Did you know Harvard recognizes Quran as one of the best expressions for justice

Harvard University
John W. Weeks Bridge and clock tower over Charles River in Harvard University campus in Boston with trees, boat and blue sky. The Muslim Times has the best collection about the holy Quran

The university references a verse from the Quran, regarding it as one of the greatest expressions of justice in history.

Source: Step Feed

When it comes to the law, both legislation and implementation are deemed relative. But the same can’t be said for justice as by definition it is the offering of what is morally fair and right. As we know, the law should seek justice and Harvard knows exactly how Islam is doing so.

Harvard Law School, one of the world’s most prestigious institutions (No. 7 in the world, to be exact), actually speaks of justice at the entrance of its faculty library. In doing so, it references a verse from the Quran, regarding it as one of the greatest expressions of justice in history.

The phrase at hand is Verse 135 of Surat Al-Nisaa (The Women), which is posted on a wall facing the faculty’s main entrance, a wall that portrays some of the best phrases with regards to justice. The first media reports of the news date back to February 2014, but the news resurfaced on our newsfeed this week. We thought it’s worth a reminder especially in the age of rising Islamophobia in the U.S., particularly.

Read Further

Ayat Harward

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We have saved the above video in the Muslim Times as well:

Yusuf Cat Stevens tells us how he came to Islam through the reading of the holy Quran and the beautiful pure Monotheism in this:

The Water Cycle and the Holy Quran

Introduction by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

In this post, I intend to introduce a part of the popular book by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, The Qur’an and Science, about the water cycle.

I would let him do the talking about harmony between the Quranic description and the modern understanding of the water cycle.

In my introduction, what I want to emphasize is what could have gone wrong, if the Holy Quran was not the literal word of God, as we see in the case of the Holy Bible, or was a myth, as we see in the case of the Chinese and the Japanese myths about creation.

The contrast with scientific contradictions in the Bible and sheer mythical nature of Chinese and Japanese traditions, brings out the elegance and beauty of the Holy Quran.

The Chinese tell of a time during the Hsia dynasty, in the third millennium before Jesus,  when our cosmic environment suddenly changed. Ten suns appeared in the sky. The people on earth suf­fered greatly from the heat, so the emperor ordered a famous archer to shoot down the extra suns. The archer was rewarded with a pill that had the power to make him immortal, but his wife stole it. For that offense she was banished to the moon.

The Japanese have their own share of myths.  According to them, Izanagi-no-Mikoto (male) and Izanami-no-Mikoto (female) were called by all the myriad gods and asked to help each other to create a new land which was to become Japan.  They were given a spear with which they stirred the water, and when removed water dripped from the end, an island was created in the great nothingness.  If our Western Navy personnel find these myths to be literally true our ships and fleets may begin to sink!

If you read your book of Genesis carefully, the earth is created before the sun, we can have days and nights before the creation of the sun, our earth has a roof or a vault called the sky, plants and animals gain existence only after mankind and to top it all off, Grand Ma Eve was created from Grand Pa Adam’s rib, while he was sleeping.

Additionally, there are only four rivers in the planet earth, if time and space were not a consideration, I could keep on reading Genesis over and over and keep on adding to this list.

According to the second chapter of Genesis seas have been created, the whole of universe is in place, God has rested for a day also and yet there has been no rain at all on planet earth.   The water cycle simply does not exist for the writers of the Holy Bible!

For additional details about scientific contradictions in the Bible and myths of different medieval cultures, read an article in the Muslim Sunrise, The Root Cause of Science and Religion Conflict: Wrong Theology!

Water Cycle

By Dr. Maurice Bucaille

When the verses of the Qur’an concerning the role of water in man’s existence are read in succession today. they all appear to us to express ideas that are quite obvious. The reason for this is simple: in our day and age, we all, to a lesser or greater extent, know about the water cycle in nature.

If however, we consider the various concepts the ancients had on this subject, it becomes clear that the data in the Qur’an do not embody the mythical concepts current at the time of the Revelation which had been developed more according to philosophical speculation than observed phenomena. Although it was empirically possible to acquire on a modest scale, the useful practical knowledge necessary for the improvement of the irrigation, the concepts held on the water cycle in general would hardly be acceptable today.

Thus it would have been easy to imagine that underground water could have come from the infiltration of precipitations in the soil. In ancient times however, this idea, held by Vitruvius Polio Marcus in Rome, 1st century B.C., was cited as an exception.  For many centuries therefore (and the Qur’anic Revelation is situated during this period) man held totally inaccurate views on the water cycle. Two specialists on this subject, G. Gastany and B. Blavoux, in their entry in the Universalis Encyclopedia (Encyclopedia Universalis) under the heading Hydrogeology (Hydrogéologie), give an edifying history of this problem.

“In the Seventh century B.C., Thales of Miletus held the theory whereby the waters of the oceans, under the effect of winds, were thrust towards the interior of the continents; so the water fell upon the earth and penetrated into the soil. Plato shared these views and thought that the return of the waters to the oceans was via a great abyss, the ‘Tartarus’. This theory had many supporters until the Eighteenth century, one of whom was Descartes. Aristotle imagined that the water vapour from the soil condensed in cool mountain caverns and formed underground lakes that fed springs. He was followed by Seneca (1st Century A.D.) and many others, until 1877, among them O. Volger . . . The first clear formulation of the water cycle must be attributed to Bernard Palissy in 1580. he claimed that underground water came from rainwater infiltrating into the soil. This theory was confirmed by E. Mariotte and P. Perrault in the Seventeenth century.

