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Book Review: A Simple Koran and An Abridged Koran from the Center for the Study of Political Islam

12/14/2011

Book Review: A Simple Koran and An Abridged Koran from the Center for the Study of Political Islam

Reviewed by John K

 

The Center for the Study of Political Islam has published a new translation of the Quran in Modern English by Bill Warner based on scientific analysis. It is integrated with the history and biography of Muhammed in the Sira and Hadith. He calls it “The Reconstructed Historical Koran”. This is more than just presenting the suras in their order of appearance in the history, He has done further processing of the Quran as explained in this section from the Epilogue:

 

The Methodology of The Simple Koran

 

The Simple Koran is a reconstruction of the historical Koran of Mohammed’s day. It was prepared by the CCC analytic method of:

 

Context – using Mohammed’s life to give the circumstances and environment of the text.

 

Chronology – putting the verses in the original historical order.

 

Category – the method of grouping verses around the same subject. There can be discussion about which categories to use, but the Koranic persuasion method of categorization produces the simplest text. (see p. 385)

 

With the analysis tools of Context, Chronology and Category, the Koran becomes a clear and simple text. The CCC analytic method most closely duplicates the historical words spoken by Mohammed.

 

In scientific philosophy the term, Occam’s Razor, refers to the theory that the simplest theory that will explain the facts is the best theory. Using the criteria of Occam’s Razor shows that Context, Chronology and Category is the best method to show the meaning of the Koran. No other method produces clarity, hence the author’s claim that CCC is the supreme method of organization of the Koran.

 

The classical method of presenting the Koranic text is based upon the length of the chapters. It starts with the longest sura and ends with the shortest sura. This methodology was devised by the secretary Zayd under the caliph, Umar, and there were arguments about it at the time. It is an arbitrary method of presenting the words spoken by Mohammed. It has failed to produce a text that can be easily understood. Mohammed did not produce or use the classical method of presenting the Koran.

 

The only disadvantage to this method is that it splits the Suras and spreads the text throughout the Sunna, so you need an index to find a reference. Unfortunately, an index is not provided, so I created one myself. For the benefit of those who have this translation and need the index, see my companion blog entry at Freedom Bulwark:

 

http://www.freedombulwark.net/my-blog/the-simple-koran-and-an-abridged-koran-from-the-center-for-the-study-of-political-islam.html

 

Others  may also like to look to see how it is organized. The first shows the Quran in chronological order, and the second shows the Quran in the normal Sura order. The latter is what is really needed to find a verse in this Quran. In the process of indexing, I discovered some verse numbers that were out of sync by one verse, particularly in Sura 3. My index corrects these errors. There are also some blanks where I was unable to locate a few verses. CSPI uses the Noldeke-Schwally sura order. This interesting chart from the University of North Carolina will also help you to understand the sura fragmentation:

 

http://www.unc.edu/~cernst/chronology.htm

 

Warner has also created “An Abridged Koran”. This is not an abridgement in the normal sense because it only deletes the duplications. He uses the example that the story of Moses and Pharoah is repeated 30 times. In my index I show if a verse block also appears in the Abridged Koran with an “A:” to the right side. With my index you thus get a quick overview of what is included in An Abridged Koran.

 

I think you will agree that the clarity of the English improves your reading experience. When the language of the Quran is difficult to understand, it distracts from the message you are trying to understand while your mind tries to process what the Quran is saying. But the real power of these editions is seeing the suras in the context of their historical setting in the Sunna. When you see the situation that led to each sura, it becomes very obvious what Muhammad was doing and what he was trying to gain or justify with each sura he wrote.

 

I would also like to share two other interesting sections in the Epilogue which are titled Logic and Koranic Argument:

 

Logic

 

The Koran advances a logical system. Truth is determined by revelation. No fact or argument may refute the Koran. Logical persuasion is based upon repetition and continued assertion. Another part of the persuasion is personal attacks against those who resist Islam. The Koran advances its argument through threats against specific people and groups. If persuasion fails, then force may be used to settle the logical or political argument.

