Though there have been many studies on the Qur’an’s importance in tafsīr (Qur’anic commentary), there are comparatively few which look at the reception of the Qur’an in other forms of literature. This volume seeks to rectify the gap in the scholarship by placing the Qur’an in its broader cultural and literary contexts. It explores the relation of Arabic (and Persian) classical literary traditions (adab) to the Qur’an from pre-Islamic times until the fifteenth century CE, focusing on the various ways in which the classical literati (udabāʾ) engaged with the Qur’anic text, linguistically, conceptually, structurally and aesthetically, to create works that combined the sacred with the profane, thereby blurring the boundaries between formal tafsīr and adab.
Through a detailed introduction and a series of case studies, the volume rethinks the concept of adab and the relation of scripture to humanistic traditions in classical Islam and questions the general classification of adab as belles-lettres. It explores the religious aesthetic found in different types of adab works – poetry, literary criticism, epistles, oratory traditions, anthologies, ‘mirrors for princes’, folklore and mystical/Sufi literature.
The key themes of the contributions are the intertextuality between pre-lslamic poetry and the Qur’an, and the innumerable approaches to the Qur’an by classical authors and poets. Discussed here are the various citation techniques employed in the udabāʾ’s borrowing of Qur’anic language, concepts and stories. The chapters explore how the use of these techniques reflect a hermeneutical involvement with the Qur’an and how the choice of these techniques was determined by the literary conventions of the particular genres and contexts within which the udabāʾ were working, as well as by their authorial intention, and theological and ideological outlooks. Also highlighted here is the link between the functions ascribed to Qur’anic quotations in a specific text and the need to convey a particular message to specific audiences.
Collectively, these contributions by leading scholars offer a new, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the interaction of the literary traditions of classical Islam with the Qur’an. Conversely, the analysis of these literary works enhances the understanding of the Qur’an’s reception during the period studied. Students and specialists in the field of Qur’anic Studies, Literature and Religion will welcome this volume.