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Reading the Qur'an [Paperback]

Ziauddin Sardar
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Jun 2014
Few books have had a more profound impact on human history than the Qur'an. It shapes the beliefs, lives and behaviour of over 1.5 billion Muslims, who regard it as the Word of God, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Speaking directly to Muslims, it has been the basic source of law, morality and politics for over 1,400 years. Almost everything that happens in a Muslim society is a direct or indirect product of what the Qur'an says. But what does the Qur'an really say? How should it be read and interpreted? What is the significance of its teachings, if any, for the 21st century? In this enlightening and highly readable book, Ziauddin Sardar, one of the foremost Muslim intellectuals of our time, offers a refreshingly new interpretation of the Qur'an. Emphasising plurality and inclusiveness, Sardar demonstrates the importance of reading the verses of the Qur'an in the context in which they were revealed, and highlights the relevance of its teachings for today. Sardar reads the Qur'an from several perspectives. He begins with the traditional, verse-by-verse interpretations and subsequently shows how the multilayered verses and stories of the Sacred Text are open to a number of different and more enlightening interpretations. He also reads the Quran thematically, exploring its basic concepts and themes, painting a dynamic picture of the kind of society that the Qur'an aims to create. Also scrutinised is what the Qur'an says about such contemporary topics as power and politics, the rights of women, suicide, domestic violence, sex, homosexuality, the veil, freedom of expression and evolution. Throughout, Sardar uses several different methods, from traditional exegesis to hermeneutics, critical theory and cultural analysis to draw fresh and contemporary lessons from the Sacred Text. He shows what the Qur'an means to individuals like himself, why its interpretation has been so controversial throughout history, and how translations can be used to promote misunderstanding as well as enlightenment. Argumentative and lively, Reading the Qur'an is an insightful guide to understanding the Sacred Text of Muslims in these conflict-ridden and distressing times. Whatever one believes or does not believe, the central importance of the Qur'an in today's globalised world cannot be ignored.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (20 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849043671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849043670
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,020,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Ziauddin Sardar is justly renowned for his forensic intelligence and capacious insight into myriad issues. He is at once a peace-maker and a bridge-builder. Reading the Qur'an projects the scriptural basis for his ceaseless activities as the leading public intellectual among British Muslims - This bold mandate compels Sardar to look at all the issues that concern Muslims and non-Muslims alike in contemporary Islam - not only sex and the Shari'ah, but also homosexuality, the veil, freedom of religion, and even suicide. If one could pick just one book to connect the Muslim past with its complex present and future potential, Reading the Qur'an would be that book.' ----Professor Bruce Lawrence, Duke University

'This lucid, scholarly and exciting book could not be more timely; it takes the reader on a spiritual and intellectual journey that is essential for Muslim and non-Muslim alike and addresses some of the most pressing needs of our time.' ----Karen Armstrong, author of, inter alia, A History of God and Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet

About the Author

Ziauddin Sardar is a renowned writer, broadcaster and cultural critic. He is also a Commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission; editor of Futures and a columnist for the New Statesman, as well as being Visiting Professor, School of Arts, the City University, London. He is the author of many books, the most recent being Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim; What Do Muslims Believe?; and Balti Britain: A Provocative Journey Through Asian Britain

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic 17 July 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a fantastic book by this author. I have to admit that I had to re-read some of the same line/paragraph to understand some of things that the author is trying to put across. great insight in to the qur'an and how it applies to us today. I'll be buying a few more boooks from this author to learn as much as i can about islam. definetly a book i recommend. bit on the expensive side..especially on amazon but i thought i'd give it a try as i read some good reviews about this particular book on other websites.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading the Qur'an 5 Sep 2011
By Eric
This book is a valuable resource for non-Muslim's who wish to study the Qur'an but who do not have Arabic. I found it easy reading and informative.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great apologist view 22 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Loved it, it was the first detailed study on the Quran which I finished in style without stopping. It was a must study which portrays the Quran in the existing era tackling all challenging issues like homosexuality, sex and the dreaded hijab. Read to understand what the Quran is all about in a very articulate way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to the Quran 15 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Written in a clear accessible style, this is an excellent introduction (and exposition) to the Quran and Islam generally.

The author's perspective is that although the Quran is the literal word of God as communicated through the Prophet Muhammad, this does not imply that it must be read and understood in a literal sense. The Quran is not a linear text like the Bible with a straight-forward narrative structure. The composition of the Sacred Text is replete with many verses that are allegorical and metaphorical in nature as well as containing those that are clearly parables. It also contains within it many passages that appear contradictory. Thus to gain an understanding of its meaning and intent, the Quran has to be interpreted through the process of reading.

This process of interpretation (tafsir) however is not a static one that is fixed for all times and places. The Quran is an eternal revelation whose message is applicable to believers of all periods and locations. For this statement to be valid, it must be understood and interpreted with reference to the social and cultural context of the reader. The latter must distinguish between that which is specific to the historical and cultural milieu of the Prophet from that which is of general relevance for all historical epochs. The Quran is thus a dynamic and ever malleable text whose meaning must be constructed or perhaps reinterpreted by every new generation of believers in relation to their specific social reality and the underlying issues and problems that arise therein.
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