Toby Lester’s incisive article What Is the Koran? argues that researchers with a variety of academic and theological interests ‘are proposing controversial theories about the Koran and Islamic history, and are striving to reinterpret Islam for the modern world…’ I was struck by this passage at the end:

Increasingly diverse interpretations of the Koran and Islamic history will inevitably be proposed in the coming decades, as traditional cultural distinctions between East, West, North, and South continue to dissolve, as the population of the Muslim world continues to grow, as early historical sources continue to be scrutinized, and as feminism meets the Koran. With the diversity of interpretations will surely come increased fractiousness, perhaps intensified by the fact that Islam now exists in such a great variety of social and intellectual settings—Bosnia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United States, and so on. More than ever before, anybody wishing to understand global affairs will need to understand Islamic civilization, in all its permutations. Surely the best way to start is with the study of the Koran—which promises in the years ahead to be at least as contentious, fascinating, and important as the study of the Bible has been in this century.

Read the full article here

3 Responses to Understanding Islam and its history

  1. That would indeed be a revival of Islam’s celebrated diversity of middle ages. I wish we had the orthodoxy who could produce works like Dove’s Necklace once again while equally being capable to producing works related to theology, law and exegesis.

  2. That would indeed be a revival of Islam’s celebrated diversity of middle ages. I wish we had the orthodoxy who could produce works like Dove’s Necklace once again while equally being capable of producing works related to theology, law and exegesis.

  3. Sadaf says:

    The trouble is the reluctance to question orthodoxy in the name of preserving some sense of the ummah. Rather than challenge interpretations or make the religion meaningful as a spiritual experience for each individual, we’re taught ot believe, to not question, to not challenge. I think the challenge is yet to come.

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