Agnostic Jew Explores the Quran

8 12 2010

Wow! This is one of the best presentations I have heard this year. In this short, but poignant 9 minute talk, Lesley Hazleton explores the Quran and finds that is quite different from what you might hear in the media. Every person with a “flexible mind” should watch this video and share it with others – ESPECIALLY given the ignorant Islamophobia that is prevalent in political America today. Among pearls of wisdom, she answers several questions such as:

  • Is the idea of  72 virgins mentioned in the Quran?
  • How is Paradise described?
  • What is the “hypnotic quality” of the Quran in Arabic?
  • How much of the Quran reprises stories of the Bible/Torah?
  • How is it different from the Bible/Torah?
  • What do so called Muslim extremists and anti-Muslim Islamophobes have in common?

Lesley Hazleton expresses sentiments that resonate with the rational mind. To be honest, I am dismayed at how someone with her depth of understanding could claim to be an agnostic Jew. I found myself nodding my head in agreement with every point she masterfully articulated. I love great talks like this with a strong attention getter, subtle humor, rock solid points, and a conclusion that circles back to the beginning. Five stars!!

From TED: A psychologist by training and Middle East reporter by experience, British-born Lesley Hazleton has spent the last ten years exploring the vast and often terrifying arena in which politics and religion, past and present, intersect. Her most recent book, After the Prophet: the Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split, was a finalist for the 2010 PEN-USA nonfiction award.

She lived and worked in Jerusalem for thirteen years — a city where politics and religion are at their most incendiary — then moved to New York. She came to Seattle to get her pilot’s license in 1992, saw the perfect houseboat, and stayed. By 1994, she’d flown away all of her savings, and has never regretted a single cent of it. Now her raft rides low in the water under the weight of research as she works on her next book, The First Muslim, a new look at the life of Muhammad.

TEDxRainier is an independently organized TED event held in Seattle Washington.

More on Lesley from Wikipedia:

Lesley Hazleton (born 1945) is an award-winning British-American writer whose work focuses on the intersection of politics, religion, and history, especially in the Middle East. She reported from Israel for Time, and has written on the Middle East for numerous publications including The New York TimesThe New York Review of BooksHarper’sThe Nation, andThe New Republic.

Hazleton was born in England, and became a United States citizen in 1994. She was based in Jerusalem from 1966 to 1979 and in New York City from 1979 to 1992, when she moved to her current home in Seattle WA, originally to get her pilot’s license. She has two degrees in psychology (B.A. Manchester University, M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

She has described herself as “a Jew who once seriously considered becoming a rabbi, a former convent schoolgirl who daydreamed about being a nun, an agnostic with a deep sense of religious mystery though no affinity for organized religion”. ”Everything is paradox,” she has said. “The danger is one-dimensional thinking”.

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