Skip navigation
Sidebar -

Advanced search options →


Welcome to CEMB forum.
Please login or register. Did you miss your activation email?


Help keep the Forum going!
Click on Kitty to donate:

Kitty is lost

Recent Posts

Mosab Hassan Yousef at U...
by zeca
Today at 09:48 AM

Pakistan Politics and ...
Today at 12:58 AM

25 year old ex Muslim fro...
Yesterday at 11:58 PM

AMRIKAAA Land of Free .....
Yesterday at 08:35 PM

المياة النقية%%%%
Yesterday at 06:24 PM

Muslim Woman in 21st cent...
Yesterday at 06:13 PM

Pro Israel or Pro Palesti...
Yesterday at 04:44 PM

"Coming Out" Stories & Id...
Yesterday at 04:43 PM

Iran uprising - is the en...
Yesterday at 02:00 PM

January 21, 2018, 07:53 PM

Western Islam and Scholar...
January 21, 2018, 06:14 AM

Freely down loadable Boo...
January 20, 2018, 11:42 PM

Theme Changer

 Topic: Qur'anic studies today

 (Read 131159 times)
  • Previous page 1 ... 44 45 4647 48 ... 58 Next page « Previous thread | Next thread »
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1350 - January 23, 2017, 01:27 PM

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1351 - January 23, 2017, 02:50 PM

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1352 - January 24, 2017, 10:18 AM

    Review Article of David Powers' Muhammad is not the Father of Any of Your men

    I know it will be dismissed but nice to have different views
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1353 - January 24, 2017, 12:24 PM

    dear zeca., you asked many questions.,instead of answering those questions, I apologize  for not answering your questions.,   and    I have also deleted all of the posts I wrote in this folder that related to those questions..

    And in my defense, I can only say., that I AM VERY ALLERGIC to the  intellectuals who teach  faiths,  faith book  and explore faith histories ..and and  gets FUNDED  by faith based  autocratic  governments  and and write publications on PROPHESIES OF  SOME SILLY FAITH BOOKS written/spoken/orated  by some  cave dwellers  ..

    I am  also worried a bit as rogues are trying to find out  who I  am  and why I wrote all that stuff on web  about faiths and faith based governments., Per Se I am not worried about myself  but my near and dear ..

    So i will restrict myself

    with best wishes

    Do not let silence become your legacy  
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1354 - January 24, 2017, 12:48 PM

    Yeez - fair enough. I've deleted the questions as well. I'd agree that Saudi etc funding for scholarship is an issue but I'm not sure the effects are straightforward. In any case it's a subject that is worth discussing seriously and accurately, maybe on another thread.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1355 - January 24, 2017, 05:27 PM

    Review Article of David Powers' Muhammad is not the Father of Any of Your men

    I know it will be dismissed but nice to have different views

    I am a big fan of Powers' article, but it's important to read criticisms, and Saleh's criticism is about as fierce as you could get.

    Many of his points strike me as overblown and histrionic -- particularly the constant talk about 'conspiracy' and 'forgery.'  This implies a specific view of quranic composition and manuscript transmission, tightly controlled and broadly distributed, that it is surely reasonable to reject.  Numerous aspects of what became the standard QCT were introduced by later scribes as the orthography was updated.  Were these changes and clarifications a 'conspiracy'?  Only in a rhetorical sense.  For example, the "wa---x" clarifications that appear to have been added in the standard Cairo text, relative to the Sana'a palimpsest, like Q 9:74--is this type of addition a 'conspiracy'?  A 'forgery'?  Or is it simply an incredibly banal and pervasive process of dogmatic alteration of the manuscript, exactly as one sees in other late antique texts?

    Saleh bitterly criticizes Powers for asserting that quranic Arabic might have used k-l-h to designate 'daughter-in-law,' and that in later Arabic this was shifted to k-n-h, a sound shift.  He rails about how this is absurd and a conspiracy.  But then he admits, as he must, that of course k-l-h must have meant daughter-in-law in Arabic, at some point, because it is obviously a derivative of the k-l-h form that means daughter in law in every other Semitic language.  And since l to n wasn't a general sound shift across the Arabic language, it seems to have been a shift from l to n in this specific word.  It would be preposterous if this was not a sound shift in Arabic at some point, and Saleh can't deny that, so he just says it must have happened 'a long time before' the 7th century and leaves it at that.  Well great, problem solved.  Now, I don't think the shift in the Arabic term to k-n-h can have come from quranic exegetical dogma, but I'm not sure Saleh is correct in implying that is Powers' view anyways.  Also, there are plenty of alternative explanations for the quranic use of k-l-h to mean daughter-in-law, for example that the original quranic passage was *cribbing from a related Semitic language* in articulating the inheritance rule, and so what we see is an Aramaicism or Hebraism here, which was either not understood or not liked by later scribes.  Alternatively, it could have been an archaism.

    Saleh completely ignores all the horrendous grammatical and logical problems that Powers discusses, waving his hands as if the text was perfectly coherent and it's just a great mystery why people are so boggled by it (and were even during quranic composition itself!).

