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 Topic: Qur'anic studies today

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  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #30 - November 04, 2014, 05:02 PM

    A new article by Stephen Shoemaker:

    “The Reign of God Has Come”: Eschatology and Empire in Late Antiquity and Early Islam
    Quote
    Abstract
    For much of the 20th century, scholarship on Muḥammad and the beginnings of Islam has shown a reluctance to acknowledge the importance of imminent eschatology in earliest Islam. One of the main reasons for this resistance to eschatology would appear to be the undeniable importance of conquest and political expansion in early Islam: if Muḥammad and his followers believed that the world would soon come to an end, why then did they seek to conquer and rule over so much of it? Nevertheless, there is no real contradiction between the urgent eschatology revealed by the Qurʾān and other early sources on the one hand, and the determination of Muḥammad and his followers to expand their religious policy and establish an empire on the other. To the contrary, the political eschatology of the Byzantine Christians during the sixth and early seventh centuries indicates that these two beliefs went hand in hand, offering important contemporary precedent for the imperial eschatology that seems to have fueled the rise of Islam.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #31 - November 04, 2014, 06:47 PM

    great stuff. Love reading Shoemaker. PDF is here:

    http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/docserver/journals/15700585/61/5/15700585_061_05_s002_text.pdf?expires=1415127694&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=7384C805D4649A6C3FC3931FD6AD8C88

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #32 - November 04, 2014, 07:27 PM

    ^Linking directly to the pdf doesn't seem to work for some reason - I tried it myself. Anyway the article is well worth reading.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #33 - November 04, 2014, 08:33 PM

    yes, it is an excellent article

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #34 - November 04, 2014, 09:07 PM

    Quote
    Borrowing again from NT studies, I believe the Qur'an likely originated as *commentary* that correctly relayed the *true meaning* of the Holy scriptures in an Arabic vernacular (since the Bible was not translated into Arabic until around 1000 AD).


    Article by Nick Cohen has comments afterwards that discuss the many ethnicities and languages of this area, including a very large non arab one - the Berbers!

    So is the quran actually a translation, paraphrase, compilation of stuff around then?

    With a clear political aim of helping with establishing one or more empires - shia and sunni?

    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 #35 - November 05, 2014, 01:20 AM



    Great article, reading it now. How do you keep abreast of new stuff like this coming out?

    إطلب العلم ولو في الصين

    Es sitzt keine Krone so fest und so hoch,
    Der mutige Springer erreicht sie doch.

    I don't give a fuck about your war, or your President.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #36 - November 05, 2014, 04:37 AM

    Good stuff  Afro

    Muhammad's movement really does sound very similar to Jesus' movement in that both expected an imminent Judgement.

    "I moreover believe that any religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."
    -Thomas Paine
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #37 - November 05, 2014, 08:35 AM

    Did the koran invent a new form of Arab?

    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 #38 - November 05, 2014, 12:39 PM


    So is the quran actually a translation, paraphrase, compilation of stuff around then?



    I think the Qur'an is an oral commentary on the Old Testament.  The opening lines of Surah two, dhaalika l-kitaabu laa rayba fiih, which correctly translated is 'that is the book in which there is no doubt'.  Traditional scholars translate dhaalika as this, but this is correct in no Arabic.  Dhaalika is a distal demonstrative, it is not self-referential.  The Qur'an is clearly talking about another book.  Considering that the Jews and Christians are Ahl al-Kitaab, it stands to reason that that book is the Old Testament.   

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #39 - November 05, 2014, 01:36 PM

    Great article, reading it now. How do you keep abreast of new stuff like this coming out?

    I got that one from Ian David Morris on Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/iandavidmorris
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #40 - November 06, 2014, 05:56 PM



    Outstanding article.  Shoemaker is one of the few contemporary scholars (along with Gabriel Said Reynolds and Guillaume Dye) who I tend to agree with on almost everything --- I think he nails it over and over again, while many other scholars have lots of interesting insights but tend to fall short on the overall picture.