In the following passages from the Qur’an, there is no trace of the mistaken ideas that were current at the time of Muhammad: –sura 50, verses 9 to 11: “We sent down from the sky blessed water whereby We caused to grow gardens, grains for harvest, tall palm-trees with their spathes, piled one above the othersustenance for (Our) servants. Therewith We gave (new) life to a dead land. So will be the emergence (from the tombs).” –sura 23, verses 18 and 19: “We sent down water from the sky in measure and lodged it in the ground. And We certainly are able to withdraw it. Therewith for you We gave rise to gardens of palmtrees and vineyards where for you are abundant fruits and of them you eat.” –sura 15, verse 22: “We sent forth the winds that fecundate. We cause the water to descend from the sky. We provide you with the water-you (could) not be the guardians of its reserves.” There are two possible interpretations of this last verse. The fecundating winds may be taken to be the fertilizers of plants because they carry pollen. This may, however, be a figurative expression referring by analogy to the role the wind plays in the process whereby a non-raincarrying cloud is turned into one that produces a shower of rain. This role is often referred to, as in the following verses: –sura 35, verse 9: “God is the One Who sends forth the winds which raised up the clouds. We drive them to a dead land. Therewith We revive the ground after its death. So will be the Resurrection.” It should be noted how the style is descriptive in the first part of the verse, then passes without transition to a declaration from God. Such sudden changes in the form of the narration are very frequent in the Qur’an. –sura 30, verse 48: “God is the One Who sends forth the winds which raised up the clouds. He spreads them in the sky as He wills and breaks them into fragments. Then thou seest raindrops issuing from within them. He makes them reach such of His servants as He wills. And they are rejoicing.” –sura 7, verse 57: “(God) is the One Who sends forth the winds like heralds of His Mercy. When they have carried the heavy-laden clouds, We drive them to a dead land. Then We cause water to descend and thereby bring forth fruits of every kind. Thus We will bring forth the dead. Maybe you will remember.” –sura 25, verses 48 and 49: “(God) is the One Who sends forth the winds like heralds of His Mercy. We cause pure water to descend in order to revive a dead land with it and to supply with drink the multitude of cattle and human beings We have created.” –sura 45, verse 5: “. . . In the provision that God sends down from the sky and thereby He revives the ground after its death and in the change (of direction) of winds, there are Signs for people who are wise.” The provision made in this last verse is in the form of the water sent down from the sky, as the context shows. The accent is on the change of the winds that modify the rain cycle.

–sure 13, verse 17: “(God) sends water down from the sky so that the rivers flow according to their measure. The torrent bears away an increasing foam.”

Read further in the book in the chapter on Earth: The Bible the Quran and Science

Are Religions Pluralistic or Myopic and Parochial?

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The Muslim Times has the best collection for universal brotherhood and interfaith tolerance and to refute racism

By Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

The Gettysburg address by President Abraham Lincoln was only two minutes long, yet it is written in golden letters in history for all times to come.

On November 19, 1863 delivered the Gettysburg Address, at the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, on the site of one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of the Civil War. Though he was not the featured orator that day, Lincoln’s brief address would be remembered as one of the most important speeches in American history. In it, he invoked the principles of human equality contained in the Declaration of Independence and connected the sacrifices of the Civil War with the desire for ‘a new birth of freedom,’ as well as the all-important preservation of the Union created in 1776 and its ideal of self-government. (1)

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President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address

Lincoln’s deep voice echoed passionately: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (2)

He was inspired by his polished human conscience and his Christian faith. In the Gospel of Mark we read:

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (3)

In the Old Testament that is shared by the Christians and the Jews, we read:

“You must not exploit or oppress a foreign resident, for you yourselves were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” (4)

“You must treat the foreigner living among you as native-born and love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (5)

“Do not despise an Edomite, for he is your brother. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you lived as a foreigner in his land.” (6)

“You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners who dwell among you and who have children. You are to treat them as native-born Israelites; along with you, they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.” (7)

The first ideal in Confucianism is “Jen.” This is Confucius’ idea of the ultimate brotherly love. It is the idea that no matter where you live in the world, we are all brothers because we are all humans. To achieve Jen is to be able to devote yourself to making others happy, both those in your community and those within your family. As the old saying goes, treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. (8)

Mencius or Mengzi (372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucian philosopher, who has often been described as the ‘second Sage,’ that is, after only Confucius himself. He is part of Confucius’s fourth generation of disciples.

He believed ‘Jen’ is implanted in the individual by T’ien (Heaven).  One could say Jen is our Heaven-endowed nature.   The Constant Virtue of Jen can be interpreted as the main principle of being Human. (9)

Five centuries before Christ, Confucius set forth his own Golden Rule: “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.” (10) The teaching of the Golden Rule in each religion is universal and transcends race, religion and gender.

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Dr. Zia H Shah, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times and author of this article

All the prevalent world faiths, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism, give a universal message. Nevertheless, they have parochial streaks available within their traditions and scriptures that those with myopic vision and ulterior motives can read in limited ways, in service of their nationalist or populist agenda as opposed to a universal one, in service of their political goals.

Read how Reid Turner, who attended Bethel University and Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN and pursued additional graduate studies at the University of Chicago, is reading a parochial message, just for the Christians, in the New Testament and accusing Pope Francis of misinterpreting the Bible, when the Pope speaks for universal brotherhood in our global village:

“In the following examples the Pope appears to be manipulating scripture to deemphasize Christian brotherhood and elevate universal brotherhood.  …

The Pope here is trying to identify the ‘little ones’ of Matthew 10:42 with the Universalist understanding of ‘brethren’ in Matthew 25:40, who he here equates with ‘the vulnerable of the Earth.’

