The Koran Criticism - Essay

George Sale (essay date 1734)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: George Sale, "The Preliminary Discourse," in Myth and Romanticism: A Collection of the Major Mythographic Sources Used by the English Romantic Poets, edited by Burton Feldman and Robert D. Richardson, Fr., 1734, pp. 56-69.

[Sale's translation of the late seventeenth-century Latin translation of the Koran by Luigi Marracci became the standard English version of the holy book at the time and retained that status until about the mid-nineteenth century. The translation is prefaced by a lengthy "Preliminary Discourse," treating the history of Arabia before the time of Muhammad as well as the history of the text's compilation, among other matters. The section of the "Preliminary...

(The entire section is 6456 words.)

Richard Bell (lecture date 1925)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Richard Bell, "The Beginnings of Muhammad's Religious Activity," in The Origin of Islam In Its Christian Environment, Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1926, pp. 64-99.

[In the following lecture, given in 1925 and published in 1926, Richard Bell traces the development of Muhammad's religious messages. Bell maintains that while Jewish and Christian influences were a part of Arabian life and thought during Muhammad's life, there is little evidence to show that the Prophet borrowed from Biblical writings.]

We turn now to Muhammad and the origin of Islam. It will not be necessary to go into any detail here with regard to the outward facts of the life of Muhammad. There...

(The entire section is 9292 words.)

Arthur Jeffery (essay date 1937)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Arthur Jeffery, "Introduction," in Materials for the History of the Text of The Qur'an: The Old Codices, E. J. Brill, 1937, pp. 1-11.

[In the following excerpt, Jeffery outlines the "orthodox Muslim theory" regarding the compilation of the text of the Koran and argues that, contrary to some accounts, there was no extant collection or arranged version of the text at the time of Muhammad's death. Jeffery further explains the suppression of various codices of the text following the compilation of the Uthmanic edition.]

Critical investigation of the text of the Qur'an is a study which is still in its infancy. Within the fold of Islam it seems...

(The entire section is 4430 words.)

Carl Brockelmann (essay date 1939)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Carl Brockelmann, "The Arab and the Arab Empire," in History of the Islamic Peoples, translated by Joel Carmichael and Moshe Perlmann, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1947, pp. 1-35.

[In the following excerpt, Brockelmann outlines some of Muhammad's teachings as presented in the Koran, focusing primarily on the religious duties of Islamablutions, prayer, fasting, pilgrimage to Mecca, and almsgivingwhich he maintains "have no inherent connection with the faith of the believer" but are rather characterized by "external legalism."]

Muhammad and His Teachings

The religious enthusiast Muhammad, who felt he was a prophet and...

(The entire section is 3869 words.)

H. A. R. Gibb (essay date 1945)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: H. A. R. Gibb, "Law and Society," in Modern Trends in Islam, The University of Chicago Press, 1947, pp. 85-105.

[In the following excerpt, Gibb discusses Islamic law and society as they exist based on the teachings of the Koran, focusing on the inequality of women in Islamic society.]

Since social ethics, social institutions, and law are, in principle, functions of the religious system in Islam, all these questions are tied up with religious orthodoxy to a much greater extent than they are in our Western civilization. The newer currents of thought on these subjects consequently flow in two different channels, which can be distinguished, theoretically at...

(The entire section is 7776 words.)

Richard Bell (essay date 1953)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Richard Bell, "The Structure and Style of the Qur'an," in Introduction to the Qur'an, Edinburgh University Press, 1953, pp. 67-81.

[In the following excerpt, Bell offers a detailed analysis of the structure and stylistic elements of the Koran, including discussion of the text's use of rhyme, strophes, similes, metaphors, and homiletic dramatic scenes, narratives, and parables.]


—The Qur'an, … presents itself in the form of surahs divided into verses. The questions arise whether the surahs are unities, and, if so, whether they show any organic structure; or, if they are not unities, whether we can...

(The entire section is 5663 words.)

J. M. S. Baljon (essay date 1961)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: J. M. S. Baljon, "Theological Issues," in Modern Muslim Koran Interpretation (1880-1960), E. J. Brill, 1961, pp. 55-87.

[In the following essay, Baljon surveys the theological issues dealt with in the Koran from the standpoint of mid-nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Koran interpreters and commentators.]

The Idea of God

When [Abu'l-Kalam] Azad in the letters, written during his imprisonment in fort Ahmadnagar, reveals his innermost thought on life, he confesses at a given moment to be not very pleased with the notion of a Personal God. Owing to this conception, "at every turn a hood of one or another...

(The entire section is 10925 words.)

J. J. G. Jansen (essay date 1974)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: J. J. G. Jansen, "Introduction: The Koran and Its Interpretation" and "Mohammad Abduh's Koran Interpretation," in The Interpretation of the Koran in Modern Egypt, E. J. Brill, 1974, pp. 1-34.

[In the following excerpt, Jansen discusses the history of the Koran's composition, the different viewpoints from which it has been interpreted, and issues surrounding its translation.]

The Koran and its Interpretation

Many sayings have been attributed to Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam. After his death these sayings have been included in the famous collections of Traditions on the life of Mohammed and his contemporaries....

(The entire section is 13714 words.)

Thomas Cleary (essay date 1993)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Thomas Cleary, in an introduction to The Essential Koran: The Heart of Islam, Harper, San Francisco, 1993, pp. vii-xvii.

[In this introduction to selected, translated readings from the Koran, Cleary discusses the beliefs of Muslims about their holy book. He focuses particularly on the relationship between faith and reason and surveys Muhammad's role in the compilation of the book.]

The Qur'an is universally known as the sacred book of Islam, the religion of submission to the will of God.…

The Qur'an is undeniably a book of great importance even to the non-Muslim, perhaps more today than ever, if that is possible....

(The entire section is 3864 words.)

Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Sachiko Murata and William C. Chittick, "Introduction," in The Vision of Islam, Paragon House, 1994, pp. xiv-xxiv.

[In the following excerpt, Murata and Chittick examine issues relating to the divine nature of the Koran and the language in which it is written. They also provide a detailed summary of Muhammad's life as it relates to the revelation of the Koran.]

To talk about Islam we need to define some terms. Islam is an Arabic word that means "submission to God's will." More specifically, it designates the religion established by the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed. A Muslim is one who has submitted to God's will, or one who follows...

(The entire section is 5676 words.)