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The Koran (Penguin Classics)
by N.J. Dawood | Religion & Spirituality
Registered by droogie of Nottingham, not specified not specified on 7/17/2005
Average 8 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by YowlYY): reserved

8 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by droogie from Nottingham, not specified not specified on Sunday, July 17, 2005

8 out of 10

Very interesting read, read it over a decade ago but thought it should go out on a ring.

It is going to the following:


Journal Entry 2 by coolboxuk from Chertsey, Surrey United Kingdom on Monday, July 25, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Received today - still reading another (big!) book at the moment but should get round to it in due course... 

Journal Entry 3 by coolboxuk from Chertsey, Surrey United Kingdom on Saturday, August 27, 2005

This book has not been rated.

I do admit that I've only read snippets of this book. I haven't got much time at my hands at the moment, and considering the long list of people waiting for it, don't want to sit on it for too long.

I was surprised that a lot of what I read was not unlike the things written in the Bible, although if I sometimes find the Bible hard to read, I found the style of the Koran even more grating. I also would have preferred a version with some explanations, probably similar to a study bible.

I would like to read more of it, at a time when I'm more relaxed about it, as it's not the kind of thing that inspires me to sit and read on page after page. So I was wondering whether it would be possible to have the book again at the very end of the line...??? 

Journal Entry 4 by WormyOne from Brighton & Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom on Friday, September 02, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Thanks for setting up this ring Droogie and for sending it to me CoolBoxUK. What a good idea! The more people read the texts of a wide variety of faiths, the better chance we have of understanding one another. I'm not sure yet whether I'll read it cover to cover or just dip into it but I'll report back later.

The blurb reads:

"The Koran is universally accepted by Muslims to be the infallible Word of God as first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel nearly fourteen hundred years ago. Its 114 chapters, or surahs, recount the narratives central to Muslim belief, and together they form one of the world's most influential prophetic works and a literary masterpiece in its own right. But, above all, the Koran provides the rules of conduct that remain fundamental to the Muslim faith today: prayer, fasting, pilgramage to Mecca and absolute faith in God.

N.J.Dawood's masterly translation is the result of his lifelong study of the Koran's language and style, and presents the English reader with a fluent and authoritative rendering, while reflecting the flavour and rhythm of the original. This edition follows the traditional sequence of the Koranic surahs

Journal Entry 5 by WormyOne from Brighton & Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom on Monday, September 19, 2005

This book has not been rated.

I read the whole book in the end. I didn’t find it difficult to read, although there’s no real narrative so it’s not what I’d call a page-turner. It’s repetitive, telling the same stories and making the same pronouncements (e.g. that Jesus was a prophet but not the son of God, and that The Koran is the true word of God) and exhortations over and over again. It’s also rambling; often the contents of a surah makes only passing reference to its supposed subject.

So much of the book consists of declarations of its veracity, as an unbeliever, I was left thinking that it doth protest too much; particularly, when I reached surah 66, which was written entirely to get Muhammad out of a promise he’d made to one of his wives to stop sleeping with one of his slaves. Hmm.

The reader is perpetually told that those who refuse to believe the words of The Koran are going to hell (though they are also often told that God will be forgiving and merciful to those of other faiths who have led righteous lives). This position of religions always seems unfair to me. Many religions offer ‘proofs’, claim that they are the one true religion and state that unbelievers are destined for the fiery pits. How is one supposed to know what to believe? It seems harsh to consign anyone who makes the wrong choice to eternal damnation.

God is described over and over again as forgiving and merciful yet the tone of the book is fire & brimstone. It’s full of exhortations against the enemies of the faithful (particularly Jews and Christians) and promises that God will deal with them in due course. At the same time, it tells the faithful that it’s OK for them to be friends with Jews and Christians that live a moral and upright life.

There is plenty in here too about being kind and charitable to those less fortunate than oneself and those in one’s charge.

Some of the instructions with regard to women grated with me. For example:

Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses; so that if either of them make an error, the other will remind her”.

“Men have a status above women”.

“Mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years if the father wishes the sucking to be completed”.

“If any of your women commit a lewd act, call in four witnesses from among yourselves against them; if they testify to their guilt confine them to their houses till death overtakes them or till God finds another way for them.
If two men among you commit a lewd act, punish them both. If they repent and mend their ways, let them be. God is forgiving and merciful

Several times, the book refutes the view of the pagans of Mecca that their idols are the daughters of God on the basis that God would never choose inferior females for his offspring. For example:

Yet [the Meccans] assign to Him offspring from among His servants. Surely man is monstrously ungrateful. Would God choose daughters for himself and sons for you alone?
Yet when the birth of a girl is announced to any of them his countenance darkens and he is filled with gloom. Would they ascribe to God females who adorn themselves with trinkets and are powerless in disputation?
” (43:11)


Are you to have the sons, and He the daughters? That is indeed an unfair distinction!”. (53:7)

This is not to imply that The Koran is any worse than many other religious texts in this respect. I’m just commenting on what I’ve read here.

Here’s a quote that shows that the terrorists in London, Madrid, New York and Washington were not good Muslims:

It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer…He that kills a believer by design shall burn in Hell for ever. He shall incur the wrath of God, who will lay His curse upon him and prepare him for a mighty scourge”.

