Theology: The Quran and Its Exegesis Term Paper
Similarities and Differences between Rahman, Mattson, and Class Note’s Approach to Theological Themes Touching on God, Man, and Eschatology
In his book ‘Major Themes of the Quran’, Rahman seeks to explain the teachings provided in the Quran. He achieves this by discussing three major theological themes. The subjects are God, man, and eschatology. Rahman begins by arguing for the existence of God. He describes it as a metaphysical phenomenon (Rahman, 7). He argues that God’s existence can be explained by facts and happenings that remind man of the presence of a supernatural being.
Secondly, he depicts God as the Master who ought to be served. He associates Him with morality. According to Rahman, God is glorious and mighty. He is also merciful to humankind. Rahman describes man as God’s creation. He is quick to note that man is a special creation of God in that he is fashioned after him. According to Rahman, a man should serve God. He further states that man has ‘free will’ and has a tendency to rebel against God.
With regards to eschatology, he is of the opinion that every man will be answerable to God for his deeds (Rahman, 43). Man’s judgment will be based on ethics. Rahman is also of the opinion that eschatology seeks to give a man a sense of responsibility. He is of the view that individuals will be judged for their deeds, misdeeds, and what they failed to do.
Mattson begins by describing God as a universal phenomenon. Like Rahman, she acknowledges that this God is the creator. In her book, the Supreme Being is also depicted as being close to His people. She also describes Him as a metaphysical being (Mattson, 4). She quotes verses from the Quran and uses such phrases as ‘His hands’ and ‘His face’. Mattson describes man as a special creation. She is of the opinion that God is close to man. Like Rahman, she describes human beings as servants of God. Mattson’s work also touches on life after death. She is quick to note that every man will be answerable before God for their deeds and misdeeds.
According to the lecture notes, there is one God known as Tawhid. However, compared to the two texts, the notes portray Him as being closer to humankind. According to the lectures, God gave an oral speech to Muhammad. The speech later came to be known as the Quran.
The lecture notes also touch on the theme of man. They describe him as a noble creature. Like in the other texts, the lecture materials note that God requires man to obey His laws as stipulated in the Quran. However, the notes do not talk about life after death (Lecture 12/01/14). They state that man will be afflicted with a lot of pain during his time for failure to heed to the laws of God.
A Comparative Analysis of the Principles and Ideas of Exegesis as Described by Ayoub, Mattson, and in Class Notes
Exegesis refers to the interpretation of the Quran. Different writers have varying ideas with regard to this concept. Ayoub is of the opinion that only God knows the true meaning of the Quran. The messages in this book were passed from God to Muhammad through angel Gabriel. Ayoub is concerned that the translators changed the meaning of the Quran in their attempt to paraphrase it (Ayoub, 23). He is of the opinion that it is not possible to reproduce the Quran. The book can only be understood in Arabic, which was the original language of the holy text before translations.
Mattson agrees with Ayoub that the scriptures in the Quran were revealed to Muhammad through angel Gabriel. Mattson is of the opinion that the Quran is not structured in chronological order. The ‘Suras’ are arranged according to their length (Mattson, 187). She is of the opinion that the true interpretation of the book can only be done by God. She is seen to imply this by stating that the reason why the Quran cannot be ordered is that no one is aware of the actual timing of the revelations highlighted in the various ‘Suras’.
The lecture notes also explain exegesis. They agree with the views of Ayoub and Mattson that the interpretation of the Quran is not entirely accurate (Lecture 11/19/14). The interpreters of the book changed the contexts of some of the wordings to improve the meanings. Many changes were also done during the interpretation of the Quran in an attempt to make the sentences grammatically correct. In addition, the lecture notes state that the Quran has borrowed heavily from the Bible (Lecture 11/17/14).
Comparison of the Different Trends and Types of Exegesis that have been Developed Historically
The term Tafsir refers to interpretations of the Quran. Like any other process, this concept is dynamic (Ayoub, 23). The interpretation of the holy book has changed over the years. The development has resulted from a change in generations of prophets. It is important to note that the history of Tafsir dates back to the early Abbasid Period [c. 150 AH] (Lecture 11/19/14). At the time, the translators depended solely on oral reports to pass the message of God. The prophets and the companions passed the scriptures to their audience in no particular order. The verses were not written down. At the time, the prophets relied on their memory to record and store information concerning the Quran.
Since its inception, numerous changes have been witnessed in the field of ‘Tafsir’. The first step towards the evolution of this concept was the shift from the traditional oral system of sharing information to books (Lecture 11/19/14). A number of factors contributed to this change. The factors include the development of writing skills and paper technology. At this stage, different authors came up with various verses to make up a hadith collection.
Between the end of the 2nd century and early 3rd century, writing skills had already developed. The Tafsir was composed of different books based on traditions. The period between the end of the 3rd century and early 4th century saw the Quran organized into different verses. The compilation was based on different traditions (Lecture 11/19/14). Over the years, the Tafsir book has been regularly updated to reflect changes in society.
