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Yo, I know people debate irony's definition, but I think it might apply to the fact that nonbelievers often have to have a better understanding of religions than the believers themselves to be able to defend ourselves in debates.
I know very little about the Qur'an, you? I know tons about the Bible, but Islam has been accused of being "on the rise" for some time now, and I'd like to be better educated for debates about it.
Thus: Book club. Let's work through it together, and read stuff about it, maybe some ahadith, and then move on to other texts, maybe work through the Bible again, maybe take on the Book of Mormon, maybe the Bhagavad Ghita, maybe skeptic texts like The God Delusion, who knows.
But I really want to read the Qur'an and I'd like other skeptics to discuss it with. I'd like to meet at my house Sunday evenings. I can make some munchy treats, y'all can bring some munchy treats, we can all lounge around on my decadent gluttonous couch or lie on the carpet, whatever. Like our own little skeptic harem.
If you're interested, let's get this started. The first will be an "inaugural" meeting to discuss translations, tafsirs, ahadith, what in heavens name those words mean, Mohammad's biography, etc. In the meantime, please enjoy these free online references:
*Online Qur'an: http://quran.com/
*Did you know the "chapters" or surah of the qur'an aren't in chronological order? http://textminingthequran.com/wiki/Makki_and_Madani_Surahs knew.
*Did you know that even though everyone may be sunni muslims, they generally follow 1 of 4 "Schools of thought", or Madhabs? Different parts of the world follow different madhabs, and each one was founded by one of the 4 great imams - Imam Hanaf, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi and Imam Hanbal - who extensively studied the Qur'an and hadith and taught many other great Islamic scholars. Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madh'hab
*Skeptics Annotated Quran available here http://www.project-reason.org/scripture_project/
*Tafsir Ibn Kathir http://qtafsir.com/
*Tafsir Al-Jalalayn http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=0&tSoraNo=1&tAyahNo=1&tDisplay=no&LanguageID=2
*Autobiography by Hassan (an ex-Muslim) http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=0&tSoraNo=1&tAyahNo=1&tDisplay=no&LanguageID=2
*Why I am not Muslim by Ibn Warraq http://www.4shared.com/office/fTuuHSw-/Ibn_Warraq_-_Why_I_am_not_Musl.html
*Why I Left Islam by Saif Rahman http://www.scribd.com/doc/19390943/Why-I-left-Islam-for-Humanism
*Two biographies on Mohammad. One that combines sources in an attempt to recreate Ibn Ishaq's work here:
and one written in more modern english would be this one: http://www.amazon.com/Muhammad-Life-Based-Earliest-Sources/dp/1594771537/
Searching around online may turn up free copies, forgive me, I haven't made it to that point, but if I turn some up you can bet I'll edit this to reflect that.