The Gradual Qur'ān: Views of Early Muslim Commentators
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CitationMulyadi, Sukidi. 2019. The Gradual Qur'ān: Views of Early Muslim Commentators. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation is the first endeavor to explore the formulation of the gradual Qur’ān in early works of commentaries on the Qur’ān (pl. tafāsīr, sing. tafsīr al-Qur’ān). It draws upon the hitherto largely neglected genre of tafsīr in its early, formative age to argue that the early Muslim commentators sought to formulate and work out the general theory of the gradual Qur’ān through their reading and interpretation of the revealed text.
With impressive knowledge of the Qur’ān and its Arabic language, they were able to derive the theory of the gradual Qur’ān from their reading of the verb in Qur’ān 17:106 in the second form, “qur’ānan farraqnāhu—a Qur’ān that We have divided into pieces”, as opposed to the first form of the verb in the consensus-based “majority” reading, “qur’ānan faraqnāhu—a Qur’ān that We made clear”. This choice of reading meant that the revelation of 17:106 was construed as confirming the gradual, piecemeal Qur’ān. This study adduces a new, long list of early and medieval authorities who supported this reading.
The proclamation of the gradual Qur’ān was situated in the context of a polemical milieu. It emerged in Qur’ān 25:32 in a response to unbelievers’ demand for a single complete Qur’ān (jumlatan wāḥidatan), a demand based on a preconceived notion of the true revelatory process for monotheistic scriptures as occurring “all at once”. This was contradictory to the responsive, situational nature of the Qur’ānic revelation, which emerged in an ongoing series of prophetic-revelatory events, a history, as a collection of divine responses to incidents, situations, and objections in the lifetime of Muḥammad.
Finally, Qur’ān 53:1-18 can be shown to refer to visionary experiences as part of the gradual revelation, since here God swore by the gradual Qur’ān and references his manifesting Himself on different revelatory occasions. The process of visionary encounter can be interpreted as having begun with God standing on the highest horizon, then coming down slowly, drawing near to Muḥammad and finally revealing the Qur’ān to him in piecemeal fashion.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029833
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