March 1, 2011

Qaddafi's Quran

When I commenced my Arabic studies, over 20 years ago, our Jordanian Christian professor supplied us each with a thick green Quran. On the title page was a dedication from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. We didn't use it so often, but it was interesting just to have it, considering that our classroom was a ten-minute walk from the White House.

I had fantasized of someday thanking Col. Qaddafi for the gift of "his" Quran. Years later, when I had the opportunity, our subject turned out to be issues of Jewish identity and Zionist theory, with which he was surprisingly well-versed. I had forgotten all about his Quran, until just now, after two weeks of following the hot struggle for Libya's future.

Muammar Qaddafi has not been the normative face of Islam, especially since he now claims Islamic extremists are behind the Libyan rebellion. But in his stylized defiance, there has been a certain Arab pride. Ironically, though, it is regular Arabs and Muslims who now rise up out of their own sense of intrinsic pride. Printing Qurans does not make one a prince of the Arab nation or the Islamic umma. Not for very long, at least.

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