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Posted on: September 13th, 2010 by Craig Rairdin 24 Comments

Last week we received an inquiry about publishing an English version of the Koran for PocketBible. This isn’t the first time we’ve been approached with the idea.

As you may know, I wrote the first version of QuickVerse back in 1988 and took it to Parsons Technology. Within just a few weeks after starting work there, a lady came into the office carrying a copy of the Koran. Apparently her recently deceased husband (whose name I don’t recall) had created one of the most popular English translations of the Koran. She wanted to know if we were interested in publishing it.

We ultimately decided not to do it for a couple of reasons, and those reasons became the basis for our thinking on the subject (and related publishing opportunities) over the last twenty-plus years. First and foremost, we were a Bible software company, not a religious software company. We were Christians interested in Bible study, not scholars interested in comparative religious studies. We simply weren’t interested in spending any time on something that wasn’t going to do any good for Christians interested in studying the Bible.

Second, we knew that publishing the Koran was like the proverbial camel who gets his nose into the tent. Sure, we could publish the Koran — perhaps under the theory that doing so would help some Christians better witness to their Muslim neighbors — but next thing we knew, I’m sure there’d would be commentaries and other reference material that we would need to publish to support it. Pretty soon we’d be pressured to publish all kinds of Muslim material, none of which we personally had any interest in.

So when this opportunity came up last week my immediate reaction was “no”. However, it occurred to me that things were a little different now than they were twenty years ago. With the rise of Islamic terrorism there is more interest these days in understanding Islam so that we can be better equipped to win Muslims to Christ. So I decided to post a message on our Facebook fan page asking our fans there what they thought of the idea.

It was going to take an overwhelming tide of “yes” votes to change my mind. I have absolutely zero interest in doing anything to promote the Koran. You’ll notice there’s no picture in the upper right corner of this article. That’s because our stock photo supplier didn’t have any pictures of Muhammad or a burning Koran. I can’t imagine wasting any of my time on tagging the Koran for PocketBible.

In the sixteen hours or so that the question was up on Facebook, we received over 60 replies from 46 different people. 14 people were in favor of the idea and 30 against. A couple didn’t care one way or the other.

There was some controversy in the comments, with 9 of you essentially calling for a boycott of Laridian if we were to do this. Several people seemed to think we were already in the process of doing it, and three of you “unliked” our Fan page during those sixteen hours (two more of you “liked” us so our net loss was only one). I was a little disappointed that despite three follow-up comments from me there were still people who didn’t understand that we were just asking a question, not converting to Islam. On the other hand, at least one negative comment was deleted after I replied and the person had more time to think about their initial knee-jerk reaction.

As I pointed out on Facebook, the Koran is available for Logos in both English and Arabic. I haven’t heard of a mass boycott of Logos, so perhaps this isn’t as contentious as it might appear from our unscientific poll of Facebook fans. Or perhaps you expect less of Logos. :-)

I’ve deleted the post on Facebook so as to limit any further confusion on where we stand on this issue. Suffice to say that the idea of publishing the Koran in PocketBible was always a long shot, that we were just asking for your opinion, and that we have not been mass converted to Islam, despite what a number of you apparently think. :-)

24 Responses

  1. Ray Vining says:

    I love your products and think that they have revolutionized Bible study, lives, etc… Thanks for all the hard work to produce a consistently excellent product.

    May the God of glory and grace be near you this day!

    Rv

  2. John Coarsey says:

    Thanks for all the hard work you have done on bringing the Bible to handhelds. I started with a Palm. I used the Bible on 3 separate platforms, then moved to Windows Mobile and ultimately to the Iphone and now Ipad. These products have greatly enriched my life. May the Lord bless your work, brother.

  3. Jay Davis says:

    I have used QuickVerse way back – years and years ago… now I use Mac and iPad – PocketBible is and asset to my study. Like John C above I started with a Palm. I used the Bible on several platforms through the years, Windows Mobile and and now iPad. Keep up the good work. One thing I really appreciated is that I did not have to repurchase books when I changed from various platforms or OS.

