“Qur’an Study Resources and Notes” Inspired by the Islam for Deepening and Dialogue Course

For his final project in the course on Islam for Deepening and Dialogue 2016 (faculty: Susan Maneck, Necati Alkan, and Lil Abdo Osborn), Lawrence (Larry) Peifer chose to prepare “Qur’an Study Resources and Notes,” an annotated list of books, audio books, articles, and so on. He describes his project as “an internet-linked list of all the reference” he “found useful in a contextual study of the Qur’an” for the course on Islam. Put more simply, he says that he “discovered a wealth of books, discourses, research material, organizations, biographies, websites, conferences, and videos about Islam—far more than one person could digest in a lifetime.” Now Larry has given the Wilmette Institute permission to upload his study on its public website with other learner projects.

Larry had several reasons for his interest in Islam. First, he takes very seriously the admonitions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi about studying the Qur’an and of the Universal House of Justice about preparing ourselves for participating in the relevant discourses of society. Second, he is married to a beautiful Persian woman, Fahimeh, who is an EFL tutor for BIHE courses. Third, he was able to visit Iran in the early 1970s, which has left his visits to Tehran and Shiraz “still very fresh” in his mind and heart. He says that, since he “was coming directly from Israel to Iran, the government officials made” his “arrival in Tehran difficult, and they prevented” him “from traveling to all of the places” on his itinerary.  Even so, the friends in Iran made him feel very welcome to the country and helped make his visit one of the most memorable events in is life. He says that one day, God willing, he will return to Iran to finish his travels there and to meet all of the new friends he is finding through the Bahá’í Faith.

When Larry began to evaluate his experience in the course on Islam, he said his “understanding of monotheistic religions has taken a big jump up, especially regarding Judaism as related to Islam and Islam as related to the Bábí Faith. Like many in America,” he says, he “had a one-size-fits-all view of Islam and the Middle East.” Now he has “a start at understanding the diversity of belief and history of religion and sociopolitical developments of the region.”

Larry had the good fortune to be able to discuss the course with a friend and fellow learner on a weekly basis: “What a wonderful opportunity I had to be near another student, Nava Ghalili, in San Diego. We had several hours a week together reviewing our studies over coffee. It made for a good review and appreciation of alternative ideas. We both gleefully anticipated our weekly rendezvous.” His efforts to discuss his new learnings with Muslim friends did not fare so well, as they told him that they were not practicing Muslims; they were more interested in political and event-driven topics than in spiritual ones. In the end, Larry came to feel that all of his “Sunday School lessons and most” of his “interfaith courses in college were totally misleading.”

As for future projects, Larry hopes “engage in Bahá’í/Muslim discourse” with half a dozen Muslim family friends”; “prepare a lesson” for his “local area Divine Image Bahá’í School using materials from the Wilmette Institute course”; and use the concept of progressive revelation, the Kitáb-i-Iqán, and The Hidden Words when discussing Islam with his Arabic and Persian friends.

For those wishing to have more resources for studying the Qur’an, we can thank Larry for preparing and sharing his “Qur’an Study Resources and Notes.”

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