This book presents the work and ideas of the Syrian writer Muhammad Shahrur to the English-speaking world. Shahrur is at the moment the most innovative intellectual thinker in the Arab Middle East. Often described as the ‘Martin Luther of Islam,’ he offers a liberal, progressive reading of Islam that aims to counter the influences of religious fundamentalism and radical politics. Shahrur’s innovative interpretation of the Qur’an offers groundbreaking new ideas, based on his conviction that centuries of historical Islam, including scholarship in the traditional Islamic religious sciences, have obscured or even obliterated the Qur’an’s progressive and revolutionary message. That message is one that has endured through each period of human history in which Islam has existed, encouraging Muslims to apply the most contemporary perspective available to interpret the Qur’an’s meaning.
Muhammad Shahrur was born in Damascus in 1938. A Professor of Civil Engineering (Emeritus) at the University of Damascus, he has written since 1990 five major books in Arabic on the Qur’an and Islam in the modern world that have attracted widespread interest in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Andreas Christmann, Dr. Phil (1999) in Islamic Studies, University of Leipzig, is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam at the University of Manchester (UK). He has published extensively on religious thought and practices in contemporary Syria and Egypt.
The Qur’an, Morality and Critical Reason: The Essential Muhammad Shahrurwill immediately discern Muhammad Shahrur’s elaborate and intriguing effort to recast Qur’anic interpretation in the light of modern critical reasoning….Shahrur’s view is not simply bold. It is deeply humane. It bespeaks a vision of Islam that retains a universal ambition, yet willingly disposes of all notions of hierarchy among the world’s religious communities in their adherence to the truth of God’s revelation.
We must be grateful for the efforts made by Andreas Christmann, whose collaboration with Muhammad Shahrur resulted in this magnificent volume. His translations reflect an admirable command of theology, philosophy and the Arabic language.
Clifford Chanin, Project Syndicate
Specialist academics (Islam in the Middle East; Syria; Reform Islam); general academic scholars and students (contemporary Islamic thought); lay Muslim readers and the general Muslim public in the English-speaking world who will read and discuss the book from a normative point of view.