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The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary Hardcover – November 17, 2015
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“The Study Quran could not be more timely. This painstaking work will do much to enlighten and inform the reading strategies of all who seek to understand the Holy Writ of Islam, especially as it relates to the beliefs and practices of Muslims.” (Sherman A. Jackson, King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Practice, The University of Southern California)
“A huge and significant scholarly undertaking, a major service to Islamic studies. This work solves the perennial problem of how to introduce students to the Quranic text, offering what is perhaps the closest one can get to an ecumenical exegesis of the Quran.” (Jonathan Brown, Associate Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University)
“Even the non-Arabist will gain an impression of the way specific verses have been understood. By giving attention to a wide range of commentators the editors capture the diversity and depth of the exegetical ideas that have been brought to the Quran-- a useful resource.” (Peter Adamson, Professor of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich and at King's College London)
“A truly magisterial and the most comprehensive study of the Quran to date. Highly recommended as an unparalleled reference work for engaging the Quran in its many different aspects.” (Asma Afsaruddin, Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University Bloomington)
“A monument of religious literature in its own right, The Study Quran presents the sacred text in a meticulous new English rendering. One of this ambitious project’s greatest strengths is the breadth and variety of exegetical sources and methods that inform the commentary throughout --most impressive.” (John Renard, Professor of Medieval Islam at Saint Louis University)
“A stupendous achievement. An indispensable handbook. The Study Quran contains everything readers will need. The translation is lucid and eloquent; the extensive commentaries offer continuous insight; the various essays cover virtually every aspect of the Quran. I cannot praise their collective work enough!” (Eric Ormsby, Formerly Professor of Islamic Philosophy and Theology at McGill University's Institute of Islamic Studies)
“A major milestone for the study of the Qur’an. Elegantly written, the project is ambitious yet amply fulfills its promise. Invaluable for anyone interested in understanding the Qur’an and essential reading for students of the Qur’an at all levels.” (Dr. Michael Sells, Barrows Professor of the History and Literature of Islam, University of Chicago)
“This scholarly yet accessible work speaks directly to the tensions and misunderstandings of our gravely polarized world. It should be on the shelves of libraries and universities throughout the English-speaking world.” (Karen Armstrong, author of Fields of Blood)
“The contributors guide the reader through the intricacies of the sacred text in a way that lays bare the superficiality, selectivity and inaccuracy of some modern interpretations of the Quran at a time when this is sorely needed.” (Karen Armstrong, author of Fields of Blood)
“This impressive tome-the fruit of a patient collective venture-offers an extraordinary panoptic survey of the history of tafsir: some forty traditional commentaries-ancient and modern, Sunni and Shi’i-have been summoned here… Special mention is due to the translators of the Qur’an for their often remarkable achievement.” (Dr. Michel Chodkiewicz, author of Seal of the Saints and An Ocean Without Shore)
“A stunningly successful collaboration of scholars who have produced a modern masterpiece of clarity and eloquence. Never before in one place has so much Qur’anic scholarship been made accessible to the intelligent general reader.” (Ingrid Mattson, London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, University of Western Ontario)
“An extraordinary scholarly achievement, The Study Quran brings the text to life, gently guiding readers into the exciting interpretive worlds of Muslims in all of their rich diversity.” (Zareena A Grewal, PhD, professor of Religious Studies at Yale University)
“The Study Quran is a well-guided tour. The work of the editors is uniformly meticulous, comprehensive, and erudite. Whether the reader is a novice to the Quranic text, longtime student, or scholar, they will find much to reflect upon in this extraordinarily valuable resource.” (Kristin Zahra Sands, Harlequin Adair Dammann Chair in Islamic Studies, Sarah Lawrence College)
“The Study Quran represents a breakthrough for bringing the message of the Quran to the English-speaking world. The translation itself is beautiful, but the commentary truly makes this an indispensable resource for anyone -- whether Muslim or non-Muslim -- who wishes to appreciate the Quran’s message.” (Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law)
