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Friday, July 30, 2010

Understanding the Koran: A Quick Christian Guide to the Muslim Holy Book by Mateen Elass

Informative, fair and well-written

Short summary:

Mateen Elass is uniquely qualified to write such a book. His father was a Muslim. He was raised in Saudi Arabia. He is now a Presbyterian minister in the United States. His short, 10 chapter book introduces the reader to the Koran by telling its history and the common touchpoints that it shares with the Bible, Christian tradition and Jewish tradition. Elass also introduces the reader to the proper handling of the Koran and has a balanced discussion on the role of Jihad in Islam, as defined in the Koran. An optional Bible study is located at the back of the book with lots of questions designed for group discussion.

My review:

An absolutely excellent book! The reader is not required to be a Christian to understand the book - but a working knowledge of Christian tradition and the Bible would help. Mateen Elass has produced a wonderful introduction to Islam and the Koran. He is respectful of Islam throughout the book, but it is clear that he is writing from the Christian perspective.

I have but one complaint: he has excellent commentary in his endnotes that complement the text. Unfortunately, I discovered this about halfway through the book. I wish it had been footnotes instead.

I'll be on the lookout for another book by Elass. Might I suggest a book on Islam itself? Or, perhaps Muslim customs and holidays?

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Understanding the Koran.

Reviewed on July 21, 2004.

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