Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies
This pioneering volume, the first in a series, presents a plurality of voices, methods and concerns in Qur’anic interpretation ranging from the 8th century to the present day. No previous work has drawn on such a comprehensive range of commentaries and covered such a wide spectrum of theological approaches. On the Nature of the Divine analyses the works of twenty selected Sunni, Shi‘i, Ibadi, Mu‘tazili, and Sufi commentators on six Qur’anic verses, revealing varied approaches to the scripture and its meaning. In their attempts to discern God's nature, the commentators inevitably introduce their own particular theological concerns into their commentaries. Contextual introductions and annotated translations allow the reader to follow the genesis of key intellectual debates and religio-political attitudes still relevant to the lives of Muslims today. This combination of previously untranslated texts and extensive annotation provides an invaluable and innovative contribution to the field of Islamic studies.
Map of Centres of Learning in the Islamic World
The Commentators and their Commentaries
1: Seeking the Face of God (Q. 2:115)
2: God’s Throne and the Seat of Knowledge (Q. 2:255)
3: Incumbent Mercy (Q. 6:12)
4: Light of the Heavens and the Earth (Q. 24:35)
5: The Measure (Q. 54:49)
6: Oneness (Q. 112:1–2)
Index of Qur’anic Citations
‘this volume is a stunning achievement, whose breadth and depth successfully demonstrate the extraordinary diversity of the faith from its very earliest, formative years through to the present. As such, the editors, and Oxford University Press and the Ismaili Institute are to be congratulated and thanked for the service this contribution renders both the specialist and layperson alike.’
– Andrew J. Newman, Journal of Qur’anic Studies
‘[a] superbly presented and valuable effort’
– Gibril Fouad Haddad, Journal of Islamic Studies
‘a significant advance in the burgeoning field of Tafsir studies ... This anthology is the result of a careful process of deliberation and insightful judgements. The meticulousness of the editors is apparent in every aspect of the book. The selections are extensive, the translations read well and are faithful to the Arabic original.’
– Walid A. Saleh, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
‘superb collection ... Over and above the consistently high quality of the individual contributions, a major strength of Suleman's collection is its breadth of chronological and geographic coverage ... With a useful glossary, and generous bibliography, this volume definitely belongs in all university libraries supporting comprehensive art history, comparative religion, and Islamic Studies programs.’
– John Renard, Religion and the Arts
‘Notwithstanding its modest title of being an “anthology”, it is massive scholarly feat which covers vast ground... The editors’ selection of the commentators is wide-ranging and representative, enabling as it does readers to gain acquaintance with diverse strands of thought and sectarian perspectives. It is quite impressive to encounter a multiplicity of approaches, mindsets, sectarian considerations, and tools and strategies at work in the numerous attempts to arrive at the meaning of the Qur’an... The volume is an epitome of solid scholarship’
– Abdur Raheem Kidwai, The Muslim World Book Review
‘A remarkable and unique contribution to the field of Qur’anic research and scholarship in English language...I recommend this book to all students and scholars of the Qur’an.’
– Muhammad Khan, The Muslim News
‘a sumptuous book that is copiously annotated and immensely rewarding for the reader...This anthology is as rich, if not richer, than any single tafsir work in the original Arabic, and provides an unparalleled journey through the entire gamut of Qur’anic commentaries. I eagerly await the next volume.’
– Scott C. Lucas, Journal of Shi'a Islamic Studies
‘On the Nature of the Divine is a marvellous piece of work that brings the tafsir tradition alive... a true masterpiece of translation, editing and annotation.’
– Andrew Rippin, Professor of Islamic History, University of Victoria
Feras Hamza is Assistant Professor and Co-ordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Dubai. He was a Research Fellow at The Institute of Ismaili Studies from 2003 to 2008 and has translated the Tafsir al-Jalalayn (2008). He is general editor for future volumes of the Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries.
Sajjad Rizvi is Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies. and Director of the Centre of Islamic Philosophy at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. The author of Mulla Sadra and Metaphysics (2009), he is compiling a monograph on Mīr Dāmād and a reader on later Islamic philosophy.
Farhana Mayer is an editor in the Qur’anic Studies Unit at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. She has translated the early Tafsīr ascribed to Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq (Spiritual Gems of Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq, forthcoming 2010).