UNC-Chapel Hill, fall 2003

Readings in Islamicate Literature 
Fall 2003 Topic: The Qur'an in Arabic 
(grammar, vocabulary, commentary)

Instructor: Carl W. Ernst
Wednesday, 12:30-3 p.m.
Howell 205

General Information


    This course involves close and careful study of the Arabic text of the Qur'an, with attention to the vocabulary and grammar of classical Arabic. Each week students prepare selected passages, read them aloud with correct vocalization, and translate orally into English.
         The course includes occasional comparison of existing translations into English, French, and Spanish, and considerations of interpretation and commentary. 
         An ongoing theme is current issues in modern scholarship on the Qur'an, particularly the new Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an (see Resources for the Study of the Qur'an). Class members have listed significant articles in the Encyclopaedia, and report on them periodically throughout the term.


Advanced knowledge of Arabic, and permission of instructor.


The basic goals of the course are :

    Gaining linguistic skill in reading and translating Qur'anic Arabic, and by extension other Arabic religious texts.

    Understanding problems related to the study of Islam, scholarship on the Qur'an, and methods of the study of classical Arabic texts

    Developing analytical skills through a research paper on a subject of one's choice related to the Qur'an.

    Developing translation skills, including at least one English translation of a Qur'anic passage into rhymed English prose (like Arabic saj`).


A standard printed edition of the Qur'an in Arabic.
J. G. Hawa, Al-Fara'id Arabic-English Dictionary (Intl Book Centre, June 1982; some copies also at Useful especially for later part of the alphabet not covered by Lane.
E. W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon. This may be used in the library, or now in the CD-ROM version published by Fons Vitae Press.
Wheeler M. Thackston, Jr., An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic: An Elementary Grammar of the Language (Ibex Publications).
Shawkat Toorawa, Saj` Translations from the Qur'an (unpublished text available online here, courtesy of Prof. Toorawa; correct username and password required)
W. Wright, A Grammar of the Arabic Language (two volumes, Cambridge University Press). Used copies are available from online booksellers like