    It's really incredible how often the basic, manifest meaning of the Qur'an is overlooked by both Muslims and modern scholars in favor of tendentious broader narratives.  The traditional narratives about Mohammed as social reformer all hinge upon the concept of a pagan polytheistic jahiliyyah, where everybody was ignorant of monotheism and civilization, and Mohammed received revelations about behaving decently.  But this is nonsense; it has been demonstrated over and over again that the Qur'an reflects a literate environment already suffused with Judaism and Christian traditions.  There were almost no actual pagans, and certainly everybody had heard about Judaism and Christianity.  So what reforms did Mohammed allegedly introduce?  And why aren't those reforms present in the Qur'an, which is notoriously lacking in such specific guidance (hence the need for Muslims to create the hadith and Sunnah, because the Qur'an itself has so little legal/social guidance)?  And how could these possibly have been considered 'reforms' in an environment that was already chock full of Jews and (albeit to a lesser extent) orthodox Christians?

    To answer these questions, scholars have traditionally resorted to elaborate historical fictions about the Jahiliyyah and its practices in the mid 7th century, fictions that have never withstood any kind of critical and historical analysis.

    Many people claim that Mohammed ripped off the Jews with his social reforms, but this is false -- the reality is that the Qur'an reflects an environment in which the culture was already dominated by Judeo-Christian and general Near-Eastern practices.  There was nothing to reform.  The Qur'an's message is not a radical innovation and (it is sad this has to be repeated) it explicitly claims to be a reminder and a warning of the same message previously given to all the Judeo-Christian prophets.  Far from 'reform,' it is a call to REMEMBER and HEED the eternal divine message, to be pious, to think about judgment day and the bodily resurrection.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #41 - November 06, 2014, 06:14 PM

    I actually chose the user name after the type of ancient Iranian sacrificial priest, which is cognate with the Vedic 'hotar' priest.  'Zaotar' literally meaning 'invoker.' As an aside, the beginning of Surah 96 (allegedly the first revelation given to Mohammed) starts with the same concept albeit in Arabic, "INVOKE the name of the Lord," (iq'ra thus being the first revelatory word that Mohammed allegedly received), paralleling the common liturgical Syriac and Judaic phrase, which later Muslims have misinterpreted as meaning just 'Recite' in the name of your Lord. So in that sense, my posting name is a corrected version of how the Qur'an should be understood from the start -- an invocation of the deity, in a liturgical context (aka qeryana), not a recitation.

    Zarathustra was allegedly himself a zaotar.  I like the name for a lot of different reasons, one of which is it reminds me of Nietzsche's hilarious idea that since Zarathustra was the first to commit the error of dividing the world into good and evil, he should also be the first to denounce his mistake.

    Also, I think Central Asian and Indian culture and civilization deserve much more attention and acclaim than they've historically gotten ... though I myself have no personal connection to Central Asia or India.

    For some reason there's no good English webpage on the subject, but this German wiki page gives a good explanation of the zaotar (although it describes it as a Zoroastrian priest, but it is more than that -- it was the broader category of ancient Indo-Iranian priest, and Zoroastrianism just inherited it).

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaotar


    Thought this should go in to here! Good stuff!
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #42 - November 07, 2014, 03:40 PM

    Some articles by Patricia Crone that might be relevant here:

    The religion of the qur'anic pagans: God and the lesser deities
    Quote
    Abstract
    This article (in two parts) is devoted to the first step of an attempted reconstruction of the religion of the Qurʾānic mušrikūn on the basis of the Qurʾān and indisputably earlier evidence alone. The first part concludes that the mušrikūn believed in the same Biblical God as the messenger and that their lesser beings, indiscriminately called gods and angels, functioned much like (dead) saints in later Islam and Christianity. This is not exactly new since it is more or less what Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb concluded three hundred years ago. The second part examines the high God hypothesis and tries to relate the beliefs of the mušrikūn to those of other monotheists in late antiquity, with indeterminate results: in terms of their views on God and the lesser beings, the mušrikūn could equally well be pagan monotheists and Jews (or Judaisers).


