This is a great, great TED talk by Lesley Hazleton, who in the course of researching an upcoming biography of the Prophet Mohammed SAW decided to undertake a reading of the Qur’an. It is a marvelous (and brief) talk, only about ten minutes, but she masterfully captures the essence of the Qur’an as a spoken text, a subtle text, and a flexible text. Also, she makes it clear yet again that there’s no 72 virgins nonsense on the Qur’an at all.

I look forward to reading her biography of the Prophet SAW. And I think her insights on the Qur’an align perfecty with Michael Sells’ brief volume, “Approaching the Qur’an“, which does not pretend to be a translation. I have a review copy and really need to talk more about that book. Highly, highly recommended, as I am sure Hazleton’s book will be.

Incidentally if she had asked me, I would have saved her a lot of trouble by pointing her to where she could have read all three translations and the Arabic simultaneously instead of doing it the hard way (that slide of her desk was cringe-inducing).

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