Trying to appreciate Islamic culture without knowing anything about the Koran is perhaps even more reductive than examining Western history without knowing anything about the Bible. With no understanding of the Koran, not only is one ignorant about the articles of faith, but he/she cannot enjoy access to the literatures, the thought, the laws, and the customs of the vast geographical area that revolves around this sacred text, which no revolution has managed to drive from the central position it has occupied - in the lives of both educated and simple people - for over 14 centuries. This volume allows the reader to take a first step towards a better knowledge of the Koran. It places the reader in the text's land of origin, ancient Arabia, identifies the Hebrew and Christian influences and explores the Koranic revelations, which are firmly attached to the life of the Prophet. The volume also deals with classic Koranic sciences, modern interpretative tendencies and the history of translations that has accompanied the evolution of relationships between West and East and between Arabs and other, non-Arab-speaking Muslim populations. The reader, moreover, is able to grasp the great evocative appeal of the Koran thanks to the numerous quotations drawn from this great literary monument and religious codex.
Paolo Branca is a scholar of Islam and an Arab language instructor at the Catholic University of Milan.