Gender and Muslim Constructions of Exegetical Authority

A Rereading of the Classical Genre of Qurʾān Commentary


A number of classical Sunnī Quran commentaries quote several different types of exegetical materials attributed to a few female figures from the first century A.H/seventh century C.E.—āthār, ḥadīths, legal opinions and variant readings, as well as lines of poetry. In Gender and Muslim Constructions of Exegetical Authority, Aisha Geissinger provides a comprehensive introduction to such quotations, and offers an analysis of their place and significance within the pre-modern genre of Quran commentary, demonstrating that key hermeneutical concepts in classical quranic exegesis (tafsīr) are gendered. Bringing together materials which have not previously been examined in detail and utilising gender as a lens through which to study them, this work provides a new approach to the study of pre-modern tafsīr.

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Aisha Geissinger, Ph.D. (2008) in Religious Studies, University of Toronto, is an Assistant Professor at Carleton University (Canada). Geissinger’s research is located at the intersection of the study of the Qurʾān and its exegesis, the Ḥadīth literature, and gender.
"Few studies of Koranic commentary can claim to be both meticulously researched and deeply engaging. …an elegantly argued and very innovative study of the foundational period of the genre of tafsir literature. As such it is an extremely valuable resource. Summing Up: Highly recommended." - J. Hammer, in: Choice Journal of the American Library Organization, July 2016
"The outcome of Aisha Geissinger’s research shows that female contributions to the interpretation of the Qurʾān as reflected in classical and medieval exegesis cannot be neglected, although they remain limited in scope and numbers in relation to their acknowledgement by male exegetical authorities. Despite the impressive amount of work presented here, the author points out that far more research will be needed to provide a more comprehensive picture of early Muslim women’s lasting exegetical impact." - Liselotte Abid, University of Vienna
Anyone interested in the history and development of quranic exegesis (tafsīr), or concerned with gender and constructions of religious authority in Muslim history. Institutes, academic libraries, post-graduate students, specialists.
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