The Qur'an and its Interpretations
5 - 16 July 2021
18 April 2021
Dr Omar Ali-de-Unzaga
About the course
This is an intensive online course for those who wish to become familiar with the Qur’an and the complexities that surround it. Taught by specialist faculty from the IIS’s Qur’anic Studies Unit, the course looks at the Qur’an from various angles: it introduces participants to the necessary conceptual tools to deal with the complexities related to the Qur’an and its interpretations. The course will analyse the concept of revelation, prophethood and scripture, all within the historical, intellectual, religious and sociopolitical context in which the Qur’an emerged. Students will be exposed to the genre of tafsir as a repository of opinions by authors from various persuasions and schools. Interpretation will be explored as a product of its time focusing on questions such as: How are so many interpretations possible? How are interpretations actually produced? Further, the course will tackle some contemporary concerns like: What is the relevance of reading the Qur’an today? How is it used to justify such things as gender relations, political claims and the like?
Aims of the programme
- Introduce participants to some critical and analytical tools to address cultural, political and intellectual issues.
- Facilitate the development of a historical understanding of the evolution of various Muslim communities, including the Ismailis, through time, and a nuanced understanding of the consequent diversity of beliefs, practices, and ethics.
- Discuss key concepts such as secularisation, authority and leadership, politics and the state, good governance and civil society, pluralism and cosmopolitan ethics, situating these ideas within their historical, cultural and geopolitical contexts, drawing on perspectives articulated by critical leaders and thinkers as well as the Ismaili Imamat.
- Explore the role played by art, architecture and literature in the development of Muslim civilisations, past and present.
- Facilitate a nuanced awareness of the Qur’an as a historical phenomenon, as a concept and as a text.
- Explore the complexities of interpretation and the reasons behind the existence of a plurality of interpretations (including Ismaili interpretations) by examining selected Qur’anic verses.
- Introduce participants to the role of the Imam in Shi‘i contexts vis-à-vis the Qur’an.
- Develop an appreciation for the non-textual and non-theological expressions inspired by the Qur’an (such as in art, literature, and so on)
Find out more about other IIS Short Courses.