In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 4, no.5), Vanessa De Gifis (Wayne State University) reviews Tafsīr and Islamic Intellectual History (London: Oxford University Press/Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2014), a collection of studies edited by Andreas Görke and Johanna Pink. In this volume, Görke and Pink pose an essential inquiry about tafsīr: “What kind of disciplinary, dogmatic, sectarian, chronological or regional boundaries are there, how are they affirmed and how are they permeated, transgressed, or shifted?” (11). The overall claim of TIIH is that a variety of criteria may be useful to make sense of the external (definitional) and internal (taxonomical) boundaries of tafsīr, contingent upon the particular aspects of qurʾānic interpretation with which researchers are concerned.
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© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.
Over the course of the past two centuries, the central text of Islam has undergone twin revolutions. Around the globe, Muslim communities have embraced the printing and translating of the Qur’an, transforming the scribal text into a modern book that can be read in virtually any language. What began with the sparse and often contentious publication of vernacular commentaries and translations in South Asia and the Ottoman Empire evolved, by the late twentieth century, into widespread Qur’anic translation and publishing efforts in all quarters of the Muslim world, including Arabic-speaking countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This is remarkable given that at the dawn of the twentieth century many Muslims considered Qur’an translations to be impermissible and unviable. Nevertheless, printed and translated versions of the Qur’an have gained widespread acceptance by Muslim communities, and now play a central, and in some quarters, a leading role in how the Qur’an is read and understood in the modern world. Focusing on the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, and following the debates to Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, and India, this book tries to answer the question of how this revolution in Qur’anic book culture occurred, considering both intellectual history as well the processes by which the Qur’an became a modern book that could be mechanically reproduced and widely owned.
Brett Wilson is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Macalester College.
* Text adopted from the Oxford University Press product page.
© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2015. All rights reserved.