It is often said that the definition of a classic is a book that everyone has heard of and nobody has read. If that is so then for most people the Quran definitely fits the bill. Even many Muslims have not read it cover to cover.
This is a folly. The Quran is the foundational text of Islam, the fastest growing and second largest religion in the world, with over a billion and a half adherents. The Quran is traditionally regarded as the ultimate word of God by Muslims. Therefore, its dictates shape faith and culture in every country influenced by Islam.
If you do not think religion is important, that is your prerogative. But millions of people do think it is important, and those people have been tremendously influential in global history. The Quran is not the totality of Islam. There is the sunnah, the oral tradition of practices that accompanies the Quran. There are the hadiths, the collected sayings of Mohammed. And of course there are the countless books of commentary and exegesis written by scholars through the centuries, some good, some bad and some ugly.
The Quran, though, is the foundation. Without reading it, you can never hope to have a meaningful opinion on Islam nor on Islamism. It is also mercifully short. It is significantly shorter than the Bible and can be read in a weekend if you have a lot of free time and certainly within a month if you have a full schedule and/or are a slow reader. It is also available for free online or in libraries and very cheaply in bookshops.
The Quran is easily one of the most important books of all time. Not reading it, when it so strongly influences the lives of almost a third of the world’s population, is frankly negligent. This would be true under normal circumstances. It is doubly true in a reality in which a totalitarian political ideology based on a particular interpretation of Islam is wreaking such havoc worldwide.
Is Islam inherently violent? Is it a religion of peace? Is the poetry as beautiful as they say? Is it the one true faith?
Unless you read the Quran, you have no way of even beginning to answer these questions.
This year, stop putting it off and read the Quran. We recommend the Sahih International translation, because it is widely accepted worldwide. We’ll even give you the first surah (chapter) for free:
“In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Beneficent
In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds –
The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful,
Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
Guide us to the straight path –
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray.”
You can finish the rest here.