I cannot imagine living in the deserts of Southwest Asia without a belief in a benevolent creator to sustain me. It has mostly been an anti-human world during the past 14,000 years, made so by the very humans who emerged as its "dominant" species; but the Arabian Peninsula and its environs seem worse than the average place. This is true today, it was true during the time of Muhammed. and during the time of Jesus, and the time of Moses, and the time of Abraham, if such a person ever existed. It is important to the people of the "Near East" that Abraham did exist and that he brought to the area the knowledge of a Single, Beneficent, Merciful God. The God taught and enforced a code that would keep life more or less fair, peaceful, egalitarian, hospitable. This code was inseparable from a faith in the God who endorsed it and from the worship of and complete obedience to that God
Abraham: Journey of Faith - National Geographic Magazine
It is difficult to talk about my reaction to the Koran. It is the Holy Message for more than a billion people. Unlike the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospet, it has not been corrupted by human tampering. And Muslims make a good case. Unlike the Old and New Testaments which were written over many centuries by many people with many different axes to grind, and then assembled and canonized by other men with other agendas, the Koran was supposedly given by One God through one angel* to one messenger over a period of less than twenty-three years. The Koran was complete in its present form while Muhammed was still alive. Muslims consider it God's word, perfect, beautiful, and well they should.
But i cannot find it perfect partly because of that very Singularity. The "wrongdoers" of the Koran buried their living daughters, treated their wives like slaves, betrayed their friends and families. engaged in unspecified "perversions," and threatened the lives and freedom of Muslims. Though i do nor wish to do none of those things, I fear that i am being destined for an eternity of burning alive because of my lack of faith. Iam assured that if i leave believers alone i will be left alone, But coming from a Protestant fundamentalist background and seeing the work of some Jihdists on TV, i am suspicious about what being left alone means,
If i am incapable of thinking like the Christians who raised me, i am even less capable of thinking like a seventh century Arab. I have read the Koran, and plan to read from it again. I have listened to a few surahs, but its all Arabic to me. My study of Arab cultures is interesting but it is unguided and has barely scratched the surface. My effort to understand has so far been a failure.
I cannot make the leap from the Koran to the Sufi poets. Their inspiration eludes me as much as their translted words thrill me and inspire me. I have not been immersed in the Koran as they were.
How important it is to understand! How much more important to accept what i cannot understand while trying to understand it.
* Gabriel (Jibreel) is sometimes identified as the Holy Spirit