cover image God in the Qur’an

God in the Qur’an

Jack Miles. Knopf, $26.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-307-26957-7

Pulitzer-winner Miles (for God: A Biography) provides a generous, if critical, literary interpretation (or “theography,” as he calls it) of Allah, the god of Islam, in this engaging yet disappointing book. It is largely a comparison between the god of the Bible and Allah in the Koran, focusing on how major figures (such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, and Mary) experience God across the texts. For instance, when considering how God worked through Moses, Miles writes: “Yahweh Elohim wants to defeat the Pharaoh; Allah wants to convert him.” Such an approach plays to Miles’s strengths, allowing the book to relish the literary majesty of all three scriptures. But readers will leave the book feeling that there is much more to be said about Allah outside of the narratives that the Koran shares with the Old Testament and New Testament. Missing from this picture of Allah are many ethical and legal topics, historical events of Muhammad’s era, and exhortations to prayer and charity that dominate the text of the Koran. Although Miles’s attempt is admirable, it lacks authority and its limited appeal only extends to a non-Muslim audience. (Nov.)