    I am not convinced that Powers' explanation of why the word was written k-l-h originally is correct, or that he correctly explains why it was changed to k-l-l-h.  But I do agree with his position that k-l-l-h was never a real word, and was produced by orthographic processes during the production of early manuscripts.  Whether those processes were dogmatic, accidental, or simply confused is another question.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1356 - January 25, 2017, 09:11 AM

    another critics of Power thesis by Yuri Rubin

    there is only one point i want to make, systematically refusing anything because it was the traditional narrative is not a constructive way to help understand what may happen, specially if there is no serious alternative.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1357 - January 25, 2017, 07:17 PM

    I agree with that, although I have trouble with the idea that we might default to the traditional narrative, as opposed to simply not knowing.  The traditional narrative may well be correct on many points (I think it is at least), and wrong on many others.  Rather than assuming the general reliability of traditional narratives, and then looking for corrections of that framework if problems appear, it's better to continuously work on assembling a better picture, demonstrating that certain points are or are not likely, without a general assumption that traditional narratives are or are not valid.

    For example, Mecca.  There is no question that at SOME point the believers switched their sacred geography and oriented themselves towards the city known as Mecca.  There are very good indications that this switch happened during the era of ongoing quranic composition, since I take the one explicit quranic mention of Mecca to mean the same city.  My personal belief is that the quranic reference to "bakka" is older, and reflects a nascent desire to articulate a new sacred geography that was older than, and separated from, Jerusalem, as derived from the Psalms reference.  This desire for an older non-Jerusalem sacred geography, derived from biblical authority about ancient pilgrimage, ultimately culminated in identifying Mecca with that sacred geography.  This is consistent with the general idea that Muhammad in Medina ordered the believers to re-orient themselves to Mecca.  But the shift may also have occurred later, and been attributed to Muhammad.  In my view, it's very implausible to believe that Mecca originally held anything like the religious significance later attributed to it.  Its identification as the locus of God's worship was surely a Medinan innovation at the earliest, and potentially rather later still.

    Since that identification is displayed in the Qur'an itself, it's not surprising that it carried significant authority, and that there wasn't much dissent about it.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1358 - January 25, 2017, 09:19 PM


    Concerning Mecca:

    Do you see any value in Gibson and others pointing out that the earliest Qiblas in mosques were not directed to Mecca supporting the thesis that Mecca is a very late construct?


  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1359 - January 25, 2017, 10:23 PM

    I think the lack of Mecca focus is significant, but I explain it differently.  I think that the shift in Islamic sacred geography probably evolved over time, borrowing from anti-Chalcedonian Christian attempts to create a new sacred geography after the Holy City (Jerusalem) was taken over by the heretics and expelled the believers (meaning anti-Chalcedonians), who were forced to flee into the surrounding deserts.

    So the first stage was an abstraction of sacred geography, followed by a displacement away from Jerusalem and towards the periphery, with the dogma of 'original monotheism' behind it, followed by 'pure believers,' who imagined their community to have fled by an oppressive expulsion from their Holy City.

    This is where we get the Bakka ideology.  Something of an Arabian sequel to, or perhaps elaboration upon, the core anti-Chalcedonian narrative of expulsion from the Holy City, followed by developing new concepts of a more pure and spiritual sacred geography than the old Jerusalem-centered ideology.  It remains very surprising to me that this immensely significant development in 5th/6th century Christianity, which extended right across Palestine, Syria, and Arabia, and which tracks the quranic narratives so closely, is somehow not considered when analyzing the nature of quranic sacred geography.

    So a non-Jerusalem abstracted sacred geography was probably developed first, attached to the idea of Arabia as a superior original homeland of Moses and Arabia, and then congealed on Mecca.  That's my view.  The congealing could have happened under Muhammad's own rule, we can't exclude that.

    But the variant  early qiblas I see as probably expressing the earlier and broader concept of a *deviation* towards a pseudo-Jerusalem holy land.  I do not think there was ever an actual concrete holy city which they were intended to point at, like Gibson does.  I also don't think Mecca was a late construct.  I think the process of spiritualizing and reorienting sacred geography that began in the 5th century in anti-Chalcedonian Christianity (the dominant form in Arabian regions) was eventually focused upon Mecca.  I doubt that shift happened as late as may of the revisionists contend.  Probably around the mid 7th century it was largely completed.  The early mosque orientation probably loosely reflected the idea of an "Arabian holy land," and was not architecturally intended to represent anything more than what we might call "Palestine, but then moving Southward a bit, to the original House of Abraham."  That more generic orientation could have existed simultaneously alongside a more specialized 'Mecca' orientation held by some of the believers.  Note that Gibson's view doesn't allow for that kind of situation because he assumes there was always a literal physical Holy City that the believers focused their worship on, while I see the process as much more complex.

    It's quite possible that this "Abrahamic House" was conceptualized as a sacred valley that was North of Medina, on the way to Jerusalem, precisely like the Biblical valley of Bakka in Psalms.  But that idea did not mean it was further identified with a specific city like Petra, which was later forgotten.  As an abstraction from the start, this concept would be quite easily identified with a specific city like Mecca at a later date.  That shift is harder to explain if it had originally designated a major city in the real world.

    Actually many of the characteristically confusing quranic references can be understood this way -- as developing first from a radical *abstraction* of basic anti-Chalcedonian Christian concepts, which secondarily was overlaid with new concrete detail in an Arabian context.  Hence the use of anti-pagan rhetoric to criticize the mushrikun, another example.  Probably this borrowed from pre-existing lines of monotheist polemic, which were adapted to criticize quranic opponents as equivalent to pagans.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1360 - January 26, 2017, 07:31 AM

    Thanks Zaotar, very interesting.

    This is where we get the Bakka ideology.  Something of an Arabian sequel to, or perhaps elaboration upon, the core anti-Chalcedonian narrative of expulsion from the Holy City, followed by developing new concepts of a more pure and spiritual sacred geography than the old Jerusalem-centered ideology.  It remains very surprising to me that this immensely significant development in 5th/6th century Christianity, which extended right across Palestine, Syria, and Arabia, and which tracks the quranic narratives so closely, is somehow not considered when analyzing the nature of quranic sacred geography.

