Reading the Qur'an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam

Reading the Qur'an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam

by Ziauddin Sardar
     
 

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"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

Overview

"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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

Library Journal
Sardar, a London-based writer and broadcaster, blogged about the Koran for the Guardian for a year. Here he adapts those blogs into a book addressing how he feels we (both Muslims and non-Muslims) should approach the Koran today. Sardar is writing in response to the rigid and negative ways the Koran is sometimes interpreted by the West—e.g., as rejecting modern science, preaching misogyny, or affirming violent jihad. He seeks to show that the Koran is a dynamic text asking for adaptive interpretation in new circumstances. The book has four parts, with the first providing a general overview, the second addressing traditional topics, the third focusing on broader themes, and the fourth covering contemporary issues such as Sharia, the veil, homosexuality, suicide, science, and evolution, where he seeks to show that we must not see the Koran as a static and reactionary text. VERDICT A helpful book for opening the minds of spiritually engaged readers interested in the place of holy books in today's world.—John Jaeger, Dallas Baptist Univ.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199836741
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/30/2011
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
815,020
Product dimensions:
9.48(w) x 6.54(h) x 1.28(d)

Meet the Author

Ziauddin Sardar, 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.

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