“The Study Quran is a fascinating and pioneering academic achievement. With analytical depth and clarity, it offers to both specialist and general readers, Muslim and non-Muslim, uniquely learned insights into the reception and interpretation of Islam’s sacred scripture within the various Muslim intellectual and spiritual traditions.” (Sebastian Günther, Professor and Chair of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Göttingen, Germany)
“This new English translation conveys the music and meaning of the Arabic. That it is accompanied by a learned commentary distilled from the highly varied classical, modern and contemporary exegetical traditions provides unparalleled access to a uniquely influential yet understudied scripture sacred to one out of four human beings.” (Todd Lawson, Professor of Islamic Thought, University of Toronto)
“A magnificent scholarly achievement, The Study Quran offers an eminently readable, thought-provoking and nuanced understanding of Islam’s sacred text that will help both Muslims and non-Muslims appreciate the richness and diversity of understandings of the Quran throughout the ages.” (Shafique N. Virani, Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Toronto)
“The monumental The Study Quran is a truly indispensable reference. As with every sacred scripture, the meanings of the Quran are mediated by a range of interpretive traditions which have long been accessible only to Muslim scholars. Now a team of editors have provided an impressively accessible synthesis.” (James W. Morris, Dept. of Theology and Islamic Civilization and Societies Program, Boston College)
“An invaluable resource that the general reader and students of Islamic disciplines will benefit from. The wealth of detailed information it contains makes The Study Quran a valuable text in understanding the centrality of the Quran and its role in shaping the spiritual and mundane lives of Muslims.” (Liyakat Takim, Sharjah Chair in Global Islam, McMaster University)
“The publication of The Study Quran is a joyous occasion for all scripture lovers: a new English translation that celebrates the dignity and formality of sacred discourse, running commentary, and, as a very special signature, compelling and deeply instructive essays by fifteen of today’s leading scholars on Islam.” (Peter Ochs, Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies, University of Virginia)
“A monumental milestone in the study of the Quran in western academia and a veritable touchstone of authenticity for all who are asking: what does the Quran actually say? With clarity and comprehensiveness, the editors and translators of this magnificent volume have helped distinguish the true spirit of Islamic faith.” (Reza Shah-Kazemi, The Institute of Ismaili Studies)
“The Study Quran is a treasure trove of insights and information. There is nothing quite like it in English: a single volume comprising an accessible translation, a survey of classical commentaries, essays by prominent scholars, informative appendices, and multiple maps. Indeed a massive, unprecedented undertaking.” (Mohammad Hassan Khalil, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of the Muslim Studies Program, Michigan State University)
“The Study Quran is a unique work. It provides a clear, readable translation of the Quran and detailed explanations of Quranic ideas and concepts. Its accessibility is likely to gain a large readership. An indispensable Quranic studies resource for scholar and student.” (Mustansir Mir, Youngstown State University)
“A work of extraordinary significance, The Study Quran makes accessible in English Islam’s sacred scripture along with an array of material necessary to appreciate the nuances of the text. An invaluable and much needed resource for understanding the Quran. A monumental accomplishment.” (Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures and Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Harvard University)
“Never before has the depth of Quranic exegesis been available in a single volume. We can think of few tasks more urgent in the global climate than discovering the universal character of this misunderstood text. We owe the editors our profound gratitude.” (Dr. Waleed El-Ansary, University Chair of Islamic Studies at Xavier University)
“Seyyed Hossein Nasr has assembled a magnificent team of younger scholars, not only competent in Quranic studies but suffused with Muslim faith as well, to open its reaches in the world today. A prodigious effort of scholarship in the service of faith. ” (David Burrell, Theodore Hesburgh C.S.C. Professor Emeritus in Philosophy and Theology, University of Notre Dame)
“The Study Quran will remain for many decades to come the key reference work in English for students of Islamic Studies and scholars of religion alike, as well as ordinary readers interested in the spiritual content, historical context and literary monument of the revelation of Islam.” (Dr. Leonard Lewisohn, Senior Lecturer in Persian, University of Exeter, U.K.)