    Yes, this seems under-examined... trying to find out more about the expulsion of the non-Chalcedonians from Jerusalem (I didn´t know about it  Huh?)

    If Mecca was already an active concept during Mohammed´s lifetime, why would it be another 150 years before it would show up in the sources?
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1361 - January 26, 2017, 07:54 AM

    another critics of Power thesis by Yuri Rubin

    there is only one point i want to make, systematically refusing anything because it was the traditional narrative is not a constructive way to help understand what may happen, specially if there is no serious alternative.

    Very interesting read. The parallels between the Quran and Christian late antique texts has been amply demonstrated. But is the morality described in Rubin´s text also common in the Christian texts?(eg allowing Mohammed to have an unlimited number of wives including the ex-wife of his adoptive son, the formal allowance of having slaves as sex-partners, the seemingly separate rules governing the prophets family (seems it was a true harem...) 

    I don´t mean the informal morality (the public secrets of having multiple concubines or slaves), but the open justification of these practices in very sacred texts? Or is this an aspect that might be attributed to other influences: Pagan, Zaroastrian, Jewish?

    Or can we reduce this to a "Joseph Smith" effect of the Mormons... a prophet starting a new movement and including elements that are convenient, not necessarily pre-existent accepted rules?
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1362 - January 26, 2017, 10:25 AM

    Thanks Zaotar, very interesting.

    Yes, this seems under-examined... trying to find out more about the expulsion of the non-Chalcedonians from Jerusalem (I didn´t know about it  Huh?)

    If Mecca was already an active concept during Mohammed´s lifetime, why would it be another 150 years before it would show up in the sources?

    small correction ;  the source that we do know about ?
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1363 - January 26, 2017, 10:28 AM

    Very interesting read. The parallels between the Quran and Christian late antique texts has been amply demonstrated. But is the morality described in Rubin´s text also common in the Christian texts?(eg allowing Mohammed to have an unlimited number of wives including the ex-wife of his adoptive son, the formal allowance of having slaves as sex-partners, the seemingly separate rules governing the prophets family (seems it was a true harem...) 

    I don´t mean the informal morality (the public secrets of having multiple concubines or slaves), but the open justification of these practices in very sacred texts? Or is this an aspect that might be attributed to other influences: Pagan, Zaroastrian, Jewish?

    Or can we reduce this to a "Joseph Smith" effect of the Mormons... a prophet starting a new movement and including elements that are convenient, not necessarily pre-existent accepted rules?

    nothing special there were all pre-existing practice,  yes he made exception rule for himself, more than 4 wives, his wives can not remarry after him :(
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1364 - January 26, 2017, 10:39 AM

    Hi Hatoush,

    I assume indeed that this harem-type set-up for Mohammed (and also his followers: 4 wives + slaves is "not bad") must have been a "not unusual practice". But the sanctifying of this in religious texts in late antiquity, are there any precedents?

    Since so much inspiration is found in the late antiquity Christian texts, maybe there are homilies found where provisions are made for such behaviour, maybe praising it, or at least allowing it?

    If not, are there other religious denominations in late antiquity where this excessive polygamy was formally allowed and seen as a god given right? Are there Jewish texts of late antiquity discussing polygamy?Or is nothing written to be found about the subject outside the Quran in late antiquity?
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1365 - January 26, 2017, 11:51 AM

    Are there Jewish texts of late antiquity discussing polygamy?

    The Babylonian Talmud, as you might expect:
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1366 - January 26, 2017, 12:47 PM

    The Quran(s) in Context(s) by Tommaso Tesei

    Tommaso is proposing a radical rethinking of the whole Quran history,  if we accept multiple authors  theory of the quran it will solve a lot of problems.

    what I really like, he do not dismiss  the traditional narrative  as a later fabrication, but rather it reflect only one context, he seems to see  the quran rather as a combination of different corpus.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1367 - January 26, 2017, 02:18 PM

    if we accept multiple authors  theory of the quran it will solve a lot of problems.

    I think we have to really. It's remarkable that this isn't generally accepted, at least by non-Muslims.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1368 - January 26, 2017, 04:05 PM

    Very interesting Zeca.

    Noticing how these Jewish Babylonian marriage laws are so similar with the Quranic law and how different from the Christian one, isn´t this another element discrediting Segovia´s hypothesis that the Quranic movement started of as a Christian sect the first decades?
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1369 - January 27, 2017, 05:12 PM

    Segovia on Jewish influence on early Islam.

    Abstract for another article that hasn't been uploaded as yet (other links below have been posted here before):

    Friends, Enemies, or Hoped-for New Rulers? Reassessing the Early Jewish Sources Mentioning the Rise of Islam
    By examining several Jewish sources like the *Secrets of Rabbi Šim‘on ben Yoḥay*, the *Jewish Apocalypse on the Umayyads*, *The Story of the Ten Wise Jews*, and *Targum Pseudo-Jonathan* ad Gen 21:9-21, this paper contends that the fact that some Jews of seventh-century Syria-Palestine saw the Arabs as new rulers who would crush the Byzantine empire, bring to an end the Christian dominion of the Holy Land, and thus help to restore Israel, informs us about those Jews’ expectations – no more, no less; and that the possibility that some agreement was reached between such Jews and the Arab conquerors does not imply that Muḥammad’s original movement was Jewish oriented or that the conquerors’ polity was either pro-Jewish or Jewish based.


