Between Dogmatism and Speculation: A Critical Assessment of Qirā'āt Studies


Suheil Laher


This paper analyzes the current state of Western research on the variant readings of the Qur'ān and how it differs from traditional Muslim scholarship through the lens of objectivity and bias. After a brief survey of the major views in the field, I identify three major sources of contention between the two camps: the problem of sources, disagreements concerning the history of the Arabic language, and disputes over the value of the isnād (chain of transmission) as an indicator of historical reliability.

Each camp’s premises and goals impact their research, and each camp may perceive the other as biased. I then discuss how to use the concept of “objectivity as responsibility” to defuse the bias paradox and outline suggestions for measures that the two camps could adopt to facilitate a more productive way forward



Qirā'āt Studies
isnād (chain of transmission)
Western research

Articles in English
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