The Ethical-Social Message of the Quran as Presented by Rahman, Mattson, and in Lecture Notes
There is no doubt that the Quran seeks to improve the relationship between man and other members of society. Rahman is of the opinion that the main aim of the holy book is to establish a social order that is viable and ethical (Rahman, 79). He is of the view that an individual plays a major role to make sure that this relationship is fruitful. Society only helps man to satisfy his sociological needs. Rahman further argues that there is no such thing as a ‘societiless’ man. He goes further to insist that whenever there are two or more individuals, God becomes part of the relationship. He (God) watches and witnesses the deeds of these persons. As such, man has a moral obligation to treat others ethically since the Almighty is watching his every move.
Mattson is of the opinion that the Quran advocates for the peaceful coexistence of mankind. God intends for man to co-exist peacefully. Her views differ from those held by Rahman, who concentrates only on the relationships between Muslims (Mattson, 18). Mattson is of the view that the Quran does not discriminate against those individuals who do not subscribe to the Islamic faith. She holds that the book is not rigid. It promotes relations even among individuals from different religious faiths. She is of the view that God is against social evils, such as terrorism, a vice that she deeply despises.
The lecture notes present the Quran as the holy word of God, which emphasizes ethical deeds. The book also emphasizes social responsibility and justice (Lecture 11/3/14). The notes promote a view that is similar to that held by Rahman by arguing that the Quran only guides relations between members of the Islamic faith. Unlike Mattson, the lectures indicate that the holy text seeks to unite Muslims towards a common religious and ethical cause. However, the notes contradict Rahman’s view that the individual plays a major role in a relationship (Lecture 9/22/14). According to the lecture notes, the prophet is charged with the responsibility of promoting ethical solidarity between members of the society.
The Role of the Quran in Muslim Life as Presented in Mattson and the Film ‘Koran by Heart’
In her book ‘The Story of the Quran’, Mattson describes the Quran as the Holy Scriptures for Muslims. She further notes that the book gives a detailed account of the history surrounding the origins of Islam (Mattson, 148). By reading the book, Mattson is of the opinion that one will gain an understanding of how the various facets of Islam came to be. She describes the Quran as her lens and guide in life (Mattson, 196).
The book enables a Muslim to understand the will of God. It helps man improve his relationship with God by heeding to the rules outlined in the verses. According to Mattson, the Islamic culture is outlined in detail in the Quran. As a result, the book acts as a guideline in relation to the manner in which man should behave. She considers the Quran as a must-read for people from all religions (Mattson, 253). She is of the view that by interacting with this text, other people will be in a position to understand and appreciate Muslims.
The film ‘Koran by Heart’ also recognizes the Quran as Islam’s holy book. The book contains the word of God. It should be read by all believers regardless of their age. The Quran guides the Muslim faithful. It also showcases the Islamic culture. As such, the holy book plays a major role in the development of young Muslims in society. It gives guidelines on how a Muslim should act in life. According to the film, it is important for the Muslim faithful to read and memorize the Quran to keep the word of God close to their heart (The Koran by Heart).
The holy book is also viewed as a unifying factor given that children from different parts of the world converge at Cairo for an annual contest that involves reciting its various verses. However, the film contradicts the opinions held by Mattson with regards to who should read the Quran. The producers of the movie promote the idea that the book is only meant to guide the Islam religion.
A Comparative Analysis of the Interpretations of Verses Dealing with Women in Ayoub’s Book
Throughout the Quran, women are considered to be the weaker gender. Their rights are suppressed. On the contrary, men are allowed to enjoy the acts that are considered evil when committed by women. Ayoub is of the opinion that a Muslim woman who renounces the Islam faith can be punished through death (Ayoub, 226). The same treatment is meted out on divorced women. They should be made to repent their sins. Failure to comply can lead to immediate death.
Mattson is of the opinion that the Islam faith should be safeguarded at all costs from interferences promoted by the western world (Mattson, 216). She advocates for the empowerment and respect of women in society. However, she is of the opinion that Islamic laws should be safeguarded since they protect the morals of the Muslims. As such, she does not object to the fact that the Quran views women as the weaker sex.
It is clear that Islam treats women as the weaker gender compared to men (Ayoub, 229). The inequality is mostly visible at the family level where men are allowed to engage in polygamy while women are prohibited from having sexual contact outside the marriage. Failure to heed this law is regarded as adultery (Ayoub, 229). Divorced women are subjected to humiliation. They are expected to repent or face immediate execution.
Ayoub, Mahmoud. The Quran and its Interpreters, Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1984. Print.
History of Composition of Tafsir. Lecture Notes.
History of Early Tafsir. Lecture Notes.
Isra’liyyat in Tafsir. Lecture Notes.
Mattson, Ingrid. The Story of the Quran, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. Print
Muhkam and Mutashabih: Definitive and In-Definitive verses in Quran. Lecture Notes.
Rahman, Fazlur. Major Themes of the Quran, Moorhead, MN: Bibliotheca Islamic, 1994. Print.
The Koran by Heart. Ex. Prod. Greg Barker, John Battsek, and David Grabias. New York: Motion Pictures. 2011. DVD.
The Quran and Religious and Social Transformation from Tribal Solidarity to Ethical Community (Ummah). Lecture Notes.
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