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Quran and Reform

Rahman, Arkoun, Abu Zayd


Katharina Völker

The author examines three 20th/21st century Muslims' accounts of reading the Quran. To master contemporary social challenges, Fazlur Rahman (d. 1988), Muhammad Arkoun (d. 2010), and Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd (d. 2010) call for revisiting the Islamic heritage, plus a fresh look onto the Quranic 'spirit'. The investigation leads through following concepts: the nature of the Quran, revelation and prophecy, the role of Muhammad and Prophethood. Discoursing the philosophers' reform ideas leads to an analysis of their exegetical methods. Do the proposed Quran hermeneutics support their reform projects? This book uncovers pros and cons of these socio-intellectual innovations. It finally concludes: the thinkers' scholarly and philosophical attitude exposes itself as a humanistic endeavour.

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Arabic terms are transliterated according to the system established in the International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES). In English frequently used words such as Islam, Muslim, Quran, hadith, and sunna lack diacritical marks. These exceptions are found in the IJMES Word List (Except Chart). Transliterations, especially those with diacritics are italicised. Transliteration in quotations remains unchanged and might follow different rules. An apostrophe is used for the letter hamzah. An inverted superscript comma is used for the ‘ayn, except where it appears spelled as cayn in quotations or titles.


Translations from German into English are my own, if not otherwise indicated.

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