There is nothing wrong or contrary to the Christian message to see the face of Christ in those who suffer. The point here is that Jesus never identifies Himself with them in a general sense in Matthew or anywhere else in the New Testament. He identifies only with His followers.

In my estimation there is evidence of a pattern; the Pope appears to be intentionally manipulating scripture to replace references to Christian brotherhood with the concept of universal brotherhood.” (11)

The New Testament and for that matter all religious scriptures are like a mirror, each reader, whether a Universalist or one with a myopic view, sees himself or herself in the mirror.

Likewise, all of the universal quotes of the Old Testament are ignored when the Zionist and the right wing politicians in Israel, want to insist on a Jewish state, at the detriment of the human rights of all the Palestinians, both the Christians and the Muslims.

Similar exploitation and misinterpretation of the universal message of the Quran by the myopic Muslim leaders can be cited. But, in the interest of space I am not going to pursue that here.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages. (12)

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The first two Articles of UDHR, among the 30 state:

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. (12)

Devouts of each religion continue to claim that their religion is universal and in keeping with the 30 Articles of UDHR.

But, periodically they also come up with a more limited reading of their tradition and scriptures in one guise or the other. Allow me to ask the followers of each and every religion, do you believe in a universal religion or a parochial cult?  Do you read a pluralistic message of justice and compassion for the whole human family in our global village in your scripture or do you preach a limited message of ‘have’ and ‘have-nots’ to the exclusion of others, putting one group in ‘the chosen’ sphere and the other in ‘the heathens?’

I for one, by the Grace of Allah, do not waiver from the universal and the pluralistic message of the Quran.  No matter the circumstances or the audience!

This is how I read the Muslim scripture, the holy Quran, the final literal revelation of the All-Knowing God.

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Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan

My task has been made easy by none other than the celebrated polymath, Sir Zafrulla Khan. He became Pakistan’s first Foreign Minister in 1947 and served concurrently as leader of Pakistan’s delegation to the UN (1947–54). From 1954 to 1961 he served as a member of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. He again represented Pakistan at the UN in 1961–64 and served as president of the UN General Assembly in 1962–63. Returning to the International Court of Justice in 1964, he served as the court’s president from 1970 to 1973. (13)

He wrote a booklet correlating the 30 Articles of UDHR with various verses of the holy Quran. The booklet can be read online. His booklet is titled, Islam and Human Rights. (14)

I hope the Universalists in each religion will create a more comprehensive message from their respective traditions and scriptures and safeguard our one human family from being broken down into factions by corrupt parochial voices whether they come in the guise of patriotism, nationalism, fundamentalism of the respective religions or populism.

With this I rest my case against racism or dividing human societies or countries on the basis of religions or sects.

References

  1. History channel.
  2. History channel.
  3. Mark 12:28-31.
  4. Exodus 22:21.
  5. Leviticus 19:34.
  6. Deuteronomy 23:7
  7. Ezekiel 47:22.
  8. https://worldhistory.us/great-thinkers/confucianism-the-five-ideals.php
  9. Jen in Confucianism.
  10. https://www.amazon.com/Confucius-Golden-Rule-Russell-Freedman/dp/0439139570
  11. https://thefivebeasts.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/pope-francis-scripture-and-universal-brotherhood/
  12. https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
  13. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Muhammad-Zafrulla-Khan
  14. https://themuslimtimes.info/2018/05/24/book-review-islam-and-human-rights/

One Verse That Can Catapult Our Understanding of the Quran in Our Global Age

Epigraph:

We did not send you Muhammad, but as mercy for the whole mankind. (Al Quran 21:107/108)

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The Mosque of Medina, first built by the prophet Muhammad himself

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Some 44 million Muslims live peacefully as law abiding citizens in Europe.  They have not been brought there as slaves but they, their parents or their grand parents came there out of their sweet will and volition for better economic or other opportunities.

Travel back to 1492, the same year that Christopher Columbus reached the American soil, the last city-state of Granada fell to the Christian rulers and every Muslim in Europe was either killed, banished or converted by force to Christianity.  There was then no one openly Muslim in the Christian Europe for a couple of centuries.

Today the Christians are their neighbors, colleagues and mentors.  Sometimes they are spouses and family members.

Obviously these are two polar opposite circumstances.  If the holy Quran is read as a rigid set of instructions about the Muslim-Christian interaction to create human societies, then it can obviously not handle both situations.

The way the Muslims of the fifteenth and the sixteenth century read the Christian-Muslim relationship in the Quran cannot be true for the twenty first century.

It is projected by the Pew Research Center that the Muslim population in Europe is growing; they project 10% of all Europeans will be Muslims by 2050.

Better paradigms for coexistence between the Muslims and the Christians are very much needed and for the Muslims it starts with their understanding of the Quran.

If my articles are boring to you, it may be that you need to read more of them, as was suggested by John Cage, an American composer, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”

Going back to the subject at hand: understanding the Quran:

A large majority of the Muslims read the Quran for blessings and delegate their understanding of the book to the scholar of their choice, who often defer it to the scholar of their choice of the past centuries.  This emphasis on the past scholarship leads to extreme conservatism and changes the Quran into a rigid document.

Omar Naseef writes in his article, God Is Living, So Why Does Religion Treat God As Dead?:

There’s a vigorous debate in the United States about the nature of our constitution. Liberals tend to argue that the constitution is a living document, while conservatives, like the late Justice Scalia, claim our constitution is “dead, dead, dead”.

If the authors of the constitution were alive today – having lived through 239+ years of U.S. history – do we really think they would ask their 1787 selves how to interpret the constitution?

In secular law, the debate is reasonable. Because the authors are dead and a “living” constitution risks judicial tyranny, we do need to find some way to reasonably restrain the interpretation, especially since we can amend the constitution if we aren’t happy with its meaning.