    Jay Davis

  4. Yong An says:

    Yeah, I was quite surprised that when answering your questions, those people (I assume they are Americans) do not understand English.:P Selling electronic Koran under Laridian would actually diminish the exclusivity of PocketBible itself. I mean, we all are believers and presenting Koran would mean that Laridian is just another bible seller (and by the way, Koran is a bible too (for our Muslim friends)), and not actually the one that is into Christianity. I am interested in Koran because they are all around me in my country, but that doesn’t mean I am converting to Islam. But surely I have found and read a few verses of Koran that could actually open their eyes on Jesus Himself. Of all the disputes inside Koran regarding Christianity, why on earth would Koran still contain amazing words about Jesus? If Islam is so much against Christianity, why would Koran even bother to mention Jesus in its pages (verses)? And I think that this could tell them that God loves them so much, and He wants them to know about Jesus. So, one day I hope that exclusively for Christian believers at least one software developer could come across the cross-reference (Doesn’t have to be a Koran itself) which will show some amazing facts told in Koran as an add-on so that we all could tell the Gospel(Good News) (in sense that we are not trying to put down Islam, but able to share Gospel with them). If we hate Muslim people, we are of no difference with them hating Christians. Where is Love then?

  5. Lawson Culver says:

    I personally don’t have a problem with making the Koran unavailable, but I do understand that it can be very controversial… Especially the timing with 9-11 being yesterday.

  6. Robert Mullen says:

    Probably wise to not go forward Craig. I do have this with Logos and can tell you that it is not without controversy there either. You hit the nail on the head with the comparative religious studies comment. We people understand that they are usually OK but I would say the majority of Christians are probably better off never opening a Quran. I certainly would not give one to my 8 year old to study.

    Blessings in your endeavors.

  7. John Peterson says:

    I don’t think Laridian should publish the Koran. Your analogy, Craig, is a very good one. However, I think it would open even more undesirable and UNFORSEEN doors. If a Christian REALLY wants to study the Koran for whatever seemly good reasons, they will go to whatever means necessary to do so even if it is not available in PocketBible. Even if it means that Laridian loses customers or even the business – the LORD will reward for faithfulness to Him. There is nothing Laridian can lose that the LORD can’t restore with even more!

    However, despite what Laridian fans think, what is the LORD telling Laridian. Remember when Joshua and the Israelites were coming into the Promised Land. When they inquired of the LORD, they were successful; when they didn’t, they weren’t. But, remember the Gibeonite deception? They didn’t inquire of the LORD! Craig, do what you and the leadership at Laridian feel the LORD wants you to do and leave the results to Him.

    God bless!

    Numbers 6:24-26; Ephesians 1:15-23

  8. ken says:

    I’m with you…there are plenty of other places one can go to do a comparative study of the Koran. I think Jesus did very little Roman Vs. Jewish comparatives while teaching. I think the Secret Service spends almost all their time studying the real thing not couterfeits….if you will allow such a mundane analogy to stretch.

  9. John says:

    Craig, Laridian has made a very wise and Godly decision. Believers in Jesus Christ cannot become soft when dealing with matters related to Islam. Islam is seeking inroads to methodically work their way into into our nation and Judeo-Christian beliefs. Their agenda is hidden, subtle, counter to what we believe, and is a spirit of anti-Christ. Your content is stellar and without peer, and I will continue to add to my MyBible library.

  10. Graham says:

    You could argue that if Muslims had a bible program they might be more tempted to take a peek at the Old and New testaments. A few years ago I baptised a lady who converted from Islam. When she was a young girl, living in Iran, she had a dream about a man dressed in white calling her to follow him. She spoke to her grandmother who said that it sounded like Jesus, so she began to read everything in the Koran about Him. As the Word says, God has not left Himself without a witness. Then she wanted to know more and started reading the Bible. To cut a long story short, she turned up years later at my church and I baptised her with other Muslims present. It was a glorious service and one that I will never forget.

