Methodological Approaches and Implications in Dealing with the Qurʾān

In: Al-Bayan: Journal of Qur'an and Hadith Studies
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This paper provides a critique of both traditionalist and Orientalist approaches to the Islamic core sources namely, the Qurʾān. The thrust of the paper will be to examine the different methods used to understand and deal with the Qurʾān and how those methods are reflected in the understanding or misunderstanding of the source itself. Thus, methodological issues with both traditionalist and Orientalist approaches will be examined. I may claim that while the primary sources are eternal, their interpretations are not eternal or unchanging. The interpretations are meant to address specific needs and problems within certain historical and social circumstances and therefore the emergence of ijtihad.

Also, to be examined is the relationship between reason and revelation in light of the Qurʾān, as it is unduly misrepresented that Islamic methodology does not give much weight to reason. I will argue here that reason is the locus of responsibility (manāt al-taklīf ). It is therefore difficult to understand revelation as a whole without the involvement of human mind in grasping, assimilating, synthesising and applying it.

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