How well do you know the Quran? For that matter, how well do you know the Bible? To put those questions to the test in the Netherlands, Sacha Harland and Alexander Spoor created "The Holy Quaran Experiment" wherein they disguised a copy of the Holy Bible as the Quran and read passages to people on the street. So did the people notice? And how did they perceive the swapped passages? Well, as will probably not surprise you, it turns out that pre-existing prejudices play a role in perception whether we want them to or not.
The Bible and the Quran both contain a lot of different things — laws, stories, advice, cosmology, and so on and so forth. Both have lots of passages that adherents may or may not be familiar with, and that religious scholars consider to have different degrees of relevance. Both books were also both put down in final form millennia ago, and so among their many passages, there are plenty that reflect values and a worldview that is foreign to the one we have today. For all we know, things like the importance of not touching pigs (Leviticus 11:7-8) or not wearing yellow (Sahîh Muslim 2077-8) really might have been good rules to have in the time and place in which they were written, but today? Not so much. And modern versions of both Christianity and Islam reflect these changes — after all, religions that are only relevant to a time and place that existed millennia ago don't tend to survive.
So what happens when you tell people that a biblical passage comes from the Quran? Well, as it turns out, the experiment goes something like this.
1. First, The Two Highlighted Surprising Biblical Passages
2. Then They Disguised The Bible As The Quran
3. And People Were Shocked At What They Read
4. And Judgemental
5. And Relied On Stereotypes
6. And They Are Sure That The Bible Was Less Harsh
7. When They Learned The Truth, Everyone Was Surprised
The moral of the story is that even in a society that has been heavily influenced by Christianity for centuries — such as, say, the Netherlands — people not only aren't influenced by the harsher passages in the Bible, but don't even know they exist. So maybe we should all keep that in perspective when talking about other religions, too.
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