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  You are in: Home > Theology & Religion > Readings in the Qur’an  

Readings in the Qur’an

Selected and translated by Kenneth Cragg

Kenneth Cragg was first in Jerusalem in 1939, and subsequently became deeply involved in areas of faith between Semitic religions under the stress of current politics. He later pursued doctoral studies in Oxford where he first graduated and became ‘Prizeman’in Theology and Moral Philosophy, and where he is now an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College. He was a Bishop in the Anglican Jurisdiction in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Middle East, and played ecclesiastical roles in Africa and India. A Certain Sympathy of Scriptures is a companion book to his Readings in the Qur’an (1988; 1999), and more broadly to his Faiths in Their Pronouns: Websites of Identity (2002). Other works by Bishop Cragg, and published by Sussex Academic Press, include: With God in Human Trust –Christian Faith and Contemporary Humanism; The Weight in the Word –Prophethood, Biblical and Quranic; and The Education of Christian Faith.


Readings in the Qur’an aims to meet the needs of non-Muslims who wish to discover the beauty and meaning of this great religious work. The Qur’an is recited more constantly than any other Scripture. But in many ways it is a difficult book for the western reader as its sequences are neither chronological or thematic, and indeed its logic, its meaning, its order and its times can initially seem perplexing and strange.

Kenneth Cragg meets these issues, and at the same time he illuminates meanings and contexts:

By arranging the text in its eight main themes: God and his praise; man in creation; prophethood in human guidance prior to Muhammad; Muhammad in his Meccan environment; Muhammad in his Medinan locale (the division the Book itself makes); Religious Law and devotion; Social Law and society; the Last Things. The Qur’an does not readily admit of precise assignments in this way but – in broad terms – it is possible to gather the concerns of its verses into these shapes to help the initiation into it of new readers.
By an abridgement by less than one-third so that the reiteration belonging to Muhammad’s preaching does not deter the reader. An index of omitted passages shows where the parallels are found. Thus nothing of meaning is elided.
By attempting a more modern literary (as opposed to literal) translation which, while avoiding paraphrase, allows English its due resonance.

An Introductory Essay guides the beginner and offers a rationale for this three-sided approach and reflection on the relevance of the Qur’an in the contemporary world.


An Introductory Essay
1 The Qur’an at First Meeting
2 The Qur’an in Its Themes: the Logic of Selection
3 The Qur’an into English: A Translator’s Apology
4 The Qur’an for Today: Contemporary Concerns

The Readings
A God and His Praise
B God in Creation: Man and Nature
C Prophets and Messengers from Adam to Jesus
D Muhammad: The Prophet-Preacher and the Meccan Years
E Muhammad: The Prophet-Ruler and the Medinan Climax
F Faith and Religion
G Society and Law
H Unfaith, Judgement and the Last Things

Appendix: The Chapters of the Qur’an

Glossary with Index
General Index to the Qur’an Readings
Index to Omitted Passages
Index to the Surahs and Verses

“No scholar writing in the English language has displayed a deeper or more adequate understanding of what the Qur’an is all about.” Professor Christian W. Troll, Pontificio Istituto Orientale, Roma


Publication Details

Paperback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
400 pp. / 216 x 138 mm
Release Date:
September 1999
  Illustrated:   No
Paperback Price:
£9.95 / $19.95

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