Synopsis Paper on Michael Cook's the Koran: a Very Short Introduction

In The Koran: A Very Short Introduction, Michael Cook argues that the Western reader in general resides in a level of ignorance as to his understanding of what the Koran is and means. Instead of laying out an interpretation of what the Koran says and a commentary on its tenants, Cook focuses more on the placement of the Koran in Islamic society and how the text relates to other writings in the Old World. He also makes a case for the value of the Koran as a scripture meant for recitation, not reading, thus ending comparison with the Bible and allowing for a different view to be put forth in the West.
Cook wants his readers to understand that the Koran is not to be thought of as one would think of the Bible. While the Bible is a written text and meant to be read, the Koran is composed as a sequence of recitations, the result of a society with a very strong oral tradition. Cook makes this point to reveal a misconception on the part of the West that the Koran is simply the scripture of Islam, the holy book read by Muslims to tell them how to practice their faith, and while it is the word of God according to Islamic doctrine, the Koran serves a unique purpose for Muslims in Islamic society. According to the story of how Muhammad came to his revelation, the Koranic verses were channeled through Muhammad and bestowed upon the world. This was because of his illiteracy so the words he spoke are also the words of God. As a result the practice of recitation of verses from the Koran is a central to Muslim lifestyle, and different recitations are encouraged.1
The Koran plays a pivotal and inseparable role within Muslim life. Muslims are encouraged to recite the Koran in their own way and the text itself appears to be designed with that purpose in mind. It and by extension God, states that verses should be recited as often as possible. The Koran is found in most aspects of Muslim daily life, as can be seen in the obligation to pray five times a day and recite holy verses....