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What Catholics can learn from the Quran

8 September 2012 General 2 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

By Kathleen K. Duff (Washington Post)

This year during Ramadan — the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar when Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad — I was in solidarity with my Muslim sisters and brothers throughout the world by reading the Quran. But here’s the thing: I am a Roman Catholic.

My copy of the Quran, with more than 1,700 pages, has sat on the top shelf of my bedroom bookcase among other sacred texts for 14 years. Typically I would use it as a sporadic reference and resource to better understanding Islam, reading a few short passages at a time.

However, this Ramadan something at the core of my being was calling me to read the Quran in its entirety. And so my monthlong Ramadan journey began.

Each day and evening, the prayerful poetry in the Quran held me in a meditative mode of peace as I read without being aware of the passage of time.

When I finished reading a week before the end of the month, I felt as if the Quran was almost endless, reaching beyond the confines of my calendar days. I didn’t want to read the last page. I didn’t want to be finished.

The Quran inspired me, taught me and helped me to remember my essential holiness and how that holiness in the image of God should be reflected in the world.

As Ramadan comes to a close this weekend (Aug. 18-19) with Eid al-Fitr, I find myself focusing on the blessings I have been given through the grace of God while reading the Quran.

The Quran encouraged me to continuously be aware of a gracious and merciful God who cherishes humanity and cherishes all of creation. I came to believe more firmly during my humble Ramadan experience that being cherished by God is an example of divine love beyond the limitations of any one language, symbol and imagination.

Certainly this has implications for how we treat each other and care for the world.

Many chapters, or surahs, in the Quran had me reflecting on the diversity and opposite realities in nature (night/day, male/female, darkness/light, beginning/ending, life/death) and reaffirming that God is found in both. This insight into sacred polarity is a perfect teaching paradigm for respectful interreligious dialogue, which is never about win/lose, right/wrong profiling and divisiveness.

Among my greatest lessons from the Quran was to be reminded to have faith, seek the truth, praise God, pray, forgive, be kind, be peaceful and take care of people who are most vulnerable — those who are oppressed and often forgotten.

Perhaps the commentary found in the conclusion of my Quran says it best:

“What can we do to make Allah’s light shine forth through the darkness around us? We must first let it shine in our own selves. With the light in the niche of our inmost hearts we can walk with steps both firm and sure: We can humbly visit the comfortless and guide their steps. Not we but the light will guide. But oh the joy of being found worthy to bear the torch and to say to our brethren: I too was in darkness, comfortless, and behold, I have found comfort and joy in the grace divine.”

Read the rest…


  1. When I read the Koran I was dumbfounded by the rant and raves, intrigued by the poetic/scientific bits and driven to boredom by the section where Mohammad talks about his wives. That last part convinced me it was not written by God, it looks simply like a man’s journal of his conjugal activities and discussions.

    The author is just another apologist duffer, yawn.

  2. that’s all we need. some crazy synegy between catholic and islamic doctrines.

    here’s a spoiler on the ending.

    The People
    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

    [114.1] Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of men,
    [114.2] The King of men,
    [114.3] The God of men,
    [114.4] From the evil of the whisperings of the slinking (Shaitan),
    [114.5] Who whispers into the hearts of men,
    [114.6] From among the jinn and the men.

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