People of the Book An Analytical Study of Jews and Christians in the Qur’an With Particular Reference to Contemporary Exegetical Discourse
Date: 1 July 2019
University of Exeter
PhD in Islamic Studies and exegeses
Abstract This thesis will analyse the Qur’anic discourse regarding the People of the Book (Ahl Al-Kitāb). In the first two parts of the thesis, this will be investigated through the classical exegesis of Al-Ṭabarī. In the final and major part of the thesis, two contemporary exegeses will be examined: those of Ibn ‘Āshūr, and Sha‘rāwī. ...
Abstract This thesis will analyse the Qur’anic discourse regarding the People of the Book (Ahl Al-Kitāb). In the first two parts of the thesis, this will be investigated through the classical exegesis of Al-Ṭabarī. In the final and major part of the thesis, two contemporary exegeses will be examined: those of Ibn ‘Āshūr, and Sha‘rāwī. The study has two aims: to carry out an in-depth study of the texts of the Qur’an related to the People of the Book, and to demonstrate the exegetical discourse and interpretation of these texts in the selected exegeses. This will be achieved by analysing these texts, assessing their historical context and Asbāb al-Nuzūl (occasions of revelation), and comparing the ways in which the said exegeses reflect the People of the Book. The study seeks to answer the following question: To what extent do the classical and contemporary exegetes understand and contextualise the passages relating to the People of the Book? There are other subsidiary questions which are linked to the main question and to the theme of the thesis will be answered throughout the thesis. These questions are: Do these passages demonstrate the categorisation of Ahl Al-Kitāb into negative, positive, polemical aspects? How do the Muslim exegetes understand this categorisation in the Makkan and Madinan Qur'an? Can these passages, as interpreted by Muslim exegetes, be considered as evidence for a neutral attitude and tone towards other faiths? Do they demonstrate the possibility of achieving salvation for these groups of faiths? This study endeavours to analyse the different ways in which the People of the Book are highlighted in the explicit and implicit discourses of the Qur’an, as well as the reasons for these differences. The study finds that the Qur’anic discourse employs positive language when dealing with the Sacred Books and messengers of the People of the Book, but that it alternates between positive and negative discourse when dealing with the People of the Book themselves―the followers of these Holy Books and messengers. It also finds that belief in One God and doing good deeds are the main gateways to achieving salvation in the classical and two contemporary exegeses. Through this discourse, we can discover how the Qur’an addresses the People of the Book, including Muslims.
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