Sebastian Faulks this week wrote of his disappointment at the 'one dimensional' stories of the Quran compared to those of the Bible. His interview with the Sunday Times also saw him call the Quran "a depressing book", which is "one-dimensional", with "no ethical dimension like the New Testament, no new plan for life". He said later "it is fair to say the New Testament is the most ethically sophisticated of the great scriptures, the proper comparison for the Qur'an is with the Old Testament – against which it holds its own. I accept that the ethics of Islam have been developed by scholars and thinkers over the centuries, and in the course of that time have become the equal of other religions in their sophistication."
However, in all of this Sebastian Faulks is making a common, but grave error. The Quran and the Bible cannot not be compared.
The Bible could be more properly compared to what in Islam is called 'Seerah
' - the life of The Prophet Muhammad
- as both of these are based upon the reports of followers of their respective prophets
, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Such reports need checking for accuracy, and in this only the Islamic reports have been meticulously recorded with their chains of narration and biographies of the narrators. The biblical reports, both old and new testaments, cannot be verified for their authenticity.
The Quran, on the other hand, is the unchanged, uncorrupted direct word of Allah (God), memorised and written down by so many of The Prophet Muhammad
's companions that its authenticity is irrefutable. Furthermore, it is a miracle
in itself, as its language could never have come from any but Allah. (See article The Quran's Challenge
It is far too common that writers fail to check the facts before commenting on the Quran. The stories contained in the Quran are similar to those of the Bible, because Islam is the final chapter
in a continuing revelation to the previous prophets
"And this Quran is could not have been authored by other than Allah, but it is a verification of that which was before it and a detailed scripture, there is no doubt in it, from the Lord of the worlds."
10, verse 37)
The Quran was revealed in Arabic, so it will inevitably lose its superior literary qualities when rendered into English. Such outstanding literary excellence can actually move both reciter and listener to tears, while recounting the same or similar stories.
"And We have indeed illustrated examples of all kinds in this Quran, so that they may ponder. The Quran in Arabic, having no deviation at all, so that they may be pious."
39, verses 27 and 28)
Muslims do not rely solely on the Quran to understand the Quran. Some parts of the Quran explain other parts, while sometimes it is the words of The Prophet
that explain verses of the Quran. Some Muslim scholars have even taken to the Jewish scriptures themselves to help give more detailed explanations of the Quran, with the condition that they did not contradict the Quran. If any contradiction occurred, the older scriptures were rejected, as their authenticity could not be verified, whereas the Quran's authenticity can be. Muslims read from such explanations (called tafsir
) and do not attempt to deduce their way of life solely from the text of the Quran.
After Sebastian's comments, BBC Radio 4 invited Fay Weldon to give her opinion on both the stories of
the Bible and the Quran. No opportunity was lost to further attack Islam in this interview, regardless of the facts. Rather than focus on the questions asked to her, Fay Weldon could not resist recommending that readers of the Quran skip any verses that refer to women
, as "they are quite frightening", giving "no respect to women
This could not be further from the truth. Islam gave women
rights when women
were totally disregarded. The pagan Arabs had no interest in women
; they did not even bother to keep relations with relatives from the mother's side. The Quran emphasises that people are from male and female, and criticises the wrongdoers for not keeping relations with maternal relatives. The Quran gave women
status. We reject the idea that Islam view women
as inferior; a more detailed explanation of women
in Islam can be read in the article women
under the Shariah
The questions remains though, what are the values
and rights that Fay Weldon believes the Quran has ignored for women
? Her unqualified and cheap attack failed to provide any explanation. Perhaps she was referring to the right to beaten up, as domestic violence increases in secular
Britain. (see news article 
Or does she particularly treasure the British women
's right to be insulted by her country men? Such insults are borne out of her depressingly low status as an object to sell products, or satisfy the desires of lusty men 
. A woman today has very little respect and is viewed as little more than a piece of meat. If she hasn't got the right look, then her value is severely diminished, and she knows it, hence the enormous diet, fashion and beauty industries. (see news article 
Perhaps Fay is pleased with the new trend that young women
must now compete with men in every field, even in promiscuity 
and drinking them under the table. (see news article 
It could be that Fay is just complaining that Islam did not give women
the right to feel pressured into choosing between being poor with kids, or comfortable but childless. Islam does not expect mothers to juggle a career and parenting, with the children
increasingly being neglected. (see news article 
Islam gives the women
dignity. She is a person and not an object. She has the right to work, but not to be exploited for her body. She has the right to be a mother and have the financial stability to raise children
properly. She is an honour, whose violation, whether verbal or physical, will not be encouraged nor tolerated.
Perhaps those who attack the Quran without any real understanding of it should spend a little more time thinking and a little less time throwing stones – especially when their own houses are so obviously made of glass.