The ur'an A User's Guide PDF × ur'an A User's Kindle

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10 thoughts on “The ur'an A User's Guide

  1. Jason Jason says:

    After finishing Craig Thompson's Habibi and being inspired by the beauty of the Arabic calligraphy I decided to read the ur'an I read the Bible last year and figured it was high time to read the whole ur'an as well rather than get by on the mere handful of snippets I once read in the context of an undergrad course on Islam; I guess Habibi gave me that final push I needed At the same time that I began reading Ahmed Ali's translation of the ur'an I decided that it certainly couldn't hurt to have this user's guide as a companion for the journey It hasn't hurt for sure but it hasn't helped much either Instead of being a user's guide which to me suggests an easy to read compendium of information needed to explicate and flesh out the primary text this book provides a scholarly look at the history of the ur'an and of ur'anic scholarship both within and without the Muslim world It explores uestions around the meaning of revelation in Islam; the distinction between the ur'an as a history bound revelation and as an eternal absolute Logos independent of history and humanity; and the role of orality and aurality and not just literacy and textuality in understanding the ur'an All of which is fascinating if a bit overwhelming to this reader who is neither a Muslim nor a scholar of Islam The concluding chapters of the book are straightforward and are probably the most useful to the non Muslim reader of the ur'an They summarize the uranic basis for Muslim faith and practice revealing the scriptural basis for some beliefs and activities while challenging the legitimacy of other practices and attitudes These chapters were so well written and so full of useful information that they brought my estimation of the entire book up by one starI definitely recommend this book and am interested in reading others by Esack especially ur'an Liberation Pluralism and The ur'an A Short Introduction I also want to read books by Oneworld Publications which is good because I have plenty of them on my shelvesWhile for outsiders the ur'an exists primarily as a literary text al kitab the book for Muslims it continues to function as both a written text mus haf and an oral one al ur'an with an organic relationship between these two modes In other words comprehension can follow from the emotive and intuitive response that is evoked in the hearer and reciter rather than from a study of its contents 56Somewhere between the confessional insistence on a neat and clinical collection process and the critical position that the process of compiling the ur'an took several centuries one may find a way of reconciling some of these tensions ; and the faithful may retain the deep seated belief in the authenticity of the text while being able to look the facts of history in the eye Alas the facts are never as uncomplicated as the fundamentalist religious or secular may want to insist; even if they are they still reuire a person to approach them and people like facts also exist within history and carry their own histories within them Any scripture should be understood in terms of its relation to its audience at any given point in time 99While the eternal relevance of the ur'an has for long been regarded as synonymous with a ur'an divested of time and space the history of the ur'an and of its interpretation prove otherwise as anyone concerned with the ur'an as a functional or contextual scripture will soon discover In order to relate ur'anic meaning to the present Muslims are compelled to relate to it from the distance of some historical moment 101The ur'an despite its inner coherence was never formulated as a connected whole but was revealed in response to the demands of concrete situations The ur'an is explicit about the reasons for the progressive nature of its revelation 122The contents of the ur'an as the message of God to humankind and Muslims have been the focus of scholarly Muslim approaches to it How do I fulfill the reuirements of God for me in this day and age? is the uestion that drives the Muslim 146Despite the claims that anyone may make about God he is really free from whatever people ascribe to Him In other words despite what we learn about God or His nature of characteristics of God elsewhere in the ur'an God remains free from not only the confines of biology and paternity but also from the confines of human languageThe ur'anic portrayal of God is thus of a deity beyond the religious community that serves Him—and refers to God as Him—and which perhaps inevitably seeks to limit God by preconceptions and socio religio political horizons God is also greater than the law and to elevate the law to the level of the divine and the immutable is in fact to associate others with God the antithesis of tawhid 148There is no direct reference in the ur'an to any notion of an Islamic state Any assumption that an Islamic state is the will of God for all humankind rather than the results of a particular set of political circumstances as they unfolded in Medina during the lifetime of the Prophet is based on an interpretation of what the ur'an says rather than any explicit statement to this effect Contrary to what observers of the contemporary world of Islam may imagine there are very few specific duties explicitly spelled out in the ur'an for an Islam wielding political power and all of these revelations pertain to the Medinan period 183Texts we now know answer to uestions asked of them and in the same manner that the taliban the searchers are not innocent and void of a context similarly the text is also not free from a history and a contextIt is in the ongoing interrogation of us as readers and our contexts that shape our uestions and responses on the one hand and a careful study of the text and its engagement with its context—both then and now—that we may gather some approximation of its meaning None of us who approach the ur'an are gender neutral classless disinterested and disemboweled figures who just want to understand The need for understanding is driven at least in part by who we are and what our interests are in retaining or shedding our gender race class clan or ethnic positions As misguided as it is to approach the text ahistorically so it is to pretend that we are ahistorical beings 192


  2. Dave Maddock Dave Maddock says:

    As short introductions to a religion written by one of its believers go this one is pretty good Esack lays out various views of the ur'an and Islam generally not just the one he favors Of course he's not entirely objective and doesn't claim to be In fact he readily admits the opposite and asserts further that everyone brings their own biases to a text As such fundamentalists and non muslim scholars and critics all receive jabs from Esack one way or anotherThat said I think he is overly critical of scholars who study the ur'an from a non confessional literary perspective He begins by dubbing them voyeurs in the introduction and at every point they are discussed in a negative light But at least he engages with them in a serious and respectful manner which is than one can say for the Muslim world in general The vast majority of Muslims are presumably reasonable peaceful people but they are not a political or religious force that matters sadlyCase in point while he does vaguely state that sex with women slaves and other bullshit might not be a great thing regardless of ur'anic endorsement he does not take the next step to openly condemn Muslims who use these passages to justify their repression of women etc Presumably because some of those folks are not above killing his ass However he's than willing to talk about how misguided scholars can be with their insistence on actual literary evidence Several such scholars publish under a pseudonym precisely because they fear violence Does Esack acknowledge this fact? No See Christoph Luxenberg and Ibn Warra Compare this state of affairs with secular scholars of Jewish and Christian traditions Saying that this approach has not been welcomed by Muslims p 9 has got to be the understatement of the decadeBut like I said given that stating the wrong opinions can get you killed for apostasy I can't really fault the guy too much for hedging At least I know where to look for the real scholarship nowIt is also fascinating to look at theological battles in which you don't buy either side You realize how dumb theology is as a mode of inuiry Argue about the theological subtleties of the begotten not created nature of the ur'an until the cows come home and it doesn't become any less pointless an argument in my eyes You're all wrong; it's just a book written by fallible humans just like the Hebrew Bible New Testament Bhagavad Gita Moby Dick US Constitution or anything else I could name Of the above Moby Dick is most likely to be divinely inspired as far as I'm concerned


  3. Rahemah Siddiqui Rahemah Siddiqui says:

    A beautiful introduction


  4. Craig Bolton Craig Bolton says:

    The ur'an A User's Guide by Farid Esack 2005


  5. James Davisson James Davisson says:

    Informative and thought provoking Contains a fairly high number of typographical errors Seeks to introduce the reader to both Islam and the ur'an but with much emphasis on the latter


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