Monday, October 20, 2008

Printed Element of Surprise

Originally uploaded by manitoon
A friend of mine, a great Swedish journalist Arne Ruth, described well a while back the rare quality - some could say unique selling point - that newspapers and magazines possess. According to Arne, the web very seldom leads us to information that we did not know that we were interested in. This is very evident on Google where we seldom bump into stuff that triggers us if we were not specifically looking for it. According to Arne, that is the key selling point of the newspaper. I must say I agree with Arne to a large extent. I am still desperate for a way to cope with the insane amount of content that would still contain an element of unpredictability.

A clear example of this wonderful quality of newspapers was the Guardian of last Friday, which I picked up on my way to a lunch on my free day. While eating my sandwich, I glanced through the news section. Before I got halfway, I threw the newspaper into my gym bag. I bumped into it again on my lazy Sunday and found myself getting completely excited by a big article on the Qur´an. Madeleine Bunting´s and Ziauddin Sardar´s debate on interpretation of the holy book actually taught me new things. Sardar´s radical position of trying to read the Qur´an in a straight forward way, without the historical load really fascinated me.

"For me the Qur´an is a living, dynamic book", Sardar wrote. "This is not just a definition of a believer. It is also a statement about belief...So, with new determination, I say that we Muslims have to teach ourselves to read and think about the Qur´an without the weight of tradition and classical commentaries. Muslim scholars and experts should not exist as gatekeepers, permanently excluding us from using our knowledge and insight to make sense of the Qur´an for ourselves."

Through what kind of Google search would I ever bump into this?

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