In his new foreword to this book originally released in 1988, Sufi teacher and author Neil Douglas-Klotz (The Genesis Meditations) salutes the beauty and clarity of Lex Hixon's meditations on over 900 key passages from the Islamic Holy Book. Although many Westerners are quite familiar with the Tao Te Ching , the Bhagavad Gita, and the Dhamapada, they know nothing about the Qur'an. The intent of this labor of love is, according to Douglas-Klotz, "to communicate to readers some of the same experiential qualities that the text holds for practicing Muslims."
Hixon, who died in 1995, was a pioneer in multifaith explorations, practicing Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam at various times. The Heart of the Qur'an reveals the great wisdom in the Islamic tradition and the depth and breadth of its spiritual riches. Neil Douglas-Klotz has arranged the passages of this new edition thematically and provided commentary on Allah as the Ground of Being, creation, judgment, religious diversity; the prophets; the Prophet Muhammad; prayer; gratitude and giving; pilgrimage and the journey of the soul; struggle with the small self; honesty and justice; and lovers of love, a life of compassion.
At the outset, Hixon notes: "The Holy Qur'an, we must always remember, does not contain the human speech and thought of the Prophet Muhammad, but is the Divine Song of power and love sung directly by Allah, the ultimate Source of the universe, through the personal, cultural and spiritual being of His Prophet." Allah the Most High is the Creator of the world and yet knows our most innermost thoughts. "When three of you are talking together privately, Allah is actually present as if He were a fourth member of the conversation." Look anywhere and you will see signs of this presence:
"Among the demonstrations of Love that flow continuously from the Source of Love is the Creation for every human being of an intimately related partner in life, providing communion, strength and repose. Allah Most High has established between wife and husband the possibility for truly selfless compassion and profound love. The relationship of marriage contains deep spiritual teaching for those who contemplate deeply . . .
"Among the demonstrations of Love that flow continuously from the Source of Love is the peaceful sleep by which beings are refreshed at night or during the day. Thus the natural activities of daily existence, all the ways that conscious beings instinctively and intuitively reach out for the gracious and abundant gifts of Allah, become clear spiritual teaching for those who perceive clearly."
These blessings flow from the Source of Love and the proper response is one of gratitude. Again and again this spiritual practice is singled out as significant.
The Qur'an contains many comments about the diversity of human religions and the importance of harmony among them. Here is a passage that reveals Islam's veneration of Jesus and Mary: "The Supreme Source sent Jesus, son of My beloved Mary, to walk the noble way of all the Prophets, those deeply cherished guides of humanity. Through the Prophet Jesus, the Source of Wisdom transmitted the Radiant Gospel, full of the same Light of Truth that streams through the Living Torah, resonant with warning and guidance for those who turn with purity of heart toward Allah Most Sublime. The people of the Living Gospel, called Christians, can continue to live wisely in the light of the Revelation granted to them through My beloved Jesus. Only those are turning away from Allah Most High who abandon the wisdom that flows to their own people, through their own Prophets, through the Source of Wisdom."
In other passages, prayer is designated as "your life's purpose" and people are admonished to treat others with respect. We found this summary statement to be most beautiful: "Remind your people that the deep human response for which Allah Most Merciful calls is the commitment to justice that transforms daily life into continual acts of kindness and generosity toward all persons, recognizing them as one intimate family."