Muslim Scripture and Theology 11/05/2013
Revelations come over a 22 year period
Early revelations in Mecca: short prophetic indictments
Late revelations in Mecca: longer interpretations of past prophets
Revelations from Medina: arguments, discourses, legal pronouncements
Interpreting Jewish and Christian past prophets: forging an identity for earliest Islam
Those coming from Medina: constitution—system of governance.
Turns war back on Mecca: proper combat in war and governance.
Critical of polytheism, idolatry
Active in social justice
Muhammad’s recitations were orally transmitted and were written on various materials
Paper, bark, pottery, decoration.
Survive and become the foundation for the official rescention of the Qur’an. Not written down in
one place for a long time
652 CE: Qur’an fragments are collected. Many competing versions: Uthman’s act of destroying
them and having one authoritative version was a genius thing Arranged in 114 suras/chapters of the Qur’an: each of them a revelatory event
Presented in order of length—not chronology, genre, or theme.
The shorter ones tended to be the earlier revelations.
Almost chronologically backwards: it can read very difficultly.
In interpretations, the Qur’an is not seen as timeless
“Beautifying the Qur’an with your voice”—reciters. Not singing
Muslim cultures prohibit music: this is not considered music, though.
Groups create their reality by sort of defining cultural things… what is music and what is not.
Scripture has almost magical powers: mezuzah, sayings from the Qur’an: apotropaic
Line of orthopraxy and orthodoxy.
Legalistic religion (like Judaism)—heart of religion
…But what is the law of god?
Prevailing local practices and customs
The Qur’an: if it says something, or not something, it’s important to the process of establishing
Personal opinion of the scholar trying to establish what is proper practice Equivalent to Halakha
Every locale is going to have a different set of laws (since it is the first thing to establish laws in
the first place).
Can the law of god be different in Quffa than it is in Mecca?
Shari’ah aw established in four steps
1. Qur’an: only about 10% of it lends itself to legal debate
2. Hadith/Sunnah: collective sayings of Muhammad when he wasn’t reciting Qur’an. Particular
saying of the prophet, or people around him.
could be placed as a second category: Muhammad is believed to have been incapable of erring.
Sunnah: what is drawn from that concrete saying—the theme that one learns from the Hadith.
Isnad: unbroken chain from present to Muhammad
3. Qiyas=analogy: modern innovations becoming theological debates and questioning if it’s okay
or should be avoided.
Heart of an orthopractic religion
4. Ijma=consensus: god will not allow a community to make an error. If something is widely
practiced or a … is widely held it must be okay.
Majority of people—consensus (of who).
How would this affect Islamists?
Examples of legal debates:
Coffee in the 16 century Initially decided that it is illegal. Theological debate goes back and forth