“The Study Quran is a milestone in Islamic studies. It will become the standard reference for anyone interested in traditional Muslim interpretation of the Quran.” (Carl W. Ernst, William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
“This is perhaps the most important work done on the Islamic faith in the English language to date. We owe a great debt to Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the intellectual giants of our time, and his team for bringing this labor of love to fruition.” (Hamza Yusuf, Co-Founder of Zaytuna College)
“The Study Quran will be an essential book for every English speaking student of Islam and every Muslim (and every Sufi) for generations to come. It answers every question about the meaning of Quranic verses that the vast majority of readers of the Quran will have.” (Dr. Alan Godlas, Associate Professor , Department of Religion, University of Georgia)
“An important event in the history of Quranic studies. It will make available the Quranic text along with a clearly written commentary, thus it’s much more important than another translation. An extremely useful work, particularly since it will allow readers who are not Arabists to engage easily with the Quran.” (Devin Stewart, Associate Professor at Emory University)
“Many English translations of the Quran have been ill-suited to foiling extremist ideology or introducing Americans to Islam. Ten years in the making, The Study Quran is an effort to change that.” (Daniel Burke, CNN)
“The publication of The Study Quran is a landmark. It contains an original translation of the Quran [and] an extensive scholarly apparatus, pointing readers to the ways that Quranic verses have been interpreted, especially during the first several centuries after the life of the Prophet Muhammad.” (Patheos blog)
“Some of us–particularly those of us who have no particular expertise regarding Islam–should seize the opportunity just now made available to us, The Study Quran. Many have already noted that in a time when ignorance is rampant and violent, this can be a book of great value.” (America magazine)
“New Study Quran seeks to increase understanding.” (Amanpour, CNN)
“The Study Quran... will fuel a new understanding of Islam for anyone with a desire to grow beyond their own private religious paradigm.” (Clarion Journal of Spirituality and Justice)
“The Study Quran, joins the groaning shelves of ‘study Bibles’ as a resource for Muslims-and for Christians who want to learn more about this closely related sister faith.” (ReadTheSpirit.com)
“The Study Quran from HarperOne is a historic and ground-breaking work produced by a distinguished team of Islamic Studies scholars.” (Maxwell Institute podcast)
“What distinguishes The Study Quran is not merely its collective authorship but the scope and scale of its ambition.” (The Muslim World)
“Happily, the publication of this excellent new Study Quran … holds out the prospect of a better-informed body of Muslims, Christians and others able to discuss with clarity and precision what Islam is really all about.” (The Tablet)
”The Study Quran puts this great religious work in historical perspective. It is causing a stir and maybe something of a revolution [and] pissing off the Saudis. This interpretation would seem to challenge extremists and seeks to remedy the previous absence of solid historical discourse.” (The Daily Beast)
“A stimulating, intelligent volume. This project will appeal not only to Muslim students but also to non-Muslims eager to advance their knowledge and comprehension of the Islamic faith. A refreshingly contemporary interpretation that . . . fills a sorely felt gap.” (Abdullah Drury, Islam and Christian Muslim Relations Journal)
“Much-needed. English-speakers can now gain ready access to authoritative scholarship representing the grand tradition of this massive religion.” (GetReligion.org)
“A compendious new version…this edition succeeds in presenting eh Qur’an to a general reader in the English-speaking world.” (Quest journal)
“This Quran is impressive, timely, and necessary, especially for Western audiences debating the nature of Islam in light of attacks made by Islamist groups throughout the Middle East and the West, and increasingly heated presidential campaign debates regarding Muslims in the United States.” (The Diplomat)
“Nasr and his team have done the English-speaking world an enormous favor with their erudite and profound translation and commentary on the Qur’an combined with essays by some of the most learned scholars on the Qur’an-a timely contribution in a world that has become infected by Islamophobia and intolerance.” (Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, UCLA School of Law, and author of The Great Theft)
From the Back Cover
The Study Quran is a historic and groundbreaking work, produced by a distinguished team of Islamic studies scholars led by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, which offers:
A new English translation of the Quran that is accurate, accessible, and reliable in how it renders this sacred text
A wide-ranging verse-by-verse commentary that brings together the most respected and distinguished traditions of metaphysical, spiritual, theological, and legal interpretation of the Quran within Islam
A helpful introduction to each su¯rah that provides an overview and background of its teachings
Essays by fifteen internationally renowned scholars on how to read and understand the Quran and its role in shaping Islamic civilization
A beautiful two-color, two-column design that presents the sacred text and commentary in the spirit of traditional Quran manuscripts
Maps, a time line of historical events, comprehensive indexes, and other features to aid reading
The Study Quran provides a service never before available to readers of English: a scholarly yet accessible resource where one can quickly and easily explore how Muslims have interpreted the Quran through the centuries to the present day. An invaluable resource for scholars and students of all backgrounds, and especially to Muslims who want to deepen their understanding of their own tradition, The Study Quran is a much-needed guide in a time when confusion about the Quran and Islam is so prevalent.
