This is a beautiful book: a small hardcover with a floral dust jacket. A helpful and substantive introduction is followed by 100 pages of Qur’an passages typeset as poetry, revealing how these verses are ideal for inspiring a life of devotion.

From Yakima to Yemen, there are Muslims who care deeply for these passages from sacred scripture, and this book reveals what those are and how they might also be used by people of other spiritual backgrounds.

The translator and editor of the book, a professor of Arabic at Yale University, explains how he selected Qur’an verses for inclusion: “I decided to focus on ones that Muslims turn to in their devotions — notably in daily ritual prayers (salat), in supplications (du’a), and in pious remembrance (dhikr).”

Some of the verses are grouped by category, and those groupings have additional, short introductions written by Toorawa. These groups include “Verses Glorifying God,” “Supplication Verses,” and “Friday Verses and Surahs.” This is a sample surah that the editor indicates is used for awe:

In the name of God
ever compassionate and full of Compassion

We sent it down on the Night of Awe —
What, you ask, is the Night of Awe?

The Night of Awe is better by far
than a thousand months or more

A Night when angels and Spirit descend
charged by their Lord

A Night of peace —
Peace, till the break of dawn.

(Qadr, 97)

After the verses and surahs are an appendix of wazifahs — recommended recitation practices. Like a Christian breviary, these orderings of surahs provide those who would pray with these surahs a guide to doing so in patterns shared with other Muslims around the world.

There is then a glossary of Arabic words and meanings, pages of notes, and many suggestions of further reading.

Go Deeper:
Beauty and Wisdom in the Qur'an: An e-course on timeless insights and practices gleaned from reflections on verses of the Qur’an.