Friends, I was wrong about something. There are definitely more than 30, what Christians would call "books" of the Quran. There are 114. I misunderstood one suggestion to read the Quran in 30 sections throughout the month of Ramadan, so as to have read it in full by the end of the month. Thus far I've memorized two more surahs (verses) of Al-Quran, and my modest goal is to memorize two more in the next two weeks. Over the past couple of days I've been listening to lectures by Nouman Ali Khan, found of Al-Bayyinah Institute. In his lectures on Divine Speech, he mentions several times that the Quran is promised to be easy to memorize - hundreds of thousands of Muslims all over the globe have memorized Al-Quran in Arabic from cover to cover. Ali Khan asserts that when a sincere individual aspires to learn and memorize the Quran, the divine intervenes to make the process easier.
I have no other explanation for why I've been able to to memorize passages of the Quran quite quickly - I don't remember being able to memorize Biblical passages without a lot of struggle. I read and listen to recitations of the Quran when I'm studying and memorizing, so that when I'm reciting them myself, I can hear the song and rhythm of the reciter in my memory.
I watched an interview with Ali Khan, in which he describes his transition from atheism to Islam. I have found his arguments regarding the miraculous character of the Quran quite intriguing. The questions tumbling around in my mind today pertain to the resurrection - why is it so necessary in Christianity, and nothing close to a matter of concern in Islam? Having once been a devout Christian, how have I managed to feel comfortable without a Christ who is crucified and resurrected? Knowing well the person I used to be, I can't help but fear at some moments that I'm betraying Christ, that I could be following the wolves in sheeps clothing who Jesus warned Christians of.
But today as I walked in the sun through the dried grass of wide open fields that have become my refuge these past two months, I decided that the Quran is clarifying my understanding of at a least a few of Christianity's intentions. I remembered how I felt three years ago; The Bible seemed to raise more questions than answers for me. Our theological discussions at Messiah College never came close to answering whether God is violent or not, if he would send his own son to be torture and killed. I couldn't find clear guidelines about relationships and marriage in the Bible. They may have been there in some form or another, but they were not clear enough for me. I was dismayed observing countless Christian clusters each devising their own interpretations of the text, their own denomination or definition of Christianity. Christians can't even agree on whether Jesus demanded non-violence or not.
The Quran is mysterious, and requires extensive study. At the same time, Islam is extremely practical and accessible. Since there are many rules and guidelines, some situations that may have seemed like gray areas to me in Christianity appear more black and white, whether I like it or not. I'm please that it's also true that stories of the prophets that seem to be told more thoroughly in the Bible, also help me conduct a more informed reading of the Quran.
When I sat down to write this post, the first sentence was going to be "I am so thirsty." It's true. At some points today I even forgot about food, and all I could wish for was water. For the past few hours all I've wanted is a sip. My bladder is completely empty. Now, 20 minutes before the time to break the fast, I'm feeling hunger pains again, along with terrible thirst. After I eat some dates and drink some water, I will pray: "The thirst is gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is confirmed, if Allah [Ta'ala] Wills."