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Qur'anic Studies

Variant Readings of the Qur'an

The canonization of the Qurʾānic variants (Dr Shady Nasser)

 This project aims to study the second stage of the canonization of the Qurʾān, which took place between 935-1193. Contrary to the common belief that the Qurʾān was codified in its final form during the reign of the third Caliph ʿUthmān b. ʿAffān (d. 656), this study will show that the Qurʾān transmitted to us nowadays was the product of continuous editing, refinement, and industrious corroboration of various transmissions, which all took place in the first few centuries after the first codification project by ʿUthmān, culminating in the standardized variants transmitted and promulgated by al-Shāṭibī (d. 1193) in Muslim Spain.

Variant readings of the Qurʾān in the Shīʿī/Imāmī tradition (Dr Shady Nasser)

The discipline of the variant readings of the Qurʾān was mostly developed and refined by Sunnī Muslims, while the Shīʿī tradition claimed that there should be no such thing as variant readings in the Qurʾān; for the Qurʾān is “one” and it was revealed by the “One”. This project tracks down the Shīʿī/Imāmī views on the variant readings of the Qurʾān from the earliest sources available to us, and aims at drawing a dynamic map that shows the channels of transmission among the Sunnīs and the Shīʿīs between the 8th and 10th centuries.

Variant readings of the Qurʾān and variances in Legal rulings

(Dr Shady Nasser) 

The variant readings of the Qurʾān do not only comprise variances in pronunciation that do not affect the meaning. Many variant readings cause a significant shift in meaning, which ultimately leads to different legal rulings depending on which reading the jurist is following. This project aims at collecting and discussing all the instances in the Qurʾān where variant readings cause a significant shift in meaning and ultimately a different legal ruling between the different legal schools or even among the jurists of the same eponymous legal school. 



A Comparative Study of Sufi Commentaries on the Twelfth Sura of the Qurʾan (Sūrat Yūsuf) 

(Dr Annabel Keeler)

So far this study has looked at five Sufi commentaries dating from the 11th-14th centuries CE, those of Abū ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (d. 1021), Abū’l-Qāsim al-Qushayrī (d. 1072), Rashīd al-Dīn Maybudī (fl. 1126), Rūzbihān Baqlī (d. 1209) and ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Kāshānī (d. circa 1330). The study has firstly focused on the way that the emergence of love mysticism has affected interpretations of the figure of the prophet Jacob in the Qurʾanic story of Joseph, and secondly, has examined hermeneutical developments that appear in Sufi exegesis over this period, showing how these are manifested in the Sufis’ understanding not only of Jacob but also of Zulaykhā (the wife of Potiphar) in the interpretation of this Sura.

The study will now examine more closely several later Sufi commentaries on Sūrat Yūsuf, including those of Vāʿez Kāshefi (d. 1504 or 5), Ismail Ḥaqqī Burūsavī (d. 1725) and Ibn ʿAjība (d. 1809), in order to demonstrate further ways in which this Sura has provided Sufis with particular scope to expound their doctrines through scriptural exegesis.

 One article,  ‘Towards a Prophetology of Love: the Figure of Jacob in Sufi Exegesis’, is forthcoming; another, ‘The Changing Roles of Zulaykhā: Sufi Hermeneutics and the Interpretation of Sūrat Yūsuf ’, is in progress.