The Qu’osby Show

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Revelation by God, but through a man

Islamic scholar Abdulkarim Soroush thinks the Koran should be viewed in historical context, and as the writing of a human being (albeit a divinely inspired one) rather than the transcribed word of God.

[Soroush] told me that the prophet “was at the same time the receiver and the producer of the Koran or, if you will, the subject and the object of the revelation.” Soroush said that “when you read the Koran, you have to feel that a human being is speaking to you, i.e. the words, images, rules and regulations and the like all are coming from a human mind.” He added, “This mind, of course, is special in the sense that it is imbued with divinity and inspired by God.”

As might be expected, this hasn’t endeared Soroush to conservative Muslims. But it’s an encouraging line of thought. Precisely this kind of thinking about the Bible has led Christianity to an understanding of the text that is, I’d argue, more in line with what its authors understood it to be: a collection of accounts by fallible humans seeking the divine. In this light, scripture (whether the Bible, the Koran, or something else) is not taken at face value – it forces the reader to engage the text, and decide what it means to him or her, today. That’s no impenetrable firewall against extremism, but it’s an important first step.