Author: Michael Bonner


While the Qurʾan approves of ascetic practices such as fasting and vigils, it does not insist on them. Nonetheless, Sloterdijk’s You Must Change Your Life may help us to identify an ascetic “training program” within the Qurʾan. This has as its main elements: hijra, in the sense of an ongoing attitude of separation and exile; jihad, in the sense of training for and engaging in combat, again as an ongoing attitude; and poverty, not in the sense of voluntarily undergoing deprivation, but of benefaction on a heroic scale recalling pre-Islamic Arabia. How do we contextualize this program and the Qurʾanic environment in general? While the historical narratives about Muhammad and the early community have plenty to say about these elements, they do not adequately account for the way they appear in the Qurʾan. We propose instead to use the chronological order of suras first proposed by Weil and Nöldeke, not to establish chronology but to identify diverse communities of reception within the Qurʾan, specifically with regard to poverty and generosity. The result is a simultaneous contrast and balance between values and practices based on reciprocity on the one hand, and requital/ reward on the other. Asceticism thus has a central role in a uniquely Qurʾanic system of economic and moral exchange.

In: Numen
In: Histories of the Middle East
In: The Islamic Scholarly Tradition
In: The Islamic Scholarly Tradition
Studies in History, Law, and Thought in Honor of Professor Michael Allan Cook
The volume contains highly original articles on Islamic history, law, and thought, each either proposing new hypotheses or readjusting existing ones. The contributions range from studies in the formulation of the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar to notes on the "blood-money group" in Islamic law, and to transformations in Arabic logic in the post-Avicennan period. Prepared by former students of Michael A. Cook, to whom this volume is dedicated, these studies not only shed new light on the development of the Islamic scholarly tradition from various perspectives, but together they also represent the honoree's vast, profound, and continuing impact on the field.
This collection of highly empirical articles is intended for scholars and students specializing in various subfields within Islamic Studies.