This same “living” versus dead argument often happens in religion. Those who argue for dead” are often conservatives, and they are hurting their own cause. It is proper for all of us to deliberate before breaking with long-held tradition. However, insisting that the understanding of sacred text is frozen puts the most fundamental belief of religion at risk.

When any religious person claims that a sacred text is “dead” – in that the understanding of its meaning is fixed forever – they are directly at odds with their own idea of a living, active God.

This relatively unknown author is not alone in his opinion. A polymath from the last century, Sir Zafrulla Khan who was the first Foreign Minister of Pakistan and President of United Nation General assembly for a term, among other accomplishments agrees:

It is this comprehensiveness of the Quran, the need to make provision for guidance in every respect for all peoples for all time, that made it necessary that the guidance should be conveyed in verbal revelation. The Quran is literally the Word of God and possesses the quality of being alive, as the universe is alive. It is not possible to set forth at any time the whole meaning and interpretation of the Quran or, indeed, of any portion of it with finality. It yields new truths and fresh guidance in every age and at every level. It is a standing and perpetual miracle (18:110).

The world is dynamic and so is the Quran. Indeed, so dynamic is the Quran that it has always been found to keep ahead of the world and never to lag behind it. However fast the pace at which the pattern of human life may change and progress, the Quran always yields, and will go on yielding, the needed guidance in advance. This has now been demonstrated through more than thirteen centuries, and that is a guarantee that it will continue to be demonstrated through the ages.

The Quran has proclaimed that falsehood will never overtake it. All research into the past and every discovery and invention in the future will affirm its truth (41:43). The Quran speaks at every level; it seeks to reach every type of understanding, through parables, similitudes, arguments, reasoning, the observation and study of the phenomena of nature, and the natural, moral, and spiritual laws (18:55; 39:28; 59:22).[1][2]

For the Quran to be dynamic it needs to be read in the context of the time.  The majority of the Spanish Christians may have been blood thirsty enemies in the 16th century but today in Europe they are neighbors, colleagues, teachers and mentors. They are benefactors of the Muslims in several capacities.  For some they are even spouses or blood relatives.  Unless we can read the Quranic principles according to the circumstances we are vulnerable to box ourselves into fixed paradigms to our and others’ detriment.

I believe that we need to grasp what is fundamental in the holy Quran and for that matter in any book or writing and not go after the allegorical. Let the fundamental define the allegorical and not vice versa. The Quran says:

He it is Who has sent down to you (Muhammad) the Book; in it there are verses that are fundamental or decisive in meaning — these are the corner stone of the Book — and there are others that are susceptible of different interpretations. But those in whose hearts is perversity pursue those that are susceptible of different interpretations, seeking discord and wrong interpretation of such ambiguous verses. And none knows their right interpretation except Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge; they say, ‘We believe in it; the whole is from our Lord.’ — And none heed except those gifted with understanding. (3:7/8)

So, what is a fundamental teaching?

A fundamental teaching is what is substantiated not from one perspective but from multiple or all angles. It is something which does  not leave the slightest doubt in your heart and mind. It is something that you can easily defend,  no matter who the audience. It is something that you like to preach to your children and you don’t hide from anyone. It is something that is true whether you are on the receiving end or the opposite. It is true whether you are a leader or a follower. It is true whether you are among the ‘haves’ or the ‘have-nots.’ It is not what is preached by one scholar, one leader or one sect of Islam. It is true if it follows the Golden Rule.

It is a fundamental teaching if it fulfills all or a majority of the above conditions.

A fundamental Quranic teaching is one that is not mentioned once or twice in the scripture, rather dozens of times from different angles and perspectives.

Once you have a few fundamentals going for you, you will be able to understand more and more of the Quranic text. The Quran will be made easy for you. You will begin to resolve the apparent conflicts in the Quran. Because your understanding would be in keeping of the Divine understanding and rise above the vulnerability of human inconsistencies and contradictions.

I believe that the verses about compassion and justice in the holy Quran are fundamental. As there are, Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran and scores of verses about justice in human affairs.

Let us read the whole of the Quran in light of the verse that has been mentioned as the epigraph and I promise you that you will not go wrong in your worldly or heavenly life:

We did not send you Muhammad, but as mercy for the whole mankind. (Al Quran 21:107/108)

This is the best pluralistic message, which as Muslims we can never forget or make it secondary to any other commandment or teaching.

May Allah grant us the courage and wisdom to read the scripture for ourselves and not through the limiting eyes of the scholar or the leader of our choice only.

Additional suggested reading: Scope, Style and Preservation of the Quran

Reference

  1. https://themuslimtimes.info/2019/02/01/sir-zafrullah-khan-introducing-the-holy-quran-to-the-world/
  2. This quote is from the chapter about the Quran. Read the whole book online: ISLAM – Its Meaning For Modern Man

Hollywood Actress Emilie Francois, Now a Muslim, Speaks of Social Justice in Islam

Collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran

Forty Hadiths or Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad about Compassionate Living

The Quran Applauded as a Landmark Contribution to ‘Words of Justice’ by Harvard

A British Convert to Islam: ‘I found Qur’an mother of all philosophies’

The Concept of Justice in Islam by Sir Zafrulla Khan

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Myriam Francois-Cerrah

From Wikipedia

Myriam Francois-Cerrah (born Emilie François; 1983) is a Franco-British writer,[1] broadcaster and academic on issues related to Islam, France and the Middle East. She writes a monthly column for the New Statesman online and is also a regular contributor to Middle East Eye.

