Islam has worldwide influence, and even in the United States is experiencing a period of unprecedented growth. Its sacred book, the Koran, is the subject of voluminous commentary, yet it rarely receives the kind of objective critical scrutiny that has been applied to the texts of the Bible for over a century.
To correct this neglect of objective scholarship, Ibn Warraq has assembled this excellent collection of critical commentaries on the Koran published by noted scholars from the beginning of the 20th century to recent times. These important studies, as well as his own lengthy introduction, show that little about the text of the Koran can be taken at face value. Among the fascinating topics discussed is evidence that early Muslims did not understand Muhammad’s original revelation, that the ninth-century explosion of literary activity was designed to organize and make sense of an often incoherent text, and that much of the traditions surrounding Muhammad’s life were fabricated long after his death in an attempt to give meaning to the Koran. Also of interest are suggestions that Coptic and other Christian sources heavily influenced much of the text and that some passages reflect even an Essenian background reaching back to the community of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This outstanding volume will be a welcome resource to interested lay readers and scholars alike.