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Earlier Korans

Reader comment on item: Uncovering Early Islam
in response to reader comment: The Sana'a Quran from c. 650 A.D.

Submitted by Sigmund Derman (United States), May 18, 2012 at 11:44

All this research is very important and, of course, there can be various interpretations. I wonder if the earlier Koran that was uncovered was closer to Christian (or Jewish) writings than the present Uthman Koran. Though this seems to undermine the idea that the Koran has been perfect and unchanging, it is always possible to explain away any seeming contradiction such as has been done in other religions. One can always say that starting at certain point the true Koran had finally been written down. It sort of makes sense that the development of the Koran would be similar to the Jewish and Christian writings, i.e. earlier stories and accounts were woven together. The main difference seems to be that the Muslim fundamentalists react much more strongly than Christian and Jewish fundamentalists. Also, it seems that it is hard to find Muslim scholars who question the basic tenets of their faith whereas it is easy to find such skeptics among Christian and Jewish scholars. Some people believe that the skepticism is a sign of weakness. But, personally, I look at it as a strength.

Let's face it. I do not think there is much, if any, real historical evidence for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph or Moses. There is some evidence for a David and a Solomon but certainly not enough to support all the details in the Bible. There probably is enough evidence for a Jesus but, again, not nearly enough to support the details. There is no proof that the crucifixion ever occurred. There is no historical record of the last supper, Jesus' "miracles" or the trial of Jesus. For the most part, we have no idea who wrote the bulk of the Gospels of the New Testament. So if Mohammed is in the same boat as all of the rest of these, I do not think it really invalidates the religion. I think it would be nice if Muslims developed more skepticism of their own religion and less tendency to have all or none beliefs. But I it seems that changes come slowly. Personally, I think that absolutist views of religion tend to be dangerous no matter whose religion one is talking about.

I happen to believe in God and I even am rather religious in my own faith even though I am skeptical of the details. Is that logical? I don't know, but it seems to work for me.


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