Scripture, Poetry, and the Making of a Community: Reading the Quran as a Literary Text

Hardcover | March 4, 2015

byAngelika Neuwirth

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We are used to understanding the Qur'an as the "Islamic text" par excellence, an assumption which, when viewed historically, is not evident at all. More than twenty years before it rose to the rank of Islamic Scripture, the Qur'an was an oral proclamation addressed by the Prophet Muhammad topre-Islamic listeners, for the Muslim community had not yet been formed. We might best describe these listeners as individuals educated in late antique culture, be they Arab pagans familiar with the monotheistic religions of Judaism and Christianity or syncretists of these religions, or learned Jewsand Christians whose presence is reflected in the Medinan suras. The interactive communication process between Muhammad and these groups brought about an epistemic turn in Arab Late Antiquity: with the Qur'anic discovery of writing as the ultimate authority, the nascent community attained a new "textual coherence" where Scripture, with its valorisation of historyand memory, was recognised as a guiding concept. It is within this new biblically imprinted world view that central principles and values of the pagan Arab milieu were debated. This process resulted in a twin achievement: the genesis of a new scripture and the emergence of a community. Two greattraditions, then, the Biblical, transmitted by both Jews and Christians, and the local Arabic, represented in Ancient Arabic poetry, appear to have established the field of tension from which the Qur'an evolved; it is both Scripture and Poetry which have produced and shaped the new Muslimcommunity.

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We are used to understanding the Qur'an as the "Islamic text" par excellence, an assumption which, when viewed historically, is not evident at all. More than twenty years before it rose to the rank of Islamic Scripture, the Qur'an was an oral proclamation addressed by the Prophet Muhammad topre-Islamic listeners, for the Muslim communi...

Angelika Neuwirth was educated in Classics and Oriental Studies at German and international universities (Italy, Iran and Israel). She has taught at the Universities of Munich, Amman, Bamberg, and Cairo, and has held the Chair of Arabic Studies at the Freie Universitat Berlin since 1991. From 1994 to 1999 she served as the director of...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:704 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.1 inPublished:March 4, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198701640

ISBN - 13:9780198701644

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Table of Contents

ForewordIntroductionI: Frameworks1. Not Eastern and not Western (lasharqiyyatan wa-lagharbiyyatan, Q. 24:35): Locating the Qur'an within the History of Scholarship2. The Discovery of Writing in the Qur'an: Tracing an Epistemic Revolution in Late Antiquity3. A Religious Transformation in Late Antiquity. From Tribal Genealogy to Divine Covenant: Qur'anic Refigurations of Pagan-Arab Ideals Based on Biblical Models4. Glimpses of Paradise in the World and Lost Aspects of the World in the Hereafter: Two Qur'anic Re-readings of Biblical PsalmsII: The Liturgical Qur'an and the Emergence of the Community5. Images and Metaphors in the Introductory Sections of the Early Meccan Suras6. From Recitation through Liturgy to Canon: Notes on the Emergence of the Sura Composition and its Dissolution in the Course of the Development of Islamic Ritual7. Referentiality and Textuality in Surat al-Hijr (Q. 15): Some Observations on the Qur anic Canonical Process and the Emergence of a Community8. Surat al-Fatiha: Opening of the Textual Corpus of the Qur'an or Introit of the Prayer Service?9. From the Sacred Mosque to the Remote Temple: Surat al-Isra, between Text and Commentary10. The Discovery of Evil in the Qur'an?: Revisiting Qur'anic Versions of the Decalogue in the Context of Pagan-Arab Late AntiquityIII: Narrative Figures between the Bible and the Qur an11. Crisis and Memory: The Qur'an's Path towards Canonisation as Reflected in its Anthropogonic Accounts12. Narrative as a Canonical Process: The Story of Moses Seen through the Evolving History of the Qur'an13. Imagining Mary, Disputing Jesus: Reading Surat Maryam and Related Meccan Texts within the Qur'anic Communication Process14. Mary and Jesus: Counterbalancing the Biblical Patriarchs: A Re-reading of Surat Maryam in Surat Al Imran (Q. 3:1 62)15. Oral Scriptures in Contact: The Qur'anic Story of the Golden Calf and its Biblical Subtext between Narrative, Cult, and Inter-communal Debate16. Myths and Legends in the Qur'an: An Itinerary through its Narrative Landscape