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This week we would like to introduce to you one of our Project Partners in Indonesia, The Centre for Religious Studies and Multiculturalism, which locally is known as PUSAM. 

PUSAM is a department in the Post-Graduate Program of Muhammadiyah University in Malang, Indonesia. It is a part of a progressive movement promoting reform within Islam, one of its programs being promoting Human Rights, in particular Freedom of Belief. 

Please Click Here to view a 3 minute video to learn more about this Project. On this link, whilst this website is primarily educational, we would like to make you aware of opportunities to Partner with Projects listed.  

On a similar topic, recently an International Conference officiated by the King of Morocco, and attended by 360 Muslim clerics and International Leaders, responded to the issue of the persecution of minorities in Muslim countries. The details of the gathering can be read in the following report, as well as the declaration.

Report on Morocco Summit for Islamic Leaders. 

Morocco Declaration Responding to Persecuted minorities in Muslim countries.

Although the attendees most likely do not have the extent of the views of some of the Muslim writers referred to on this website, it is a very positive report. 

For lasting change, there needs to be a leaving behind of a number of accepted traditions, which originated in the Classical Islamic Period (9th Century – 12th Century). As we have seen from various Muslim writers on this site, an increasing number of people are moving this direction. 

To give an example of the contrast between the Qur’an and the traditions of the Classical Islamic Period, in the coming weeks we will add a list of 10 – 20 articles on such traditions that is often the cause of extremism, yet that are contrary to the Qur’an.

But before that, in our next blog we will aim to introduce our other Project Partners. 

 

Warm Regards

Robert

As explained in previous postings, much of this site is introducing resources from Muslim and western scholars who are re-looking at the origins of Islam.  

One of these scholars is Prof. Abdullah Saeed, who is one of the leading voices in “Reading the Qur’an Contextually.” A bit of background to Abdullah Saeed:

Proff. Abdullah Saeed

 

- He is the Sultan of Oman* Professor in Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne.

- The Director of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies

- Has received an Order of Australia (2013)

- He has written numerous books on the Qur’an, as well as Government Reasearch Grants on topics such as “Research into Muslim Extremist Discourses and Ways of Countering Them.”

- He has written many articles on topics such as “The charge of the distortion of Jewish and Christian Scriptures.”

 

 A few days ago, I had the privelage of recording a short telephone interview with Abdullah Saeed. CLICK HERE to hear the interview. (Appologies for the Mobile Phone sound quality! )

 

*For an explanation of the Sultan of Oman Professorship, please click the following 2 links.

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/1999/10.07/sultan.html

http://asiainstitute.unimelb.edu.au/study/islamic_studies/endowed_chair

Today I have uploaded for you the second video of Jesus and the Qur’an so to better understand the context in which the Qur’an emerged, based on recent study of a number of respected authors. Even with this, other factors such as the Qur’an being originally oral and poetic causes translations to seem difficult to understand at times.

 

Click Here To View Video: Jesus and the Qur'an Part 2

This will be last of this type of video for some months, however beyond that I hope to present another video in the future, dealing with the Evolving of Islamic Law. What are the laws from Qur’an relating to women, marriage and divorce? Sharia Law didn’t just appear within the Qur’an, but developed over a long period of time, being finalised 500 years later. Much of the struggle within Islam today is between those loyal to what was set in concrete during this period, and those who are re-interpreting a different path. Anyway that is a topic for later in the year….

As for the coming months, we will now begin to hear from the Partners of Equal Access International, including their projects and work. We will also hear from a number of Muslim thinkers as they contribute towards this blog.

It has been encouraging to hear the positive responses of a number of people to the material, particularly from those non-Muslims who live in a Muslim community.

Greetings! It has taken a couple of weeks longer than planned; however we have now uploaded the 1st video (approx. 9min) on the topic of Jesus and the Qur’an. (The 2nd video will be uploaded in 1-2 weeks)

As with the other videos on the War Verses, the purpose of this short video is not to try to interpret each verse in the Qur’an relating to the topic, but to better understand the context. 

The study of the origins of the Qur’an, and its inter-connection with the Bible, is rapidly evolving through the efforts of many Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. This video is not intended to be an in depth study, but to provide an overview of some of the key points.  

