Title: Who wrote the Koran?
The New York Times: By Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar-December 5, 2008 #200 #uwreligions
The article presents a controversial topic in Islamic communities pertaining to the divine origin of the Koran, the holy book of Muslims. Abdukarim Soroush, a leading public intellectual in Iran was highly venerated and was asked to lead the turning of Iranian teaching universities into Islamic institutions of knowledge. However, due to his later support of the establishment of a democratic state in Iran, an opposition to the state’s theocracy path, Soroush suffered great violence and a near death experience by the public. Years later, Soroush reignited controversy by speaking with a Dutch reporter about one of Islam’s delicate subject matter relating to the authorship of the Koran. In the interview, Soroush claimed that he is of the belief that the Koran was written by the prophet Muhammad himself as opposed to the book’s divine origin. His argument stems from the fact that in reading the Koran, one can acknowledge that the writing is human- like and traceable to an individual’s point of view. He concluded that the Koran is not the words of God.
Soroush’s interview quickly made headline news through mass media that prompted Iran’s religious state leader (Ayatollah) to join in on the matter. A debate issued between Iranian clerics and Soroush in an attempt to each prove their point of view. Soroush’s critics argued that the Koranic verse: “this is a book we have sent down to you (O Muhammad)” is a clear demonstration that God is explicitly stating that the Koran was sent to prophet Muhammad by the Lord, claiming the authenticity of its
sacred writer. Ayatollas’s clerics also pointed out that it had been well documented on many occasions that the prophet would patiently await for God’s commands to be bestowed upon him before relaying the Lord’s message to his followers. Soroush argued against this sentiment by expressing that the prophet was not simply reciting God’s words without displaying his input and mark in the text. Soroush’s analysis of the Koran is based on a figurative understanding of the verses, not a literal interpretation. Soroush applied a modern exegesis of the Koran’s teachings. Many Iranian Muslims viewed Soroush’s statement as blasphemy against Islam and threatened to use violence against him.
On a surprising note however, Iran’s supreme leader preached against anger. Ayatollah’s solution is to counter the rhetoric with the religious truth. Today, the Iranian people seek a secular government; similar to Soroush’s prior yearning. Soroush desires freedom of religion instead of freedom from religion. He encourages an open spiritual dialogue about Islam to attain the separation of church and state.
In my opinion, freedom of speech is a right that belongs to all humanity. Having said that, it is important to be well informed about a subject matter before making a controversial statement publically. According to academics that have exclusively studied the religion of Islam, the majority of textual evidence from Muslim Hadiths and archeological records claim that the prophet Muhammad was illiterate. The prophet’s inability to read or write is a critical fact to Muslims. It is not seen as an insult, but instead proves to inquiring minds that Muhammad could not have written the Koran given his literacy level. Therefore, it demonstrates the legitimacy that the Koran is indeed the words of God relayed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. Prophet Muhammad
then recited the Koran from memory to his followers to be later inscribed for future generations. Also, the Koran is a sacred text that cannot be translated into any other language. It is intended to be read and studied in its native Arabic language. This is to avoid loss of context and meaning. Some Muslim scholars claim that the poetic nature of the Koran’s writing and its multilayered meanings demonstrate a beautiful complexity that is beyond a man’s writing capability. Islam is the third and last western religion to bestow humanity. Muslims view the prophet Muhammad as the perfect template of a human being whose life is to be imitated to achieve greatness. Muslim worshippers view Muhammad as the last prophet who is beyond criticism. Muslims around the globe may perceive Soroush’s proclamation as a form of defamation of the prophet. This in turn lessens the status of Islam to a simple religion created by men for men, instead of being divine in nature.
No amount of scientific evidence is able to prove for certain how ancient events actually took place. In the end, religion is a matter of faith. It is a personal journey that every individual embarks upon at some point in life in an attempt to answer the meaning of life and to find our purpose on planet earth.