It was close to a full house on Wednesday evening at Hartford Seminary as Prof. Mahmoud Ayoub and the Rev. Matt Laney of Asylum Hill Congregational Church gave a joint presentation on “The Bible and the Qur’an.”
The event was a continuation of the Interfaith University program developed this fall by the Asylum Hill Congregational Church. The purpose of Interfaith University is to explore what it means to be a Christian in a multi-faith world, and this year’s program focused on Islam. When the four week program concluded, participants wanted more, and among the followup events planned was this presentation and conversation at Hartford Seminary.
Rev. Laney started the program with an overview of the Bible, explaining that it is a collection of 66 books written by more than 40 authors over about 1,400 years. He compared it to a “really good sandwich” that has a lot of great ingredients. Another way to see it, he said, was as a “dance of storyteller, situation and Spirit.”
Christians see the Bible as the “Word” of God, he said, rather than as the “words” of God.
In his presentation, Prof. Ayoub said that the Qur’an, for Muslims, is literally a recitation from God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. But he added that the idea of the word of God is “far more complicated than the book we call the Qur’an.”
“The Qur’an entered the Muslim community, shaped it and was shaped by it,” he said.
Prof. Ayoub said that he sees the Qur’an as a pluralistic book that calls for Muslims to respect those who practice other faiths, although not all Muslims agree with him. A lively question and answer session followed the presentations.
For more information about Interfaith University, visit the Asylum Hill Congregational Church website.