    The Jews and Christians of pre-Islamic Yemen (Ḥimyar) and the Elusive Matrix of the Qur’ān's Christology
    But it could also be that Abraha – who obviously was and presented himself as a Christian king – tried to avoid any sharp provocation against the Jews of Ḥimyar, a land that for several centuries had witnessed to an ongoing religious conflict (indirectly promoted by Byzantium and Persia) between Christians and Jews and that he attempted to rule in his own way.42 Had Abraha intended not to offend his Jewish subjects, he could have done so by evoking God alone (instead of God plus his Messiah = Jesus); indeed, Raḥmānān was (also) the south-Arabian Jewish name for God. Anyway, referring to Jesus as the Messiah would be less provoking for them than describing him as God’s divine Son.

    In fact, these two hypotheses need not contradict themselves, as in antiquity Dyophysites and Jews did not collide as often as Miaphysites and Jews did. A survey of the anti-Jewish literature of late-antique Christianity further shows that not even a single extant anti-Jewish text can be attributed to the Dyophysites.43

    Whatever Abraha’s agenda, his Christological formula evinces that South-Arabian Christians in the sixth century (even mainstream Christians!) were not totally unfamiliar with the representation of Jesus as the Messiah instead of God’s son – a feature that we also find in the Qur’ān from the viewpoint of the Jesus himself, who is repeatedly called there “the Messiah, son of Mary” instead of “son of God”.44 And it is at least curious in this respect to notice the positive references to the religion of the Arab conquerors in several Dyophysite writings of the seventh century, including Išō’yahb III’s letters (48B.97; 14C.251), the Khuzistan Chronicle (34), and John bar Penkāyē’s Book of Main Points (141).45

    Thus unless we represent Muḥammad himself as a non-Christian monotheist – but why should we? – it is fair to ask whether his religious views were somehow influenced by Abraha’s, and thereby to what extent emergent Islam must be studied against the background of sixth-century South-Arabian Christianity.46

    To put it in more forceful terms: Did Muḥammad, in his ambition to conquer the Arabian peninsula after the disappearance of the Himyarite, Jafnid, Nasrid, and Hujrid Arab kingdoms (Segovia 2016c), try – like Abraha had tried earlier with the Jews – to reach an agreement with either the Jews or a group of (Jewish-influenced?) monotheists (the Q 112 community),47 or with both, or with the Jews first and then with that monotheist group, or with such group first and foremost and then occasionally with some Jews until the Jews themselves were excluded from his- or his followers’ movement? – note that the recurrent Christian- or Christian-influenced anti-Jewish passages of the Qur’ān may either imply this latter possibility or the fact that the Jews were, together with the pagans, Muḥammad’s opponents right from the start.48 Be that as it may, in my view these questions can no longer be avoided.

    To sum up: I am not affirming that sixth-century South-Arabian Christianity is the key to deciphering the origins of Islam. I am simply suggesting that it should be taken into consideration as a relevant, if hitherto often neglected, factor that may help to explain both the emergence of Islam and its South-Arabian component.49 And that, if Abraha’s Christological formula is susceptible of being interpreted as a Konvergenztext attempting to unify the Christians and the Jews of pre-Islamic Yemen under the label of an inclusive, Dyophysite-oriented political theology, and Muḥammad’s mission, in turn, as an adaptation under different circumstances of Abraha’s political agenda, then the interactions between the Jews and the Christians of Ḥimyar may be said to be of especial, if indirect, importance to understand the elusive Christology of the Qur’ān.50

    In short, we do not need to fancy a “Jewish-Christian” influence on emergent Islam to explain its plausible Jewish–Christian roots. Yet denying such influence is not the same as to say that Jewish and Christian components were attached to formative Islam merely because Muḥammad and his community, or their followers, lived within a religious milieu full of Jews and Christians to whose cultural influence they were exposed. If, as almost everyone would agree today, some kind of Realpolitik towards the Jews and the Christians was often fostered by the Arab conquerors of al-Šām, albeit due to diverging motivations and with uneven results each time, some kind of Realpolitik involving Christians, Jews, and perhaps other groups as well might have also been at stake in Muhammad's lifetime – and it might have had Himyarite precedents.

    On emergent Islam as a peripheral Christian movement:

    A Messianic Controversy Behind the Making of Muḥammad as the Last Prophet?
    Also, when one looks into the biblical material in the Qur’ān – by biblical I mean here relative to the Hebrew Bible alone – one gets the overall impression that this material is generally read through a Christian lens; in fact, its knowledge often seems to be mediated through other, basically Syriac-Christian, parabiblical texts (e.g. the Joseph story in Q 12, as convincingly shown by Joseph Witztum).19

    This does not mean that one cannot find Jewish elements in the Qur’ān. Indeed, these are most intriguing.20 But if we were to agree that they may go back to the earliest quranic layers, and hence to the early quranic milieu, it still seems to me this does not prevent from seeing them as theological loans witnessing to the complex religious-political map of pre-Islamic Arabia. For I basically see Muḥammad’s mission (wherever exactly we may need to place the historical Muḥammad) as a political movement with somewhat peripheral but nonetheless strong Christian trimmings that took shape in the aftermath of the Persian invasion of the near East. In my view, there is no intrinsic contradiction between this hypothesis and the very likely probability that the Qur’ān as we now have it (i.e. the Qur’ān’s textus receptus) was written and edited in Syria and/or Iraq after a few texts originally belonging to Muḥammad’s milieu that were thus expanded in some cases, abridged in other cases, and in any event reworked and mixed with other miscellaneous writings a few decades after his death – and that in was in this new scenario (evidently a scribal one) that some additional Jewish and Christian components were incorporated into the quranic corpus.

