Two men of faith, one Muslim and one Christian, have created a new book — a translation of The Qur'an into English, with references to the Bible.
It's something that has never been done.
Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford are friends of different faiths who hope to build bridges of understanding. There are so many misconceptions, they say, between members of their two faiths that they hope to change minds and hearts with what these holy books really say.
"Believers to me are believers," Kaskas said. "I don't hold Islam, in a sense, to be better than anything else. It's just my faith. It's my way to show my creator my appreciation for all the blessings that's surrounding me and to thank him. That is my way. That doesn't mean I should put down anyone else's way."
Kaskas wants to show Christians and Jews the truth about Islam's holy book, The Qur'an, with a new English translation.
"I wanted to explain to Christians that this book is very inclusive," Kaskas said about his desire to connect The Qu'ran to the Bible. "And I need to explain to my fellow Muslims that Islam doesn't make us better, the way we treat others will make us better."
Kaskas is an American citizen. He emigrated from Beirut forty years ago and co-founded East West University in Chicago, and remains a business strategist and lecturer. He came to Utah to speak at Brigham Young University. Kaskas is concerned about the misconceptions about his faith — a faith, he says, which terrorists have abused.
Kaskas said at first, he wasn't sure if people from either faith would accept it.
"I didn't know who's going to accept it, who's going to reject it," Kaskas said. "I thought maybe the Christians won't like it, especially my Evangelical friends, because it talks about the Qur'an and, to some of them, the Qur'an is the book of the devil. I thought maybe Muslims wouldn't like it. It has the Bible, and they say the Bible has been corrupted."
Buto far, tens of thousands of copies have been sold to people of both faiths. The book has detailed references to the Bible, the Old and New Testaments.
Kaskas says most Christians have no idea how Muslims feel about Jesus; they revere him as a prophet. The Qur'an says He performed miracles, He healed the lepers, He raised the dead.
"Jesus for Muslims is considered a miracle," Kaskas said. "In His birth, the way He was conceived, the way He lived his life, the way He went up to Heaven. The whole entire episode is miraculous. He is, to us, a testimony of God's power."
David Hungerford was his writing partner. A retired orthopedic surgeon, Hungerford is an Evangelical Christian. He and Kaskas are board members in Bridges to Common Ground, a national interfaith group, and very close friends.
"He is also one that is hurting because of the hatred he sees around, so he and I got together and decided we're going to do this work together," Hungerford said.
"So anytime we found a verse in the Qur'an, with a similar verse in meaning — similar verse in meaning, not just words in meaning — from the Bible, we took it and put it as a reference," Kaskas said. "So you can read this and read the verses from the Bible on the same page. We made it very easy. The language is very simple, everybody can understand. This book is not a book to compete with the Old and the New Testament, it's a book that comments on what's in them and giving us new things that we need to adhere to."
Kasas said he feels honored to be able to try and bring people together.
"I feel driven to do it and I am extremely honored that the Lord use me to present something like this," Kaskas said. "To be a bridge so people will understand each other better rather than hate each other. Seriously, we have more in common than a lot of people will guess."
"The Qur'an with References to the Bible" is available on Amazon.com. The editors are hoping for wider distribution.