Click here to view the Jesus and the Qur’an videos.

 

Besides uploading Part 2 on this topic, in the coming weeks we hope to bring you closer to our partners through some interviews with them on this site. This week, we have also added to the book list one of books that was a source for the previous video on the War Verses in the Qur’an.

We trust that all of this contributes towards a better understanding of the origins of Islam, and through that, breaking down misconceptions that divide.  

 

 

We have now uploaded the 2 X 10min videos on Jihad and War in the Qur’an. Many thanks to John for doing the filming, and to my son for doing all the editing. (Learnt on the job during his school holidays!) This task was undertaken due to it being something that has caused a lot of debate, yet was not adequately covered in the other video series (Introduction to the Qur’an) previously uploaded. This meant taking on this daunting task myself, where I summarized some of the best study that is available (in my opinion) on this topic.

For Non-Muslims, it has been clear that there is a need to understand the original intent and context of these war verses, and to move beyond simply quoting war verses from the Qur’an out of its 7th century context. For Muslims, there needs to be a framework in how to understand these verses for today.

Click here to view the Jihad and War in the Qur’an videos. 

The other topic that has caused a deal of discussion is the Christology of the Qur’an. In about a month’s time, we hope to upload 2 short videos on this topic as well, with a similar approach to the topic.

We trust you had a restful New Years break. Through this blog, we now get back into our routine of developing resources that contribute towards a more accurate understanding of the origins of Islam. 

This week, we have made available on this website a Radio Interview in Sydney with myself discussing the Revisionist movement within Islam, that is, understanding the History of Islam not from traditions, but from it’s original context.

Click Here to hear the Interview.

 Next week, we will upload 2 short videos on Jihad, War and the Qur’an.

Many of you have made use of the 4 X 10-15min video series that were made available 2 weeks ago. Hopefully, for non-Muslims, this has begun to remove some of the unknown regarding the Qur’an. To avoid lengthy delay, the remaining 12 videos are available on this website now.

There are 2 topics that are sometimes enquired about that are not discussed at length in the video series, that being the verses in the Qur’an relating to War, as well as Jesus according to the Qur’an. I will endeavor to make short videos about these topics myself in the coming weeks. (Read More…) 

These short videos that I hope to produce will mostly utilize the writings of the network associated with Prof Gabriel Reynolds (IQSA), which attempts to create an understanding directly from the Qur’an itself and other sources from that era. This is in contrast to the traditional approach of basing an understanding of the Qur’an upon traditions 150 – 300 years later written in a different location, where the Qur’an was understood to support the Political Dynasty of that time.

As a reminder, the 3 main categories of the videos already uploaded include:

- Understanding the Qur’an.

- Interpreting the Qur’an.

- The relationship of the Bible and the Qur’an.

In the coming weeks, we will hear from our Partners in Indonesia, as well as a recent interview with a Radio Station in Sydney.

 

Warm Regards

Robert

 5. Heaven and Hell

6. A Book in Clear Arabic

7. Pre Islamic Arabia

 

8. The Prophets Biography

9. The Collection of the Qur'an 

10. The Prophets Night Journey 

11. Classical Exegesis of the Qur'an

12. Noah in the Qur'an

13. Moses in the Qur'an

14. Qur'an's Perspective on the Bible

15. The Disciples in the Qur'an

16. Conclusion

 

Currently a course is being held called “An Introduction to the Qur’an”, with over 8,000 people doing the course, both Muslims and non-Muslims. The course coordinator, Prof. Gabriel Said Reynolds from the Notre Dame University, has granted permission for this resource to be made available on our website, with the first videos now uploaded below.

