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The Cosmogonic Word in al-Shahrast ā nī s Exegesis of S ū rat al-Baqara

Toby Mayer


The higher thought of al-Shahrast ānī (d. 548/1153) is revealed in all its idiosyncrasy and richness in his last work, the incomplete Quran commentary, Maf ā t īal-asr ār. Despite his fame as a neo-Ash ʿ ar ī thinker, his commentary s interpretive system strongly incorporates Ism āʿī l ī features, along with vital Ashʿ ar ī and Avicennan inuences. This article focuses on discussions within his commentary on Sū rat al-Baqara , which are related to the theme of God s Command (al-amr ) simultaneously the authors cosmological and epistemological linchpin. Initially, his response to the key questions in the theology of the Qur anis presented, namely, (1) how might the scripture s inimitability for human beings be established, thus its transcendental origin, and (2) what is the scripture s precise relation with that transcendental origin, i.e., the problem of inlibration , and whether the Qur anic text is to be viewed as a historical entity or as above time? It emerges that, notwithstanding his keen interest in historical inquiries into the text s canonisation and language, he takes it to be a substantial portal to the entire Realm of the Command (ʿālam al-amr ), which is a kind of pre-geometry for the cosmos (ʿālam al-khalq ). With this premise, al-Shahrast ā nī invokes a highly systematic lettric cosmogonic theory. In this theory, the instrument by which the universe enters existence is taken to be a kind of hyper-language, thought of on the model of the 28 Arabic letters. The details of this system are demonstrably Ism āʿī l ī , such as its allusion to a heptadic paradigm of hiero-history. Lastly, the vital cosmological function of translating the graphemic and verbal realities of the Realm of the Command into creational entities and events is attributed to the angelic hierarchies.

All Animals Are Equal, or Are They? The Ikhw ān al- af āʾ s Animal Epistle and its Unhappy End

Sarra Tlili


The Ikhw ā n al- af āʾ s animal epistle is an intriguing work. Although in the body of the narrative the authors challenge anthropocentric preconceptions and present nonhuman animals in a more favourable light than human beings, inexplicably, the narrative ends by recon rming the privileged status of humans. The aim of this paper is to propose an explanation for this discrepancy. I argue that the egalitarian message re ected in the body of the narrative is traceable back to the Quran, the main text with

Journal of Qur anic Studies 16.2 (2014): iii v Edinburgh University Press DOI: 10.3366/jqs.2014.0146 # Centre of Islamic Studies, SOAS www.euppublishing.com/jqs





which the authors engage in the fable, worldview.

whereas the


outcome is due to

the Ikhw ā ns hierarchical

Qur anic Manuscripts from Late Muslim Spain:

The Collection of Almonacid de la Sierra

Nuria Martínez-de-Castilla-Muñoz


In spite of a widespread ignorance of Arabic among the Moriscos (the last Muslims of the Iberian Peninsula, expelled in 1018 23/1609 14), and the prohibition of the possession of books in Arabic script, the Moriscos continued transcribing and transmitting the Quran. These copies exhibit various peculiarities related either to their physical presentation, or to their cultural signi cance. The materials which are part of the Almonacid de la Sierra collection (today in the Tomás Navarro Tomás library (CCHS-CSIC), Madrid) that means, 37 fragmentary copies of the Qur an provide us with an idea of the kind of Qur anic texts the Moriscos were using by the end of the tenth/sixteenth century in spite of the religious and linguistic restraints which were imposed on them. There are complete maā hif, usually divided into four volumes. In addition, we nd Qur anic extracts, the contents of which are almost always the same; this probably implies some ritual use. Finally, there are family prayer books containing some suras and verses which can be recited according to the moment. The diversity of these manuscripts gives us an idea of the knowledge of the Qur an among the Moriscos and the strength of Islam in tenth/sixteenth-century Aragon.

Memorisation of the Qur an: Opening the Research Agenda

Faris Keblawi


Muslims around the world devote considerable effort to memorising the Qur an, as this is deemed to be a highly meritorious endeavour that brings them closer to God. Memorisation of the Quran was one of the rst, and most important, means by which the Qur an was preserved by the early Muslim community. Interest in memorisation has continued over the centuries, but it has not evolved into a distinct eld of study as has been the case with various sciences particular to the Quran, such as, for example, the sciences of qirāʾā t and tajw ī d. This paper seeks to establish a distinct, interdisciplinary, academic sub-discipline for the study of issues related to the characteristics and particularities of Qur an memorisation. The potential contribution to this emerging discipline of other academic elds, such as applied linguistics, psycholinguistics, and educational psychology, will also be discussed.



Chinese Scholarship and the Interpretation and Translation of the Qur an

Ma Zhan Ming


The Qur an has, for obvious reasons, been of the greatest interest to Chinese Muslims from the arrival of Islam on the shores of China to the current day. Over 20 Chinese translations of the Qur an have been produced throughout the history of Chinese Islam, some with simple marginalia to help non-Arabic speaking Chinese Muslims interpret the meanings of the verses. Furthermore, Chinese translations of some Arabic taf āsī r have recently appeared, such as the Mukhtasar tafs ī r Ibn Kathī r, and for the rst time in the history of China, a tafs ī r m ūjiz li l-Qur ʾān in Chinese has been prepared by a group of Muslim scholars.

This article aims to present an introduction to the work of Chinese scholars in commentating on the Qur an in general, and to discuss the aforementioned tafs ī r m ū jiz li l-Qur ʾān in some detail, focussing on the methodological aspects that distinguish it from other translations. The introduction presents a brief history of the translation of the Qur an in China. Part One discusses the efforts of Chinese scholars to provide commentary on the meanings of the Qur an, and gives examples of their strengths and weaknesses. Part Two presents the authors of the tafsī r and discusses the reasons for its production, and its methodology, giving examples which illustrate its strengths. Finally, the conclusion summarises the major points discussed in the article, and its recommendations.