New Resources, bringing a clearer understanding of the Qur’an and its Origins

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This E-mail brings you an additional list of resources from a diverse range of authors. The additional recommended books (4) and uploaded articles (8) include topics such as how Islamic Law evolved to what it is, and what we do know about Muhammad and what we don’t. The following is a summary of one of the recommended books, by Wael Hallaq, The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law.

Written by the worlds leading authority on the History of Islamic Law, this study presents an important account of how Islamic Law evolved from its earliest days, that  of ethical instruction for Arabs in garison towns outside of conquered cities, to what it is today.

Some of the other article topics include:

-       A Piecemeal Qur'an: furqan and it’s meaning: Walid Saleh

-       Qur’anic Deities: Patricia Crone

-       The Qur’an and the Syriac Bible, Oxford studies: Gabriel Reynolds

-       Centralized authority in Islam: Fred Donner

-       The Role of Nomads in the Near East: Fred Donne 

Each of these resources has something significant to contribute to understanding the original story of Islam’s origins. The following are the new resources uploaded, with a summary of the books being available, and the articles able to be downloaded at www.equalaccess.org.au/index.php/resources.

Qur’an and Islamic Studies has experienced many phases in the West. Generally, up until the 1950’s, the approach was polemical, to prove the Qur’an wrong and expose its errors, followed by Montgomery Watt in reconstructing the historical setting based upon Traditional Islamic writings.  In the 1970’s, radical theories appeared, ranging from the Qur’an being formalised 200 years after Muhammad in Baghdad, to 100 years before Muhammad in Syria.

Qur’an Studies in the 1990’s went form what was said to be chaos, to what Gabriel Reynolds now calls “The Golden Age of Qur’an Studies.” Some qualities differ from previous times:

-       A greater collaboration, often between Research programs in Universities such as Chicago, McGill and Notre Dam.

-       There have been a great number of Muslim scholars involved in the process.

-       Related to the second point, generally there is a greater respect for the Muslim community, and recognition that the Qur’an of today is basically the same as the original at the time of Muhammad.

It is these values that this website is an advocate for.

In this process, many have drawn the parallels with Christianity, where over the past decades an understanding of its Hebrew origin enhances the understanding of the original message. Two broad conclusions from this study has been: Firstly, the emergence of Islam was very interconnected with Syriac speaking Christianity in the Middle East and secondly, that Islam, despite its original distinctive, evolved in its beliefs, to what it is today. 

There are many positive consequences of getting a better understanding of how Islam emerged. For the Muslim community, this study helps in identity. Who am I really, as a Muslim? With this being an issue for a time long ago, does it need to be something I carry now? Where did my attitude towards these areas originate? For non-Muslims, this study helps with empathy and understanding. Instead of confusion, an understanding of the origins of extremism helps to navigate fears.

We trust that this blog can contribute towards that!

Regards

Robert

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