Dr Tauseef Ahmad Parray
A surge of literature has been seen in the recent decades on Islam, its primary Sources (Quran and Hadith), history, law, and Islam vis-à-vis contemporary issues. Out of this scholarship, one of the interesting and exciting academic discipline, which is spread over a number of branches, and to which Muslims and non-Muslims (Orientalists/ Islamicists) have contributed extensively, is the area of the Quranic Studies—the studies related to Quran and its varied aspects. The major branches of Quranic Studies are: tafsir literature, Ulum al-Qur’an, translations of the Qur’an in various languages (especially English), and such new trends as Quranic hermeneutics, contextualist approach to Qur’an/ Quranic Text, thematic interpretations of Qur’an, simple introductions to the Qur’an, and personal wrestling(s) with the Sacred Text.
One more category in this area, which is no doubt significant but found scarcely (especially in the English language), is the publication of ‘Bibliographies’ on the Quranic Studies. Bibliography (as a work) is generally defined as a book which provides ‘a list of sources of information on a given subject, period, etc.’ or ‘a list of writings relating to a given subject’, or ‘a list often descriptive or critical notes of writings related to a particular subject, period, or author’.
The history of writing/ publishing Bibliographies in the Quranic Studies goes back to 1930s (with the publication of Sage Jr Woolworth linguistically and chronologically arranged “A Bibliography of Koran Texts and Translations”, published in ‘The Muslim World’ Journal, 17, 3, July 1927), and (since then) has continued throughout the coming decades. Some prominent examples are: Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu’s World Bibliography of the Translations of the Meanings of the Holy Quran (1980); Fawzi Mikhail Tadros’ The Holy Quran in the Library of Congress (1986); Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s three works: Bibliography of the Translations of the Meanings of the Glorious Qur’an into English (2007); Translating the Untranslatable: A Critical Guide to 60 Translations of the Qur’an (2011); and God’s Word, Man’s Interpretation: A Critical Study of the 21st Century English Translations of the Quran (2018); and Morteza Karimi-Nia’s Bibliography of the Quranic Studies in European Languages (2012).
A new (and recent) addition in this treasure house of bibliographies is Sajid Shaffi’s 21st Century Quranic Studies in English: A Bibliography [hereinafter shortened as Bibliography], published by Viva Books, New Delhi (2018) in association with K. A. Nizami Center for Quranic Studies [KANCQS], AMU. Below is provided an assessment of this new Bibliography.
Consisting of around 250 pages, this Bibliography is divided into five (5) parts, excluding Preface (pp. xiii-xiv) and ‘Foreword’ by Prof A. R. Kidwai (Director of KANCQS, AMU [pp. ix-xi]). Written by a young (Kashmiri) researcher, who is presently pursuing PhD from AMU (and is Assistant Convener, Quranic Studies Forum, KANCQS, AMU), this Bibliography lists and “covers works on 21st century Quranic Studies in English”, numbering 2000 (arranged alphabetically in each part and category, but numbered sequentially from 1—2000), which “includes the bibliographical details of the works related to the Quran in English—[complete] translations (45), books (400), journal articles/ book chapters (1200) and book reviews (200) in addition to unpublished theses/ dissertations (100)”. An “indispensable for the students of Quranic studies”, it lists these works under five (5) different categories; viz., English Translations of the Quran; Books on the Quran; Articles on the Quran; Book Reviews on the Quranic Studies; Theses on the Quran (p. xiii). An additional feature of this work is a list on ‘Reference Works on the Quran’, ‘List of Selected Journals’, and so on.
In the Foreword, Professor Kidwai highlights that one of the major objectives of CQS is “to enable the students of the Quran to gain or renew their acquaintance with the latest developments in the field of Quranic Studies” (p. ix). And, it is in the spirit of this objective that the work under review owes much to CQS. He also highlights the importance of publishing such kind of works in these words: “a Bibliography stands out as an excellent source of information … [and] is much more than a treasure house of hard information about the latest publications in the field. More importantly, it projects for a discerning eye [on] the main contours, emerging trends, thrust areas and geo-political dimensions of the area of study under discussion” (p. ix). Moreover, he highlights in clear terms the main goal of this Bibliography that it “affirms the pivotal position which the Quran enjoys in the world of scholarship” and thus highlights he “thematic diversity” of this scholarship. It underscores the “active participation of scholars of almost all parts of the world in the Quranic discourse”—Muslims (of Middle East, Asia, and Muslims settled in the West) and non-Muslims, or Western scholars/ Orientalists (pp. ix, x).
In his concise Preface (pp. xiii-xiv), the author, besides highlighting the importance and structure of the Bibliography, points out that while “maintaining hierarchy of the contents” this Bibliography provides detailed list of the 45 complete “English translations of the Quran” in the alphabetical order, which have been published in between 2000-2016. This forms the Part-I (pp. 1-6) of the work.
It is followed by ‘Books on the Quran’ (part-II, pp. 7-43) which includes entries from serial 46-472 under seven 97) categories, ranging from introducing the Quran to contemporary issues; ‘Articles on the Quran’ (Part-III, pp. 43-177) consists of 16 categories and includes entries from serial 473-1701; ‘Book Reviews on the Quranic Studies’ (Part-IV, pp. 177-196) containing entries from 1702-1899. These have been further categorized and classified, thematically, under specific headings: ranging from “Theology/ Metaphysics; The Quran and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); History of the Collection and Codex of the Quran; Art of the Quran Recitation; The Quran Translations and Translators; Interpreting the Quran” to such categories like ‘Law’, ‘Sufism’, ‘Comparative Religions/ Scriptures’, ‘Art and Architecture’, ‘Science’, in the Quranic Context. It also includes a list of the works which highlight “Contemporary Issues in the Quranic Context (Current Issues and the Quran/ Feminism and Related Issues); Orientalist Polemics and Muslim Responses” (pp. xiii-xiv). For instance, in these last two categories, entries from 1440-1587 and 1588-1638 are included, respectively.
Moreover, in Part-V, ‘Theses on the Quran’ (pp. 197-208), it provides a list of 100 PhD and Masters Theses/ Dissertations (numbering from serial 1900-1976 & 1977-2000, respectively). This is followed by (i) a list of 47 ‘Reference Works on the Quran’, which are sub-divided into Bibliographies, Concordances, Subject/ Content Guides, Catalogues, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias (pp. 209-212); and (ii) ‘List of Selected Journals’ which are 40 in number (pp. 213-14). It ends with the reader-friendly ‘Author Index’ (pp. 215-229), which though in alphabetical order lists the names of authors along with the entry number(s), which makes it easy to locate an author’s number of writings in different categories. For example, one of the prominent Quranic Studies scholars from India is Professor Kidwai and one finds that his name (as Kidwai, Abdur Raheem) appears in seven (7) different categories, like 28, 64, 65, 106-108, 710-713, 1659, 1768-1819 (p. 222); similarly, against the present reviewer’s name (Parray, T. A.) the number of entries mentioned are 193, 724, 1008, 1113, 1625, 1853-1855 (p. 225).
Thus, Sajid Shaffi’s 21st Century Quranic Studies in English: A Bibliography—which has numerous reader-friendly features—is a treasure trove of the works/ scholarship on the Quranic Studies produce from 2000. It helps budding researchers to get a clear idea of what has been, and is being written, on different aspects of the Quranic Studies. By it, one gets clear a clue of the trends and developments that have occurred since the last decades in this particular field of study. A useful resource, it will be helpful equally to the students and academicians of Quranic Studies in general, and particularly to those who are eager to venture into this field of study.
—The author is Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies, at GDC Pulwama, Kashmir. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org