1st Edition

Reading the Qur'an in the Twenty-First Century
A Contextualist Approach





ISBN 9780415677509
Published November 15, 2013 by Routledge
200 Pages

USD $62.95

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Book Description

Reading the Qur’an in the Twenty-First Century considers the development of Qur’anic interpretation and highlights modern debates around new approaches to interpretation. It explores how Muslims from various theological, legal, socio-political and philosophical backgrounds think about the meaning and relevance of the Qur’an, and how their ideas apply in the contemporary world. The book:

  • reflects on one of the most dominant approaches to interpretation in the pre-modern period, textualism, and the reaction to that in Muslim feminist readings of the Qur’an today.
  • covers issues such as identifying the hierarchical nature of Qur’anic values, the criteria for the use of hadith in interpretation, fluidity of meaning and ways of ensuring a degree of stability in interpretation.
  • examines key Qur'anic passages and compares pre-modern and modern interpretations to show the evolving nature of interpretation. Examples discussed include: the authority of men over women, the death of Jesus, shura and democracy, and riba and interest.

Abdullah Saeed provides a practical guide for interpretation and presents the principal ideas of a contextualist approach, which situates the original message of the Qur’an in its wider social, political, cultural, economic and intellectual context. He advocates a more flexible method of interpretation that gives due recognition to earlier interpretations of the Qur’an while also being aware of changing conditions and the need to approach the Qur’an afresh today.

Table of Contents

PART 1: BACKGROUND AND EXAMPLES OF CONTEXTUALISM: PAST AND PRESENT  Chapter 1: Introduction and Modern Emphases in Qur’anic Interpretation  Chapter 2: Traditional Interpretation, Textualism and the Emergence of Contextualism  Chapter 3: An Early Form of Contextualism: Umar and Interpretation   Chapter 4: A Modern Form of Contextualism: Women’s Perspectives in Interpretation  PART 2: KEY IDEAS AND PRINCIPLES OF CONTEXTUALIST INTERPRETATION  Chapter 5: Revelation and Contexualisation  Chapter 6: Hierarchical Nature of Qur’anic Values  Chapter 7: Parallel Texts from the Qur’an and Dealing with Hadith  Chapter 8: Meaning in a Contextualist Framework  Chapter 9: ‘Fundamentals of the Religion’ and Interpretation  Chapter 10: Contextualist Interpretation in Practice  PART 3: DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS FOR DIFFERENT CONTEXTS: FOUR CASES  Chapter 11: Men’s ‘Authority’ Over Women and Equality  Chapter 12: Crucifixion and Death of Jesus Christ  Chapter 13: Shūra and Democracy  Chapter 14: Riba and Interest  PART 4: CONCLUDING REMARKS  Chapter 15: Epilogue

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Author(s)

Biography

Abdullah Saeed is Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia. His previous books for Routledge include Interpreting the Qur’an (2005), Islamic Thought: An Introduction (2006), and The Qur’an: An Introduction (2008).

Reviews

"Readers seeking to understand the current diversity in ways Muslims read and interpret the Qur'an will find in Abdullah Saeed a sure-footed guide. He demonstrates how a reading that respects context is firmly rooted in the Islamic tradition from the earliest days." - Daniel A. Madigan, Georgetown University, USA