An unparalleled resource for studying a sacred text
Renowned Muslim and Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr and a team of editors provide a window into how the Quran has been understood by Muslims through the centuries. For the first time, scholars and students of all backgrounds have a clear and reliable resource in English for exploring the history of interpretation for any passage in the Quran.
“In our post-9/11 world, the Quran is becoming a more public document in the West than it has ever been throughout its history. Ultimately, this has the potential to validate misunderstanding as easily as it affords insight into the meaning of the text for Muslims. In this context, The Study Quran could not be more timely. This painstaking work will do much to enlighten and inform the reading strategies of all who seek to understand the Holy Writ of Islam, especially as it relates to the beliefs and practices of Muslims.”—Sherman A. Jackson, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture at the University of Southern California
“A monument of religious literature in its own right, The Study Quran presents the sacred text in a meticulous new English rendering. One of this ambitious project’s greatest strengths is the breadth and variety of exegetical sources and methods that inform the commentary throughout—most impressive.”—John Renard, Professor of Medieval Islam at Saint Louis University
“A truly magisterial and the most comprehensive study of the Quran to date.”—Asma Afsaruddin, Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University, Bloomington
“By giving attention to a wide range of commentators, the editors capture the diversity and depth of the exegetical ideas that have been brought to the Quran—a useful resource.”—Peter Adamson, Professor of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at King’s College London
“A huge and significant scholarly undertaking—a major service to Islamic studies.”—Jonathan Brown, Associate Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University
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An irony of our age is that most Western opponents of radical Islam use the same proof texts to justify bigotry against all Muslims. Just Google “Islam and Violence,” and you will find hundreds of proof-text pages with quote after quote from the Quran seeming to justify, and even require, acts of violence—which, of course, happens to be the same thing that most Islamist terrorists believe. Rarely do enemies agree so completely on first principles.
The big problem though, is that (like most assertions supported by chains of oversimplified proof texts) the assertion is false. Or, at least, it is not always true, and it is not true in the ways that both violent Muslims and violent anti-Muslims assume when they start mining the Quran for reasons to fight.
Into this rhetorical context comes the long-anticipated, ten-years-in-the-making, Harper Study Quran. Based on the wildly successful Harper Study Bible, and edited by practicing Muslims who are also trained and respected scholars, the Study Quran offers itself as an the first English translation to incorporate significant commentary designed to contextualize nearly every ayah (verse) in the sacred book.
And I’ll be dag-nabbed if it doesn’t do it. By my rough estimates, about 90% of the book consists of verse-by-verse commentary keyed to the text by a practical (and merciful) two-color printing scheme that keys the text to the notes with bright red numbers.
As I read this new Quran (and I read it straight through because I am weird like that), I found that I could not realistically read all of the commentary and still follow any kind of narrative flow. I read most of the text without the commentary, glancing down at the footnotes only when I felt that I needed more context to understand the basic meaning of a passage.
