Chapter 1 (The Quran Speaks)
But as the extremists, the missionaries, and the moderates pursue their respective visions, it is imperative that we engage them all on a more fundamental question, too: Is the Quran the word of Allah? The question is of relevance not just to Muslims but to all those interested in Islam. This book explores the answer.
For a fair inquiry into this question, the source of information needs to be impeccable. We shall rely fundamentally on the Quran itself—what better choice! Whether or not one believes in the Quran’s divine origin, it is generally accepted (by its followers at least) that the Quran is very nearly (if not entirely) in its original form. We shall therefore consult the Quran to test the claim that it is beyond human ability to have authored a book like this. We will also rely on the book to discover the truth about Muhammad. It is worth noting that although we know remarkably little about the Prophet prior to the advent of Islam, from that point onwards, all significant events in his life are documented in the Quran. The Quran thus provides a priceless opportunity to see Muhammad closely.
Chapter 3 (Muhammad: The Last Prophet)
Muhammad, unquestionably, is amongst the most influential personalities in history. Many analysts would even place him at the very top. To his followers, though, he must also be acknowledged as the finest ever.
It is pertinent, therefore, to see Muhammad through the eyes of his present-day followers. This is how they tend to view him: …
This is an impressive list, which explains the absolute hold that Muhammad commands over his followers today, but is it also true? We must consult the Quran to find out. Fortunately, there are enough traces in it for one to reconstruct Muhammad as he really was. The other advantage, of course, is that the authenticity of the Quran as a source in comparison to other accounts cannot be doubted.
Chapter 6 (The Quran and Women)
Benazir Bhutto is not alone in expressing these views. She echoes the feelings of all moderate Muslims who believe that Islam revolutionized the status of women by giving them rights as far back as the seventh century CE that non-Muslim women have only recently begun to realize. The Quran, they insist, honors women more than any other political system does. …
It would be interesting to see who on the status of women represents the true face of Islam—Benazir Bhutto or perhaps Sa’d Arafat.
Chapter 8 (The Jews of Medina)
There was a sizeable Jewish community settled in Medina at the time Muhammad migrated to the city. There would be virtually none six years later. The three main tribes would all be banished, killed, or enslaved. Because the Quran documents these events, including the massacre and enslavement of an entire tribe, it is not possible to deny the occurrence. Muslim scholars must therefore find some other explanation for this happening. They conclude that it was the treacherous behavior of the Jews that was responsible. This chapter evaluates the claim.
Chapter 11 (Undistracted by Religion)
Despite its focus on the Quran, this book would like to be counted as part of the initiative that desires to promote understanding and inclusiveness amongst all religions (not just Islam) regarding differences in human belief systems and cultures. It is written in the belief that humanity has far greater potential than realized—once religious tolerance is universally accepted as the norm. It dreams of a world totally committed to fighting misery, hunger, and disease—a truly wonderful world, undistracted by religious divisions!