Qur'an in Conversation

Overview

The Qur'an is God's verbatim speech for most traditional Muslims. Qur'an in Conversation reflects how this sacred text of Islam comes into dialogue with the contemporary world through the voices of the eloquent interpreters gathered in this volume.

In Qur'an in Conversation, author Michael Birkel engages North American Muslim religious leaders and academics in conversations of scriptural interpretation. Scholars, practicing imams, and younger ...

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Overview

The Qur'an is God's verbatim speech for most traditional Muslims. Qur'an in Conversation reflects how this sacred text of Islam comes into dialogue with the contemporary world through the voices of the eloquent interpreters gathered in this volume.

In Qur'an in Conversation, author Michael Birkel engages North American Muslim religious leaders and academics in conversations of scriptural interpretation. Scholars, practicing imams, and younger public intellectuals wrestle with key suras of the Qur'an.

Qur'an in Conversation demonstrates a wide spectrum of interpretation and diversity of approaches in reading Islam's scripture. The discussions directly address key issues in Muslim theology-good versus evil, the nature of God, and the future of Islam. Younger North American Muslims read the Qur'an in varied ways; this is analogous to the diverse ways in which Jews and Christians have interpreted their own holy books.

Michael Birkel welcomes people of goodwill into a public conversation about the current role of Western Muslims in Islam. Qur'an in Conversation encourages non-specialists and Muslim scholars alike to imagine how the Qur'an will be interpreted among North American Muslims in years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/14/2014
Birkel (Silence and Witness), a professor of religion at Earlham College, asked North American scholars of Islam and Muslim religious leaders for exegetical essays on passages in the Qur’an that were significant for them. Birkel’s is the guiding hand; he organizes the short commentaries by theme and provides introductory material and helpful back matter, including a glossary of Arabic terms and useful footnotes. But the heart of the book is the chorus of assembled voices from men and women; converts and those born in the faith; chaplains, imams, and academics; and people of many ethnicities. The result is a range of interpretation and study that will dazzle and open the eyes of serious students new to the Qur’an, at whom this book is aimed. Though many of the writers are scholars, the text is accessible and at times remarkable for its heartfelt candor. Birkel’s book comes at a fine time, when serious critical study of the Qur’an is gaining momentum in the Western religion academy—it is groundbreaking. (Aug.)
Library Journal
09/01/2014
There is a long history of interpretation of the Qur'an, and traditional Muslims place great value on the standard commentaries on Islam's holy text. Yet few are aware of the increase in academic study of the Qur'an in North American colleges and universities since September 11, 2001. Birkel (Quaker studies, Earlham Coll., IN) brings together 24 accessible and brief essays, interviews, and scriptural expositions by American and Canadian Islamic academics on a wide variety of Quranic topics: the nature of the Qur'an, the place of mercy in Islam, resurrection, justice, healing, human dignity and diversity, domestic violence, intimacy and compassion, etc. Contributors include both well-established voices (Ingrid Mattson, Eboo Patel) as well as younger scholars embarking upon their teaching careers. Birkel's introductions to and transitions among each offering give necessary background for non-Muslim readers and draw links to other religious traditions. Endnotes, explanations of Arabic terms, further-reading suggestions, and notes on the contributors add to the volume's usefulness. VERDICT While a few entries are overly academic, many convey a sense of the sophistication and rich spirituality that undergird contemporary Quranic interpretation among a new generation of North American Muslims. Highly recommended.—Steve Young, McHenry Cty. Coll., Crystal Lake, IL
From the Publisher

"Qur'an in Conversation is a remarkable, well-written journey of interfaith sharing."
--Laleh Bakhtiar, Ph.D.

"Qur'an in Conversation presents an outstanding collection of interviews giving voice to a wide range of diverse contemporary North American Muslim individuals as they speak--often with great passion, warmth, and conviction--about passages from their sacred text that hold special meaning for each of them. The book is both accessible and engaging to a wide audience, and will hopefully open a channel of communication between contemporary Muslims and non-Muslims that is desperately needed."
--Frederick S. Colby, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of Oregon, and Co-Chair of the Study of Islam Section of the American Academy of Religion

"In Qur'an in Conversation , Michael Birkel introduces us to a well-chosen diversity of interpreters of the Qur'an. Birkel's volume presents Muslim teachers in their own words, with enough commentary to satisfy scholarly questions, but in a form that is accessible to beginners. I highly recommend this book to all who want to know how Muslims in North America are thinking about the Qur'an in this time and place."
--Rev. Dr. Jay T. Rock, former Director of Interfaith Relations at the National Council of Churches and Coordinator of Interfaith Relations for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

"Though many of the writers are scholars, the text is accessible and at times remarkable for its heartfelt candor. Birkel's book comes at a fine time, when serious critical study of the Qur'an is gaining momentum in the Western religion academy--it is groundbreaking."
--Publishers Weekly (July 2014)

"The Qur'an is more than merely the holy book of Muslims. It is a book read, debated, memorized, critiqued, emulated, internalized, and expounded upon by various Muslims.

Here for the first time we have the Qur'an being read by a wide range of contemporary American Muslim leaders and intellectuals. It provides us with a rich opportunity to see the Qur'an become an American's scripture."
--Omid Safi, Professor of Islamic Studies, University of North Carolina

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781481300971
  • Publisher: Baylor University Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2014
  • Pages: 292
  • Sales rank: 518,089
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Birkel is Professor of Religion at Earlham College.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. Knowledge Hidden and Manifest

2. Close Readings, Old and New

3. Living Tradition

4. Encountering Others

5. Contemporary Contexts

6. Justice

7. The Journey Inward

Concluding Reflections

List of Arabic Terms

Further Reading on Interpretation of the Qur’an

List of Participants

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