To mark International Women’s Day, we have created a list of five essential resources surrounding our recently published book An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries, Volume II: On Women, edited by Dr Karen Bauer and Dr Feras Hamza.
On Women comprises extensive introductory material, annotated translations of Qurʾanic commentaries spanning 12 centuries, interviews of contemporary Muslim scholars and introductions to the texts themselves, which frame the work throughout and render these technically complex materials accessible.
The book begins with a critical introduction to the study of women and gender in the genre of Qurʾanic commentaries. A chapter then follows key Qurʾanic terms in a chronological sequence, showing how the Qurʾan’s world view on women developed from the earliest Meccan revelations to the period of the final revelations in Medina.
The remainder of the volume translates, critically annotates, and analyses interpretations of six select Qurʾanic verses on women, chosen because of their relevance to women’s lived experience. While highlighting variation, continuity, and plurality in the genre of Qurʾanic commentaries, On Women goes beyond medieval interpretive paradigms to include perspectives marginalised by that tradition, such as the voices of women themselves.
In October 2020, the authors of On Women, Dr Karen Bauer and Dr Feras Hamza, interviewed the renowned feminist amina wadud about verses 4.34 (on spousal relations), 4.1 (on the creation of humankind) and 24.31 (on the veil). An edited version of this interview appears in the book.
The book's launch took place at the Aga Khan Centre, London, on 8 November 2021 and featured the editors and a panel of Dr Sarah Savant, Dr Walid Saleh, Dr Yasmin Amin and Dr Anna Chrysostomides in discussion about the book’s themes.
In this accessible interview, Drs Bauer and Hamza discuss how the tradition of Qur’anic commentary viewed women in the Qur’an, how it continues to influence many Muslim women’s lives today, and why it was so important to feature contemporary women's voices in their book.
If you’re a researcher or student looking at the genre of Qur’anic commentary, you might like to find out more about our first title in the Anthologies series, An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries - Volume I: On the Nature of the Divine, which was also edited by Dr Hamza alongside Dr Sajjad Rizvi.
Dr Bauer’s previous book, Gender Hierarchy in the Qur’an: Medieval Interpretations, Modern Responses, was a runner-up in the British–Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize in 2016 and explores how medieval and modern Muslim religious scholars interpret gender roles in Qur'anic verses on legal testimony, marriage and human creation. Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Professorial Associate at the Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, described it as “a must-read for anyone trying to understand how and why gender hierarchy became intrinsic to Muslim religious tradition and the challenge that the idea of equality presents to the tradition”.
Dr Bauer's 2013 edited volume Aims, Methods and Contexts of Quranic Exegesis (2nd/8th-9th/15th Centuries) is dedicated to the study of tafsir as a genre and illustrates that the study of context, genre constraints and hermeneutics is important, because tafsir represents not the one true understanding of the Qur’an, but rather a certain type of understanding and certain types of knowledge about the Muslim sacred Book.