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The Qur'an: A Biography is a beautifully written and authoritative account of one of the world's most famous, and most misunderstood books.
Few books in history are as poorly read or understood as the Qur'an. Sent down in a series of revelations to the Prophet Muhammad, it is regarded by the faithful as the unmediated word of Allah. It is revered by Muslims throughout the world, it inspires unparalleled levels of devotion, passion, fear and, sometimes, incomprehension.
In this book, the distinguished scholar Bruce Lawrence shows precisely why the Qur'an is Islam. He describes the origins of the faith in seventh-century Arabia and looks at why the Qur'an needs to be both memorized and recited by its followers. Lawrence also discusses the book's many doubters and commentators and assesses its important influence in societies and politics today. Above all, Lawrence emphasizes that the Qur'an demands interpretation, and can only be properly understood through its history.
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.