    How did the quranic pagans make a living?
    Quote
    Among the better known essay questions set for students of Islamic subjects in the UK is the one asking for comments on the dictum that 'the Qur'an is the only reliable source for the rise of Islam'. Students typically respond with an account of the formation of the canonical text and a comment that however we envisage this process, the Quran is not a source rich in historical information. Few could disagree with that. Historians of the life and times of the Prophet use the Quran as explained in tafslr, which supplies the names, dates, stories and other supplementary data that they need, and they unwittingly tend to do so even when they think they are using the Quran alone. But we may have reached the point of under-estimating the book as a source. Rich in historical evidence it may not be, but we are not in the habit of squeezing it for information either, presumably because the sheer abundance of the exegetical material seems to make it unnecessary. With so many works of tafsir, hadith and sira to attend to, one comes to think of quranic statements as in the nature of mere captions for which the substance must be sought elsewhere. This is entirely in order for historians of readers' reactions to the book, but it evidently will not do for those interested in the society out of which the book emerged. In what follows I shall ignore the exegetical tradition in order to look at the Quran on its own, with a view to answering one simple question: how does it envisage the mushrikun with whom it takes issue as making a living?

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #43 - November 07, 2014, 04:01 PM

    those look like great articles, thanks again Zeca

    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #44 - November 07, 2014, 05:38 PM

    Downloaded to read! Sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing, zeca.  Afro

    "God will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Make me and my mother gods beside God?" Qur'an 5:116

    "I told them clearly that I am a man...and that they should never make a mistake in assuming or pretending that the human being is emanated from a deity." - Haile Selassie
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #45 - November 07, 2014, 06:56 PM

    More Patricia Crone: The Book of Watchers in the Qur'an
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #46 - November 07, 2014, 09:55 PM

    Those articles are all phenomenal, and I had not read them before.  Many thanks!

    Casanova's hypothesis about the Qur'anic "Ezra" actually being Azael is mind-blowing in its simplicity and power to resolve a baffling problem of Qur'anic exegesis.  Any non-Muslim approaching the Qur'an's condemnation of the Jews for worshipping "Ezra" is invariably boggled -- you might as well have accused the Jews of worshiping Buddha, anybody hearing this accusation would think the speaker a confused fool.  But the Qur'an cannot POSSIBLY be so confused about Judaism, particularly because its composers and audience are suffused with Jews and Judaism.  Arguing that this accusation is distorted polemic is the best you could do, but even so it's an awfully stupid polemic, and the Qur'an just cannot be that stupid.

    Pointing out that the base Qur'anic rasm for 'uzayr and 'azael is virtually identical makes the problem clear -- it is a matter of 'zyr versus 'zyl, and the l and r letters are extremely similar.  So this is just one more of the innumerable examples of the later exegetes having lost the plot, and the text gotten distorted, relative to the earlier textual levels embedded in the Qur'an.  No longer were these strange foreign names being correctly transcribed or understood.  Instead they were assigned new meanings that the exegetes pulled from their contemporary context -- meanings with contradicting histories alienated from the context of the text they were interpreting.

    I love Crone's concluding words, because they express my own thoughts so exactly.

    "Wherever or whenever the encounter(s) took place, the observer is *engaging* with the tradition as it looked in his time, not simply plundering it, let alone getting things wrong.  Looking back, we can follow the tradition he grappled with until it disappears in the dawn of history; looking forward, we can see what it came to mean to his many followers thereafter down until today.  Islam here grows by imperceptible steps, however drastic the observer's reaction, out of the environment that came before it, creating a new one as it does so.  It would be enormously illuminating if we could see the entire Qur'an in this way."
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #47 - November 09, 2014, 10:53 PM

    podcast of an interview with Tom Holland where he compares the traditional accounts with the stories of King Arthur

    Actually it's an interesting comparison - cf Michael Wood: In Search of Arthur

    Edit: here's the more recent Michael Wood documentary on Arthur that I was actually looking for last night.

