majority of people, including many self-described Muslims and their critics, have never read it. This should not surprise us. Few people who describe themselves as Catholics or Jews actually sit down for a good afternoon of reading the Torah or Gospels (they are not the most riveting of books for the modern reader). Fewer still can understand the historical context, or comprehend every poorly transcribed idiom and allegory presented in the text.
Ignorance of the Qur’an is, therefore, normal. It is also unfortunate given that so much time is now spent debating Islam and its relationship to terrorism, violence, patriarchy and state oppression, with many of these debates referencing the Qur’an directly. On one side of the debate we have those who believe that the Qur’an is liberal and enlightened, a work of feminism, tolerance, mercy and compassion. On the other side are those who believe the Qur’an is sexist, bigoted, narrow-minded, brutal and intolerant. Many people have views somewhere in between, and in every debate there are inevitably misquotes and factually incorrect statements about the Qur’an from defenders and critics alike.
My new book, The Commandments of Islam, attempts to cut through some of the barriers for the average reader’s understanding of the Qur’an. It provides students of religion the chance to see the fundamental work of Islam in a unique, simple format, whilst still retaining historical and contextual explanations. Rather than having to wade through pages of the requisite fire, brimstone and ancient stories common to all three of the Abrahamic religions, The Commandments of Islam offers readers a chance to see Qur’anic law in a concise, readable document.
The Commandments of Islam is, essentially, a list of those verses from the Qur’an which purport to be commandments from God (much like the famous Ten Commandments of the Old Testament). These may include directions on how to pray, confirmations of the location of the Sacred Mosque in Mecca, instructions in matters of inheritance, or restrictions on fighting. I have divided the various commandments into sections based on their topic, thus providing a convenient way to find the Qur’anic position on issues such as family law, fighting, eating, justice and politics. By listing the directives of the Qur’an as written, The Commandments of Islam helps readers to gain an understanding of the laws and concerns of the early Islamic community as organised by Muhammad. It also allows readers make up their own mind as to whether the Qur’an is sexist, liberal, violent, merciful, progressive or medieval.
Also containing a section on the historical background to the Qur’an, Muhammad, and the medieval Arabian community in which the Qur’an was written, The Commandments of Islam provides a useful introduction to Islam for the layperson or student. It is not, however, a comprehensive historical or cultural picture of Islam, Islamism or Muslim culture. It is a short book to be enjoyed by those with an above average interest in Islam but below average time to become acquainted with the fundamentals of the Qur’an.
*Dr. Simon Leitch is the Editor in Chief, Foreign Policy and International Affairs, Alochonaa. He taught International Relations and Security Studies at Griffith University. His research interests are in foreign policy and strategy with a particular interest in the interaction of the great powers.
** The book is available to buy here http://www.amazon.com.au/Commandments-Islam-Qur%E2%80%99anic-Summary-ebook/dp/B01COENEPM
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