The Qurʾān: The Traditional Reading and Its Inherent Weakness

Reuven Firestone

in Jihād

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154948
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849239 | DOI:
The Qurʾān: The Traditional Reading and Its Inherent Weakness

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This chapter analyzes the canonical Islamic reading of the Qurʾān on the origin of holy war based on early commentaries (tafāsīr) and early historical and analytical studies. It examines a field of Qurʾānic interpretation that adjusted the meaning of Scripture in order to convey a message more appropriate for an evolving worldview. As a result of the problem of contextualization, a genre of Qurʾānic analysis developed in Islam to provide historical contexts for revelations that would help Muslims understand the divine pronouncements. This is known as asbāb-al-nuzūl, or the “occasions of revelation”. The actual text of the Qurʾān was inviolable, but an extratextual hierarchy of versification could be established by the naskh works. Conflicting Qurʾānic verses cannot prove an evolution of the concept or sanction for religiously authorized warring in Islam.

Keywords: Qurʾān; revelation; asbāb-al-nuzūl; naskh works; tafāsīr; Muḥammad

Chapter.  8454 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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