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I have a confession: I have one week left in my Ramadan experiment, and I'm only halfway through the Quran.
Every year during the Islamic 30-day holy month (which begins in July this year), in addition to fasting from dawn to dusk, millions of Muslims read the entire 600-page Quran. That's a mere 20 pages a day, but I couldn't do it.
It's not that the book is boring or hard to read. In fact, I find it fascinating.
I was moved by the volume's approach to forgiveness, including these verses in Quran 3:135-136: "Those who, when they have committed illegal sexual intercourse or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah [God] and ask forgiveness for their sins and none can forgive but Allah and do not persist in what [wrong] they have done, while they know."
I was amazed to learn how many of the familiar figures from Jewish and Christian texts make appearances in this Muslim scripture Adam, Abraham, Noah, David, Moses, Mary, Jesus and more.
I was intrigued by the role Satan plays. He is an evil figure who tempts humans but takes no bows for winning any souls to his side.
On Judgment Day, according to Quran 14:22, Satan will say to those who choose to follow him: "Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, and you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves."
Despite popular misperceptions about forced conversions, the Quran 2:256 says, "There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path."
I loved learning the Quran's view of Jews and Christians, who were given full knowledge of Allah, but didn't embrace Islam out of "mutual jealousy" (Quran 3:19). Jesus was Allah's messenger, but could not be the son of God. God, the Almighty, Holy One, is god alone, the book says. He can have no son.
Still, the scripture says, Jews and Christians who believe in Allah and do "righteous good deeds" shall be rewarded.
There may be some troubling passages in the sections I have yet to read or the chapters I skimmed through, but so far it has been largely inspiring and engrossing.
No, my problem with finishing the Quran is that it has so much theological pronouncing and so little storytelling. It is not arranged chronologically or thematically, so I have to keep reading and re-reading passages before moving on.
To be honest, I also have been so busy fasting and praying and exercising and trying to do good deeds while fending off any irritated impulses that I tend to fall asleep before the 20 pages are up. It might have been a tad ambitious for my first time.
I will finish Islam's holy book, though. Muslims believe angels are watching, and I need all the brownie points in heaven I can get.
Follow Peggy's progress
V See how religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack is faring as her Ramadan quest comes to an end. › http://www.sltrib.com/Blogs/faithblog