C 4 Gathering the Qur'an

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C 4 Gathering the Qur'an

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Sep 2, 2009, 12:51 pm

Compares and contrasts traditional Muslim belief of how the the Qur'an was gathered into a whole form with the view of critical scholars.

Esack reminds the reader of the "ordinary human frailties --recollection, memory, pronunciation, and retention" that realistically played some role in the gathered Qur'an (87).

He notes when "all other versions" of the Qur'an were ordered destroyed this may not have been perfectly done (88).

He also discusses the various Arabic dialects, which I had not considered playing a role in the Qur'an, and he posits an actual "battle for authenticity" that went on during Muhammad's time and after his death(88). This is not mentioned in your basic intro to Islam.

Finally Esask writes: "Alas, the facts are never as uncomplicated as the fundamentalist (religious or secularist) may want to insist" (99). But, isn't this so true of all world religions when we look into the history of scripture and belief.

The human mind seems to enjoy a truth, an unquestionable truth presented in a direct rather superficial way, something neatly packaged, but reality is filled with complexity and ambiguity. Religions exemplify this ambiguity quite beautifully.

For me this chapter is a reminder that it is not enough to just say --the Qur'an is the word of God. Esack recognizes there's more to it than such a simple idea. He also recognizes that for traditionalists that simple statement "is" enough.


Sep 20, 2009, 12:40 pm

Hi all
I've been waylaid with technical difficulties in my online classrooms, family visiting from the east coast, and a huge banquet I'm very involved in for 35 0 people on Sept 26. Esack's book is sitting here. I will post a final on it as soon as possible. I have very much enjoyed the book, and so, I will finish it.

Essa did you ever finish this book? rosinbow

Sep 22, 2009, 12:59 am

Finished Esack's book, and his presentation gave me a lot to think about regarding how the Qur'an is viewed and approached by others. He says, " the Qur'an is really impenetrable for an outsider " ( Esack 146).

The last chapter discusses themes found in the Qur'an, and I found this a nice balance to all of the analysis come before regarding the position traditionalists and progressives take on whether the Qur'an exists outside of history.

I will read more of Esack's works I find him a compelling writer, and as I said I leave this text with much to consider. We mentioned he has a book covering what it means to be a Muslim. I think this would be a valuable next step.


Nov 11, 2009, 1:32 pm

Hi Rosinbow, due to work, illness and a general ennui, my reading has been off-track all across the board. I finally picked up Esack's book again recently and made a bit of headway. Hurrah! I'm just about to finish with the "Gathering the Qur'an" chapter.

The bit about the different modes/readings was interesting to me although I'm not sure I fully understood it -- I will need to re-read that part. As I was reading this chapter, I again admired Esack's willingness to consider variant and critical approaches, even when they pointed towards something other than the Qur'an as a perfect, pre-finished, purely divine and purely consistent work. It would be interesting to have those variant codices and other early fragments with us today so that we could study them. I also wonder how much modern Muslims know about these topics and if they are discussed at home or in the mosque.

(E.g., history and compilation of the Bible was not discussed in my Sunday school and youth groups, certainly not in a historical-critical way, and many Protestant Christians I encounter are not much aware of such issues. I wonder if it is any different with Muslims, or if it is about the same.)