Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the by Andrew Rippin

By Andrew Rippin

In recent times, the Qur an has come to the vanguard of scholarly investigations in Islamic reviews, in either its position as scripture and as literature in the Muslim neighborhood. even though, the conventional interpretation of the ebook, generally termed tafsir, is still an enormous, almost untapped box of research. First released in 1988, this choice of essays marks an important turning element within the scholarly research of tafsir, bringing the self-discipline a brand new prominence and stimulating a brand new iteration of students to dedicate their strength to its learn. even if the kingdom of analysis has better, many Muslims are likely to forget about the fabric, seeing it as a storehouse of conventional restraints, and students usually gloss over its significance as a historic list of the Muslim group, now not appreciating the intensity and breadth of the literature. development at the paintings of Ignas Goldziher s Die Richtungen der islamischen Koranauslegung and the investigations of Sezgin, Abbott, and Wansbrough, the essays collected the following reveal and discover a number of facets of the sector of tafsir, and their power for scholarly learn. The essays are divided into 4 major sections: formation and improvement; genres; sectarian dimensions; and glossy developments.

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However, this wording was carefully chosen. First, it reflects the thesis that Christianity and Islam are not opposed in essence; both are underlain by an “innate” or “ultimate” religion. a¯ will elaborate, this ultimate religion is barely represented by the agents of Christian mission. Second, it reflects the thesis that Muslim intellectuals had allowed Islamic scholarship to fall into a state of ossified stagnation and thus had become “a proof against their own religion” (Preface, da¯ l), no more representative of ultimate religion than were the agents of Christian mission.

A¯ introduces Shubuha¯t with a Qur’anic injunction that enjoins Muslims to engage Christians positively: Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way . . a¯ comments: “Verily, the lifeblood of religions is da‘wah, and the power of truth is in truth itself, while the persistence of untruth occurs when the truth is neglectful of it” (Preface, ba¯ ’). The selection of verses and commentary places da‘wah prominently while linking it with a positive conception of Muslim–Christian relations.

This links an analysis of contemporary Islam with comment on Christian mission. In limiting scholarship to imitation – uncreative recycling of an unchanging body of material – the ulama have left the community vulnerable to “pagan” Christian propaganda: Muslims lack the skills of rhetoric and debate. a¯ considers this but one specific instance of a wider Muslim failure to engage modernity. a¯ argues, has obscured Islam’s rational character. Consequently, Muslims living under European rule at the turn of the twentieth century lacked the wherewithal to engage missionary and secularist critics in debate and discourse.

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