The Qur'an and its Concepts
Ulrika Mårtensson [+–]
The Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Ulrika Mårtensson researches early Islamic history and historiography, focusing on how religious symbols express social contract theories and legal-economic issues. She is also doing research on the Qur’an, employing both historical and exegetical-legal perspectives and comparing early Islamic approaches to the Qur’an with contemporary research. Other research interests concern Islam as it is developing in the institutional contexts and public spheres of the Nordic welfare states; and ‘political Islam’.
The book aims at introducing research on the Qur’an by surveying how the Qur’an’s historical origins, its literary form and its conceptual meaning-contents have been defined by scholars within the Islamic disciplines and by comparing the Islamic scholarship on the Qur’an with academic state-of-the-art.
Through this approach, the book makes an original contribution to existing literature on the Qur’an by providing an exhaustive survey of Qur’anic concepts and their interrelatedness, by showing how these concepts gained meaning within the Islamic disciplines and by mapping correspondences and divergences between Islamic and academic scholarship on the Qur’an.
Series: Themes in Qur'anic Studies
Table of Contents
The Introduction chapter describes the book’s aim, focus, outline, and selected scholars. It also describes how the aim is met by applying a specific method in the presentation of academic and Islamic scholarship on the Qur’an. The method is inspired by Michel de Certeau’s concept of discourse as the production of knowledge and corresponding social practices, through the interplay between social institutions, knowledge disciplines, and individual scholars. Where contemporary researchers affiliated with e.g. the Corpus Coranicum project, postulate an institutional break between the Qur’an and the Islamic disciplines, de Certeau’s discourse concept implies that all scholarly knowledge about the Qur’an is necessarily bound to institutional disciplines and their corresponding social practices. The implications of this concept of discourse for assessments of both Islamic and academic scholarship on the Qur’an will be explained. In particular, the discourse-approach offers a methodology and analytical method for analysing how knowledge about a subject-matter is produced, in this case as expressed in concepts of the Qur’an. Finally, the Introduction will show how the discourse model brings out the academic nature of Islamic scholarship on the Qur’an. This is explained as a consequence of the Islamic disciplines’ methodological rigour, which means that the Qur’an is always interpreted through defined methods. Islamic scholarly approaches to the Qur’an are thus developed with reference to the hermeneutical premise that any explanation of the Qur’an’s meaning depends on the interpreter’s aim and method. In this respect they have a lot in common with academic research.
Research survey [+–]
The chapter defines state-of-the-art in academic research on the Qur’an, in such a way that it can be compared with Islamic scholarly studies of the Qur’an. The following research areas will be surveyed: • Canonization • Manuscripts • ‘Behind the canon’: Corpus Coranicum • The Syriac connection • Conquest studies • Statehood and law studies • Poetry and rhetoric studies • Doctrine and ethics • Conclusion
Following the book’s discourse method, Chapter 3 describes the Islamic institutions, disciplines, and scholars, whose studies of the Qur’an and its concepts are presented in Chs. 4–12. The aim is to provide a framework which helps the reader to locate and to understand the Qur’anic concepts in terms of the scholars’ institutional and disciplinary affiliations, and their subject-matters. Institutions: The significance of the Qur’an for the state administration; and for the religious scholars. Disciplines: The significance of the Qur’an for linguistics; law; hadith; theology; philosophy; ethics; exegesis; history; political science. Scholars: Representing the selected disciplines, and different time periods (early, medieval, early modern, contemporary).
Concepts related to language; writing; text; interpretation; rhetoric; poetry; semiotics; genre.
Concepts related to ontology; epistemology; time; cosmology.
Concepts related to God; man; prophecy; messengers; angels; revelation; guidance; qadar; eschatology
Concepts related to Covenant; kingship; justice; tyranny; egalitarianism; hierarchy
Legal concepts [+–]
Concepts related to legal principles and concrete laws, including Covenant; contract; custodianship; marriage; divorce; hudud; tax.
Ethical concepts [+–]
Concepts related to ethical individualism; duty; virtue; deeds; intention; voluntarism; and including sirat al-mustaqim/qiyama.
Gender concepts [+–]
Concepts related to the sexes’ societal roles; body; comportment; dress-codes; virtues.
Community concepts [+–]
Concepts related to community identity, including ’umma; mu’min; muslim; kitab; ‘other religions’.
Ritual concepts [+–]
Concepts related to purity; prayer; fast; pilgrimage; alms.
The chapter sums up the results from chapters 4–12, identifying and analysing major agreements and differences in scholars’ definitions of the concepts, and discussing what kinds of conceptual patterns and linkages that emerge from this exercise. Subsequently, these results are compared with state-of-the-art as described in Ch. 2, and major correspondences and divergences between the Islamic and the academic studies are identified and analysed.
The main findings are summed up.