The IIS is pleased to announce the paperback edition of An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries: Volume I – On the Nature of the Divine. Edited by Feras Hamza, Sajjad Rizvi and Farhana Mayer, the Anthology analyses the works of Sunni, Shi‘i, Ibadi, Mu‘tazili and Sufi commentators on six Qur’anic verses, revealing varied approaches to the scripture and its meaning. Contextual introductions and annotated translations allow the reader to follow the genesis of key intellectual debates and religio-political attitudes still relevant to the lives of Muslims today.

On the Nature of the Divine is the first of the Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries Series, which aims to make the reception and interpretation of the Qur’an accessible to anyone interested in cultural and religious studies. The main research question underlying the Series is: how do historical, intellectual and social circumstances affect interpretation? The multiple volumes of the Anthology will, collectively, emphasise the historicity of tafsir, the fact that each commentator and commentary is a product of his own time. The volumes are designed as a standard reference work and textbook for university courses, but they also contribute towards a ‘mapping’ of how ideas, concepts, dogmas and fields of knowledge have evolved along with a fluid history to the present time. The Anthology is a reflection of the plurality of meanings that the Qur’an itself allows for, and which have produced a vast and venerable tradition of diverse interpretations.

This multi-volume work hopes to add to our understanding of the evolutionary and context-dependent character of many Islamic religious and theological concepts, and to the Muslim Ummah’s conception of its own intellectual history. Such an approach calls for an examination of Muslim thought as an evolving phenomenon which responded, and continues to respond, to the circumstances of each period. This research supports the conception of Islam as a fluid intellectual civilisation with internal variety, in contrast to the view of Islam as a rigid, monolithic and unchanging community and set of norms.

In his review of An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries: Volume I – On the Nature of the Divine, Professor Andrew Rippin of the University of Victoria stated that it is “a marvellous piece of work that brings the tafsir tradition alive... [A] true masterpiece of translation, editing and annotation.” Dr Scott Lucas, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Religious Studies Programme at the University of Arizona refers to it as a “sumptuous book that is copiously annotated and immensely rewarding... [T]his anthology is as rich, if not richer, than any single tafsir work, and provides an unparalleled journey through the entire gamut of Qur’anic commentaries.” With regard to this series of publications, Dr. Walid Saleh, Associate Professor in the Department and Centre for the Study of Religion at University of Toronto noted that this is “a significant advance in the field of tafsir studies... [by] a first-rate specialist team. It repositions tafsir as a central discipline in Islamic studies, an overdue development and a major achievement.”