The Qur’ān before the book - History and concepts of Qur’ānic variants (qirā’āt)

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Asma Hilali

Abstract

Purpose: This paper addresses methodological issues related to the concept of ‘Qur’ānic variants and readings’ (qirā’a pl. qirā’āt and ḥarf pl. aḥruf, respectively). I investigate the way they have been depicted in early Islamic narratives, developed in the field of medieval Islamic Qur’ānic sciences (ʿulūm al-Qur’ān), and discussed in Western Qur’ānic studies scholarship in the last two decades.


Methodology: The paper proceeds chronologically by discussing variants in the three aforementioned fields: early narratives, classical Islamic Qur’ānic sciences (ʿulūm al-Qur’ān), and modern Western scholarship.


Findings: The paper shows the necessity of generating a new approach to studying the history of the Qur’ān and its main concepts. The epistemological tools used in Western Qur’ānic studies on the history of the text of the Qur’ān need to be renewed.


Originality: The paper addresses epistemological issues related to Western Qur’ānic studies. It seeks to assess the progress in the field and offers a new perspective on the study of specific topics: Qur’ānic variants and readings.

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Keywords

Variants, Qur’ān
Early Islam
Collections of the Qur’ān
Transmission of the Qur’ān
Qur’ānic sciences

Section
Articles in English
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