Building on the success of Anthology, Volume I: On the Nature of the Divine, this second volume in the series focuses on a critical and contentious theme: Women in the Qurʾan and traditional Qurʾanic commentaries. It comprises analysis of the female subject in the Qurʾan, annotated translations of Qurʾanic commentaries spanning 12 centuries, interviews of contemporary Muslim scholars and extensive introductory materials, which frame the work throughout and render these technically complex materials accessible to the reader.
On Women begins with a critical introduction to the study of women and gender in the genre of Qurʾanic commentaries. A unique prolegomenon then follows key Qurʾanic terms in a chronological sequence, showing how the Qurʾan’s world view on women developed from the earliest Meccan revelations, when women were addressed only implicitly as a part of households or in the course of anti-pagan polemic, to the period of the final revelations in Medina, when women were addressed directly as pious and social subjects.
The remainder of the volume translates, critically annotates, and analyses interpretations of six select Qurʾanic verses on women. These verses, chosen because of their relevance to women’s lived experience, speak of the creation of humankind beginning with a single soul (Q. 4:1); the exemplary figure of Mary, the mother of Jesus (Q. 3:35–6); women’s status in marriage (Q. 4:34); women’s legal testimony and hence legal capacity (Q. 2:282); and ‘veiling’ as it relates to Qur’anic norms of modesty (Q. 24:31). While highlighting variation, continuity, and plurality in the genre of Qurʾanic commentaries, Volume II goes beyond medieval interpretive paradigms to include perspectives marginalised by that tradition, such as the voices of women themselves.