Language of the Quran

Review of Lesley Hazleton’s TED video On Reading the Quran

I find it less amazing and more unwholesome when I find non-Muslims to study the Quran to such depth asHazleton. Rather than become amazed I become dumbfounded. But perhaps ‘depth’ is too generous an analysis, partly because it is such a short video to judge from. To study something in great ‘depth’ is to tease something apart; to turn it upside down, inside out, and flip it around. To study something in depth is surely to study it with an open mind and to study it with heart and head.Hazletonmay have sat down and compared 4 different translations/interpretations of the Quran, which isn’t really a common thing to do. I applaud her for that. But Hazleton did so, as she herself says only to ‘gear up to writing a biography of Muhammad’ (sa). Hazleton’s reading of the Quran is with an autonomous hat of a researcher needing to produce a book. She is not on a quest for truth, nor is she partial to it.

I struggled to understand the argumentHazletonwas making and had to listen twice. I think this is because of her jocular approach to the subject matter, which I just didn’t get. However, Hazleton claimed feeling like a ‘tourist in the Quran’, like someone who is ‘an outsider, reading someone else’s holy book’. I think this is a powerful image devised by Hazleton and it says much about the relationships within our globalized world. The Quran does nothing to sideline the one who comes to it with intellect and is open to discovery. Allah in the Quran addresses both men and women and uses binary oppositions of believer and disbeliever, included and excluded, reward and punishment only to get across the message of Islam in a way that is humanly familiar.

To want to conclude on a positive point, I think the idea worth spreading from this video is the inspiration to read, read and read the Quran.

If you haven’t watched the video yet, you can do so by following this link:

http://www.ted.com/talks/lesley_hazelton_on_reading_the_koran.html

 


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