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Contents

Career

Francois-Cerrah currently works as a freelance journalist, in both print and broadcast media. Her articles have been featured in The Guardian,[2] The Huffington Post,[3] New Statesman,[4] Your Middle East,[5] The London Paper, Jadaliyya,[6] ABC,[7] The Daily Telegraph,[8] Salon,[9] Index on Censorship,[10] the F-Word[11] and the magazine Emel.[12]

She is the presenter of a BBC documentary on the genocide at Srebrenica,[13] which aired on BBC 1 on Monday 6 July 2015.

She is a former correspondent for the Huffington Post (2014-2015), where she broke a headline story on an exclusive 36-page document written by alleged al-Qaeda kingpin Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,.[14]

She has worked as a programme researcher at the BBC, and currently works as a freelance programme producer on Al Jazeera’s Head to Head (2013-).

She is former assistant editor and features writer at Emel magazine (2008–2009).

She is a regular guest on BBC Big Questions (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)[15] and Sunday Morning Live.

She has appeared on Newsnight (2009), 4thought.tv (2011),[16] BBC News (2010),[17] Crosstalk (2010), BBC Radio (2012), Sky News[18] and documentaries including Divine Women, presented by Bettany Hughes.[19] In 2012, she commented the French presidential elections for Sky News, as well as the French presidential inauguration and 2012 local elections and regularly comments on current affairs, in particular related to France or the Middle East. She has been a frequent guest on Tariq Ramadan’s television show Islam & Life broadcast by Iran’s PressTV.

Film

A former actress, her screen career began at age 12 in Ang Lee‘s Sense and Sensibility (1995) in which she played Margaret Dashwood alongside Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.[20][21] She went on to star in Paws (1997) alongside Nathan Cavaleri and Heath Ledger, and New Year’s Day (2000), in which she played Heather.[citation needed]

Academia

She is currently a Research Associate at SOAS, in the Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East where her work focuses on issues related to British Muslims, integration and racism.

She previously worked as a Research Assistant at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS), Georgetown University (2005-2007) in Washington DC. While undertaking her doctorate, Francois also works as an academic tutor in the Oxford University Department for Politics and International Relations, where she teaches Middle East politics.

She has guest lectured at universities including Harvard University (2014), Birmingham, (2014), Luther College (2015) and an annual guest lecture at Kingston University, UK (2012-2014). She is due to deliver a lecture as part of the 2015-16 Ebor Series at York St John University.

Education

Francois-Cerrah is studying for a PhD at Oxford University in Oriental Studies focused on Islamic political movements in Morocco.[22]

She has an MA with honours in Middle East politics from Georgetown University, and a BA from Cambridge University in Social and Political science.[citation needed]

Personal Life

In 2003, at 21 years old, Francois-Cerrah became a Muslim after graduating from Cambridge. At the time, she was a skeptical Roman Catholic. She rejects the use of the words “convert” or “revert” as “exclusionary”, describing herself as “just Muslim”.[23]

References

External links

Interview with pioneering Islamic thinker Fehmi Jadaane What is the essence of Islam, and does it need reforming?

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Interview with pioneering Islamic thinker Fehmi Jadaane

What is the essence of Islam, and does it need reforming?

Renowned Jordanian Islamic scholar Fehmi Jadaane vehemently objects to the transformation of Islam into an ideology. The religion ends up mired in a political swamp, he says, its message nothing more than an instrument of governance. Interview by Alia Al-Rabeo

In recent years some authors and intellectuals have shown increased interest in the so-called “reformation” of Islam. Do you address this issue in your book “The Liberation of Islam”? Does the modern Arab world need this kind of reformation? And would it help in countering religious fundamentalism?

Fehmi Jadaane: Let me make it quite clear that I am not interested in a reformation of the faith in its essence, nor with questioning what the revelatory scripture contains, implies or aims at. Because that would imply that there is a defect in the structure of the text that needs to be repaired. Which is not at all my conviction. What I’m really getting at is this: the text of revelation, inscribed for all time on God’s “well-guarded tablet”, is confronted today with numerous contradictions in the reality that manifests itself to believers – that is to say to individual human beings. These contradictions stem from the fact that man is imperfect through and through, in all facets of his existence. For there is nothing more contradictory than a human being.

This has implications for how the text is understood, how it manifests itself and materialises in experienced and imagined reality. The obstacles and contradictions to which Islam has been and still is exposed are countless. If we want liberation, we must face up to this fact.

There is no doubt that the upheavals triggered by religious fundamentalism are currently the most prominent phenomenon in this scenario. But there are also other deep-seated contradictions that are wreaking massive damage on the global image of Islam. I dealt with some of them in my book “The Liberation of Islam”. We must resolutely censure, reject and remedy these contradictions – just as we must the notion of an Islam reduced to its ideological-political aspects.

You call for a dialogue between all groups across the social spectrum so that the Arab region can enter into modernity. Do you really believe it is possible for such dialogue to take place, given the massive polarisation and divisive tendencies that run through Arab society – sectarian, political and ideological?

Fehmi Jadaane: I would like to take this opportunity to throw in a quote: ‘where justice is manifest, divine law comes into its own’. The just state is thus quite capable of providing for the needs of the general public. Of course, fanatics won’t let themselves be dissuaded from their dogmatism and entrenched views just like that. Because they are ruled and controlled by “passions”, not by reason and pragmatism.

I therefore share your fears regarding the question of whether current generations in the Arab countries – at least the older ones among them, who have experienced politics as senseless conflict their entire lives – are ready for such new approaches to thinking and action.

I am pretty sure that this will only be possible for future generations – provided that an early start is made to inculcate in them paedagogical values based on what Jurgen Habermas called “communicative action”. In other words, the values of free debate, dialogue, exchange, openness and mutual respect.

