Christian and Muslim collaborate on translation of Quran

by Gregory Tomlin, |
The view from inside the King Abdullah I Mosque in Amman, Jordan in 2011 shows the Coptic Orthodox church across the street, which is the largest Christian church in the middle eastern city. In the 1930's Jordan's population was said to be about 30 percent Christian, but now the country is said to have about 5-6 percent of Christians as its native population. | Joni B. Hannigan/Jacksonville, Fla.

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – A Christian doctor and a Muslim businessman have partnered together to produce a new English translation of the Quran with a unique feature.

It includes a modern reading of the ancient text, but alongside it parallel passages from Christian Scriptures.

While most Christians will likely reject the innovation, the publishers claim The Quran with References to the Bible will help create a new level of understanding between the faiths and reduce tensions between Muslims and Christians in America.

Dr. Safi Kaskas, a Muslim businessman, and Dr. David Hungerford, a Christian orthopedic surgeon, met while serving as board members for Bridges to Common Ground, a Christian-Muslim interfaith group. Hungerford told The Church Boys podcast that Kaskas had been mulling over the idea for some time.

An ancient handwritten copy of the Quran is seen in a house on Dhalamlam Mountain, in the Jafariya district of the western province of Raymah, Yemen, June 1, 2016. A new English translation of the Muslim book claims to create a greater level of understanding as it includes Christian Scripture references as footnotes. | REUTERS/Abduljabbar

"When we met, Dr. Kaskas had this as a dream and (it was) something he had been working on in his mind," Hungerford told Deseret News. "We were both kind of prepared for this project (and the) collaboration just became so obvious to us and we've been working on it together ever since."

Kaskas said he was partly motivated to share the Quran with the American people because of the welcome he received when he first came to the U.S.

"When I first came to the United States, if it wasn't for my American neighbors opening their hearts and their homes for me, I wouldn't have made it," Kaskas said. "I feel a debt to this country."

"I hate to see that the same Americans are feeling bad about Muslims now. I want to repair this relationship," Kaskas also said.

Hungerford and Kaskas claim that, through their research, they were able to identify more than 3,000 verses that in some way correspond to the contents of the Bible. So they added footnotes at the bottom of each page that included similar verses from Scripture.

According to Hungerford, they hope to dispel what they believe are myths about Muslims in America.

"What our hope is is that Christians will read it and the eyes of their misunderstanding and the depth of their ignorance will be dispelled so they can now look upon Muslims as part of the Abrahamic tradition," Hungerford said.

In anticipation of their critics, both men have claimed they are not interested in forming Islam and Christianity into a single religion. Both men claim to be committed exclusively to their faiths.

"I am a practicing Muslim, David is a practicing Christian," Kaskas said. "I want him to have the freedom to practice worshipping God his way and I want him to give me the freedom to worship God my way."

Still, Kaskas said many Christians will be shocked to find out how well some of the central teachings of the Bible align with Islamic practice – especially where Jesus is concerned.

"The way Jesus was born in the Quran, he had a miraculous birth, his life was miraculous, the Quran states miracles that were not even stated in the Bible," he said. "Everything about Jesus as far as we're concerned is miraculous."

Kaskas said he hopes the book is widely read by Christians and by Muslims who are losing faith the ideals America is built upon, such as religious liberty. 

Many comments about the new version online are negative, with Christians suggesting the two men have mixed the truth of Scripture with the error of Islam.