    Semi-mythical accounts of rulers, invaders, wars and battles on a far frontier of the Roman empire as the empire was breaking up - which serves equally well as a description of the stories of King Arthur or Muhammad.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #48 - November 11, 2014, 05:36 PM

    Gabriel Said Reynolds - The Quran and the apostles of Jesus

    http://www3.nd.edu/~reynolds/index_files/apostles%20final.pdf
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #49 - November 11, 2014, 06:01 PM

    Stephen Shoemaker - On his book The Death of a Prophet: The End of Muhammad's Life and the Beginnings of Islam

    http://rorotoko.com/interview/20120424_shoemaker_stephen_on_death_prophet_end_muhammad_life_begin_islam/
    Quote
    This book is an effort at the “quest for the historical Muhammad” that uses methods and perspectives borrowed from biblical and early Christian studies to investigate the beginnings of Islam.  It takes its main focus on divergent traditions about the timing of Muhammad’s death in the historical sources for the early Islamic period.

    The traditional Islamic biographies of Muhammad, which were first written more than a century after his death, relate Muhammad’s death in 632 at Medina.  Nevertheless, an alternative tradition survives in earlier and more numerous Jewish, Christian, Samaritan, and even Islamic sources, in which Muhammad was still alive when his followers entered Palestine in 634-35.  Although this discrepancy in the source materials has been known for several decades, until now, it had never been investigated.

    The purpose of this study, however, is not to determine when Muhammad really died.  Rather, these rival memories of the end of Muhammad’s life afford a valuable opening through which to explore the nature of earliest Islam more broadly.

    [...]

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #50 - November 11, 2014, 06:16 PM

    This is great stuff! Zeca you should have a sticky to post all of this stuff in.

    إطلب العلم ولو في الصين

    Es sitzt keine Krone so fest und so hoch,
    Der mutige Springer erreicht sie doch.

    I don't give a fuck about your war, or your President.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #51 - November 11, 2014, 07:05 PM

    Agreed Zeca, you are killing it, a lot of these I have not seen before.  Reynolds, Dye, and Shoemaker are pretty much my three favorite contemporary Qur'anic scholars, so anything from them is great.

    Do you by chance have access to any of the online scholarly journal services (I know students sometimes have free access)?

    If so, any chance you could post up a copy of this article by Al-Jallad?  All of his other articles are available on academia.edu, but not this one for some reason. 

    http://jss.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/2/515.abstract
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #52 - November 11, 2014, 07:06 PM

    Also, I agree that a *carefully curated* sticky of such online articles by contemporary scholars would be an excellent resource.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #53 - November 14, 2014, 12:05 PM

    And some commentary by posters like Zaotar and Zeca to make sense of it all for laypersons like meself...
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #54 - November 14, 2014, 01:18 PM

    Do you by chance have access to any of the online scholarly journal services (I know students sometimes have free access)?

    If so, any chance you could post up a copy of this article by Al-Jallad?  All of his other articles are available on academia.edu, but not this one for some reason. 

    http://jss.oxfordjournals.org/content/54/2/515.abstract


    Zaotar, there is a link to a free PDF of the full version at the bottom of your link.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #55 - November 14, 2014, 01:37 PM

    Also, I agree that a *carefully curated* sticky of such online articles by contemporary scholars would be an excellent resource.


    make the thread and we'll sticky it


    "we can smell traitors and country haters"


    God is Love.
    Love is Blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.

  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #56 - November 14, 2014, 05:05 PM

    I'll do it this weekend billy.

    إطلب العلم ولو في الصين

    Es sitzt keine Krone so fest und so hoch,
    Der mutige Springer erreicht sie doch.

    I don't give a fuck about your war, or your President.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #57 - November 14, 2014, 05:48 PM

    Love these posts by Zao and Zeca. A lot of interesting paper to go through. Thanks for all the links.
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #58 - November 14, 2014, 06:00 PM

    Zaotar, there is a link to a free PDF of the full version at the bottom of your link.


    It tells me I need a subscription when I click on it.   That's why I was hoping somebody may have access to it through some uni service, as I know a lot of students do.

    Btw I never realized how many emoticons this website has, it's hilariously amazing.

         spacecraft
  • Qur'anic studies today
     Reply #59 - November 14, 2014, 06:03 PM

    I ran into the same issue Zaotar. My university is not part of the organizations which have access.
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