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Book: Scriptural Polemics: The Qurʾān and Other Religions

This volume is an important contribution to understanding the impact of the key polemical Qur’anic passages about Judaism and Christianity that shaped Muslim theology of the ‘other.’ Sirry’s meticulous reading of the Qur’anic commentaries to expound this theology is thoroughly grounded in both the classical as well as the modernist-reformist commentaries.

A number of passages in the Qur’an criticize Jews and Christians, from claims of exclusive salvation and charges of Jewish and Christian falsification of revelation to cautions against the taking of Jews and Christians as patrons, allies, or intimates. Mun’im Sirry offers a novel exploration of these polemical passages, which have long been regarded as obstacles to peaceable interreligious relations, through the lens of twentieth-century tafsir (exegesis). He considers such essential questions as: How have modern contexts shaped Muslim reformers’ understanding of the Qur’an, and how have the reformers’ interpretations recontextualized these passages? Can the Qur’an’s polemical texts be interpreted fruitfully for interactions among religious communities in the modern world?

Sirry also reflects on the various definitions of apologetic or polemic as relevant sacred texts and analyzes reformist tafsirs with careful attention to argument, literary context, and rhetoric in order to illuminate the methods, positions, and horizons of the exegeses. Scriptural Polemics provides both a critical engagement with the tafsirs and a lucid and original examination of Qur’anic language, logic, and dilemmas, showing how the dynamic and varied reformist interpretations of these passages open the way for a less polemical approach to other religions.

About the Author

Mun’im Sirry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He earned his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School. His articles have appeared in several peer-reviewed journals, including Arabica, BSOAS, Interpretation, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Journal of Semitic Studies, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, The Muslim World, Studia Islamica, and Der Welt des Islams.

Table of Contents

1. Chapter One: The Qur’an and Modern Tafsir
a. Islamic Reform, Tafsir, and Religious Diversity
b. Reformist Muslim Approach to Medieval Qur’an Commentaries
c. Concluding Remarks

2. Chapter Two: Towards Understanding the Qur’an’s Polemical Texts
a. The Qur’an and Its Polemical Context
b. The Ambiguity of Qur’anic Criticisms
c. Is the Qur’an Supersessionist?
d. Concluding Remarks

3. Chapter Three: Contesting the Theology of Exclusivist Salvation
a. Al-Islam as the Only True Path to Salvation
b. Between Inclusive and Exclusive Islam
c. Re-Interpreting the Superiority of Islam
d. Concluding Remarks

4. Chapter Four: The Falsification of Jewish and Christian Scriptures
a. The Charge of Scriptural Distortion
b. The Concealment of Truth
c. Between Twisting the Tongues and Writing the Book with Hands
d. Concluding Remarks

5. Chapter Five: Qur’anic Denials of Sonship, Human-Divinity and Trinity
a. ”Son of God”
b. The Divine Nature of Jesus
c. Trinitarian Doctrine
d. Concluding Remarks

6. Chapter Six: Inter-Religious Restrictions and Engagements
a. Treatment of Non-Muslim Dhimmis
b. Friendship with the Unbelievers
c. Obstacles to Inter-Religious Relations
d. Concluding Remarks

Bibliographic Information

Title: Scriptural Polemics: The Qur’an and Other Religions

Author: Mun’im Sirry

Publisher: Oxford University Press

 Language: English

Length: 336 pages

ISBN: 9780199359363

Pub. Date: 02 June 2014

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