Looking to dispel the notion that Islam is an inherently violent religion, a Muslim entrepreneur and an evangelical doctor have come together to create a new translation of the Quran that includes over 3,000 references to the Bible in an attempt to show Americans the commonalities between Islam and Christianity.
Safi Kaskas, a Muslim Lebanese-born strategic management executive and co-founder of East-West University in Chicago, and Dr. David Hungerford, a Christian orthopedic surgeon with over 38 years experience at Johns Hopkins University and The Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, released The Qur'an — With References to the Bible: A Contemporary Understanding earlier this year.
As both Kaskas and Hungerford have deep knowledge of their respective religious texts and serve on the board of the Bridges to Common Ground organization, they felt the need to show that the Quran does not encourage Muslims to senselessly kill non-Muslims in the name of Allah but rather calls on Muslims to find a way to coexist with non-Muslims in peace.
Kaskas, who moved from Lebanon to the United States in 1968 and now resides in Fairfax, Virginia, told The Christian Post in an interview last week that one of his main goals with this translation was to provide Americans with an easy-to-understand English version of the Quran that simply translates the text and doesn't "put words in God's mouth."
He explained that there are over 200 English translations of the Quran and not one of them was produced in the United States.
"I basically wanted my grandchildren and their friends to be able to understand what the book is telling them," he said. "The Quran, as far as I am concerned, does not encourage people to be violent, does not urge us to hate Christians or Jews or other people. It is not directed against any particular religion."
According to Kaskas, each translation of the Quran, including his own, is the translator's own interpretation of the Quran. He added that no translation of the Quran, except the original Arabic translation, is holy.
Kaskas argued that many Muslims who are enticed to join terror groups or are radicalized to carry out lone-wolf attacks on innocent people are being fed misinformation from incorrect interpretations of the Quran.
For example, Kaskas called out a widely shared translation called "The Noble Quran."
While the opening text of the Quran states: "Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have blessed, with whom you are not angry and with whom have not gone astray," The Noble Quran does more than just translate, Kaskas warned.
'Some translations that are xenophobic like to put Muslims above all others," Kaskas said. "In a specific translation called 'The Noble Quran' printed in Saudi Arabia, it says, 'With whom you are not angry,' then immediately in the same line, it puts in parentheses, 'Like the Jews.' Then, 'with whom you have not gone astray.' Again, it puts in parenthesis, 'the Christians.'"
"Our translation is not putting words in God's mouth. We believe the Quran is God's word. I personally believe God's vocabulary is wide enough that if He wanted to say Jews and Christians, He would have said that," Kaskas asserted. "To say, 'with whom you are not angry,' well, maybe He is angry with some Muslims. And to say, 'whom have not gone astray,' maybe He is talking about people like ISIS."
Kaskas also told CP that not only does the Quran not directly criticize Jews and Christians, it also talks about Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims with "terms of endearment."
Kaskas cited Quran 5:48 to assert that God created people groups with different religious beliefs and if God really wanted to, He could have made all the religions of the world a "single community."