reading The Koran - some ??'s

for someone who has more than a passing interest in religion and God, I realised the other day I've never actually fully read any of the main religious texts of the worlds major faiths. I've read bits, but never a full work. This is pretty poor. It's my aim over this next year to rectify this, and I'm starting with The Koran, (NJ Darwoods English translation). Anyway, I'm barely into this and already I have some q's, so if anyone knowledgable on this could help me it would be much appreciated.

Firstly, I'm unclear exactly how the Christian and Jewish faiths should be seen by Muslims. In the opening section (The Cow) it says;

"Believers, Jews, Christians and Sabaeans - whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right - shall be rewarded by their Lord; they have nothing to fear or regret..."

Later however, it says;

"They say: 'accept the Jewish or Christian faith...'
Say: 'By no means! We believe in the faith of Abraham... he was no idolater..."

The 2 statements aren't entirely contradictory, but they suggest to me a contradiction in tone - ie the 1st would lead me to think that Islam/Judaism/Christianity have the same God, revealed to each slightly differently, (a fairly 'liberal' kind of approach) while the latter seems to write the other 2 faiths off as idolatery.

Any ideas?

When quoting, give the proper Quranic references. It makes it easier to find the verses and hence discuss them.

The first verse you cite is 2.62 (see also 5.69). What's the other one?

ok, sorry - 2nd is 2.134 ish....

Thanks, got it. It's 2.135.

I believe the normal translation isn't 'idolaters', but rather conveys the idea of combining gods with God.

Anyway, the idea is that Abraham's religion got messed up. Eg. The Christian concepts of God's son and the Trinity are obviously seen in Islam as being completely and utterly wrong - a total misconception of God's teachings.

The comparative harshness of tone (compared with the other verse you mentioned) is due to the context. The idea is that the Jews and Christians are saying "Do things our way, if you want to be saved." And God's saying "Tell them to fuck off, because they're the ones who are doing things the wrong way."

cheers, that's how I read the second quote I mentioned, but it was actually the first bit that struck me as strange to be honest. I would expect a harsh stance towards Christianity and Judaism, yet I read the first quote to mean that basically as long as you pray to God and fear the end of days then it doesn't matter if you go to a Mosque, Church or Synagogue... Am I completely wrong?

No, you've got it right. The idea is that anyone who believes in God (which obviously includes Jews and Christians) can get into heaven, but that the other religions have got things a little muddled up.

cheers... I will no doubt have more q's as I read more, but that's all for now. Out of interest when was the Quran written? Am I right in thinking around 600 Common Era or was it not committed to paper until later?

Also, who was it written by? Was it directly written by Muhammed or was it written by his followers based on what he told them? Excuse my ignorance if this is a blindingly obvious question - I'm trying to relate it to what I know about the history of the New Testament/Christianity so I may be going off in the wrong direction.

There's some debate over when exactly the Quran was written down. According to some scholars, it occurred during Mohammed's time: wouldn't have been by Mohammed himself, since he was illiterate - it would have been his followers who did the actual writing.)According to others, it was only memorised at first (there's a word in Arabic - Hafiz - that means a person who has memorised the Quran; both in Mohammed's time and now, it is/was quite common), then committed to paper later.

thanks. That's what I was trying to find out - if it was first recorded via some kind of oral tradition passed down through generations - if that had been the case it would raise the q of whether the people that committed it to paper had their own opinions that they tried to 'slip in' to the text. However, from what I've read thus far it at least gives the appearance of being written by the one person/source, as opposed to the NT of Christianity... Anyway, just my random thoughts at the mo.

My muslim friend from Afganistan told me that the main miracle of the koran was that Mohammed wrote it himself even though he was illiterate.I can't comment on what he's been taught, but I've never heard of any legit source claiming that Mohammed wrote it. Normally people say the miracle is that the Quran is in beautiful, poetic Arabic - not the kind of thing which an illiterate, uneducated guy would generally be able to compose and memorise.