Saturday, April 12, 2008

Preparing for HIST 3805 -- "History of Islamic Civilization" (Fall-winter 2008-9)

I have this fantasy that some of my students are interested -- or will be, once final exams are over -- in some gentle preparation for fall courses. Bear with me here -- it's a harmless fantasy. It originates in my own work habits. If I don't prepare well in advance for my part in the courses, I know that books won't be ordered in time, handouts won't be finished, and my brain won't be on track. So I've actually been thinking about fall courses, especially my new Crusade and Jihad course (HIST 3116) and a possible restructuring of Islamic Civilization (HIST 3805) for quite a while.

I repeatedly think about the Quran. It certainly would be an advantage to any student in either of those two classes to read the holy book of Islam before they walked into the classroom. But I've only read it straight through myself once because it's long enough and difficult enough that I just can't seem to fit it in.

I have thought yesterday, however. Why not look on the web for a site that leads you through a reading of the Quran day by day? I looked, but found no sites that I liked. However, I did find one that provides a recitation of an English translation of the Quran on a daily basis. There is something very appealing about this approach; after all, the Quran was originally revealed through recitation and was only written down after the Prophet's death.

So, students and other readers, I invite you to join me in listening to the Quran for six minutes every day. Surely, you often find yourself sitting in front of a computer with six extra minutes to waste?

Warning: Don't expect the Quran to be like the Gospels or the historical books of the Old Testament. It's not a story, it's a series of divine revelations, which when they were written down were not arranged in chronological order. if you want a straightforward history of the Prophet and his mission, you need to go elsewhere. What you are getting here is the message of the Messenger. And what you may gain is a feeling for the religion that goes beyond a historical account.

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