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Dr. Zia H Shah, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

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The Bible, The Quran and Science: Is the Quran copied from the Bible?

the Quran and the Torah, the Bible and science

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

The Bible, The Quran and Science is a book by a French surgeon Dr. Maurice Bucaille and could be described as a commentary of the following verses of the Holy Quran:

The disbelievers say: This Quran is naught but a lie that Muhammad has fabricated, and other people have helped him with it. They have, thereby, perpetrated an injustice and an untruth. They also say: These are fables of the ancients which he has got someone to write down for him and they are recited to him morning and evening. Say to them: The Quran has been revealed by Him Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth. Indeed, He is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. (Al Surah Al-Furqan 25:5-7)

He examined the Holy Quran in the light of modern science and found, ‘The Quran has been revealed by Allah Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth.’
Many Christian writers and clergy claim that the Holy Quran is borrowed from the Bible. Allah refutes this allegation in the words, “The Quran has been revealed by Him Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth.” The most effective proofs of this Quranic claim were to come after the scientific revolution. Dr. Maurice Bucaille’s book is indeed a landmark achievement in this regards. However, it needs to be understood that the Holy Quran is a book of ‘religion’ and not a ‘book of science’ and Bucaille’s book is a book of ‘metaphysics’ and not of science. Metaphysics is a term, which means literally ‘what comes after physics.’ So, it is a branch of philosophy that studies the ultimate structure and constitution of reality, correlating religion and science.

Aside: Here is a video by Garry Wills to promote religious tolerance and better understanding of the Quran and the Abrahamic faiths

The Christian apologists often accuse that the Holy Quran is borrowed from the Bible. How can they be disabused of this self indulgence? This post or thread is dedicated to this issue.

This book by a French Surgeon, Maurice Bucaille has gained general popularity in the Muslim world. Today when I searched this title of the book on Google, I came up with more than half a million possible links. I want to start this knol to compare and contrast the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible in light of science. Even today some Christian apologists have the audacity to suggest that the Holy Quran is copied from the Bible. Let this thread be a discussion and an international repository to disabuse them of such ideas.

Here I quote from the introduction section of Maurice Bucaille’s book:

Another fundamental difference in the Scriptures of Christianity and Islam is the fact that Christianity does not have a text which is both revealed and written down. Islam, however, has the Quran which fits this description.

The Quran is the expression of the Revelation made to Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel, which was immediately taken down, and was memorized and recited by the faithful in their prayers, especially during the month of Ramadan. Muhammad himself arranged it into suras, and these were collected soon after the death of the Prophet, to form, under the rule of Caliph Uthman (12 to 24 years after the Prophet’s death), the text we know today.

In contrast to this, the Christian Revelation is based on numerous indirect human accounts. We do not in fact have an eyewitness account from the life of Jesus, contrary to what many Christians imagine. The question of the authenticity of the Christian and Islamic texts has thus now been formulated.

The confrontation between the texts of the Scriptures and scientific data has always provided man with food for thought.

It was at first held that corroboration between the scriptures and science was a necessary element to the authenticity of the sacred text. Saint Augustine, in letter No. 82, which we shall quote later on, formally established this principle. As science progressed however it became clear that there were discrepancies between Biblical Scripture and science. It was therefore decided that comparison would no longer be made. Thus a situation arose which today, we are forced to admit, puts Biblical exegetes and scientists in opposition to one another. We cannot, after all, accept a divine Revelation making statements which are totally inaccurate. There was only one way of logically reconciling the two; it lay in not considering a passage containing unacceptable scientific data to be genuine. This solution was not adopted. Instead, the integrity of the text was stubbornly maintained and experts were obliged to adopt a position on the truth of the Biblical Scriptures which, for the scientist, is hardly tenable.

Like Saint Augustine for the Bible, Islam has always assumed that the data contained in the Holy Scriptures were in agreement with scientific fact. A modern examination of the Islamic Revelation has not caused a change in this position. As we shall see later on, the Quran deals with many subjects of interest to science, far more in fact than the Bible. There is no comparison between the limited number of Biblical statements which lead to a confrontation With science, and the profusion of subjects mentioned in the Quran that are of a scientific nature. None of the latter can be contested from a scientific point of view. this is the basic fact that emerges from our study. We shall see at the end of this work that such is not the case for the Hadiths. These are collections of the Prophet’s sayings, set aside from the Quranic Revelation, certain of which are scientifically unacceptable. The Hadiths in question have been under study in accordance with the strict principles of the Quran which dictate that science and reason should always be referred to, if necessary to deprive them of any authenticity.

These reflections on the scientifically acceptable or unacceptable nature of a certain Scripture need some explanation. It must be stressed that when scientific data are discussed here, what is meant is data definitely established. This consideration rules out any explanatory theories, once useful in illuminating a phenomenon and easily dispensed with to make way for further explanations more in keeping with scientific progress. What I intend to consider here are incontrovertible facts and even if science can only provide incomplete data, they will nevertheless be sufficiently well established to be used Without fear of error.

Scientists do not, for example, have even an approximate date for man’s appearance on Earth. They have however discovered remains of human works which we can situate beyond a shadow of a doubt at before the tenth millenium B.C. Hence we cannot consider the Biblical reality on this subject to be compatible with science. In the Biblical text of Genesis, the dates and genealogies given would place man’s origins (i.e. the creation of Adam) at roughly thirty-seven centuries B.C. In the future, science may be able to provide us with data that are more precise than our present calculations, but we may rest assured that it will never tell us that man first appeared on Earth 6,786 years ago, as does the Hebraic calendar for 1976. The Biblical data concerning the antiquity of man are therefore inaccurate.

