A man in black suit, white shirt, striped tie

Dr Stephen Burge, Research Associate in the Institute’s Qur’anic Studies Unit, attended theannual meeting of the American Oriental Society (AOS), held in Arizona, USA, from 14-17 March 2014.

The Mamluk scholar and polymath Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 911 AH/1505 CE) described in one of his works how, having read Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi’s Kitab al-Burhan fi ‘ulum al-Qur'an, he came to the conclusion that his first effort on the Qur’anic Sciences, namely, Kitab al-Tahbir fi‘ilm al-tafsir, needed to be improved. Al-Suyuti’s Kitab Itqan fi‘ulum al-Qur’an was his intellectual response to this rare occurrence of self-criticism. Whilst the Itqan remains an important work in the Qur’anic Sciences (‘ulum al-Qur’an), it remains understudied and his al-Tahbir has received little attention. The Tahbir was itself an adaptation of another work on the Qur’anic studies by al-Bulqini.

Dr Burge’s paper presented a comparative analysis of al-Suyuti’s Tahbir and Itqan, alongside al-Zarkhshi’s Burhan, exploring how they differ in form and content, what al-Suyuti gleaned and adapted from the Burhan, and how the material in the Tahbir was improved upon in the Itqan.

The paper first provided a general survey of these works, looking at their structures, chapter divisions, contents and their use of sources. It then provided a detailed analysis of case studies, focusing on the opening chapters of both works dedicated to the occasions of revelation (asbab al-nuzul).

Dr Burge concluded that the Tahbir was used by al-Suyuti as a base from which his Itqan was improved and expanded.
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