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With Reverence for the WordMedieval Scriptural Exegesis in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam$
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Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Barry D. Walfish, and Joseph W. Goering

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195137279

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195137279.001.0001

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Discussion and Debate in Early Commentaries of the Qurʼān

Discussion and Debate in Early Commentaries of the Qurʼān

Chapter:
(p.320) 21 Discussion and Debate in Early Commentaries of the Qurʼān
Source:
With Reverence for the Word
Author(s):

Fred Leemhuis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195137279.003.0021

In verse 119 of sūrat al-Nisā, the fourth sūrat of the Qurʼān, Satan is quoted as having said about the pagans, “I will lead them astray, and fill them with fancies, and I will command them and they will cut off the cattle's ears: I will command them and they will alter God's creation”. What precisely was meant by the phrase “alter God's creation” apparently gave rise to vehement debate in the early period of Qurʼānic commentary. The argument centers on the phrases “nature” and “natural order”, as well as the word “a'rāf” which is taken to denote the limbo between paradise and hell. Many later Qurʼān commentators, like al-Tabarī and al-Samarqandī, considered these debates about the meaning of many passages in the word of God as revealed to the Apostle of Islam as having really occurred among the founders of Qurʼānic commentary. They extrapolated them from the enormous mass of traditions that they collected and presented in their commentaries.

Keywords:   Qurʼān, commentaries, God, nature, natural order, limbo, hell, paradise, Islam

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