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Mohamad Jebara — Who Wrote the Qur’an, Why, and What Does it Really Say?

The Life of the Quran: From Eternal Roots to Enduring Legacy (book cover)

Over a billion copies of the Qur’an exist – yet it remains an enigma. Its classical Arabic language resists simple translation, and its non-linear style of abstract musings defies categorization. Moreover, those who champion its sanctity and compete to claim its mantle offer widely diverging interpretations of its core message – at times with explosive results.

Building on his intimate portrait of the Qur’an’s prophet in Muhammad the World-Changer, Mohamad Jebara returns with a vivid profile of the book itself. While viewed in retrospect as the grand scripture of triumphant empires, Jebara reveals how the Qur’an unfolded over 22 years amidst intense persecution, suffering, and loneliness. The Life of the Qur’an recounts this vivid drama as a biography examining the book’s obscured heritage, complex revelation, and contested legacy.

The author believes that the Qur’an re-emerges with clarity as a dynamic life force that seeks to inspire human beings to unleash their dormant potential despite often-overwhelming odds – in order to transform themselves and the world.

Mohamad Jebara is a scriptural philologist and prominent exegetist known for his eloquent oratory style as well as his efforts to bridge cultural and religious divides. A semanticist and historian of Semitic cultures, he has served as Chief Imam as well as headmaster of several Qur’anic and Arabic language academies. Jebara has lectured to diverse audiences around the world; briefed senior policy makers; and published in prominent newspapers and magazines. A respected voice in Islamic scholarship, Jebara advocates for positive social change.

Shermer and Jebara discuss:

  • Who wrote the Qur’an and why?
  • Do Muslims believe it was written by Muhammad divinely inspired, or is it suppose to be the literal words of God/Allah?
  • Why do we need a new translation and interpretation of the Qur’an?
  • What inspired a Westerner raised in public school to write a biography of Muhammad and a history of the Islamic holy book?
  • Is the Muslim world stagnating? And how does the biography of the Quran and Islam’s founder aim to help the situation?
  • What is the “Semitic mindset”?
  • How is the Qur’an the first “Post-Modern” book?
  • Many Westerners believe that the Qur’an endorses violence, Jihad, and Sharia Law over secular laws and constitutions. What does it really say?
  • Christianity and Judaism went through the Enlightenment and came out the other side much more tolerant and peaceful. Has Islam had its Enlightenment? Does Islam and the Muslim world need reforming?
  • the meaning of “Allahu Akbar”
  • women in Islam
  • female genital mutilation
  • What percentage of Muslims want Sharia Law, and where in the world?
Median Muslims who favor enshrining sharia (via Pew Research)

Sharia, or Islamic law, offers moral and legal guidance for nearly all aspects of life – from marriage and divorce, to inheritance and contracts, to criminal punishments. Sharia, in its broadest definition, refers to the ethical principles set down in Islam’s holy book (the Quran) and examples of actions by the Prophet Muhammad (sunna).

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This episode was released on March 9, 2024.

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