The Tree of Islam: Yale professor lectures on roots of the Qur’an

Students and scholars packed the Presidents’ Suite of Kilcawley on Tuesday afternoon for a lecture on the Qur’an. Youngstown State University’s Center for Islamic Studies hosted Gerhard Bowering, professor of religious studies and Islamic studies at Yale University, for the detailed lecture titled “God in the Qur’an.”

Bowering, who has traveled the world and conducted extensive research on the holy book, began his lecture by introducing the key principles of the Islamic religion.

“The Qur’an is the absolute word of God, told through the prophet Muhammad,” Bowering said. “It presented the idea of an afterlife, a concept not known to the Arab world prior to Muhammad.”

Bowering provided a great deal of strong background information on the topic. He reiterated the story of Muhammad, and spoke about Islam in relation to Judaism and Christianity.

“There is an emphasis on the belief in one God. He has human-like attributes, but never turns his back to mankind. His face is always watching them,” he said.

He then noted that in modern times, the Qur’an is not only interpreted mystically and theologically, but heavily politically, serving as a way of life for many Muslims.

“To obey God and obey God’s will — a way of life. But the Qur’an does not provide all the details, they’re left for man to find on his own,” Bowering said.

Bowering shattered many contemporary controversial stereotypes surrounding the scripture.

“Scholars want to look back 1,400 years and bring Islam in its earliest incarnation into contemporary beliefs. Fundamentalists fail, ignoring key historical aspects. When natural development fails, violence erupts. Islam has naturally developed over time. Its roots have grown into a magnificent tree, branching all across the world,” he said.

He concluded his lecture by stating that the words of the Qur’an must be remembered at all times while searching for the answers to its mysteries.

“There needs to be a peaceful search, not through violence. It needs to be constructive instead of destructive. Stick to the trust in God.
because he is ready to show his face and never turn back,” he said.