    As I have suggested, the first problem with this argument is that the texts grouped under a are (fully) Christian rather than (just) pro-Christian. In other words, they express identification with Christianity from within instead of expressing a favourable attitude towards Christianity from without. Now, if one accepts that these texts, or most of them, date from Muḥammad’s time and bear witness to his mission – the opponents of which, judging from the frequent anti-Jewish overtones and the number of apparently early anti-pagan passages in the Qur’ān, may well have been the pagans and the Jews of the Ḥiǧāz (i.e. the two social and religious groups that profited from the decay of Abraha’s Christian kingdom in the 560s or the 570s)21 – then one is compelled to ask whether Muḥammad himself may have been raised in a Christian milieu and initially struggled to re-affirm a particular, if peripheral, type of Christianity; peripheral because of its very complex, and not altogether clear, constituting elements – which in my view fall close, nevertheless, to Dyophysite/ Nestorian Christianity.22

    The early Islamic sources preserve some oblique memory of this possibility when they recall, for instance, that Jesus’s grave was to be found near Medina,23 that it was a(n Arian in later anti-Muslim Christian apologetics) monk named Baḥīrā (whom Ibn Sa‘d names Naṣtūr) who examined Muḥammad for the sign of prophecy when he was nine years old, and that Muḥammad’s call to prophecy was later acknowledged as authentic by a Christian learned man from Mecca – namely, Ḫadīǧa’s cousin Waraqa b. Nawfal (as reported by Ibn Isḥāq/Ibn Hišām).24 See further the textual evidence collected by Irfan Shahid on the several churches (masāǧid) devoted to Mary and the existence of a Christian cemetery (maqbarat al-naṣārā) in pre- Islamic Mecca; a place on its outskirts (a shrine on the pilgrimage road to Naǧrān?) known as mawqif al-naṣ- rānī, i.e. the “station of the Christians”; and the strong connections between the Ǧurhum, who were said to have introduced Christianity in the Ḥiǧāz, and the (re)building of the Ka‘ba.25 Additionally, all this may explain why some of Muḥammad’s followers supposedly fled to Abyssinia to escape persecution from the pagan oligarchy of Mecca and met the Aksumite king there (as reported by Ibn Isḥāq/Ibn Hišām), as well as why Muḥammad respected the icons of Jesus and Mary found inside the Ka‘ba when he conquered Mecca in 630 and had all the pagan idols of the Meccan shrine destroyed (as reported by al-Azraqī).

    Let me be clear: I am not directly interested in the information provided by the Muslim tradition, which is usually too late and biased to be uncritically accepted. Put differently: I do not dismiss the Muslim sources as spurious, for I believe that some useful, if oblique, information may be occasionally gathered from them. What I question, in any event, is the acceptance of their master narrative. Therefore, I use this material here as a hint that may be of some relevance and prove especially significant perhaps for those scholars who tend to rely on the “data” collected by the Muslim historiographers.26

    Claiming that Muḥammad’s religion might have been peripherally Christian, however, does not amount to say that Islam was a Christian heresy – a view somehow endorsed by John of Damascus in antiquity (for he merely states that Muḥammad was taught by an Arian Christian)36 and echoed in more forceful terms by G. K. Chesterton in modern times. It is the only way one has to interpret the Christian lore in the Qur’ān, on which, ultimately, one out of three interpretative options might be taken: (i) to circumscribe it to Muḥammad’s original Hijazi milieu alone (à la Van Reeth,37 with whom I nonetheless concur in considering that Islam sprung out of a complex Christian milieu); (ii) to circumscribe it to Muḥammad’s milieu without denying its later expansion in a Syrian/Iraqi one (which is the best option in my view); or (iii) to circumscribe it to the latter alone (à la Wansbrough and Shoemaker).38

    The explicit statement that Muḥammad’s religion should not be understood as a Christian heresy was already included in the first draft version of this paper. I would like to highlight it again, however, for during the discussion over my paper in Milan Cecilia Palombo astonishingly reproved me for representing Muḥammad’s religion as a Christian heresy (!). To do so would imply to side with Christian orthodoxy, which has never been, and is not, my position, as in my view all early (and later) variant forms of Christianity – and hence all early (and later) Christianities – had (have) their own and ultimately unquestionable right to theological legitimacy. What needs to be asked is why is it that pointing to the Christian roots of formative Islam proves so very controversial and causes so much misunderstanding in our days. I am afraid this is an issue about which the field of early Christian studies has patently moved ahead of ours, since it is now current in it to view Jesus, even Paul, as second-temple Jews, as Gabriele Boccaccini and Isaac Oliver perspicaciously stressed in the discussion (see also Stephen Shoemaker’s paper in this volume); whereas most scholars of early Islam continue to view Muḥammad as a Muslim and the Qur’ān as a book containing his ipssima verba rather than as a composite corpus formed over several decades – more, probably, than we are often willing to assume. So I think Anders Petersen was perfectly right in Milan when he made the point, contra Ulrika Mårtensson, that religious identity formation is a slow process, that the comparative study of late-antique religions leaves little doubt about this, and that depicting formative Islam in a different way makes no sense and would require some counter-evidence that we simply lack. In short, maybe the biggest prejudice does not consist in seeing Islam as a Christian heresy – a view that no serious scholar would support today – but in equating any scholarly claim about the Christian roots of formative Islam (however we may represent them and whatever its other eventual roots) with the out-fashioned views of the Christian heresiologists that, quite surprisingly to say the least, many scholars of early Islam have interiorised and transformed into a dark, obsessive ghost.

