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Qur'anic narrative and Isra'iliyyat in Western scholarship and in classical exegesis

Albayrak, Ismail (2000) Qur'anic narrative and Isra'iliyyat in Western scholarship and in classical exegesis. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The main subject of this thesis is twofold. On the one hand it analyses how the Qur'an presents stories, on the other hand it examines the classical Muslim commentators' response to the Qur'anic narration. In part one we remark that the theory that the Qur'an borrowed extensively from the Bible has clouded the vision of many Western scholars. They explained the Qur'anic narratives in accordance with their preconceptions; only a few emancipated themselves from this prejudice, but some of these scholars were sensitive to the literary qualities of the Qur'anic narrative. Adopting their general approach to the Qur'anic narrative we analyse the Qur'anic narrative of the 'golden calf' episode. Here we invite the reader to step into the textual world of the Qur'an in order to appreciate its otherness. At the same time we try to show the internal coherence among the verses (and also among the surahs) to remove the assumption of the incoherence of the Qur'an which has veiled much of its literary excellence from view. In addition, this study gives us an opportunity to appreciate one of the most neglected aspects of the Qur'anic narratives, namely the relationship between the oral recitation and the written characters of the Qur'an. The written text lacks the contextual richness provided by the oral dimension for it cannot convey intonation, emphasis, and so on, but the transcription of the spoken word displays the relationship of sound and meaning within the surahs or verses together with special emphasis upon phonological effects. The first chapter of part two is designed to provide a general overview of the notion of isrä'iliyyät, taking into account the opinions held by both Muslim and non- Muslim authorities. We raise two important questions regarding this technical term When did the technical term isra'iliyyät come into general use? Who first used it critically? To answer these questions we analyse the commentaries of eight exegetes together with some qisas works on the 'golden calf and 'heavenly table' episodes. It is clear that, in contrast to the view held by many Muslim and non-Muslim scholars, the technical usage of this term is a late development. Another important conclusion derived from our analysis of classical exegesis is that the commentators who use this term themselves depend on isra'iliyyät in several respects. In other words, their theory,is not in agreement with their practice. Furthermore, there are commentators who do not use the term isra'iliyyät and consistently seek to distance themselves from these reports. They also try to minimise the amount of these reports in their tafsir. According to this research, Ibn Atiyya was the first to pay more attention to the implausibility of this type of report, two centuries before Ibn Kathir's critical exegesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Theology & Religious Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.513902
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2010 12:04
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 10:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/507

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