    Personally I would have no problem if the Koran was available. In fact I think that the best antidote to Islam is to read it! I did several years ago and found it to be a boring and depressing book.

    I agree with what John said earlier. You need to seek the Lord’s will on this. If you believe that He is telling you to do it, then do so. If you get flack, so be it. There will always be people who will judge you even if your intentions are godly. He never promised us an easy ride.

    May the Lord grant you His wisdom as you seek to glorify Him.

  11. Ian says:

    I am sad that you are wasting time on this debate rather than getting on with an important task like getting Pocket Bible to the Android platform.

  12. Ian,

    Actually that’s what I was doing when I was notified by email that a comment had come into the blog and that I needed to approve it. I logged into the blog site and read the comment. It was one of those mildly offensive comments we get from time to time from someone who thinks their priorities should be everyone’s priorities.

    Not wanting to post a hasty reply that I would regret later, I decided to set it aside for a few hours to give it some thought. I wanted to get back to programming but I kept coming back to that comment. My first response was “So can we take time to eat and sleep?” but that seemed too provocative. I considered just deleting the comment. That didn’t seem very polite, so I mulled it over further.

    After a couple more hours of consideration I decided it might be funny to post a response that made it sound like it was this customer’s comment itself that took me away from programming for Android. I thought about that for a while and drafted several versions of my response. I wasn’t happy with the early drafts. I got another cup of coffee and thought about it some more.

    Finally I came up with a response that I was happy with. I typed it up, spell-checked it, and reviewed it. It was worded a little strongly so I made a few changes to soften it up. I added some details like “thought about it for a while” and “got another cup of coffee” to make it sound like it took me even longer than it really did.

    I considered whether or not to put a smiley emoticon at the end, which got me thinking about the original comment. Had that user stuck a smiley on his comment, I probably wouldn’t have felt the need to respond. But without the smiley it smacked of whip-cracking and begged for a snappy response. Funny how little things like that make a difference.

    Like this one time, I was posting a comment to one of my Facebook friends about a picture she posted of her kids. I made a comment that could be interpreted negatively about her kids but thought it was patently obvious that I was kidding so I left off the smiley. She responded in all caps and I was worried I had really offended her. So I replied back and let her know I was joking and made sure to stick that smiley in. She LOL’ed and also said she knew what I meant and she was just joking, too. She put a smiley on her post and I replied back with a smile and we were all smiles there on Facebook. Strange how much difference a little punctuation makes.

    So where was I? Oh yeah.

    During one of my reviews I found I had included a bunch of stream-of-consciousness stuff about emoticons and thought about deleting that. I wondered if the whole thing wouldn’t be very professional. And it occurred to me that in my attempt to make it sound like this user’s comment at taken me away from Android programming for hours, I was actually being taken away from Android programming for hours. Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t actually been working on the Android project when the comment came in in the first place. I had been in bed. See, I keep my iPad on my nightstand and sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I’ll check email and see what’s going on with customers on the other side of the planet.

    Like last night. I woke up about 2 AM and made a trip to the bathroom. I noticed my son was still up. He graduated last May and claims to be looking for a job but he sure spends a lot of time around the house for a kid looking for a job. Actually, he’s finishing up a movie he’s been working on for about three years. It was all done in front of a chromakey blue wall in our basement so that computer-generated backgrounds can be applied. Half the characters are live and half are animated. All the sets but one are computer generated. It’s a science fiction piece with space battles and all that cool stuff. My other son is doing an original score for it.

    So his excuse for not getting a job is that he has to finish his movie. He tends to be up late working on it and I sometimes even find him still up when I get up at 5. Last night he was still up at 2. I waved as I went back to my bedroom. By now I was awake so I did a quick check of email. I found a notification that a comment had come into the blog and that I needed to approve it. I logged into the blog site and read the comment. It was one of those mildly offensive comments we get from time to time from someone who thinks their priorities should be everyone’s priorities.

