I am ashamed to confess that it wasn’t until the Manchester bombing that I got round to reading the Qur’an. I have to say that I wasn’t impressed. And I wondered what you made of it.
The thing doesn’t seem to have any shape; no plot to speak of, no characters apart from those recycled from the Bible, and no real consistency of purpose. I can’t begin to imagine how it came to be a best seller; and the idea of memorizing and reciting the whole of it really boggles the mind. One wonders how that would go down in a CofE Sunday School.
The inconsistencies, they assure me, are not a problem. Allah, it seems, did not change his mind, but clarified his previous statements (rather like a British politician). The later suras supersede the earlier ones. But frankly I can’t begin to imagine how you can know which is which. And apparently it’s all inviolable and sacrosanct anyway.
You are the expert on rigidity and inflexibility, so I wondered what you made of it all.
I know we have to go on saying how profound and inspiring it all is, and how it makes for peace in the world. But it does seem a bit of a dog’s dinner to me.
Your perplexed friend and colleague,
PS I think, for safety’s sake, you had better burn this letter as soon as you have read it.