Whereas the scriptures are books of religion, what Bucaille is writing or the theme of his book is ‘metaphysics.’ A certain amount of humility is in order to comprehend the distinction between religion, science and metaphysics. In the words of Sir Charles Darwin, as he quoted Francis Bacon from his book Advancement of learning in the later editions of Origin of Species to establish the proper relationship between religion and natural science:

“To conclude, therefore, let no man out of weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well-studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficiency in both.”  Review of the scriptures in light of science and appropriate commentaries by the initiated will lead a casual but honest reader to truth.

Now let me offer a detailed excerpt from the writings of the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, as he defends the Holy Quran against the allegation of plagiarism:

The author of Yanabi-ul-Islam has tried to prove that the Holy Quran has been copied from certain accounts or books, but his effort is nothing compared to the effort made by a learned Jew to determine the authenticity of the Gospels. He has established, in his own estimation, that the moral teachings of the Gospels have been taken from the Jewish scripture Talmud and certain other books of the Israelites, and that this act of plagiary has been so blatant that whole paragraphs have been copied word for word. The scholar has proved that the Gospels are a collection of stolen material, and has gone so far as to prove that the ‘Sermon on the Mount’—in which Christians take such pride—has been copied verbatim from the Talmud. He has shown that the text has also been copied from various other books, and has thus astonished many people. European researchers are also taking a keen interest in this research. I recently came across a book written by a Hindu in which he, too, had tried to prove that the Gospels have been taken from the teachings of Buddha, and he cited Buddha’s moral teachings to establish this point. The story about the devil, who took Jesus (as) from place to place to tempt him, is also prevalent among the Buddhists. Everyone is, therefore, entitled to believe that the story has been copied in the Gospels with minor alterations. It is an established fact that Jesus (as) came to India and his grave is to be found in Srinagar, Kashmir, as I have proved with categorical evidence. And in this context, the detractors are further justified to believe that the existing Gospels are merely a sketch of Buddhism. The evidence in this regard is so overwhelming that it can no longer be concealed.

Another incredible fact is that the ancient book of Yuz Asaf (which most English scholars believe to have been published before the birth of Jesus (as)), and which has been translated in all European countries, is so similar to the Gospels that many of their passages are identical. The parables used by the Gospels are also found word for word in this book. Even if the person reading it were so ignorant as to be practically blind, he would still be convinced that the Gospels have been borrowed from the same book. Some people, including some English scholars, believe that this book belongs to Gautama Buddha, and that it was originally in Sanskrit and was later translated into other languages. If this is true, the Gospels would lose all their credibility and Jesus (as) would be considered a plagiarist in all his teachings—God forbid. The book is available for everyone to see. My own opinion, however, is that this book is Jesus’ own Gospel which was written during his journey to India. I have proved with many arguments that it is indeed the Gospel of Jesus (as), and is purer and holier than the other Gospels. The English scholars who consider this book to be that of Buddha, call Jesus (as) a plagiarist by implication, and thus they dig their own grave.

It should also be remembered that the clergy’s collection of scriptures is completely worthless and even embarrassing. They whimsically declare some books to be divine and others to be forged. They judge these four Gospels to be authentic and the rest—about fifty-six of them—forged. But this belief is based on mere guesswork and speculation, rather than on any concrete evidence. They have had to make these decisions by themselves, for there is a marked discrepancy between these and the other Gospels. Researchers, however, believe that it is not possible to determine which of them is actually forged and which is not. This is why, on the occasion of King Edward’s coronation, the Church fathers of London presented him with the books which they presume to be forged along with the four Gospels, all bound in one volume. I possess a copy of this Bible. Now, if these books had really been forged and were unholy, would it not be sinful to bind the holy and the unholy in a single volume? The fact is that these people are unable to say with any degree of conviction whether any of these books are authentic or forged, and everyone goes by their own opinion. Out of mere prejudice, they declare those Gospels to be fabricated which are in accord with the Holy Quran. Hence they have declared the Gospel of Barnabas to have been forged because it contains a clear prophecy about the Prophet of the Latter Days [the Holy Prophet]. Sale, in his commentary, has related the story of a Christian monk who was converted to Islam after reading this Gospel. Remember, these people declare a book to be false or fabricated for either of these two reasons:

1. If an account or a book contradicts the current Gospels.

2. If an account or a book has some similarity with the Holy Quran. Some mischievous and black-hearted people first try to establish the principle9 that these books are fabricated, and then claim that the Holy Quran contains stories taken out of them, and in this manner they try to deceive the ignorant.

The fact is that only Divine revelation has the authority to prove the truth or falsity of past scriptures. Any account confirmed by Divine revelation has to be true, even though some ignorant ones declare it otherwise. Similarly, the account which Divine revelation rejects, has to be false, even though some people declare it to be true.

To think that the Holy Quran is made up of such well known accounts, tales, books or gospels, is the height of ignorance and something to be ashamed of. Is there anything wrong with a book of God being in agreement with some past accounts? Many truths of the Vedas, which were not even known at the time, are to be found in the Holy Quran, but can we conclude from this that the Holy Prophet (saw) had studied the Vedas? The Gospels that have now become available—thanks to the printing press— were not known to anyone in Arabia, and the people of that land were simply unlettered. If there happened to be an odd Christian among them, he was not likely to know much about his own religion. It is therefore despicable to think that the Holy Prophet (saw) plagiarized from these books. The Holy Prophet (saw) was unlettered and could not even read Arabic, let alone Greek or Hebrew. It is now upon our opponents to produce any manuscript of that time from which these accounts are supposed to have been taken. If the Holy Quran contained material copied from other sources, the Christians of Arabia, who were bitter enemies of Islam, would at once have cried out that it has been taken from their own accounts.

