The Quran and its Study

The Quran and its Study is an exhaustive textbook on the sciences of the Quran, or the discipline known as ulum al-Quran. It was written by Adnan Zarzour and translated by Adil Salahi (the author of the famous biography Muhammad: Man and Prophet).  Weighing in at more than 500 pages, this tome is carefully organized and is probably best suited to serve as a textbook or a reference book for students of the Quran and Islamic studies. The contents are divided into chapters, sections, and subsections that are carefully numbered and named. It is easy to locate specific topics and then to peruse the headings and subheadings of each chapter to find an exact point or opinion.

Here are just some of the contents: the Qur’an and Arabic; the collation of the Quran; the verses, surahs, and their arrangements; the seven harfs; reasons for revelation; the openings of the surahs; abrogation; translations; commentary on the Qur’an; and the inimitability of the Qur’an.

An example of the fantastic level of detail in this book is in Chapter 13 (“Openings of the Surahs”), in which Zarzour names the different ways surahs begin, enumerates how many surahs begin each way, and gives examples. The ways are the following: opening with God’s praises (14), opening with an address (10), opening with a verbal sentence (23), opening with an oath (15), opening with a conditional sentence (7), opening with an imperative (6), opening with an interrogative (6), opening with a condemnation (3), opening with reasoning (1), and opening with separate letters of the alphabet (29).

Something that I really enjoyed about this book is that it doesn’t shy away from differing points of view. It addresses controversial ideas, including orientalist accusations and misconceptions, in detail with evidence. In any issue that has several points of view, Zarzour mentions them all. For example, in the chapter on the collation of the Quran, he answers claims that ‘Uthman burned other copies to hide changes he introduced.

The careful examination of different points of view in detail sometimes requires footnotes. I found the footnotes interesting and useful, and I deeply appreciate the inclusion of footnotes rather than endnotes, making it easy to find more detail about a specific point without flipping to the end of the chapter and losing my train of thought.

If I have a criticism about this book, it is that it only very rarely includes Arabic words or their transliteration. Even in an English-language book, the inclusion of some terms in Arabic or in transliterated Arabic is often necessary for clarity. For example, in the section that outlines the alternate names of the surahs, only the English translations of these alternate names is provided. It will be impossible for a reader who is not familiar with the alternate names to definitively know the names of the surahs in Arabic from the English translation alone. The transliteration of the Arabic would have solved this problem nearly as well as the inclusion of the Arabic text, but without either, the reader is left to guess at the actual name recorded in the hadith. The inclusion of a small amount of Arabic in a book that provides this level of detail would not have been presumptive. The majority of readers interested in this type of book would probably have basic Arabic skills, and provided that the amount of Arabic included was limited to necessity, readers who do not read Arabic could have skipped over those words.

I recommend this book for English-speakers who are interested in delving into the sciences of the Quran.

I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Find it here: Kube Publishing


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