IT'S NOT very difficult to read the Quran. A child can do it. With the work they've done at CSPI making two versions easily readable by Westerners (and completely unscrambled), there is no excuse. The biggest issue facing Western civilization is the relentless aggression of Islamic supremacists, waging jihad by many means, including by gaining concessions, intimidation by violence, and outright murder.
And they continually and openly say they are doing it "in the name of Islam." And Islam has a only a few central holy books. The most central is the Quran.
Non-Muslims need to read this book. Non-Muslims need to be educated about Islam. A lot of the Quran is devoted to how Muslims should deal with non-Muslims.
In the effort to educate my fellow non-Muslims about Islam, I have been experimenting with different approaches. I've been trying to discover what's the best way to get my point across persuasively. One especially effective approach is to aggressively try to sell them on reading the Quran for themselves.
This approach does three good things. First, it reveals that I am both knowledgeable and confident. I'm so confident in what I'm saying, I want them to read the source and decide for themselves.
Second, it brings out in the open the fact that I have read the Quran and they haven't. This gives everything they say the feeling of obvious ignorance, and everything I say the feeling of evident knowledge.
Here's what I've discovered: As soon as I start trying to sell people on reading the Quran and describing what's in it, the whole tenor of the conversation shifts from a kind of arrogant dismissiveness to a respectful openness to what I'm saying. It's magic.
And the third good thing about this approach is that, it's all you would need to do. If they read the Quran, you need no longer tell them anything else about Islam.
Convince them to read A Simple Koran or An Abridged Koran, and explain why these are good books. Even your description of these books is a powerful display of your wealth of knowledge on the core subject and their total lack of knowledge about it.
For example, here's what I said recently to a friend of mine. We'd had a brief conversation in person, but it was cut short by circumstances, so I followed up with an email. I wrote:
What I meant to say is that there are good people who are Muslims, but in order to be a good person as a Muslim, you have to be a lousy Muslim (not follow the teachings of the religion). If you don't believe me, you really should read the Quran for yourself. Go to the source, man. It's not hard to understand, and it is not at all vague. It says exactly what it means. There are no clever parables to decipher, no symbolic language, no metaphorical prophesies. It is full of straight-up commands written by a single person. Direct. No room for misinterpretation.
I recommend a book called A Simple Koran. It is simple in the sense that it is made to be understood by Westerners. But it is the entire Quran written in modern English. It is hard to get through the first three-fourths of it (because it is incredibly repetitious and boring) but things really heat up at the end. It will blow your mind. No kidding.
Don't assume any more, and don't listen to raving maniacs like me any more. Find out for yourself.
In that second-to-last line, I referred to myself as a raving maniac to soften the harshness of accusing him of assuming he knows about Islam when he doesn't.
So anyway, try this approach and see how it works for you. If you haven't read the Quran yet, you really need to do it. Trust me on this. It will put your conversations on a whole new footing. After you read it, push people to read the Quran for themselves.
UPDATE: We have created a pledge. If you haven't read the Quran yet yourself, please take the pledge and read the Quran. If you have, use this pledge to help you convince your friends to read the Quran. Get them to take the pledge: