Saeed, Abdullah, Reading the Qur’an in the Twenty-First Century. A Contextualist Approach, New York, Routledge, 2013, 200p.

Reading the Qur’an in the Twenty-First Century considers the development of Qur’anic interpretation and highlights modern debates around new approaches to interpretation. It explores how Muslims from various theological, legal, socio-political and philosophical backgrounds think about the meaning and relevance of the Qur’an, and how their ideas apply in the contemporary world. The book:

  • reflects on one of the most dominant approaches to interpretation in the pre-modern period, textualism, and the reaction to that in Muslim feminist readings of the Qur’an today.
  • covers issues such as identifying the hierarchical nature of Qur’anic values, the criteria for the use of hadith in interpretation, fluidity of meaning and ways of ensuring a degree of stability in interpretation.
  • examines key Qur’anic passages and compares pre-modern and modern interpretations to show the evolving nature of interpretation. Examples discussed include: the authority of men over women, the death of Jesus, shura and democracy, and riba and interest.

Abdullah Saeed provides a practical guide for interpretation and presents the principal ideas of a contextualist approach, which situates the original message of the Qur’an in its wider social, political, cultural, economic and intellectual context. He advocates a more flexible method of interpretation that gives due recognition to earlier interpretations of the Qur’an while also being aware of changing conditions and the need to approach the Qur’an afresh today.

Sommaire

PART 1: BACKGROUND AND EXAMPLES OF CONTEXTUALISM: PAST AND PRESENT

Chapter 1: Introduction and Modern Emphases in Qur’anic Interpretation

Chapter 2: Traditional Interpretation, Textualism and the Emergence of Contextualism

Chapter 3: An Early Form of Contextualism: Umar and Interpretation

Chapter 4: A Modern Form of Contextualism: Women’s Perspectives in Interpretation

PART 2: KEY IDEAS AND PRINCIPLES OF CONTEXTUALIST INTERPRETATION

Chapter 5: Revelation and Contexualisation

Chapter 6: Hierarchical Nature of Qur’anic Values

Chapter 7: Parallel Texts from the Qur’an and Dealing with Hadith

Chapter 8: Meaning in a Contextualist Framework

Chapter 9: ‘Fundamentals of the Religion’ and Interpretation

Chapter 10: Contextualist Interpretation in Practice

PART 3: DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS FOR DIFFERENT CONTEXTS: FOUR CASES

Chapter 11: Men’s ‘Authority’ Over Women and Equality

Chapter 12: Crucifixion and Death of Jesus Christ

Chapter 13: Shūra and Democracy

Chapter 14: Riba and Interest

PART 4: CONCLUDING REMARKS

Chapter 15: Epilogue

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