Author: Robert R

A native of Provo, Utah, Robert served in the Italy Padova Mission and graduated from BYU in Comparative Literature. He studied Arabic for a year in Cairo, Egypt, before embarking on his graduate studies in Arabic at Georgetown University. This past academic year, Robert put his studies on hold to teach at BYU, and he is currently in Amman, Jordan as a co-director of BYU’s intensive Arabic Study Abroad Program. He will return to DC this fall to complete the final stretch of his PhD. In his free time, Robert enjoys running and playing the organ. He is blessed with a fantastic wife, a caring family, and better friends than he deserves.

Church + Music = Fun

Music is a wonderfully enriching part of church life, both in worship services themselves and in church culture generally. It’s a blessing in many, many ways—including ways that are light-hearted and fun. Forgive me, then, for sharing the following not-so-serious and rather random stories with a musical twist. (1) The ward where I grew up was blessed with a strong number of musically talented individuals, including organists, choristers, and singers. One of those in the chorister rotation was an older gentleman who was a retired professional musician. I’ll always be grateful to him for giving me one of my favorite church memories. Here’s the situation: the sacrament meeting went long, and the bishop announced that we would only sing one verse of the closing hymn. We sang the first verse of said hymn and everyone—bishopric, congregation, and organist—stopped and prepared for the closing prayer. Rather unfortunately, however, the chorister himself didn’t get the message. He loudly belted out the first word of the second verse entirely by himself. The split second it took for him to realize he was singing solo was probably one of the most awkward of my young life. He stopped singing with a horrified look on his face, that lonely note just hanging in the air. The poor man took his seat, crestfallen, as the congregation crackled with laughter. I would swear that even the bishop was chuckling during the closing prayer. (2) During a stake…

Appreciating the Qur’an

The several parallels between the Book of Mormon and the Qur’an have been noted before: the Qur’an serves as proof of Muhammad’s prophethood, an additional (although superseding) witness of the Bible’s God and salvation history, the source of devotional reading and instruction for believers. It is central to the piety of Muslims and commands their highest esteem. For non-believers to glibly dismiss it offends Muslims the same way we take umbrage when the Book of Mormon is described as something any nineteenth-century, Bible-literate yokel could have tossed off between lunch and dinner. In other ways, though, the Qur’an is simply sui generis, and to understand it only by comparing it with other sacred texts is to sell it short. For one thing, the Qur’an has long been considered the model of literary excellence in Arabic; the inimitability of its style is an article of faith. For all its other merits, the Book of Mormon hasn’t exactly been widely followed as a paragon of style, even by believers. And nothing in the LDS view of scripture quite parallels the Islamic view of the Qur’an as uncreated, co-eternal with the Creator (God “inlibriate” as one scholar has put it). But those are topics for another time. My hope today is to promote appreciation for three facets of the Qur’an. (1) The Qur’an is a complex text. It was compiled over a period of more than 20 years, and the diverse content of…

Reflections on the Islamization of Knowledge

The historical grandeur of Islamic intellectual achievement has been both a blessing and a burden for modern Muslims. There is, on the one hand, a great and justified sense of pride in the accomplishments of the giants of the tradition—the Sibawaihs, Ibn Sinas, Ibn Haythams, and Al-Ghazalis.

Old School Scripture Mastery

Although Moroni was anxious about the Nephites’ “weakness in writing,” he does note that the Nephites were able to “speak much,” and that their spoken words were “powerful and great” (see Ether 12:23–27).