Starting next month, on Finnish public radio, the Qur’an will be read out loud. In its entirety.
The country’s public broadcaster, Yle, has divided the reading into 60 half-hour segments, including a discussion between two experts on the context and meaning of each part. Beginning on 7 March, the project is “intended to increase people’s knowledge of the Koran and Muslim culture in Finland”, Yle says on its website.
A leader from Finland’s Muslim community, Imam Anas Hajjar, will discuss each section with Professor Jaakko Hameen-Anttila, who translated the text into Finnish. “It is important that the Koran is read in its entirety, and not just select items that show that Islam is bad and violent or good and beautiful,” says Mr. Hameen-Anttila. “All of the text material is served up for the listener to assess.”
Interpreting the 1,400-year-old text for the series wasn’t always straightforward. “We haven’t been at loggerheads, but Imam Anas Hajjar and I have often read the same passage and approached it from a very different point of view,” the professor says. “Imam Hajjar reads practical, contemporary meanings into the text and I see it as an historic work that is tied to the time in which it was created.”
An estimated 60,000 Muslims live in Finland, out of a population of about 5.4 million people.
Perhaps I’m underestimating the Fins’ attention span and love of ancient religious texts, but I don’t honestly expect that more than two dozen people will manage to sit through the whole thing. For those who do, I think they might inch closer to rejecting religion, on the theory that nothing makes you an atheist faster than absorbing a holy book cover to cover, no cherry-picking allowed. Penn Jillette talks about that in this video.
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