 

Another aspect of Koranic logic is the use of name-calling and personal insults to advance the truth. The Koran, with its poetical language and repeated threats and physical violence, bases its logic on emotions. Although its intellectual truth can be contradictory, the contradictions do not need to be resolved. Understanding apparent contradictions is a key to understanding Islamic logic. In unitary logic, a contradiction shows the theory or argument to be false. But in the Koran, a contradiction does not prove an argument to be false. What appears to be logical contradictions are statements of duality that offer two true choices, depending upon the circumstances. This is dualistic logic.

 

How do we know the Koran is true? Because it contains the words of Allah. How do we know that these are the words of Allah? Mohammed said they were Allah’s words. How do we know that Mohammed is Allah’s messenger? Mohammed reported that Allah said that Mohammed is His messenger.

 

Koranic Argument

 

The key to understanding the Koran is Context, Chronology (the right time order for events), and Categories, CCC. Both the context and chronology come from Mohammed’s life.

 

Some categories are obvious, such as retold tales from the Jews. But the less obvious category is Koranic Argument. The Koran is filled with violent threats against those who do not believe Mohammed and who did not believe the prophets of Allah in the past.

 

The stream of violence that runs throughout the Koran gives insight into its structure and how to select the topics and their divisions. The violence is not random, but turns out to have an internal order to it. Take Hell, for instance. If you highlight the violent references to the Kafirs, you will find that there are five elements that accompany the violence:

 

- A description of the violence

- Who is threatened

- What they did to deserve the violence

- How they are wrong

- Words from Allah to support the messenger, Mohammed

 

This structure is called the Koranic Argument. The argument goes like this: the Kafirs are wrong; Mohammed is right; and violence will come to those who deny him.

 

The Koranic argument was discovered by pondering the extreme violence of the Koran and noticing it had a pattern. The violence of the Koran is not random, but develops around certain themes. If colored pens are used on printouts of the Koran to mark each of the five elements with a different color, it will produce a colored “map” of the structure that can be seen from across the room.

 

The Koranic Argument is a natural organizational element of thought in the Koran. The verse is typically a sentence. People who use individual verses to prove anything about the Koran would never turn around and analyze Kant, Plato or Marx on the basis of sentences. No, you want to analyze thoughts, and a sentence is too small a unit for critical, systemic thought. The Koranic Argument allows easy textual analysis of thought, ideas and theme.

 

After giving some examples and further explanation, the section goes on to say:

 

The data mirrors the history of Mohammed’s life. In the Meccan religious phase, the violence took the form of threats of punishment that were to occur after death in Hell. Or the mentioned violence was in ancient history, i.e., the Pharoah being destroyed because he would not listen to Allah’s prophet, Moses. In Mecca the Koranic violence referred to the far future or the distant past. However, in Medina, there is much less preaching about Hell, and more physical violence against political enemies. The action of jihad replaces the rhetoric of the threat of punishment.

 

Approximately two-thirds of the Koran of Mecca is devoted to the Koranic Argument of “listen to Mohammed, the prophet of the only god, Allah, or you will suffer eternal torture in Hell.” When Mohammed achieved political power, the religious threats became political reality. The Koranic Argument of religion in Mecca became the political practice in Medina.

 

From this information it is clear how much benefit we gain from scientific analysis of the Koran. For further scientific analysis of Islam, I recommend downloading his short piece called Statistical Islam:

 

http://www.cspipublishing.com/statistical/pdf/Statistical_Islam.pdf

 

Here are some links for further reading about these editions:

 

A Simple Koran:

 

http://www.politicalislam.com/store/primary-doctrine-books/product/a-simple-koran//

http://www.cspipublishing.com/A_Simple_Koran.htm

http://www.inquiryintoislam.com/2010/07/easy-way-to-read-quran.html

http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Koran-readable-understandable/dp/0978552881

 

An Abridged Koran:

 

http://www.politicalislam.com/store/primary-doctrine-books/product/an-abridged-koran//

http://www.cspipublishing.com/An_Abridged_Koran.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Abridged-Koran-CSPI/dp/0978552849

 

The respective home pages:

 

http://www.politicalislam.com/

http://www.cspipublishing.com/

Short URL: http://www.archive2012.faithfreedom.org/?p=31640

Posted by on Dec 14 2011. Filed under Book Review, Quran (Koran). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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