    Not wanting to post a hasty reply that I would regret later, I decided to set it aside for a few hours to give it some thought…..

    Craig

  13. Marcy says:

    It’s so refreshing and encouraging to know that we are not alone
    when we seem to be getting “off course” by stopping to consider a choice like this. It could be a change in direction or a fork in the road. But just taking pause to consider whether it fits into the purpose and plan for your work is worthwhile.

    Good for you, and thanks for sharing. May God continue to bless you in your work.

  14. Anthony Coletti says:

    I respect your decision not to publish the Koran. I think it would have been fine to do so, for the reasons you gave above. And I don’t think it would have driven away a lot of customers, but I’m just guessing. Clearly it’s not a deal breaker for me. I think several options for reading the Koran are available for my Window Mobile phone. The main advantage to reading it with PocketBible is potential for linking it with commentaries from a Christian perspective. However, I expect the work involved could outweigh much of the return. I don’t expect there are a lot of potential clients for PocketBible that would turn it down because you don’t include the Koran.

    Enjoyed the Sept 16th post above.

    May God bless you all as much as He has blessed us through you.

  15. Russ Kennedy says:

    I support your decision not to publish the Koran. I really like your distinguishing yourself as not a religious publisher, but rather a Christian one. The fundamental question is: does it please God? Because I believe that people are saved by hearing the Word of God that is what I need to give to people in evangelism. When I talk to a person who has a false religion and want to reference their “scripture” I ask them to show me their copy (which becomes interesting on its own).

    Please continue to be a distinctively Christian publisher.

    And finish for Android :-)

    May God bless you.

  16. T Curtis 2 says:

    Craig: This is the first time I believe that I have participated in any blog anywhere. I appreciate your consideration of others and the possiblilites of enlightening Christians/Bible believers with the Koran. However, you start with the Koran, then later the Catholic Books,the Morman books,Buddah,etc….you see where I’m going. Stick with the “real” and the “counterfits” will automatically be exposed. Besides, there are plenty companies publishing “religious” material of any kind. If someone really wants to read the Koran, it’s not hard for them to get it. Thanks again and continue to honor the True and Living God with your company.

  17. While I understand those who would prefer that we not publish the Koran, from a Christian viewpoint it’s just another non-Christian book. We read and refer to non-Christian materials all the time — from dictionaries to novels to newspapers. All of these can be helpful in our Christian life.

    Some people are interested in understanding Muslim belief systems more deeply than others, perhaps because they have many Muslim friends and acquaintances to whom they are witnessing. Those people might like to have an English version of the Koran alongside their Bible library on their phone, just like they have a printed Koran on their bookshelf. I was trying to gauge the number of those people and the depth of their interest. As I said, there would have to be a lot of them with very deep interest to push me to the other side of the fence on this issue, but I wanted to give them a chance to speak.

    I don’t share the superstitious fear of the Koran that some have. To me it’s just ink on paper bound between two pieces of cardboard (or an electrical pattern of bits in a memory chip). If someone would find it valuable for study, I personally wouldn’t have a theological or moral problem publishing it. However, since it doesn’t interest me in the least, and since a large number of those commenting here and earlier on Facebook seem to agree, we’re not going to do it.

  18. Michael Dye says:

    Wow… And I came looking to see if I should buy an iPhone or Andriod ‘phone! Felt a bit of a geek opening up a netbook in the service last Sunday night to follow the sermon; it’s not quite a subtle as a ‘phone sized device…
    So which should I get? ;)
    Nearly on the subject of the blog: what we write, whether blogged, twittered, facebook’d or even using a pen; it’s much more dangerous than a sword. That’s probably why the Bible is so important. As a publisher there’s a responsibility; I could almost say in the same way as a gun manufacturer but maybe you’d think I was overplaying it?
    ’nuff said; now back to comparing ‘phone prices and plans!

