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Pickthall - Koran

Cook The Koran

As far as possible the sources cited here were written by Muslims. When the author is not a Muslim this fact is indicated in the text. Note the Qur'an is also translated as the Koran.

Read Marmaduke Pickthall's rendition of the Koran into English. He was an early British convert to Islam and a leading British Muslim. Note the Koran is written in Arabic which Muslims believe is a sacred language. They also believe that the Koran dictated by God and recited by Muhammad. Therefore, the Koran cannot be translated into any other language. All one can do is attempt to convey its meaning as Pickthall does.

Because Muslims see the Koran as very different to the Bible it is important to know how Muslims read the Koran. The best short introduction to this is Michael Cook The Koran: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, 2000). You can find it in bookstores and on www.amazon.com.

You might also want to read some selected Surahs, or chapters, Surahs One; Surah Two; Surah Nine. Most Sunni Muslims believe that Surah Nine is the most important Surah and the one that is the key to interpreting all the other Surahs.

Then you can read a modern commentary on these Surahs by Sayyid Qutb from his now classic work In the Shade of the Qur'an: Volume One - Surah One and Two; and Volume Eight - Surah Nine. This is arguably the most popular commentary on the Koran written in English.


For a general introduction to Islam Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi's popular Let us be Muslims is probably the best place to begin. At one point it was available as a pdf, but that no longer seems to be the case. So one has to borrow it from a library or buy it. This is written by a well respected Muslim author.

If you want to view some videos on Islam yo can do so by clicking on the picture to the left or clicking here.

Let us be Muslims

Anyone wanting to understand Islam must also read the Hadith of which there are literally thousands. The Hadith records the acts and saying of the Prophet Mohammad and when accepted as genuine is regarded by Muslims as inspired. Thus in Islam the Koran is revealed directly by God and is the Word of God while the Hadith is similar to the Gospels or Epistles in Christian belief and is an inspired by God. Over the centuries Muslim scholars have argued about which Hadith are genuine and a lot of Islamic scholarship revolves around such debates rather like Christians argue about the text of the New Testament. Numerous sources and information about the Hadith can be found on the webpage Hadith and the Prophet Muhammad.

Here it is importnat to note that there are various translations of different collections that render the Hadith into English. A good place to begin is with the online a Hadith Collection. Within Islam the Hadith collections act as commentaries on the Koran and a guide to living for Muslims. You can also download this massive collection by clicking here.

To read some classic commentaries on the Qur'an and other works, including academic dictionaries, click here
watt muhammad at medina

Montgomery Watt's Muhammad in Medina is regarded as a classic work by a non-Muslim scholar. To download this book click on the image or here.

You might also like to read Martin Ling's biography of the Prophet Muhammad if so click on the image of his book or here. Like Pickthall, Ling was a British Muslim.

Lings Muhammad

Al-Waqidi-Life of Muhammad

According to various scholars, such as the late Professor Andrew Rippin, Al-Waquidi's The Life of Muhammad is the earliest biography of the Prophet of Muhammad. The first complete English translation of this important work into English was made by the Muslim scholar Rizwi Falzer in 2013. Unfortunatly it is not available for free download an has to be bought, but, because of its significance it is mentioned here.


Click on the image or here to read a sample extract about Islam from Understanding World Religions.

To buy the book Understanding World Religions click here.

All texts and graphics on Understanding World Religions are protected by copyright, 1995, 199, 2011. Permission to reproduce material found on this Web Site must be obtained from the appropriate copyright owner. World religions graphic by Christopher Tobias from Irving Hexham's Understanding World Religions, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2012, and Roberta Polfus, from the Concise Dictionary of Religion, InterVarsity Press, Carol Stream, 1994.