    On Segovia and Dye's forthcoming book:

    Re-Imagining Islam in the Late 7th Century
    Still in its infancy because of the too conservative views and methods assumed by most scholars working in it since the mid-19th century, the field of early Islamic studies, however, is one in which the very basic questions must nowadays be addressed with decision.

    There is, to start with, no evidence that Islam was the main cause behind the Arab take over of the Near East in the 7th century. Nor is there evidence that the latter followed a linear development. Just as it is difficult to speak of a unified Arab state until 692, it is hard to regard Islam as a new religion before that date. How then should we reinterpret the struggle for a new Arab supremacy in the Arabian Peninsula after the abolishment of the Himyarite, Jafnid and Nasrid kingdoms in the late 6th and early 7th centuries? Which was the political and religious background of Muhammad's eschatological visions in the 610s? How should we read his politics in the 620s and the early 630s and the opposition that he matched with amongst other Arab leaders? What can we make of the fact that from the 630s to the early 690s not everyone in the Hijaz, Syria and Iraq claimed to follow him? How must we represent the religion of the Arab groups involved in the afore-described events before the emergence of Islam as a new religion in the time of 'Abd al-Malik and his son al-Walid (692-715)? What can be deduced from the fact that several South-Arabic inscriptions dating to the mid-6th century appear to contain a Christological formula akin to that found in the Qur'an? Why is it that the first documented occurrence of the word Islam speaks of Jesus to the Christians of Palestine and is located in a building that seems to reproduce a Christian church within the remains of a Jewish sanctuary? Were the first Muslims allies of the Jews, as has sometime been said, ecumenical monotheists as has more recently been proposed, or non-trinitarian supersessionist Christians who tried to publicly affirm their own religious beliefs? And which was their political agenda, anyway? Lastly, when is the collection of the Qur'an to be dated and what kind of new document did their editors attempt to produce?

    Our purpose in this book is to explore these and other related issues from a critical-historical standpoint and to offer new insights on the gradual formation of the Islamic state and the likewise gradual making of the Islamic faith. For to overlook them would be like explaining the emergence of the earliest Christ-believing groups by exclusively relying on the author of Luke-Acts, who offers a rather monochrome picture of Christian beginnings centred upon what s/he retrospectively imagined as Paul’s mission; or like accepting the Mishnaic and Talmudic legends about Yavneh as the actual birthplace of Rabbinic Judaism.

    If some progress is to be made in the future in the field of early Islamic studies, scholars working in it should abandon once and for all the grand narrative of Islam's origins set forth in the early Islamic sources and confront the complex material evidence that we do have about the dawn of Islam with an open, both critical and imaginative, mind.

    Some thoughts from Guillaume Dye:

    Jewish Christianity, the Qur’ān, and Early Islam: some methodological caveats
    Even if I warned that fancying Jewish Christian groups behind the rise of Islam was certainly too speculative (and unnecessary), I agree that there is something that might be called a “Jewish Christian sensitivity” in the Qur’ān. It includes, among other things: a low Christology (but higher than the Ebionite Christology), where Jesus is a servant and a prophet but neither a divine being nor the son of God (even if the virginal birth is asserted), an insistence on law, and a certain conception of prophecy, which is, however, not specifically Jewish Christian.43 Yet we also have elements which undeniably point towards Eastern Christianity as the most plausible context of the Qur’ān (I do not imply it is also the context of Muḥammad’s preaching – let us leave also this question open here!): a Qur’anic Mariology deeply related to Christian Palestinian traditions, a typology between Adam and Jesus, a similar anti-Jewish rhetoric, many common points with Syriac cosmology, piety and eschatology,44 and the fact that the closer parallels to the Qur’anic Biblical and para-biblical stories are to be found, most of the time, in Eastern Christianity...

    How should we explain the presence of this “Jewish Christian sensitivity”? Maybe a brief glance at the concrete religious situation of the Late Antique Middle East will bring some insights.45

    In fact, confessional loyalties in the Late Antique Middle East were much more in flux than we generally believe. People could move back and forth from different church groups, not only in rural areas, but also close to the centres of theological power,46 or inside the same family, from one generation to another.47 There could be various reasons for this behaviour, even lucrative ones – in other words, “religious identity was being used instrumentally.”48

    This is true, not only between different Christian movements, but also between Christian and non-Christian religious groups.49 Of course, it does not entail that relations between groups were necessarily peaceful.

    On the other hand, the theological elites were involved in building barriers and frontiers, and also in trying to get the adherence of ordinary Christians, as well as extirpating what they considered to be idolatrous beliefs or practices (beliefs and practices which were certainly very widespread, and even more widespread than the so-called “orthodox” beliefs and practices). Most of the ordinary Christians had certainly other interests than border policy (which was as much boundary maintenance as boundary drawing),50 even if frictions between Christians of opposed ideas were not uncommon either. Many disagreements of this kind are lost to us now, but we should be aware that the content of the tenets involved in such disagreements was very multifarious – without implying a group or community which necessarily followed such and such tenet.

