As a Christian, I believe a vital part of spiritual growth is regular Bible reading.  How do we really know and know about God without an intimate knowledge of the Bible?  Sadly, there are lots of statistics out there that show that Christians are not opening their Bible very much.  We don’t know the facts of our Bibles, but it is even more tragic that we are neglecting the life-giving flow of the Holy Spirit that comes from the Scriptures.

So when I came to the following passage and learned that this was the first revelation to Muhammad I was struck by how right it is:

Read!  In the name of your Lord who created: He created man from a clinging form.  Read!  Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One who taught by the pen, who taught man what he did not know.  (96:1-5)

No wonder the next surah calls this the “Night of Glory” (97:1).  The first word of Allah’s revelation is “Read!”  That is how important the Qur’an is to be to a Muslim.  The devout Muslims I have met do in fact follow this command zealously.  Allah has only revealed himself by words.  Look up the word “Allah” in an image search engine and you come up with little more than beautiful calligraphic depictions of the name Allah in Arabic.  Even visually Allah himself has to be “read.”

Christians — who ironically the Qur’an includes in the moniker “People of the Book” — would do well to mimic this commitment to the text.  Yes, the God of Christianity revealed himself in more than words and a book and even nature.  Yes, God is best known in the form of the flesh and blood Messiah, Jesus Christ.  But the Christian God did give the world a Bible, and it should not be neglected.

One reason people do not read is that deep down they do not think they need to.  Life can be navigated just fine without a sacred text.  I have to wonder if this attitude doesn’t come dangerously close to the self-sufficiency soundly condemned in the last half of the 96th surah:

But man exceeds all bounds when he thinks he is self-sufficient. (96:6-7)

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