This latest edition of Discovering the Qur'an includes a new preface by the author. Used by students around the world as a reliable guide to reading a translation of the Qur'an, it shows how the Qur'an is experienced by Muslims, describing the rhythmic and rhyme scheme structures, the context in which it is heard, the part played by learning by heart, and the importance of calligraphy. It is also about the Qur'an and its relationship to Muhammed, as well as helping to divine the ordering of the surahs or chapters. In an English-speaking world newly sensitized to Islam and its believers, Discovering the Qur'an will be an invaluable tool to greater understanding.
Very good careful technical introduction to the way the Qur'an works as a text, with particular attention to the sound of words. Contains a useful summary and rebuttal of the Hagarism thesis. Adopts a more conservative attitude to textual criticism than more radical western scholars (arguing for instance that the Surahs are not a mere patchwork of editorial activity). Persuasively argues for a single author (skirting around the Muslim claim for the divine nature of the author!) while helpfully showing to a western reader why the text is not as disjointed and confusing as initially appears. Good summaries of each chapter; occasionally a little too didactic; the latter chapters are pretty technical and not easy reading. Overall very helpful for understanding the Qur'an, it's form and it's language.
Takeaways: - The chapters in the Qur'an are not strictly in descending order of length, rather, the chapters are arranged in complimentary pairs somewhat.
- The Qur'an is an oral tradition and commands the full use of the mouth and for stylistic shifts. In the written Qur'an, this is achieved by elongating letters or words.
- Some chapters and verses contain perfect ring compositions. The words are metaphoric, allowing the readers to extrapolate meanings according to circumstances. The Qur'an repeatedly shifts from first person, to second to third - this device is used for dramatic effects.
- The Qur'anic message is mostly revealed in several major registers (tone of voice) which deals with monotheism, eschatology, polemical discussions, historical narratives, laws and others.