Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Moses in the Qur'an

The following is a brief excerpt from my book Reading the Qur'an in English (Cape Breton University Press, 2009). People who are unfamiliar with Islam and the Qur'an are often surprised to learn that Moses figures far more prominently than any other individual, aside from Muhammad, in Islam's holy book.
Even though the name of Moses appears so many times in the Qur'an, it is interesting to note that his name does not appear at all in surahs 41 through 114. Remembering that the textual order of the Qur'an is virtually the reverse order in which the surahs were revealed, this suggests that the story of Moses only becomes important once the basic message of the Qur'an is known. There is a logical explanation for this. The early surahs tend to focus on the fundamental tenets of the Oneness of God and the Day of Judgment. By contrast, the content of the later surahs is much more complex and multifaceted, often containing responses to both theoretical and practical questions about Islam, some of which are likely to have arisen through dialogue with the Jews. (pp. 82-83)
My discussion of Moses compares the way that he is depicted in the Torah, the New Testament and the Qur'an, with an emphasis on surahs 26 (The Poets), 27 (The Ants), and 28 (The Story).