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February 24, 2004

Musings on the madrassa

My previous post had a few comments, and one thing I want to note to make clear to everyone, memorizing the Koran in its totality is intellectually sterile, but spiritually powerful (for the believer). To the vast majority of Muslims-the Koran is the Word of God, and to the vast majority of Sunni Muslims, the Eternal Word of God. To a believer, it is a book of power, and repeating those words is a deeply significant act. This idea does not map well to Christianity because even fundamentalists acknowledge that the Bible is a narrative collected by various human authors.

Also, I want to add one thing that came to mind, many eloquent rhetoricians in Christendom have traditionally used Biblical phraseology to add gravity and power to their speeches. Abraham Lincoln comes to mind. But since the Koran is written in archaic Arabic, and 80% of the world's Muslims do not know Arabic, this same process does not occur. Additionally, the idea that the Koran could be considered canonical in a literary manner might be perceived to be blasphemous by some. I can not but help and wonder if this renders Muslims cultures poorer in spirit and speech-rendering the Koran a static idol, rather than a living, breathing document that is an expression of its civilization.

Posted by razib at 04:49 PM