As-Salāmu ʿAlaykum all,
I’ve been busy writing my next article over the past while or so. Now that it’s finally ready, I’m sharing it with anyone who might be interested. I would recommend reading the PDF as the footnotes are easier to access, and have a lot of important information:
– Web Link (I’ve been told they’re having some issues with the images which they are working on)
– PDF Link
This piece is intended to sketch out a rough “confessional approach” to Qurʾānic intertextuality. It covers a lot of different sorts of interactions and highlights a historical/theological method for how they could be understood by Muslims.
The reviewers at Yaqeen have been enormously helpful in providing feedback on how tone and specific arguments may be improved to appeal to the average reader. The review process was also fairly rigorous, which I think is a welcome change to how Muslims have been publishing about apologetics to date. We additionally had some other anonymous reviewers external to Yaqeen who provided extremely useful comments without which the utility of the article would have no doubt suffered.
Having said that, more “academic” readers should keep in mind that the article is supposed to appeal to a broad audience. Sometimes we entertain arguments we (or I) don’t personally hold if only to provide a few alternative solutions to complement our main arguments. Regardless, I think this article does bring some new contributions which we hope everyone would find useful.
With those disclaimers out of the way I had some points to make about the article itself. I can possibly think of an eighth category to add to the article which covers instances where the Qur’an’s stories overlap with non-revelatory accounts that were circulating after Jesus, but don’t contain any historical impossibilities (as opposed to, say, the Syriac Legend of Alexander / the Alexander Romance). I wouldn’t really know what to title this category, but I guess some examples would be parallels with canonical or even early apocryphal gospels (i.e. these documents aren’t revelation, but plausibly contain historical data), as well as (I guess more controversially) stories of saints such as the seven sleepers.
There were a few more topics I would eventually like to cover in future articles, such as:
- A positive argument from Qurʾānic intertextuality (probably up next, as a part 2 to this article). This is going to cover a lot of ground (history, literature, analytic philosophy) so I expect this to take a while.
- Qurʾānic Cosmology (in light of intertextuality etc)
- Dhū-l-Qarnayn (probably long overdue, but I don’t think Yaqeen is the right place to cover this so it might be delayed). Anyhow, I tentatively think it belongs in the same category as the Alexander Romance parallel discussed in our article (an instance of ‘historicization’).
Thoughts / relevant feedback welcome.
8 thoughts on “New article and site updates”
Hi Taha, it’s been a while, I’m really excited to read your paper as well for the future of blog!
Hope you’re doing well!
Dhul-Qarnayn (`alayhis-salam)! Pretty please?
I love your research. May Allah bless you in it.
The Syriac Legend has been bothering me for quite some time.
I read in your paper that they might have similar traditions, but there is one point that I can’t escape.
This about the sun prostrating to Allah is a direct quote from a Hadith of the prophet. There has to be direct borrowing in some effect. Can you share your thoughts?
The sun’s prostration to God at night isn’t something that originates from the legend, so it’s not necessarily the case that the hadith is alluding to the Syriac Legend here. This same idea is also found in the talmud:
As I discuss in my article for Yaqeen, many extrabiblical texts contain ancient traditions that were circulating during the time of prophecy before Jesus (see “category 1” in my article). This is especially true for the Talmud, so the Prophet saying something found in the talmud isn’t that different from him saying something found in the bible (i.e. not really problematic from a theological point of view).
Now as for interpretation. I’m inclined to think the story is metaphorical or is at least not to be taken at a surface level. It talks of the sun in highly anthropomorphic terms, such as speaking or bowing. This reminds me of trees prostrating in the Qur’an, clearly this isn’t intended to be an observable phenomenon. I think this is a decent discussion:
Even if the description was intended to be literal (which IMO it’s not), one is allowed to believe the Prophet wasn’t inspired when it came to scientific facts.
Hope that helps,
Salaam Taha, great to see you back!
I had a couple of questions for you:
(1) What is your personal favourite example of intertextuality?
(2) It’s interesting you mention Quranic cosmology in light of intertextuality. I’ve thought for some time now that Quranic cosmology could be another arena of intertextuality – after all, if it is being done with Quranic stories, then why not cosmology! One example that I’ve thought about in particular are the references to the jinn accessing information from the heavens – a poetic reference to the end of the age of astrology with the coming of the Qur’an (which, for me, is an interesting subject in itself). I wondered if intertextuality is also playing a part here?
In any case, reading your comment about intertextuality sparked my curiosity, and I’m wondering if there might be an example you could share to give us a taste of what is to come! (Or if there are any interesting papers you could recommend on the subject?).
As always, much appreciated and keep up the good work!
(1) Honestly, hard to say since there are so many and varied. I included my favorite micro-level ones (to do with turns of phrase / linguistic puns) in the above article at the end. For macro level stuff, I like the interaction with the Jesus stories, the Syriac Legends, and the story of Joseph.
(2) Interesting concept, I’m not sure. Tbh, cosmology is on my ‘to-do’ list of research so I have a lot to learn.
The intention of the next article iA would be to build on the one we just wrote, basically making a positive case for the Prophet’s inspiration on the basis of the qur’an’s intertextual knowledge. The argument is basically the same as what the Qur’an says, ie. he is an unlikely recipient and the Qur’an’s knowledge of christian/jewish lore isn’t explained well by the prophet authoring it himself.
Not sure when I’ll have time to write it but the intention is there…
This Question might not be related to the article (tho it’s a great one) but I wanted to ask you about David Marshall’s (God Muhammad and the Unbelievers) what do you think of it (if you’ve read it of courses)?
This site has a nice summary of it (though used for polemics) :
Thanks for your great work. How can you be contacted?