The Institute of Ismaili Studies is pleased to announce the publication of Tafsir and Islamic Intellectual History: Exploring the Boundaries of a Genre, edited by Andreas Görke and Johanna Pink. This volume presents analyses of Qur’anic exegesis as carried out across various milieus, the fifteen chapters coalescing around a central theme of understanding the genre of tafsir within the context of wider Muslim scholarship.

The chapters in this volume explore tafsir from its formative stage to contemporary times, taking in diverse geographical regions such as Iran, Yemen, Turkey and West Africa, and examining media often overlooked, such as oral and lay exegesis. In doing so, they provide new perspectives on how the boundaries of the tafsir genre may be demarcated, transformed and permeated. The volume thus makes an argument for – and provides analytical tools to deal with – the necessity of understanding tafsir within its wider environment.

Tafsir and Islamic Intellectual History illustrates ways in which exegetes – who were often also experts in other areas such as hadith, law or theology – bring their learning in one field to bear on another, and in what ways they distinguish between materials of relevance to the task at hand. Other chapters ask how political and theological agendas influence works of tafsir. Yet, these also show that assumptions on this point cannot be made; while political or theological background may shape a tafsir work to a great or lesser extent, a range of contexts needs to be taken into account for a closer and more nuanced understanding.

The volume contains chapters by leading scholars as well as young researchers in the field of Qur’anic exegesis: Abdessamad Belhaj, Andrea Brigaglia, Catherine Bronson, Claude Gilliot, Kathrin Eith, Andreas Görke, Nejmeddine Khalfallah, Kathrin Klausing, Johanna Pink, Andrew Rippin, Ignacio Sánchez, Rebecca Sauer, Nicolai Sinai, Roberto Tottoli and Neguin Yavari. Providing wide-ranging insights and an analytical framework for approaching tafsir, the volume Tafsir and Islamic Intellectual History will greatly benefit advanced students and scholars in the fields of tafsir studies specifically and Qur’anic studies, Islamic Intellectual History and religious scholars more generally.

Commenting on this volume, Dr Walid Saleh, Distinguished Professor for Islamic Studies, University of Toronto, said:

“This edited volume promises to become a reference work the moment it is published. The scope of the collection is simply outstanding and the selection of articles covers essential aspects of tafsir that are usually neglected . . . The scholarship is of the highest standard, and the breadth is unprecedented in publications of its kind.”

Another scholar, Dr Brannon Wheeler, Professor of History, United States Naval Academy, remarked:

“This research is not available elsewhere and provides insights into areas of Qur’an commentary that are integral to Islamic Studies and to the continued research into the Qur’an.  … The contributions are strong, of relevance to the field, and provide intellectually stimulating arguments.”