Synopses & Reviews
"I grew up reading the Qur'an on my mother's lap," writes Ziauddin Sardar. "It's an experience I share with most Muslim children. And so it is that our connection to the Qur'an is infused with associations of the warmest and most enduring of human bonds."
In Reading the Qur'an, Sardar--one of Europe's leading public intellectuals--laments that for far too many Muslims, the Qur'an he had learned in his mother's lap has become a stick used for ensuring conformity and suppressing dissenting views. Indeed, some find in the Qur'an justification for misogyny, validation for hatred of others, an obsession with dress and mindless ritual, rules for running modern states. Arguing passionately but reasonably against these trends, Sardar speaks out for a more open, less doctrinaire approach to reading the Qur'an. He contends that the Qur'an is not fixed in stone for all time, but a dynamic text which every generation must encounter anew, and whose relevance and implications for our time we have yet to fully discover. The words of the Qur'an imply movement: the religious life, it tells us, is not about standing still but always striving to make our life, our society, the entire world around us a better place for everyone. Sardar explores the Qur'an from a variety of perspectives, from traditional exegesis to hermeneutics, critical theory, and cultural analysis, drawing fresh and contemporary lessons from the Sacred Text. He also examines what the Qur'an says about such contemporary topics as power and politics, rights of women, suicide, domestic violence, sex, homosexuality, the veil, freedom of expression, and evolution.
Ziauddin Sardar opens a new window on this remarkable Sacred Text, in a book that will engage all devout Muslims and will interest anyone curious about the Qur'an and Islam today.
"This lucid, scholarly and exciting book could not be more timely; it takes the reader on a spiritual and intellectual journey that is essential for Muslim and non-Muslim alike and addresses some of the most pressing needs of our time." -Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God and Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet
"[Sardar] is asking the right questions, and the health of the world community over the next couple of centuries may depend on how well, and how often, others in his faith ask the same questions." - National Review
"Sardar is passionate in his approach without being dogmatic. Will appeal to many open-minded readers of other faiths and those generally interested in spirituality." --Booklist
"If one could pick just one book to connect the Muslim past with its complex present and future potential, Reading the Qur'an would be that book. To use a metaphor from the eleventh-century exemplar of rational mysticism, Imam Ghazzali, both Muslims and non-Muslims must 'sail into the endless ocean of its meanings,' with Ziauddin Sardar the nimble captain on that voyage of hope and discovery." -Professor Bruce Lawrence, Duke University
"Sardar explores the Quran from a variety of perspectives, drawing fresh and contemporary lessons from the Sacred Text." --Islamic Horizons
"A helpful book for opening the minds of spiritually engaged readers interested in the place of holy books in today's world." -- Library Journal
About the Author
, a writer, broadcaster and cultural critic, is visiting professor at City University, London. He has published more than 45 books, and made a number of documentaries for UK's BBC and Channel 4. He recently wrote a year-long blog on the Qur'an for The Guardian. Reading the Qur'an
is adapted and expanded from those blogs.
Table of Contents
Part One: Overview
1. The Qur'an and Me
2. Style and Structure
3. Approach and Interpretations
4. Questions of Authority
5. The Limits of Translations
Part Two: By Way of Tradition
7. Al-Fatiha: Attributes of God
8. Al-FAtiha: 'The Straight Path'
9. Al-Baqara: The Qur'an and Doubt
10. Al-Baqara: 'The Hypocrites'
11. Al-Baqara: Paradise
12. Al-Baqara: Fall and Evil
13. Al-Baqara: 'Children of Israel'
14. Al-Baqara: A 'Middle Community'
15. Al-Baqara: Virtuous People
16. Al-Baqara: Law of Equity
17. Al-Baqara: Fasting
18. Al-Baqara: War and Peace
19. Al-Baqara: Hajj
20. Al-Baqara: Apostasy and Migration
21. Al-Baqara: Marriage and Divorce
22. Al-Baqara: Qualities of Leadership
23. Al-Baqara: Majesty of God and Freedom of Religion
24. Al-Baqara: Arguing with God
25. Al-Baqara: Charity and Usury
26. Al-Baqara: Witness
27. Al-Baqara: Prayer
Part Three: Themes and Concepts
29. Prophets and Revelation
30. Abrogation and Change
31. Time and History
21. Truth and Plurality
33. Humanity and Diversity
34. Individual and Community
35. Reason and Knowledge
36. Crime and Punishment
37. Rights and Duties
38. Nature and Environment
39. Ethics and Morality
40. Reading and Writing
Part Four: Contemporary Topics
42. The Shariah
43. Power and Politics
44. Polygamy and Domestic Violence
45. Sex and Society
47. The Veil
48. Freedom of Expression
49. Suicide (Assisted or Otherwise)
50. Science and Technology
52. Art, Music and Imagination
Notes and References