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The Essential Koran:
This collection of readings from the Quran is designed to help non-Muslim Westerners approach this sacred book and savor something of its amazing power through a selection of chapters and verses encapsulating some of its central ideas and essential beauties. A "rosary of readings and recitations," the excerpts chosen represent the "six aims" of the Quran (which range from knowledge of God to refutations of unbelievers' arguments), all of which point to the need for intelligent, considered faith in order for humans to come to a true knowledge of God. The selections, from hymns of praise to calls for compassion toward the most needy, reveal the majesty and poetry of this extraordinary text while illuminating its spiritual lessons. Cleary's graceful translation makes the ancient verses clear and accessible to the modern reader:
Worship nothing but God;
be good to your parents and relatives,
and to the orphan and the poor.
Speak nicely to people,
be constant in prayer,
and give charity.
The excellent linguistic notes, which Cleary calls an intrinsic part of the translation itself, amplify the meanings of untranslatable words through reference to their Arabic roots and related derivatives. The book is a first-rate introduction for non-Muslims both to the beauty of the Quran and to the core teachings of Islam, which have too often been misrepresented or misunderstood in the West. --Uma Kukathas [via]