For over 14 centuries the Holy Qur'an has provided inspiration and wisdom to countless Muslim believers. Yet many people in our time know nothing about the spiritual riches of this sacred text. Kabir Helminski is founder of the Threshold Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing the knowledge and practice of Sufism, and a shaikh in the Mevlevi tradition founded by Jelaluddin Rumi. He has published translations of Rumi as well as books on Sufism, including Living Presence: A Sufi Way to Mindfulness and the Essential Self and The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation. This volume contains 265 titled selections from the Qur'an with interpretations offered by two renowned translators of the text, Muhammed Asad and Yusuf Ali, as well as other Muslims including Kashani, Fadhlallah Haeri, and Michael Sells. Helminksi, who also provides commentary, has chosen to focus on passages highlight the essential spiritual themes in the Qur'an.
This excellent sourcebook, part of an Islamic curriculum created by The Book Foundation, is intended for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The latter will benefit no doubt from the insights to be gained from reading about the Prophet Muhammad's respect for all religions, the aversion to killing, and restraint in retaliation.
Reading this awesome collection of passages from the Qur'an and the accompanying commentaries, we were struck again and again by the strong emphasis upon ethical conduct. We savored material on attitudes that offer an invaluable alternative to the incivility of our times: patience, tolerance for other beliefs, inner calm, personal responsibility, humility, a high standard for human speech, turning aside from idle talk, goodness toward parents, being modest in our bearing, straight speaking, loving our fellow beings, selfless action, conscious equanimity, and much more.
In a commentary on not being wasteful, A. Yusuf Ali states: "See what magnificent means God provides in nature for the sustenance of all His creatures, because He loves them all. Enjoy them in moderation and be grateful. But commit no excess and no waste: the two things are the same from different angles of vision. If you do, you take away something from other creatures and God would not like your selfishness."
And for those who wonder what the Qur'an has to say about the gap between the rich and the poor, here is A. Yusuf Ali commenting on a passage about that: "Even in the seeming inequality of distribution of the good things of life, God has a wise and merciful purpose; for nothing arises by chance. He is the best to give us, now and evermore, just those things which serve our real needs and advance our inner development."