    This idea could be made clearer with the following experiment: suppose you make today a street survey and ask Christians about their Christological and more generally religious ideas. You might get many answers, sometimes in line with the official doctrine – but press these people a bit with a few malicious questions and you will realize that most of them are certainly “heretics,” even if, probably, they do not realize it.51 And you might find “Arians,” “Jewish Christians,” “Docetists,” and so on, among them. However, it does not mean that Arian, Jewish Christian, or Docetist communities are alive today and managed to survive, almost hidden, during centuries.

    In fact, the 7th century is a time of “confessional kaleidoscope,”52 not only on the level of popular religion (and of course with people Christianized only recently or lightly), but also on the level of many monks and clerics – not all, for sure, and clearly not on the level of the religious entrepreneurs of the theological elite who were involved in border policy. The range of beliefs available to Christians was large: we know, for example, that there were Christians in the mid-7th century who believed that polygamy was compatible with Christianity,53 and they had some good reasons to think so, since the Bible allows polygamy – and highly blessed figures like Abraham, Jacob, or David are said to have been polygamous. So, might they think – if they were polygamous, why not us?

    Dye's reference to polygamy is taken from Jack Tannous, page 258:

    Syria between Byzantium and Islam
    Letters can show other religious disputes and discussions of a slightly less doctrinal flavor which were taking place. A thirteenth-century manuscript in Cambridge preserves the only surviving work of a Miaphysite bishop named Yonan who had been a correspondent of the famous Severos Sebokht in the middle of the seventh century. Yonan was responding to a periodeute named Theodore who had written him seeking arguments supporting monogamy. Theodore, it seems, had been put on the defensive by people who thought it acceptable for a man to take more than one wife. ‘Now, when on account of a certain exchange,’ Yonan wrote to Theodore, 'which took place between you and some people, as you stated, the cause arose [and] you were interested in learning which arguments we should require of those who are badgering (that is, demanding), 'On what basis do you prove that it is not right for a man to marry two women at the same time?’'601

    Although Yonan goes on to assert that one could make an argument for monogamy even if the Divine Scripture and the Venerable Fathers had never spoken on the issue, Yonan’s use of church fathers such as Gregory Nazianzen and John Chrysostom and his explicitly Christian argumentation suggest that Theodore was dealing with a group of people in the mid-seventh century who believed that polygamy was compatible with Christianity.602 The canons of Jacob of Edessa seem to confirm this, as well. ‘It is not right,’ Jacob wrote, ‘for a Christian man to marry two women at the same time, just as it is not possible for a Christian woman to marry two men at the same time. For Christ does not possess two churches, nor does the Church possess two Christs.’603 In the middle of the eighth century in northern Mesopotamia, the East Syrian Māran‘ameh correctly predicted that God would punish a Christian man with death for having more than one wife.604

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1370 - January 30, 2017, 05:56 PM
    Statement on January 27 US Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”

    The Board of Directors of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA) offers this statement in response to President Donald J. Trump’s executive order banning the entry of citizens from various Muslim-majority nations, including permanent residents of the United States:

    IQSA is an academic society whose mission is explicitly to build “a bridge between different global communities of Qur’anic scholarship” and to “promote cooperation across global boundaries.” Our organization is wholly dependent on the free exchange of ideas, including the international travel of scholars and students from all around the world. IQSA is a unique organization supporting regular, high quality, text-critical study of the Qur’an. Critical scholarship is the most effective weapon against extremist, fundamentalist narratives. This executive order directly threatens the work of IQSA to further dialogue between cultures and promote peace and mutual understanding through scholarship.

    The travel ban also undermines international scholarship and damages the goodwill built between scholars belonging to different cultures. Moreover, the travel ban only reinforces the false notion that Muslim-majority nations and the Unites States are locked in a “clash of civilizations.” Scholars from Muslim-majority countries, including those banned on January 27, 2017, make an essential contribution to our organization and more generally to scholarship and education here in the United States. We hereby oppose this travel ban, and we stand by our friends and colleagues in the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), American Academy of Religion (AAR) and throughout the US higher education system who have expressed their opposition to this ban.

    Dr. Gerald Hawting, President

    Dr. Abdullah Saeed, President Elect

    Dr. Farid Esack, Past President

    Dr. Fred Donner

    Dr. Jane McAuliffe

    Dr. Devin Stewart

    Dr. Sarra Tlili

    Dr. Gabriel Reynolds, Chair

    Dr. Hamza Zafer, Secretary

    Dr. Emran El-Badawi, Executive Director, Treasurer

    January 30, 2017

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1371 - January 30, 2017, 09:06 PM

    Might a certain meteorite have been important in the switch of sacred geography from Jerusalem?

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.

    A.A. Milne,

    "We cannot slaughter each other out of the human impasse"
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1372 - January 30, 2017, 11:53 PM

    [self-deleting, since IQSA's comment is political, so a response wouldn't fit here]
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1373 - February 09, 2017, 03:34 PM

    Michael Bonner - Poverty and Charity in the rise of Islam
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1374 - February 09, 2017, 04:21 PM

