By Jalal Heirannia

Quran is the soul of Islam: professor

April 22, 2018

TEHRAN – Charles Taliaferro, a professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College in the U.S., believes that “The Quran is the soul of Islam, the culmination of divine revelation from Adam to Muhammad.”

“I believe that the compelling beauty of the Quran is revealed with its being addressed as a living whole rather than studied only in parts,” Taliaferro tells the Tehran Times.
Following is the text of the interview with Professor Taliaferro:

Q: What is the role of Quran in uniting Muslims?

A: The Quran is the soul of Islam, the culmination of divine revelation from Adam to Muhammad. Its role in shaping lives, worship, language, matters of governance and philosophy, centuries of study and interpretation, its role in the arts, would be difficult to exaggerate. The unity of Muslims worldwide or even regionally is difficult to conceive without the Quran playing a major role.

Q: Why do some try to show Quran as a book that teaches violence?

A: Islamophobia fuels some of this. Fear and ignorance are at play. The same is true of hostile critics of the Bible in the west. The Quran and Bible must each be interpreted as whole sacred texts, understood in their entirety rather than piecemeal, taking surahs out of context. The absurdity of such partial readings would be like claiming that Muslims believe there is no God, for they report that "There is no God," but ignore that the fuller text is "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Prophet."

Q: What is the role of common studies on Quran in uniting Muslims (such as common studies between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims)?

A: This will be something that is very much in the hands of all those involved across the spectrum from scholars to laypersons. Its role in uniting Muslims will depend on good will, open minds and hearts. I have seen in the west the ways in which a sacred text, the Bible, can be used divisively, but among persons united in revering wisdom, it can be transforming.

Q: How can Muslims use Quran’ teachings for making “Unified Ummah”?

A: I suggest it would by the patient, reverent, widespread understanding of the Quran in its entirety. I suppose most of us wind up aligning only with parts of sacred texts, but therein lies a source of tension and fragmentation. I believe that the compelling beauty of the Quran is revealed with its being addressed as a living whole rather than studied only in parts.
 

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