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Humanities and Social Sciences Colloquium - Walid Saleh

SalehProf. Dr. Walid Ahmad Saleh
Islamic Studies
University of Toronto

The Story of a book: The Qur’an Commentary tradition through the fate of one book
When Jul 15, 2019
from 11:15 AM to 12:30 PM
Where FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, seminar room
Contact Name
Attendees Universitätsoffen / open to university members
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The Story of a book:  The Qur’an Commentary tradition through the fate of one book


The most important Qur’an commentary in the history of Islamic intellectual history remains shrouded in mystery.  When a Muslim scholar presented the story of this work, he claimed that it was celebrated from the day it was written.  A closer look at the archive and reception reveals a far more complicated (and interesting story).

In this talk I will outline why this problem – reception history, is fundamental to understand current intellectual development. Historical research remains our only method to disentangle the conflicting narratives of influence and orthodoxy. 

The work – Anwar al-Tanzil – was by the 19th century the universal work that was used to understand the Qur’an. Soon however, the rise of a new mode of hermeneutics displaced it, but also removed the urgency to investigate its history. 

This talk is the result of a decade of engagement with this story and I now am able to chart the story of this work in such a way that we can locate how and when it rose to dominance and how and where it lost its position.