Prof Reynolds facilitates a network of the most qualified Qur’anic scholars (from an academic and non-traditional perspective) called International Qur’an Studies Association. (www.iqsaweb.wordpress.com)

With you all being busy, I have reduced the content down to 15 separate short videos, generally 10-15min each, each file name indicating its number, topic and length, with the videos being uploaded over the next 4 weeks, beginning today. The outline is as follows:

Understanding the Quran

  • Structure of the Quran 
  • Themes of the Quran 
  • The God of the Quran 

Interpreting the Quran

  • The Context of the Quran’s Origins
  • The Revelation, Proclamation, and Codification of the Quran
  • Exegesis of the Quran

The Quran’s Relationship to the Bible

  • Hebrew Bible and Old Testament Figures
  • The Quran, the New Testament and Christianity
  • Rethinking the Context of the Quran  

There have been a number of comments relating to such topics as the “war” verses in the Qur’an. A summary of recent study in this area will be provided in the coming weeks. We trust that the video series will be useful for you in bringing a greater understanding of the origins of Islam, and its divergence today from those origins.

1.1 Surah and verses

1.2 Mecca & Medina

1.3 Rhyme

1.4 Punishment Stories 

 Introduction and Future Blog contributors

With the terror caused in Paris by Muslim extremists, it is increasingly important that both Muslims and non-Muslims re-look at how the origins of Islam are understood. Although the motivation of extremists is a lot to do with politics, bitterness and hatred, they act based upon how they understand Islam. 

Although a very large percentage of Muslims would oppose violence and respect Human Rights, extremists exploit a traditional interpretation of the origins of Islam.  Many Muslims and non-Muslims recognize this interpretation, even though it is dormant, with a view by many that core traditional teachings are not to be questioned. 

 

The coming weeks and months through the Equal Access blog will include:

  • Contributions from one of the premier Muslim thinkers in Australia.
  • Radio interviews with Equal Access International 
  • Blogs from our Asian partners

Recommended Reading

On the Equal Access site, we will introduce a number of books for those who are interested in furthering their understanding on some of the recent study concerning the origins of Islam. The profit from any Book or E-Book purchase through the Equal Access will go towards the Equal Access Projects. 

As a starting point, I would like to highlight a couple of books on the site:

 

 In his book, Muhammad and the Believers (Donner, 2010), Fred Donner explains that the origins of Islam were one that was very inclusive. In fact, according to Donner, Islam was not a distinct religion, but was a movement directing people towards the Abrahamic faith, belief in one God, the Holy Books and Judgement Day. More…

 

 

 

 Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God’s Prophetic Plan for Ishmael’s Line, by Tony Maalouf: For many, the promises concerning Ishmael in the book of Genesis are at best confusing, at worst a God-ordained curse upon Ishmael's descendants. Tony Maalouf reconstructs the promise to Ishmael, and shows that it is not only a promise of blessing, but also was fulfilled throughout the generations throughout the Old Testament period. More…

 

 
 Closing:

We most welcome comments and questions on the website blog. The comments on the blog is now fully functional, although because some of the content on this site is somewhat sensitive, comments will be published (usually within 24 hours) after review. We trust this site will be a blessing for you.

 In Building bridges of understanding,

Wasalam

Robert

Equal Access International

Reading the Qur’an in English is challenging for most non-Muslims. Sentences sometimes do not flow, with the topics constantly jumping within a Sura (Chapter). There are a number of reasons for this. 

Firstly, many modern scholars understand the Arabic word “Qur’an” to mean “Recite”, with the origin of the word Qur’an from the neighbouring Syriac language, where the word was used for the memorising of liturgy. “We have revealed to you of this “recitation” (al-qurʾan)”(QS 12:3). Therefore the Qur’an’s origin was initially for oral use, which creates a different dynamic when being read.

Secondly, the Qur’an was intended to be in Arabic. In fact, the reason for its sending down was so that Arabic speakers could understand. We have sent it down an Arabic revelation, perhaps you will comprehend. 

(QS 12:1)

Thirdly, the Qur’an was revealed so it was easy to remember, arranging words in Rhyme. Therefore sometimes the order of names are reversed, with words being structured, so to enable the rhythm and rhyme, all for the purpose to enhance recitation. The Qur’an was not intended as a systematic story, but a text that could be easily memorized, and designed to call the region to repentance.

Finally, sometimes English translations will be translated with a bias. Often words are transliterated, importing the Arabic word into the English translation. For example: In one translation: The only true religion is surrender whilst the same verse in another translation reads The only true religion is Islam.

All of this are just some of numerous factors to remember when reading the Qur’an. One translation, amongst a growing number, that avoids transliteration is:

 

The Quran Monotheist Translation

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