LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - More than 20 years ago, retired Major Jason Howk of the U.S. Army joined special forces from the United Arab Emirates as a paratrooper.
Over the years, he learned Farsi and Arabic. He finished his military service working in diplomacy in Afghanistan. But that didn't end his fascination with the Middle East. In fact, he wrote a book about it. Or rather, he rewrote it: The Quran.
Howk came to Louisville this week for an interfaith meeting. He brought along copies of his new English version of the Quran.
"It wasn't to denigrate a religion or to spread a religion," Howk told WAVE 3 News Anchor Scott Reynolds. "It was just to help us understand different religions."
Howk spent several years working on this unprecedented version of the Quran. He said he wanted to do more than change the old Shakespearean-type language. He made it chronological so it would be easier to understand.
All but the most conservative Muslims have embraced it with open arms according to Howk. But he wrote it so non-Muslims could get a better idea of the Quran's teachings.
"(I wrote it) for people who never learned anything about the religion before and found other copies kind of hard to read," Howk explained.
He calls it Islam 101 for Americans. Friends from the Middle East, military experts and professors helped him write his version.
From the Iraq War to the still ongoing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, many wonder if some countries in the Middle East will ever reach stability and freedom. Howk believes the answer is yes.
"There's a new generation of humans that want to be part of the human community and they don't want someone telling them what to do every minute," Howk said. "They're very logical and they're going to push for common sense solutions and they're going to push hard for them whether it's in Iran or Saudi Arabia."
He hopes his new version of the Quran will help more Americans understand the Muslim faith, and ultimately, the dreams and wishes of the majority of those who live in the Middle East.