There are many verses in the Quran which, at face value, seem quite hostile to Jews and Christians, sometimes violently so. However, if I have learnt anything from my interactions with Muslims it is that we need to interpret the Quran more carefully. And that means contextually.
Problem is, the Quran itself provides no narrative context for the verses therein. The chapters are ordered by size, not chronology, and you have to go beyond the Quran, to the Sira (life of Mohammed) and Haddith (traditions), to understand the circumstances of their utterance. It's all very confusing.
Consequently I have been looking for an Islamic equivalent to Gordon Fee's "How to read the Bible for all its worth". I haven't found anything I'm completely happy with yet. But I can suggest these 5 Principles for Understanding “Difficult” Qur’anic Passages from Sohaib N. Sultan. He writes:
When I have the opportunity to engage with people of other faiths, I am often asked about controversial passages in the Qur’an that seem belligerent toward non-Muslims. It would require an entire book to go over every single such passage and offer theories of interpretation and explanation. So, I would like to offer something else as food for thought: five principles to keep in mind when studying or trying to understand these difficult Qur’anic passages.
I think it's worth having a discussion about the false dichotomies that forest church does away with. Traditionally in the west there has been an emphasis on the goodness of the sky, the spirit, the light and men. Yet, the scriptures affirm that YHWH also created the earth, the body, the night and women. And called them good. This has many implications, not least for how we disciple people. That is, teaching can incorporate activity and movement and play, in all sorts of different environments. We need not restrict ourselves to cognitive downloads while seated in rows. We need not separate adult and youth teaching to the degree that is these days common in building based churches.
Early on in my Christian walk I was instructed that the 3 golden rules of scripture interpretation are: context, context and context. It's clear to me though, that not everyone gets this sort of training, or learns to appreciate it's wisdom, as over the years I have heard a lot of poor interpretations of scripture coming from the mouths of Christians and non-Christians alike. And some of these interpretations have been quite anti-semetic, making it clear that the interpreter failed to appreciate (a) that Jesus was a Jew, (b) that consequently the debates between Jesus and other Jews were intra-Jewish debates and (c) it would be foolish to presume that the Jews Jesus disagreed with are UNIVERSALLY representative of Jews then or today; particularly the latter given (i) the loss of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70AD and (ii) almost two thousand years of consequent religious development including (iii) the Talmud tradition. And it has subsequently struck me that similar problems surround the interpretation of the Quran. Particularly, that it would be foolish for either Muslims or non-Muslims to assume that when Modammed spoke of "the Jews" or "the Christians" his observations should be taken as UNIVERSALLY applicable to Jews and Christians everywhere and everywhen, with no consideration of context.
How can we live more prayerful lives? How can we live so prayer is more than a practice we pursue in moments of quiet but a lifestyle we pursue in our everyday activities? A big part of the problem is our double mindedness, our distractedness, our attempts at multitasking which ultimately mean we are not giving our full attention to anything, at anytime. Our society if plagued by attention deficit disorder. By way of contrast, a prayerful life means seeking the will of God, moment to moment, and giving this our full attention in the midst of our activity. So as we walk, just walk; as we work, just work; as we play, just play; as we plan, just plan; and seek to align our will with God's will in all of this.