There was no mention of virgins awaiting martyrs. I found references to virgins, in surahs 37, 38, 55 and 56 but they were simply promised to ‘the righteous’ (though I suppose that might be a matter of translation). For example: “The true servants of God shall be well provided for, feasting on fruit, and honoured in the gardens of delight. Reclining face to face on soft couches, they shall be served with a goblet filled at a gushing fountain, white and delicious to those who drink it. It will neither dull their senses nor befuddle them. They shall sit with bashful, dark-eyed virgins, as chaste as the sheltered eggs of ostriches”.

Similarly, “The righteous shall return to a blessed retreat: the gardens of Eden, whose gates shall open wide to receive them. Reclining there with bashful virgins for companions: they will call for abundant fruit and drink”.

The white and delicious drink sounds good but the virgins sound tedious.

In the rest of the book, the righteous are promised gardens watered by running streams (over and over again!).

I’m glad I’ve read it. We hear so much nowadays about what is and isn’t in The Koran. It’s good to know for myself.

The introduction suggests that, as it is not necessary to read the surahs in the traditional sequence in which they are presented in this translation, novice readers might like to being with the “shorter and more poetic chapters” at the end and ones with biblical themes, rather than the “longer and more complex” chapters in the first half. On this advice, I read some of the ones at the end first, but I don’t think I would have found it any harder to read if I’d read them in sequence.

I haven't given The Koran a rating out of ten. It seems inappropriate. It's difficult to distil any book to a single rating but particularly so with one that is the bedrock for a major world religion. Would I be rating it on whether it was 'a good read', its literary merit, its moral standpoint...? 

Journal Entry 6 by WormyOne from Brighton & Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom on Monday, September 19, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Posted second class to PennyWhistler on 20th Sept. 

Journal Entry 7 by STP-921375 on Thursday, December 01, 2005

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Sorry I'm taking soooooo long to read this, but I've had a lot of books to read for work lately. I shall finish this over Christmas. 

Journal Entry 8 by STP-921375 on Tuesday, January 03, 2006

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Well, I did my best and tried to read it three times, but just couldn't get going. I don't think it is difficult to read, I think I'm just not in the mood for working my way through a religious text at the moment.

I shall post this on asap. 

Journal Entry 9 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Saturday, January 14, 2006

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Apologies for taking so long to journal - this book arrived safely last weekend. I've wanted to read it for a while, and having just read Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction, in which they read the Koran in their bookclub, my interested is piqued even more!
This book will be going upstairs to fill the one regular (if short) reading slot I can promise during the week.

Journal Entry 10 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Monday, April 17, 2006

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It's no good, I have to admit defeat on this one. My concentration level and time available just aren't up to getting through this.

I'll be passing it on as soon as I can, apologies for hanging on to it so long.

Journal Entry 11 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Monday, April 24, 2006

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Pookledo has asked to be passed over, so I'm trying perfect-circle.
edited to add perfect-circle wants to be skipped as well. Trying UrbanSpaceman.

Journal Entry 12 by UrbanSpaceman from Kingston upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on Thursday, April 27, 2006

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Arrived in the post from Loopy1 today. Thanks! 

Journal Entry 13 by UrbanSpaceman from Kingston upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on Wednesday, May 17, 2006

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Sorry for the delay in reading this. I'll be starting it shortly and using it as the 200 (Religion) book for my Dewy Decimal Challenge

Journal Entry 14 by UrbanSpaceman from Kingston upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, June 11, 2006

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My apologies for keeping this for so long. I didn't find it to be a work which I could just sit down and read all the way through at one go, so I had to read it in bits in parallel with other books.

I don't think that I have much to add beyond what has been said by previous journallers, but it has certainly been very useful to read the Koran directly for myself. Thanks to droogie for ringing it. I'll PM Patchworkperson for her address and send it on asap. 

Journal Entry 15 by PatchworkPerson from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom on Monday, July 10, 2006

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Ooops! I forgot to journal receipt. I'm sorry.
Started reading immediately, but after a month, I think I shall pass it on. I have dipped in & out trying to start with the shorter surahs as N.J. Dawood suggested but it isn't doing anything for me. Perhaps I just not ready yet.
Have pm'ed Moondreamer. 

Journal Entry 16 by YowlYY on Tuesday, August 01, 2006

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This has just arrived...many thanks for posting it, Patchworkperson! I am in the middle of a long bookray, then there's a ring waiting, and only when they both are being dealt with I can tackle this one. I am quite curious...

Update October 2006: my apologies for not having managed to read it yet... working life has been conspiring against reading time. Hope to start by the end of the month.


Journal Entry 17 by YowlYY on Wednesday, March 14, 2007

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I just discovered that I didn't make a JE once I was ready to pass it on! Shame on me...
I did only read here and there, not finishing a single book, because I intend to buy a copy and read it without pressure, but it strikes me how different it is from the language in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, which I read almost entirely back in the late 80s when I was in Germany.
As always when it comes to religious textes, much is left to the reader's power of interpretation.

I have had some trouble in passing on this book in November/December, as everyone on the list seemed to be busy with a huge TBR pile, so I will try to contact them again, one by one. I hope the time is now right! 

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