I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday picking up some copies of Hamlet for my students, and it just happened to be the first day of their special sale where teachers get 25% off. There wasn't really much that I wanted, as I just bought a book of Norse Mythology a little while ago, and I've barely cracked through that. (Luckily, it has a bunch of short stories, so I can read it in bits and pieces.) Still, I managed to find a copy of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - a story that I teach every year, although it's only an excerpt, and I have yet to read the poem in its entirety. The other book that I bought was a cheap (and even cheaper with the discount) copy of the Koran. I've been wanting one for some time now, as I do have a few copies of the Bible (King James, New King James, and the absurd New International Translation). I even have a copy of the Book of Mormon. That was given to me by a person who's not a Mormon, but a Mormon gave it to her. She wasn't interested in having it, because Mormonism isn't the one, true faith, which happens to be Catholicism, apparently. She was about to throw it out, but I said that I wanted it. I mean, why not? I don't believe in Odin either (and I sure as hell don't believe in Heimdall!) but I like to read about him, so why not see what this Joseph Smith cat was blathering about?
So, it's pretty much the same deal with The Koran, or The Qu'ran, or The Curr'anne, or Da Koh! Ran. And no, I'm not making any plans to read that thing from cover to cover. I still haven't gotten very far past the first 100 pages of Moby Dick, so I'm not going to go making any rash pronouncements like I did when I said I was going to read that particular book in its entirety. (I'll pick it up again one day! I'm determined to finish it! I'm obsessed with conquering that book, and I wish that there was some sort of handy metaphor that I could use to express it!)
So, what I've decided to do is put it by the toilet and read little bits and pieces here and there. So far, I've already found myself skimming through parts and skipping around a bit. I've gone through the first sura, and I don't think that this book is going to convert me over to Islam anytime soon. After all, it kinda assumes that you already buy into all of that stuff that's in The Bible, which I don't. I think it's one of those books, like The Bible or Battlefield Earth, where it makes a lot of sense if you're already inclined to believe it.
Anyway, it's not a terribly interesting read, which is also true for much of The Bible. Still, there are a lot of good books in The Bible, like the Gospels and my absolute favorite, the poo-cake Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 4:12). Hopefully, there's some better reading ahead. There was that little bit about how Satan wouldn't bow before Adam, which I think is a pretty cool story, and I'm hoping that a later sura will elaborate on that one. Basically all I'm getting so far is a lot of stuff about how God is great and can do whatever he wants and apparently nonbelievers don't believe because He makes them not believe. (Don't get all snooty, Jews and Christians; there's similar stuff in your holy books.)
What about all the killing infidels stuff? Well, I haven't gotten to any of that. So far, everything that I've read regarding Christians and Jews has been pretty tame - even considering them to be believers, although misguided, who will have their reward in the afterlife. I am fully aware that there's stuff that's quite a bit more brutal in some of the other suras, but obviously the stuff I read is what decent Muslims pay more attention.
Basically, I'm just hoping to give myself a general familiarity with it, just as I have with The Bible. I've never read that one cover-to-cover either. I've read quite a bit of it - enough to know that I can't believe it. I'm also hoping to maybe find some stuff that I can teach to my seniors. I already do a thing on The Bible, so it might be a good idea to include a little Koran in there as well.
Still, those Norse myths are calling, and so is Sir Gawain. And one of these days, I'm going to have to read at least a little of The Book of Mormon. Too bad it's not waterproof; otherwise, I could read that one in the shower.