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I used to think of the Koran as an impenetrable text, which reveals itself only to Arab speakers. Thanks to a new translation, I can appreciate it too

By Shereen El Feki   July 2004

You know you’re buying a special sort of book when other customers start interfering at the till.

“No, not that way,” said a man with an Egyptian accent, as I handed my pile of books across the cash desk at Waterstone’s. “The Koran must always be on top,” he chided, leaning over to rearrange my purchases. But how should it lie in the plastic bag next to the other books? My fellow shopper-cum-spiritual adviser was at a loss, “I don’t know about plastic bags.” Then he brightened: “God forgives all.”

While the Koran may be short on such finer…

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