Remember, the Holy Quran is the only scripture in the world that proclaims itself to be a miracle. It forcefully asserts that its prophecies and narratives are from the realm of the unseen, it contains prophecies about the future down to the Last Day, and that it is a miracle in respect of its eloquence and beauty of expression. It would have been easy for the Christians of that time to produce the books from which passages were supposedly copied in the Holy Quran, thus dealing a severe blow to Islam. But now they only cry over spilled milk. It is unthinkable that the Christians of Arabia would have kept quiet despite being in possession of books—whether genuine or forged—from which they suspected the Holy Quran of having copied certain material. Thus there can be no doubt that the Holy Quran is totally composed of the revealed word of God, and that this revelation was a great miracle, for, no one could produce anything like it.

Just consider, can a person dare to give such a challenge to the whole world, while being a plagiarist and having cooked the whole thing up on his own, and knowing full well that this knowledge has not come to him from the unseen, rather he has stolen it from such and such books, and to think that no one should be able to accept his challenge and expose him!

The fact is that the Christians are extremely annoyed with the Holy Quran, for it has destroyed the very basis of their religion. It has refuted the concept of deifying a human being, shattered the doctrine of the cross, and proven beyond all doubt that the teachings of the Gospels—which the Christians are so proud of—are extremely flawed and ineffective. It was, therefore, only natural for their egoistic passions to have been aroused, and their imputations [against the Holy Quran] are quite understandable. The example of a Muslim who wishes to convert to Christianity is like a person who, having been born from his mother’s womb and having attained maturity, wishes to return to her womb and become a sperm once more. I wonder what the Christians are so proud of! If they have a ‘God’, he is the one who died long ago and lies buried in Mohalla Khanyar, Srinagar, Kashmir. And if he has any miracles to his name, they are no greater than those of other Prophets, indeed Prophet Elijah showed greater miracles than he ever did.

This is from the book Fountain of Christianity. Please see the actual book for some of the references cited and the footnotes.

We have saved the above video in the Muslim Times as well:

Every Thing You Wanted to Know about Compilation and Preservation of the Holy Quran

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Indeed, We (Allah) Ourself have sent down this Quran, and most surely We will be its Guardian. (Al Quran 15:9/10)

topakapi manuscript
Topkapi manuscript of the Holy Quran

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Book Review: The Bible, The Quran and Science

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The Muslim Times has the best collection for the theme of religion and science

Book by Dr. Maurice Bucaille

Book review by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

As I was growing up in Pakistan and studying in King Edward Medical College, Lahore, 1979-1985, enamored by the success of science and technology, I had come to have agnostic and atheistic tendencies.

Then I read the book by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, the Bible the Quran and Science, and every thing changed for me.

For centuries the Christian apologists have called the Holy Quran a forgery of the Bible and I had some reasons to think that the Bible itself is a forgery, and in a recent book a New Testament scholar, Prof. Bart Ehrman, presents evidence and claims that half of the New Testament is a forgery.  After reading Bucaille’s book I thought to myself, how could an alleged  forgery of a forgery, the Holy Quran, get its facts straight in the court of science, as Maurice Bucaille presented?   Over time I have come to admire the Holy Quran more and more!

In presenting the Islamic scriptures to the agnostics and atheists, now I also realize that as they mostly grew in Christian background, they  learn about the vulnerabilities of the Bible and without genuinely studying the case for the Holy Quran, attribute those vulnerabilities and some more, to the Quran also.

Additionally, when interpreting a given verse of the Quran, they invariably accept the most cynical interpretation of the Holy Quran without trying to determine which interpretation is more probable.  However, if they were to objectively and honestly study the Holy Quran they may relive the experience of the famous German philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

As often as we approach the Quran, it always proves repulsive anew; gradually, however, it attracts, it astonishes, and, in the end forces admiration.

The Holy Quran states:

The disbelievers say: This Quran is naught but a lie that Muhammad has fabricated, and other people have helped him with it. They have, thereby, perpetrated an injustice and an untruth. They also say: These are fables of the ancients which he has got someone to write down for him and they are recited to him morning and evening. Say to them: The Quran has been revealed by Him Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth. Indeed, He is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. (Al Surah Al-Furqan 25:5-7)

Many Christian writers and clergy claim that the Holy Quran is borrowed from the Bible. Allah refutes this allegation in the words, “The Quran has been revealed by Him Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth.”

The most effective proofs of this Quranic claim were to come after the scientific revolution. Dr. Maurice Bucaille’s book is indeed a landmark achievement in this regards.  By showing that the Quran co-relates with modern science, whereas, the Bible often does not and is self contradictory, one can put to rest propaganda of the Christian apologists!

However, it needs to be understood that the Holy Quran is a book of ‘religion’ and not a ‘book of science’ and Bucaille’s book is a book of ‘metaphysics’ and not of science. Metaphysics is a term, which means literally ‘what comes after physics.’ So, it is a branch of philosophy that studies the ultimate structure and constitution of reality, correlating religion and science.

A certain amount of humility is in order to comprehend the distinction between religion, science and metaphysics.

In the words of Sir Charles Darwin, as he quoted Francis Bacon from his book Advancement of learning in the later editions of On the Origin of Species, to establish the proper relationship between religion and natural science:

To conclude, therefore, let no man out of weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well-studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficiency in both.

If we read the book of Dr. Maurice Bucaille with this humility there is much room for learning for both the Muslim and the non-Muslim audience.

To order the book please go to Amazon.com, the Kindle version is available for $2.99