The Qur’anic Studies Unit has held the third and fourth lectures in the series: “The Meaning of the Word: Lexicology and Tafsir”. This series of lectures, organised by Dr Stephen Burge, aims to explore the relationships between Qur’anic tafsir (exegesis) and lexicology, which is the study of the meanings of words and their semantic relations.

The third lecture was given by Dr. Christopher Melchert on 16 February, 2011. Dr. Melchert spoke on ‘The Interpretation of Three Qur’anic Terms of Special Interest to Early Renunciants,’ focussing on siyahah (‘travel’), hikmah (‘wisdom’) and siddiq (‘friend’). He argued that the early renunciants (zuhhad) at times interpreted these words differently to the main exegetical tradition.

The fourth lecture held on 2 March, 2011, was given by Dr. Stephen Burge. In this lecture, entitled ‘Lexicology, Hadith, Poetry and Tafsir: The Case of Falaq (Q. 113:1)’, he examined various exegesis of the word falaq and considered how hadith are used to define lexical meaning.

Dr. Burge concluded that hadith form an important element in lexicological debate and that understanding the way in which the hadith are used in these debates is crucial. He went on to present this paper at the American Oriental Society Annual Meeting held from 11th to 14th March, 2011 in Chicago.

The lecture series will continue until May 2011 and will include lectures by Prof. Kees Versteegh (Nijmegen), Prof. Stefan Wild (Bonn) and Prof. Claude Gilliot (Aix-en-Provence). The next lecture in the series will be given by Dr. Agostino Cilardo (University of Naples) on 13th April 2011. Dr. Cilardo will be talking on: ‘Al-masa’il al-mulaqqaba: From Qur’an to fiqh - Sunni and Shi‘i Tafsir of inheritance verses’.