19 February 2008

Qur'an, Arabic and Islamic theology

At Tyndale House we regularly have Christian scholars who are researching Islam,
and occasionally Islamic scholars who are studying the Bible.

A few years ago we welcomed a delegation from the Cairo's Al-Azhar University.
The Qur'anic commentary on the Gospels we presented to them is now online.
Most Muslims have a great reverence for the Bible and this was a treasured gift.

The following links aim for mutual understanding without weakness or compromise
from either side. They represent a robust attempt to study the Bible and Islam
whilst seeking to spread enlightenment rather than offence.

In this area where unbiased facts are rare, Wikipedia has set a wonderful example.
The many articles marked as "disputed neutrality" or "locked due to vandalism"
indicate the difficulties behind this success and the ongoing struggle for balance.

1) Arabic language
2) Qur'an & Hadith
3) Islamic Beliefs and Practice
4) Apologetics

1) Arabic Language
Complete 8-Volume Lane's Arabic Lexicon
Tyndale House is proud to announce the free online publication of an indexed
version of this complete lexicon, with easy-to-use features such as magnification,
and tabbed page lookup, in co-operation with studyquran.org who provided the scans.

The Memoirs of Lane in the lexicon are fascinating, even if you aren't interested in Arabic.
During his voyage to Alexandria as a teenager to learn Arabic, they hit a ferocious storm,
and the useless crew didn't know how to navigate. "The captain entreated Lane to take the
helm. Fortunately navigation had formed part of his mathematical studies, but he was little
more than a boy .... and he had to be lashed to the wheel or he would be washed overboard."

2LetterLookup with Arabic
Click on the first two letters of a root to find all possible words in the Qur'an
A quick lookup dictionary with links to full text lexicons.
Also works for Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Akkadian

Learn Arabic -
links to introductions, grammars, and Arabic conjugator etc.

2) Qur'an
A Rough translation (no translation is accurate) by Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Muhsin Khan
Three main English translations - (Yusuf Ali, Pickthal, Shakir) one paragraph at a time
Sixteen English translations - one line at a time, with the Arabic in transliteration
Interlinear Arabic-English
word-for-word translation with Arabic as graphics

Topical Index - alphabetic subject index with links to the the Multiple Translations
Topical Index to Arabic & English - same index, but full Arabic graphics slows it a little.

Word searches in English, with proximity searches and boolean searches
Word and Root searches in Arabic - including searches of Arabic by English meaning

Hadith - ie sayings or actions of Muhammad (and sometimes of his first companions)

Wiki introduction to the Hadith and a defense of the collections
English translations of Bukhari and Muslim (the two most authoritative Hadith)

Search Bukhari and Muslim in English, with results from both.

Islamic texts on Computers

Holy Qur'an Viewer includes Arabic in Unicode, English translation,
commentary, glossary, searching, and even images of manuscripts.

Palm for use with with the free BiblePlus program:
Arabic Qur'an (free) and transliterated Qur'an and Arabic Bible
English Qur'an (free) incl. Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, Shakir, Khalifa

PocketPCQur'an (Arabic & English $25) or more features ($30) or Arabic only (free)
Hadith: Sahih Bukhari (Arabic only, free)

3) Islamic Beliefs and Practice
General Muslim beliefs (links to Islamic sites)
Websites by Muslim women

History of the Shia-Suni split - from its origins to the attempt at unity by al-Azhar University
Wiki articles on Shia Islam and Suni Islam - good unbiased introductions.

Shiite beliefs
- Ayatollah Sistani's answers to question on everything
from how to dress during prayer, to the minimum length of a temporary marriage.

Sharia law - based on Qur'an and Hadith, but with much geographical variation
Hanbali is the most conservative school. It is used in Saudi Arabia and some states in Northern Nigeria.
Hanafi is the most liberal school, and is relatively open to modern ideas.
Maliki is based on the practices of the people of Medina during Muhammad's lifetime.
Shafi`i is a conservative school emphasizing the opinions of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad.
Twelvers are the basis of Shiite law, as used in Iraq and Iran.

4) Apologetics between Muslims and Christians
The following sites are, of course, biased - but are usually helpful.

Useful sites from a Muslim perspective:
- a detailed dialogue (with lots of references and facts), eg "Was Jesus crucified?"
- a list of misconceptions (aimed mainly at young people) eg "Why Do I Wear Hijab?"
- miracles of Islam (stories from the past) eg "Prophet Noah's Ark", "Jinns and Angels"
- Islamic Awareness esp. regarding the Bible and New Testament manuscripts

Useful sites from a Christian perspective:
- Bible and Qur'an stories - a selection of stories with the two versions compared
- Bible and Qur'an theology - proof texts from both for a wide variety of doctrines.
- Origins of the Koran - a scholarly work on the textual history of the modern Qur'an

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