  19. Michael,

    Remember the Word of God was first spoken and heard, not written or read. It’s the message that is powerful, not the words on the paper (or the paper itself). In a sense the Bible is a picture of a gun. The gun itself is the message of the Bible, empowered by the Holy Spirit, working through a believer. It’s what you do with what you know that is important, not how much you know or how well you know it.

    That’s why I don’t have any hang-ups with publishing a Koran. We’re not going to do it, but not because we think it’s evil or dangerous. Again, having a Koran in your hands means nothing. Flying an airplane full of 300 people into the side of a building means everything.

    And I think you should get an iPad to use at church, or an iPhone if you’re looking to replace your phone. :-)

  20. David says:

    I will weigh in on this subject, after the fact, with this comment.

    I think rather than introduce new books, perhaps it would be more prudent to finish something that you’ve already started. Namely, the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. You’ve released several volumes already, and the remainder appear to be available.

    I’ve heard the company line about not discussing future projects but I don’t see this as a future project!

    I really love PocketBible… keep up the good work!

  21. Last time I checked, we had all the.volumes that were available to us electronically. I’ll check again.

  22. Steve says:

    I am a long time customer of Quickverse and Laridian software. I think you guys do good work. I am also a customer of Logos (one of the larger sets). I think the difference is audience. Laridian is affordable and accessible to everyone at any level. For many, it might be the their initial introduction to a electronic bible or even a bible in general. For this reason, I think having a Koran version could cause confusion. At the very least confusion as to what your company is all about.
    Logos, which apparently has the Koran (I did not know this until now), is really aimed at a different audience. That audience consists mostly of students, scholars, preachers and teachers. I am not saying Laridian software is not useful to those people just that the typical Logos customer falls into those categories. In that case comparative religion studies would require a Koran, Book of Mormon, etc.
    Just my 2 cents.

  23. Steve: I agree the Logos and Laridian customer bases are different. Even when we were at Parsons Technology we strove to be the “people’s product” as opposed to the “scholar’s product”. This affects everything from features and content to price and marketing strategy. It’s why we’ve never, in twenty years, made original language research a priority. We believe the people who write English commentaries and dictionaries are better at translating Greek than 99% of our customers who have taken college-level Greek, so we try to provide lots of good reference material instead of expecting everyone to do their own original translation of the Bible texts.

    With all that in mind I think you’re correct that the Logos customer base (in general) is going to be more accepting of a Logos Koran than our customer base would. This is both because they’re coming at their Bible study from a scholarly rather than a primarily personal application perspective, and because they’re more likely to have the background to understand the Koran and how to apply it to their study of scripture. They may be the people writing the commentaries that our customers will later read. So if there’s a reference to the Koran to be made, we can give it to you through our existing reference materials instead of expecting you to buy a Koran and go figure it out for yourself.

    As you said, this is not to say that either Logos or Laridian software is superior or inferior to the other, but rather that each company is targeting a different audience with their products. There are a lot of people out there who just want to have the Bible and some basic reference materials on their phone so they can have it with them at church and for doing their personal Bible study. They’re not asking for transcriptions of the Dead Sea Scrolls so they can do original research.

  24. Scott H says:

    Happy to hear of your decision on a Koran software package. Most importantly your basis for he decision orginally I believe was and is still the best way to make the final decision.

    There is plenty of tech talent among Muslims and if they wish to have a SW version for smartphones, they will certainly find that talent.

    As a Christian I dislike coming across as ‘anti’ but your beliefs should be the bottom line basis for your decision and I just don’t see a Christian as the one who should be supporting Islam in this way. You have plenty on your plate already just supporting the two leading smartphone platforms as well as the legacy platforms you already support.

    You don’t have to ‘go negative’ just keep your focus.

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