    Carlos Segovia - The Quranic Jesus: A New Interpretation [2017] / Upcoming Book
    The modern study of the quranic Jesus has basically moved in a single direction, as generally scholars have approached the Jesus passages contained in the Qur’an from a thematic standpoint. Somewhat inoffensively, therefore, they tend to distinguish between the passages in which Jesus’s birth is reported, those that mention his miracles and his mission to Israel, those relative to his death, those which briefly mention him as a prophet or a righteous among others, and those that discuss his divine sonship thus denying the very basis of mainstream Christian doctrine – which, consequently, most modern scholars regard as the primary target of the Qur’an’s counter- Christology. It is this last point, moreover, that has largely overdetermined all modern interpretations of the quranic Jesus. Accordingly, most scholars take the quranic passages allusive to Jesus’s birth, life, and death as being merely illustrative of some key episodes of Jesus’s “biography” as told in the gospels; in their view, therefore, such passages convey a purely descriptive purpose, even if their narratives often draw on apocryphal sources, or else display new “data.” In contrast, the passages that criticise the notion that Jesus is God’s son are interpreted by them to contain the Qur’an’s own theological message about Jesus. Things are much more complex, though. It may well be, for example, that some if not all of the alleged descriptive Jesus passages hide more than they seem to offer at first sight; or, to put it in more forceful terms, that they serve an ideological purpose which is anything but descriptive. Also, it is not altogether clear how one ought to articulate and interpret the quranic passages that refer to Jesus as God’s messiah instead of God’s son, those which deny Jesus’s divine sonship, those that impugn the Christian trinity, and those which contend that God is childless: do they all belong to the same redactional layer?, and, more importantly, even if one agrees that they all aim at the same idea, which is their exact theological intent? Lastly, is it possible to reread the Christology of the Qur’an (i.e. the latter’s treatment of God’s Word and of Jesus’s messiahship) against the background of the Near-Eastern Christological developments of the 7th century? And if so, how should they and how should they not be linked?; that is to say, what specific type of contextual connection between them should be acknowledged in order to pay justice to their apparently complex intersection and what particular type of subordination should be avoided in turn? So far, these questions have either never been asked, or have been approached from a viewpoint that systematically takes from granted, somewhat naively to say the least, the cut-clear religious boundaries of the Islamic faith in the early-to-mid-7th century (the decades in which, presumably, the quranic corpus was put together).

    In contrast, by putting forward a “symptomatic reading” (Althusser) of the relevant quranic passages – a reading that attempts at disclosing their “buried problematic” through a careful examination of their rhetoric and imagery – my book offers three hypotheses that may be summarised as follows:

    (1) Originally, the earliest redactional layers of the Qur’an bear witness to a non-Jesus-centred Christology that was later re-shaped in light of, and subordinated to, a less-ambiguously monotheistic creed introduced at a later stage in the development of the quranic corpus together with a prophetical kerygma.

    (2) In turn, all the Jesus passages contained in the Qur’an belong to two distinct and successive redactional layers contemporary with the Arab conquest of Syria-Palestine and Iraq and, more precisely, with Mu‘awiya’s and ‘Abd al Malik’s rules, respectively: the first of these layers presents evident and recurrent anti-Jewish overtones and upon close analysis proves to be pro- Christian, while the second one is overtly anti-Christian.

    (3) It is therefore incorrect to read the Qur’an’s Jesus passages from the point of view of the latter anti-Christian texts. On the one hand, the Qur’an’s pro-Christian Jesus passages must be replaced in their historical context, and hence read vis-à-vis the well-documented Jewish criticism of Jesus (and Mary) current in the aftermath of the Persian invasion of the Near East. On the other hand, the early Christology of the Qur’an must be examined against the development of a peripheral religious culture in the southern- and eastern limes of the Byzantine empire (from pre-Islamic Yemen to pre-Islamic Iraq).

    It is primary intended, then, for scholars working in the fields of quranic studies, emergent Islam, and early Christian-Muslim relations. Yet additionally it could be of some interest for scholars of late-antique Christianity working on the extra-biblical literary traditions about Jesus.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1375 - February 10, 2017, 12:17 AM

    Segovia's "Qur'anic Noah" proposed a sura behind suras 11 and 71 for which nobody has yet found any evidence. I am not hopeful that his "redactional" method will be more successful when applied to suras 3 and 19.

    To paraphrase 4chan, "MSS or GTFO"
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1376 - February 10, 2017, 05:47 PM

    Gabriel Said Reynolds - Translating John Wansbrough into English
    In academic scholarship on the Qurʾan it is rather common to find the opinion that Wansbrough’s thought is unfounded or disproven. But how many of those who express this opinion have actually managed to understand his use of the English language? Perhaps a translation of Wansbrough into English would allow us at least to assess the importance of his work. While I have no plans to translate the entirety of Qurʾanic Studies, I thought I might have a go at the first page...

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1377 - February 10, 2017, 06:13 PM

    It's an old joke but I love it.  It reminds me of the old philosophical joke about how Germans have to read Kant in foreign translation so that he becomes comprehensible.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1378 - February 11, 2017, 01:21 PM

    Gerald Hawting on reading Surat Maryam in church:
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #1379 - February 11, 2017, 05:40 PM

    Gerald Hawting - The Idea of Idolatry and the Emergence of Islam
    In this book G. R. Hawting supports the view that the emergence of Islam owed more to debates and disputes among monotheists than to arguments with idolaters and polytheists. He argues that the ‘associators’ (mushriku ̄n) attacked in the Koran were monotheists whose beliefs and practices were judged to fall short of true monotheism and were portrayed polemically as idolatry. In commentaries on the Koran and other traditional literature, however, this polemic was read literally, and the ‘associators’ were identified as idolatrous and polytheistic Arab contemporaries and neighbours of Muhammad. Adopting a comparative religious perspective, the author considers why modern scholarship generally has been willing to accept the traditional image of the Koranic ‘associators’, he discusses the way in which the idea of idolatry has been used in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and he questions the historical value of the traditional accounts of pre-Islamic Arab religion.

  • Previous page 1 ... 44 45 4647 48 ... 58 Next page « Previous thread | Next thread »