This book is like a little medieval cathedral. Many people worked to build it, each providing their specific contribution. Some of them are named and thanked below. Many receive no mention. Some are unknown even to me. These include all those who have, diligently and without any ulterior motive, added to the expanding sea of knowledge on internet, those pieces of text and information without which this project would have been impossible.
First I would like to thank the team at CreateSpace,who printed this book and designed the outside cover, for their enthusiasm, help and personal attention. They made the process formally designated as âself-publishingâ into what seemed like interactive publishing. CreateSpaceâs combination of state of the art print on demand technology, with excellent management, responsiveness to the authors needs, and personal attention, are a wonder in the world of publishing. CreateSpace applies the saying âfor the people and by the peopleâ to books; placing the author at the center of the publishing proces, demanding only the limited, non-exclusive right to print, while leaving the author in full possession of his or her rights. By saving money with technology and good organisation, CreateSpace enables the author to gain a generous return on his or her relatively small initial investment. Most important however is that the author stays in control, with CreateSpace only offering a variety of services from which the author can take his or her pick.
I would also like to thank Burke Gerstenschaler at Palgrave Macmillan, who sollicited two excellent peer reviews mentioned elsewhere in this book and led me through the mazes of academic publishing, to an enthusiastic board decision. Unfortunately the cooperation stranded on the cliffs of legal problems, due to the particular nature of this anthology as compared with standard contracts. My gratitude also goes to the two anonymous reviewers, who wrote such kind and complimentary words, whilst supplying useful and detailed criticism. One wrote:
âOne should appreciate a balanced and unbiased language and content of introduction partsÂ for each topic. The passages from the either of the Holy ScripturesÂ are selectedÂ carefully both to provide a proper content of them and to preserve neutrality over them.â
The other commented: âThe academic world will be indebted to the author for this project.Â It is long overdue.â
The Dutch book and website
This English anthology is an extended version of a Dutch book Koran en Bijbel in Verhalen, published in 2007. Here the contribution of Karin Bisschop was the most substantial. Her role as sparring partner ensured the high degree of non-partiality of the book, which was continued into the English version.
I would have liked to thank again the publishing and PR team at Unieboek | Het Spectrum Publishers, The Netherlands. Many thanks go to the IKON, (the Ecumenical Broadcasting Company of the Netherlands) who dared to put this anthology online in 2007 together with the full Bible and full Qurâan text; especially Marloes Keller, Peter Dekker, Mohamed el Aissati, Bas Buesink, Mirjam Nieboer, Annemiek Schrijver en Martin FrĂ¶berg.
I am likewise indebted to the management and editorial staff of Radio Netherlands Worldwide for bringing this initiative into the world by translating and publishing the anthology online in English and Arabic. An important and generous initiative.
Expert advice and moral support
One can debate what is of greater importance when compiling a novel anthology like this one: expert advice or moral support. I received plenty of both from several quarters. For the Dutch beginnings it was offered by Imam Muhammad Tahier and the theologian Eduard Verhoef. Their encouragement at an early stage was a great help. During the many presentations I gave on a variety of themes in the anthology I learned a great deal from the discussions. Several experts took the trouble to review and advise on parts of the book. Cenay Senak gave me valuable feedback right at the start of the project. Memorable was her view on the afterlife, hell being rather thinly populated in her view. Gurkan Celik and Iris Creemers invited me to present the story of Mary just before Christmas at the interfaith Dialoog Academie which they lead, and Gurkan later gave valuable comments on Common Values and Virtues. ch. 29 Reverend theologian Dr Antje van der Hoek, looked especially at the chapter on women, pointing to relevant passages from the book of Proverbs in the Bible. She organized an interfaith evening with Christians and Muslims which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Reverend Katrijne Bezemer, historian and theologian, allowed me to present my case to members of her congregation, and gave me both encouragement and critical comments on Job ch. 16 and Jona ch. 7 and the position of women. ch.26
Inspiring was the feedback I received on many other occasions. Memorable was the evening at a home for elderly nuns and priests at which I was honored to meet bishop Muskens. Equally inspiring was the weekend at the Lioba convent with Dutch Nuns and interfaith friends from Suffolk. It was there that the idea for the title of the book surfaced. I must give special mention to Cynthia Capey from the Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource and Manwar Ali Jimas for their willingness to put the story of Mary online in 2005, before anyone in Holland had practically heard of the project. Rev. Malcolm Weisman, Jewish Minister for Small Communities and Jewish Chaplain to HM Forces, taught me the Hebrew Yigdal Hymn about the thirteen attributes of God. Elahe Mojdehi explained how Persian tradition embroiders forth on the Qurâan, including Zarathushtra as a major Muslim prophet; and why the snake has no legs.
The Tahrike Tarsile Qurâan publishing Incorporation in New York deserve thanks for their cordial and quick permission to use The Qurâan Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, 24th US Edition 2008 for the whole of the right column the Qurâan verses.
The Bible Translations
The situation with the Bible quotes, used in the left hand colomn, is more complex.
The quotes used in the chapters on Common values virtues, and Alpha, Omega on Attributes of God are extracts from the Authorized version of the Bible ( The King James Bible), the rights in which are vested in the Crown, are reproduced by permission of the Crownâs patentee, Cambridge University Press. Thanks are due for the genereous, speedy and eloquent way in which permission was given. It was joy to return to my childhood experience with the beautiful, age-old Biblical language from 1611, the days of Shakespeare. They are so perfect for the chapters which do indeed taste of eternity.
The Bible Contemporary English Version, Harper Collins 2000 was used for the âmodernâ chapters on:
- The position of women
- Penal law - crime and punishment
- International law - war and peace
Although we stayed below the limit of 500 verses for which permission must be asked, I would nevertheless like to thank American Bible Society for making available the excellent contemporary translation over the years 1991-1995.The same holds for Thomas Nelson inc., of whose New King James version of 1982 an amount of verses below the 1000 limit for which persmissionis necessary.
Copy editing, checking and layout
The Bible and Qurâan verses were checked in several rounds. First in Dutch byTrix Santen and Dien Theunissen, both elderly ladies from a Roman Catholic background. Thankyou very much for those happy hours of reminiscence and laughter. Ati Chr. Blom, Iris Hubrecht, Hetty Karman. Riet Kortmann, Joke ten Kate and Hilda Offerhuis all spent time checking the Dutch quotes. Thankyou to these soroptimist friends, in whose midst the idea for the Side by Side originated.
The Englsih version was diligently checked an rechecked by Robert Fickes and Janneke Tilma. Robert also helped out with the American English. Janneke stayed with me right up to the end, proofreding in an excellent and speedy fashion.
If a mistake has been overlooked, this cannot be due to any of these wonderful people.
The help of the Vorm op Maat team with layout and image problems was indispensable.
And last but not least I would like to thank Mehmet, Nur, Martha, and Herman for responding so speedily and eloquently to my rather strange wish: to write comments on some aspect or story from the anthology in way both professional and personal. Andrew deserves special thanks for his advice, moral support and general backing of the project. John Espositoâs enthusaism was especially welcome, offering a book [resenation many months before the book was there. Thankyou Khaled for sharing so many thoughts with me in such a short space of time. And as the saying goes, behind every great man there stands a great woman. Special thanks go to Khaledâs wife and executive director of his office, without whom my little ongoing âconferenceâ with Abou Eld Fadl would have been impossible: Grace Song.