UNC-Chapel Hill, spring 2007

RELIGIOUS STUDIES 490

The Qur'an as Literature

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Schedule
Notes:
Deadlines and important dates are in red
* = Instructor out of town

1. Jan. 15    MLK day (university holiday; no class)

reading on your own

[for those with no previous background, read Carl W. Ernst, Following Muhammad, esp. chapter 3, "The Sacred Sources of Islam" ]
Robinson, pp. 1-24
Cook, pp. 3-7
Ernst, "Reading Strategies for Introducing the Qur'an As Literature."

Journal: ways that different people approach the Qur'an (may be turned in Jan. 22)

2.  Jan. 22    Introduction and Background
Visit to Rare Book Room, Wilson Library (3:00-4:00 pm; then return to Peabody 217)

reading: Notes

in this order, read Qur'an, suras 96, 74, 111, 108, 107, 102, 105, 92, 94, 93, 97, 80, 68, 95, 103, 73, 101, 99, 53, 84 (all are very short!) [First Meccan period]
Watt, pp. 17-39

Journal: rewrite one short sura in rhyming English verse (after listening to an audio version from the links page, and after comparing two different translations)

2.  Jan. 29   Chronology of the text: different hypotheses

reading:
in this order, read Qur'an, suras 100, 88, 89, 83, 51, 52, 56, 55, 112, 109, 113, 114, 1, 54 [First Meccan period]
Watt, pp. 108-120
Robinson, pp. 25-46, 60-96
Journal: rewrite one more short sura in rhyming English verse (after listening to an audio version, and after comparing two different translations). Find out where this texts stands in chronological order according to both Egyptian and European systems (see Robinson, as well as the chronology charts on the Links page). Consider the verses that the European system marks as Medinan insertions into Meccan suras (73:20; 74:31); what reasons might there be for supposing these as later additions?

3. Feb. 5   Collection of the text

reading:
in this order, read Qur'an, suras 50, 20, 26, 15, 19 [Second Meccan period]
Watt, pp. 40-56
Cook, 119-126
"Collection of the Qur’an," in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 1:351-361 (John Burton)

4.  Feb. 12  Style

reading: Notes
in this order, read Qur'an, suras 36, 23, 21, 25 [Second Meccan period]
Watt, pp. 57-85
Robinson, pp. 99-124

5.  Feb. 19   Interpretation  (general)

reading:
in this order, read Qur'an, suras 17, 18 [Second Meccan period], 32, 30, 11 [Third Meccan period]
Also read The Sura of the Cave (Qur. 18), trans. W. N. Crest (you will need userid and password no. 1)
    See "Questions to Consider" in the prefatory remarks to this reading, for suggested study questions on "You"     verses and "Say" verses

Watt, pp. 167-172
Cook, pp. 28-41, 95-108
Recommended:
Exegesis of the Qur'an: Classical and Medieval, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 2:99-124 (Claude Gilliot)
Exegesis of the Qur'an: Modern and Contemporary, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 2: 124-142 (Rotraud Weilandt)

6.  Feb. 26  Interpretation  (spiritual)

reading:
in this order, read Qur'an, suras 14, 12, 40 [Third Meccan period]
Ernst, Teachings of Sufism, chapter 1, password no. 1 required
Ernst, Guide to Sufism, chapter 2
, password no. 1 required
Recommended:

7.  Mar. 5   Ritual use of the Qur'an

reading:

in this order, read Qur'an, suras 29, 31, 42, 34, 35 [Third Meccan period]
"Everyday Life, Qur'an in," in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 2:80-98 (Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd)
"Ritual and the Qur'an," in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 4:484-408 (Joseph W. Meri)
turn the pages of the Sultan Baybars Qur'an from the British Library

Mar. 8. Midterm Essay due, 5 pm, in Saunders 125 mailbox

8.  Mar. 19     Qur'an as Oral Recitation

reading:

in this order, read Qur'an, suras 46, 6 [Third Meccan period]
Orality, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 3:584-587 (William A. Graham)
Orality and Writing in Arabia,
in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 3:587-593 (Alan Jones)
Recitation of the Qur'an, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 4:367-385 (Anna Gade)

9.  Mar. 26    Qur'an as Written Text  

reading:
in this order, read Qur'an, sura 2 [Madinan period]
Form and Structure of the Qur'an, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 2:248-266 (Angelika Neuwirth) notes
Literacy, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 3:188-192 (Sebastian Günther)
Literary Structures in the Qur'an, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 3:192-205 (Issa Boullata)
Recommended:
Language and Style of the Qur'an, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 3:109-135 (Claude Gilliot and Pierre Larcher)
Rhetoric and the Qur'an, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 4:461-476 (Angelika Neuwirth)

*10.  Apr. 2   Dynamic aspects of Qur'anic style. Guest lecturer: Peter Wright

reading:
in this order, read Qur'an, suras 47, 61, 57, 4 [Madinan period]
Robinson, pp. 224-55

11.  Apr. 9    Orientalist and Postmodern interpretation

reading:
in this order, read Qur'an, suras 63, 24, 58, 22 [Madinan period]
Contemporary Critical Practices and the Qur’an, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, M. Arkoun (412-430) notes
Post-Enlightenment Academic Study of the Qur'an, in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an, 4:187-209 (Marco Schöller) notes

12.  Saturday, Apr. 14, 4-7 pm (special session).  Research Presentations (at instructor's home)

10 minute presentations with summaries of research papers: send title and bibliography to instructor by Apr. 10, plus any outline or power point you want to show (those are optional); summaries should included title of paper, a statement of the question, sources used, and significance of the topic. Leave yourself time for some questions and suggestions from your colleagues!

13.  Apr. 16  Fundamentalist insistence on violence (both Islamic and anti-Islamic)

reading:
in this order, read Qur'an, suras 9, 5 [Madinan period]
Rosalind Gwynne, “Al-Qa’ida and al-Qur’an: The ‘Tafsir’ [Commentary] of Usamah bin Ladin”
Richard Martin, "Discourses on Jihad in the Postmodern Era" (password no. 1 needed)
Michael Cooke, The Koran, Conclusion, pages 143-145.

web sites:

Jihad Watch including this comment about UNC (scroll down to comment number seven)
The Sword of Militant Islam

"What is Islam? What Do Muslims Believe?"
from Jesus-is-Lord.com; note that other parts of the site are very anti-Catholic, including a truly horrific "Anti-Christ Slideshow."

Jack Chick cartoon conversion tract, "Allah Had no Son"

Journal entry: 3 things you now know about the Qur'an, that you didn't know before taking this course.

Final research papers due as email attachments sent to instructor before Mon., May 7, 4:00 P.M.