This chapter deals with the types of exegesis found in the earliest commentaries on the Qur’an (second/eighth and third/ninth centuries). After discussing the authenticity of these commentaries, the chapter argues that their main purpose was to explain the meaning of the Qur’an. With the help of exegetical tools such as paraphrase, contextualization, and text typology, the commentators searched for God’s intention in the revealed Book. Linguistic analysis did not play an important role, as reflected by the paucity of grammatical terminology. When grammar emerged as an independent discipline at the end of the second/eighth century, it turned into a different direction: what had begun as analysis of the text now became analysis of the structure of the language
Joseph E. Lowry
This chapter provides a general overview of legal concepts and positive legislation in the Qur’an. It covers the Qur’an’s presentation of legal terms, concepts, and materials and surveys the various areas of legal subject matter regulated by the Qur’an. It also considers issues of literary form and the early history of the text that bear on the Qur’an’s legal content and the interpretation of that content. In addition, it summarizes the reception and elaboration of the Qur’an in the Islamic legal tradition, examines a range of views about law and the Qur’an presented by selected modern Muslim thinkers, and briefly treats the Qur’an’s role in modern legal systems.
Qur’anic ethics stands at the centre of Muslim exegesis of the Qur’an both in the past and the present. The belief exists that the Qur’an recommends crucial teachings for the good life that, in turn, serve as means of salvation in the afterlife. Dīn, one of the key ideas used in the revelation vouchsafed to the Prophet Muḥammad, carries with it the resonance of righteousness. Although the word dīn is translated as ‘religion’ in modern times, to the first listeners of the revelation it had a normative resonance related to human conduct. An overlapping semiotic framework provides for a nuanced and at times detailed ethical outline of practices in the Qur’an. Some attempts were made in the past to flesh out a Qur’an-based ethics, but it did not reach fruition. All Muslim ethicists would, of course, insist that the Qur’an forms the basis of their ethical deliberations. What some mean by a Qur’anic ethics is the centrality of Qur’anic teachings to the study of ethics while all other considerations ought to be deemed secondary. This is not how ethics unfolded in Islam historically speaking, for often Greek and mystical traditions of the ethical overlapped with those teachings derived from the Qur’an. In modern times this effort to find an exclusively Qur’an-based ethics was again attempted with mixed success or perhaps should be viewed as a work-in-progress.