The modern world came with its own pressures and anxieties of intellectual, political, social and economic nature, all of which were European in origin. The Muslims continue to understand their faith and books through these pressures and in the process misunderstand their most important text, the Quran.
Having less or absolutely no exposure to classical education most Muslims today utterly depend on very recent commentaries of the Quran that fail to trace back their understanding to earlier generations of Muslims. Thus our broken understanding leads to various reductionist perspectives and brutally subjects the book of Allah to man-made ideologies where some call the Quran a book of legal codes or philosophy while others a book of revolution; some consider it a book of mysticism while others try to find scientific, political and economic theories in it. A major reason for this in our age is treating the works of ideologues as primary and deliberately sidelining the works of past and present scholars on the Quran.
In this class we seek to learn the very principles of approaching the Quran and also attempt to understand its structure and coherence by focusing on certain passages as case studies from the Quran itself. The aim is to make the book of Allah a living source of guidance for us, meant for any time and place rather than a book that is only claimed, through slogans not scholarship, to solve all our “modern” problems but will become out of place once modernity ends!
The 4-day class has been divided into two parts:
Part 1- Quran as speech (8th and 9th January, 2021)
Text covered: Muqaddima fi Usūl al-Tafsīr by Imām Ibn Taymiyya (a classic manual on approaching the Quran).
Part 2- Quran as text (15th and 16th January, 2021)
Text covered: Nizām al-Quran by Maulana Hamīd al-Dīn Farāhī (one of the major works on the beauty of the Quran’s order).
Note: We will also study sections from M. A. S. Abdel Haleem’s works whose Oxford translation of the Quran is considered one of the best translations today.
Some major themes we plan to understand:
- Fitrat as a prerequisite to extract guidance from the Quran;
- Asbaab al-Nuzool (causes of revelation);
- Muhkam and mutashābih (clear and unclear ayāt of the Quran);
- Meaning of and difference between Tafsīr and Ta’wīl;
- Pitfalls of NOT understanding the Quran according to the rules of all three: language, context and cotext.
Who should attend:
- People interested in Quran and Tafsīr studies;
- People who are part of various Muslim organisations calling people to Quran;
- People seeking to connect with the book of Allah on a deeper level.
Time: 7:30 PM onwards on each of the days mentioned.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Class type: interactive and discussion based.
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