Twenty Years of Reading the Qur’an as a Literary Text

neuwirthIn the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research 2, no. 1, Süleyman Dost reviews Angelika Neuwirth, Scripture, Poetry, and the Making of a Community: Reading the Qur’an as a Literary Text (Oxford University Press/Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2014), the first thorough collection of Angelika Neuwirth’s scholarship in English. Neuwirth, a leading scholar of Qur’anic studies at the Freie Universität Berlin, treats the Qur’an as a coherent literary corpus and grounds the text in its late antique and biblical setting with a special interest in its emergence through an ever-evolving communication process. The book under review brings together in a single volume fourteen of Neuwirth’s articles that were published in varying contexts over twenty years. Thus the book embodies the leading edges of first-tier Qur’an scholarship and in the process sheds light on pressing issues of the field today.

Full access to the Review of Qur’anic Research (RQR) is available in the members-only area of our IQSA website. Not an IQSA member? Join today to enjoy RQR and additional member benefits!

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2016. All rights reserved.

New Book: Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation

by Raymond Farrin*

Farrin_SQI_book coverStructure and Qur’anic Interpretation: A Study of Symmetry and Coherence in Islam’s Holy Text (Ashland, OR: White Cloud, 2014) is a groundbreaking literary approach to the Qur’an that draws on classical Arab sources and contemporary literary theory. Farrin demonstrates how the Qur’an, often regarded as unsystematic, in fact features a comprehensive design, one characterized by a network of symmetries. He asserts that the Qur’an possesses “a magnificent design” and an impressive coherence. Specifically, Farrin’s analysis of the Qur’an discloses how the principle of symmetry—manifesting in parallel, chiastic, and concentric constructions—holds the text together.

This principle of symmetry obtains on the level of the chapter, the chapter pair, the chapter group, the group system (each system containing numerous chapter groups), and the Qur’an as a whole. Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation, aimed both at readers familiar with the Qur’an and at those opening it for the first time, differs from other books on the Qur’an in that it reveals the text’s fundamental, symmetrical organization. Moreover, through readings of key Qur’an chapters, Farrin shows how structure serves as a guide to interpretation. Indeed, one finds that the Qur’an’s structure again and again points to universal messages of an ethical nature, rather than to messages whose application may be limited to a specific context. In addition, the book makes a contribution to Qur’anic studies by highlighting literary evidence indicating that the Qur’an was compiled by one author (in all probability, the Prophet Muhammad) and not by an official committee.

* Raymond Farrin is associate professor of Arabic and chair of the Department of Arabic and Foreign Languages at American University of Kuwait.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2014. All rights reserved.

Call for Papers: Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association

IQSA is pleased to announce the launch of the Journal of the International Qurʾanic Studies Association (JIQSA). In support of the Association’s mission of fostering scholarship on the Qurʾan, JIQSA will commence publication twice annually beginning in the first quarter of 2016.

(greenzblog.com)

(greenzblog.com)

The Journal is being launched at a time of particular vitality and growth in Qurʾanic Studies, and its primary goal is to encourage the further development of the discipline in innovative ways. Methodologies of particular interest to the Journal include historical-critical, contextual-comparative, and literary approaches to the Qurʾan. We especially welcome articles that explore the Qurʾan’s origins in the religious, cultural, social, and political contexts of Late Antiquity; its connections to various literary precursors, especially the scriptural and parascriptural traditions of older religious communities; the historical reception of the Qurʾan in the West; the hermeneutics and methodology of Qurʾanic exegesis and translation (both traditional and modern); the transmission and evolution of the textus receptus and the manuscript tradition; and the application of various literary and philological modes of investigation into Qurʾanic style and compositional structure.

We currently welcome submissions of articles for publication in the first volume. The complete Call for Papers is available here. Articles will be rigorously peer-reviewed through a double-blind review process, with reviewers appointed by the Head Editor and the Editorial Board. Interested parties are invited to email JIQSA@iqsaweb.org for more information about JIQSA and style and submission guidelines.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2014. All rights reserved.