The Qur'an: A Biography

Bruce Lawrence, Author . Atlantic Monthly $19.95 (231p) ISBN 978-0-87113-951-1

As part of this press's series on Books That Changed the World, Lawrence, a professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, offers an unusual "biography" of the Qur'an, the Islamic holy book. He describes in each chapter how the Qur'an has been experienced throughout its 1,400-year history, as it has fascinated, intrigued and guided millions of Muslims and non-Muslims. Lawrence gracefully describes the Qur'an's interpretation and use—by individuals, leaders, poets and even on building walls. Throughout, Lawrence emphasizes the wide diversity of Qur'anic interpretations around the world and through the ages. The same verses that appear on the walls of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, for example, are written inside drinking glasses in Indonesia, sipped by women seeking the healing powers of the Qur'an. Some Sufis have even claimed that the Qur'an can heal AIDS when people chant its verses. In his boldest analysis, Lawrence examines Osama bin Laden's manipulative citation of the Qur'an. In contrast, Lawrence profiles W.D. Mohammed, the spiritual leader of approximately two million African-American Muslims, who sees the Qur'an as unifying peoples beyond race and culture. This book, like the book it studies, is meditative and unique, a lovely read for any spiritual person, Muslim or not. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
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