The Qur’an as Literature

A Great Books Discussion Course

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Introduction to the Qur’an as Literature

A unique, world-class opportunity to read and discuss the third great Abrahamic scripture from a secular, literary, non-sectarian perspective.

Considered the record of the revealed word of God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel, the Qur’an is the third great scripture of the Semitic tradition and the foundation of all forms of Islam. In this course we will read the Qur’an (as well as supplementary readings) from a secular perspective (i.e. as “literature”) in order to gain an initial understanding of the book, its perspectives on important concepts such as the nature of god and man, divine judgment, prophecy and history, the ideal society, the proper relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, jihad (“holy war” or “exertion”) and more. No prior knowledge or experience of any kind is required.





Adam Rose

Educated principally at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago, Adam Rose is a teacher and scholar with over 20 years’ experience leading exceptionally effective, award-winning Great Books discussion courses in Western Classics for adult and undergraduate students of diverse ages and backgrounds. Mr. Rose’s teaching emphasizes the development of students’ cognitive skills (close reading, analytical thinking, careful listening, precise speaking and powerful writing) and critical empathy (viewpoint appreciation) as part of facilitating a multifaceted appreciation of the text(s) studied. Mr. Rose is the President and Education Director of Great Discourses.

Course #: 



  • 7 Weeks


  • 2 hr 45 min


  • Online


US$ 295


“Early Bird” reduced tuition (US$ 255) is available through September 10, 2017.

Section A(Course #: 170903A)

Sunday, 5:00 PM CT
Sep 24, 2017 to Nov 05, 2017

Course Documents

Please Note

General Information

Like all Great Discourses discussion courses, this live, interactive online discussion course is designed to facilitate the collaborative close readings of classics in ways that help participants transform the challenging into the exhilarating and elevating through “Aha!” moments of profound discovery. Participation requires an Internet-enabled computer or mobile device. The course is open to adults from all walks of life (and to mature teens with parental consent) and does not require any specialized prior knowledge or experience. Students do a modest amount of reading homework in preparation for each live online class session, but there are no papers, no tests and no grades. The readings and discussion are in English.


Recommended Edition: Al-Quran: A Contemporary Translation by Ahmed Ali, final rev. ed.; Princeton, 2001. ISBN: 978-0691074993.
View/Buy at: Amazon (US), Amazon (CA), Amazon (UK), Amazon (IN), Amazon (AU)
Armstrong, Karen. Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time, reprint ed. (2007)
Recommended Edition: Harper, 2007 [1993]. ISBN: 978-0061155772.
View/Buy at: Amazon (US), Amazon (CA), Amazon (UK), Amazon (IN), Amazon (AU)

McAuliffe, Jane (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an. (2006).
Recommended Edition: Cambridge, 2006. ISBN: 978-0521539340.
View/Buy at: Amazon (US), Amazon (CA), Amazon (UK), Amazon (IN), Amazon (AU)

Please Note

You are responsible for obtaining your own copy of each book used in this discussion course. Most books are available in a number of editions, in both print and digital formats. All editions are acceptable unless otherwise noted, although print format texts are generally recommended. If you do choose to use a digital text, try to access it on a device other than the one you will using to connect to the online classroom.

Additional Readings

This course may have additional short readings that will be used during the first class session as well as during other class sessions. These will be available to you on the dedicated course page at the Great Discourses Collaboratory Online Course Center once you have completed your registration for this course.


To get the most out of this discussion course, you will have to do a modest amount of reading homework in between class sessions — usually about two hours of reading for each hour of class time. No homework is required before the first class session (although some technical and general preparation is required).

Questions? Suggestions? Contact Us

What students are saying

I had tried to read the Qur’an in previous courses and on my own — with disaster & amazement that any world religion would adopt such a poorly written & discontinuous work as their principal scripture. I am now at peace with the Qur’an & see where it is leading the believer. I respect the point of view presented — fear of God & the final judgment — and its relation to the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. I even pick the Qur’an up and read a surah or two when I am in a spiritual mood. I am appreciative to the instructor [Adam Rose] for bringing this important text into my intellectual and emotional/religious life.

Adam Rose is a fabulous teacher who challenged his class on every level. I communicate more clearly, think more rationally, and explore more deeply as a result of his teaching.

In my humble opinion, Adam Rose is one of the better instructors I have ever encountered — that includes eight years of Jesuit education.

Adam Rose is so detailed when teaching anything and reveals so many things that I would never have discovered without his help. He is also very amusing.