The Study Quran supports this kind of reading, but it is really designed for intensive study of a passage or a theme. The editorial apparatus makes this kind of reading very easy. A comprehensive (and multi-colored) index allows readers to follow themes and ideas through the text, and a set of essays at the end of the volume brings together concepts like “Quranic Ethics, Human Rights, and Society” and “Conquest and Conversion, War and Peace in the Quran.”
But however one reads it, the Study Quran’s overwhelming strength is that it provides, for nearly every verse in the Quran, both the context of its original recitation and a survey of 1400 years of scholarship.
To understand why this is important, consider how the Quran is structured. Unlike the Bible, it contains very little sustained narrative, and the individual surahs (chapters) were not all revealed as discrete units, so each ayah has an independent context of original reception.
The Quran, in other words, lends itself to proof texting even better than the Hebrew or Christian Bibles—and that’s saying something. The editors of the Study Quran patiently and painstakingly reconstruct, to the extent possible, the original context of each recitation in the entire book and make that reconstructed context available to any reader willing to devote the time attention required to understand it.
The results are remarkable, and they have the wonderful added effect of limiting the ability of both adherents and detractors to manipulate the book’s meaning through uncritical prooftexting.
Here is one example (though I wish I had the space for a dozen) of what happens when a passage often used to justify both violence and Islamophobia undergoes the Study Quran’s contextualizing treatment. In the 33rd Ayah of Surah 5 (The Table Spread), we read the following injunction:
Verily, the recompense of those who wage war against God and His Messenger, and endeavor to work corruption upon the earth is that they be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet cut off from opposite sides, or be banished from the land.
Pretty gruesome, to be sure, and also pretty clear. But the editors of the Study Quran want us to know two things that no other single-volume English translation will tell us: 1) that this passage was recited in a specific instance and for a specific purpose; and 2) that there is a long tradition of Muslim scholarship and jurisprudence interpreting this verse.
The context was a specific and extremely bloody attack upon the Muslim community in Madinah. After accepting a group of Bedouins into the community under the pretense of conversion, Mohammad allowed them to depart when they claimed that they were not comfortable with city life. He sent camels with them “for milk and sustenance” and a Muslim camel herder to help them on their way. “Once outside the city, however, they brutally maimed and killed the camelheard and made off with the camels the Prophet had given them to use (293).
In context, then, the punishments in the passage were mandated against specific individuals who had acted with impunity to terrorize the Muslim community. And, the editors explain, the verse has NOT normally been interpreted as a general process for dealing with apostates:
Given that the perpetrators were also, among other things, apostates . . . since they embraced Islam in the presence of the Prophet, then renounced it through their actions, a small minority have considered the verse to apply to apostates in general. It seems clear, however, that the severe punishments in this verse pertain specifically to those who commit various crimes brazenly and with exceptional brutality, violence and terrorization of innocent people. (293)
This contextualizing commentary does not erase the violence in the text, of course. But it does limit its application among those willing to consider things like why a passage was originally given and what it has meant to fourteen centuries of devout Muslim scholars. And these are things that both Muslims and non-Muslims need to understand.
For those who believe, as I do, that humanity’s survival into the next century will require us to understand and appreciate each other’s deepest beliefs, The Study Quran is a gift and a treasure. It does not make understanding Islam easy, but it makes it possible—if we are willing to invest the effort it takes to accept the gift and heft the treasure.
And for English-speaking Muslims who are not terrorists and radical Islamists (which is about 99.9% of the total), it provides a valuable tool for deepening faith and demonstrating the shallowness of the proof-texters who constantly attack them.
In an interview with CNN shortly after the volume’s publication, the lead editor, Seyyed Hossein Nasr argued that “the best way to counter extremism in modern Islam is a revival of classical Islam.” That is a tall order for any single book, but I suspect that, if a revival of classical Islam ever happens in the English-speaking world, the revivalists will all carry copies of the Study Quran–and the revolution will be extensively footnoted.
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I am new to Islam and still studying Quran I can't go reading hadiths and going in every direction.Read more