Israel's Quran project

A new Israeli project about the Quran has drawn suspicion and criticism from some Islamic scholors.

Is it possible that a Jew appreciates and respects the Holy Quran but still remains a Jew? At the Israeli Presidential Conference held in May in honour of Israel's 60th Independence Day, 60 projects were selected for an exhibition entitled "Tomorrow's Spaces", presenting new ideas, products and technologies that will help shape the face of tomorrow. One of the projects selected was "Quranet", in which every person in the world can find a Quranic answer to their educational questions.

However not everyone seems to have shown enthusiasm for the project. My response to those Islamic scholars who have criticised it is to ask the question whether they have actually read Quranet? Does it make sense to them that Israel's Foreign Ministry website can host Quranet without it being party to a Zionist conspiracy? With all due respect, these Islamic scholars should not forget that in the Holy Quran it is written: "O believers! If any disobedient comes to you with any news make a strict inquiry lest you may hurt any people improperly then remain repenting on what you have done.” Did these people bring even one example to prove their defamatory accusations against me?

They could not possibly have read Quranet because, at this present moment, all we have produced is a Hebrew language book titled "The Quran for Educating the Child." Within two months the Quranet.net website will be launched and the readers will get the answer for themselves. Then I can only hope people will remember these defamations when they read what's on Quranet and be able to judge for themselves about the nature of our project.

Bushra Mazarib is one of my student and the one who actually set the project in motion. Here, in her own words, is an account of how it all came about:

“Last year a group of fifteen Bedouin students studying for graduate degrees in educational counselling attended a course on Developmental Psychology given by our lecturer Dr. Ofer Grosbard.

One day I went up to him and said: "May I tell you the truth. What you are teaching us is not going to be of help to us."
"Why do you say that?" Ofer asked.
I said that that when I become an educational counsellor, a parent may come to me one day and say, "A demon has entered into my child" or some similar statement from the same cultural background. "Do you think that what you have taught us here will be of any use to me then?"
"Then what would he helpful to you?" Ofer asked.
I replied with one word: "The Quran".
He asked me to explain. I said that, in the appropriate context, quotation of a verse from the Quran has enormous impact on Muslims.

Ofer brought a copy of the Quran to our next lesson. He divided the chapters among us and asked us to locate the educational-therapeutic verses. It transpired that there are many of these in the Quran. The verses exhort individuals to take responsibility, learn the truth, respect others etc. Ofer asked us to compose a brief story taken from everyday life for each verse to illustrate how a parent or teacher can utilise the verse to convey a message to the child. Together we collected more than three hundred stories, and Ofer added to each a simple and brief educational-psychological explanation.

That was how Quranet came into being.”

Quranet is a project designed to transform the Quran into an educational tool to help the Islamic world and the West to understand each other. It is being developed by a group of Bedouin students and their lecturer, Dr. Ofer Grosbard and is expected to be launched in two months