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Professor will discuss the Koran and its history March 27

Loren Lybarger, an Ohio University professor of classics and world religion, will lead a discussion on the Koran, an Islamic religious text, in the Friends of the Library Room (319) at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 27.

Lybarger will describe the Koran's history, how it is used in terms of prayers and what effects it has on social life. A passage from the Koran will also be read aloud.

This is the newest event in the Culture Showcase Series, a program run by the Ohio Universities Libraries Diversity Committee. The theme this semester is "Muslim Journeys."
"The Koran is the holy book of Islam," Lybarger explained. "It exists in multiple translations, but properly understood, the Koran can only be the Koran if it is in Arabic."

Muslims learn how to recite the text in Arabic, even if the language is not their native tongue so that they are able to say their prayers. Muslims consider the Koran to be the word of God and treat it with great value. It is believed that the Islamic text was revealed by God to the prophet Muhammad.

Lybarger, who has spent about eight years in the Middle East and is fluent in Arabic, also emphasizes that he wants his audience to recognize that there is a relationship between the Koran and biblical traditions.

"Because we are so invested in disconnecting Islam from ourselves, we have to begin to see the continuities that exist right there in the textual tradition," Lybarger said.

The Koran does mention important Christian figures, like Jesus and Mary. For example, Christians reading the story of Mary in the Koran will be able to detect similar details to those in the Bible and also details that are unfamiliar. In the Koran, Mary is said to have given birth under a palm tree and a stream of water opens up beneath her. This detail has been left out of the canonical New Testament, though the detail does appear in a non-canonical Christian text.

"The Koran, in a sense, has retrieved that detail and incorporated it. [This] is just one example of how [the Koran] comments or expands on the biblical stories," Lybarger said. 

He also mentions that Judaism, Christianity and Islam should be thought of "as sharing in a broader monotheistic tradition and sharing a set of stories in common."

"Each of them has a different spin on the story and draws on different materials," Lybarger said.

Along with the presentation, a book exhibit on Islamic religion and culture will be placed on the second floor of the library as part of the program. A permanent art exhibit by photojournalist Steve Raymer is also mounted on the walls of the first floor library, depicting the ordinary lives of Muslims.

The talk is free and open to the public.