cover image Qur’an in Conversation

Qur’an in Conversation

Michael Birkel. aylor Univ., $39.95 (276p) ISBN 978-1-4813-0097-1

Birkel (Silence and Witness), a professor of religion at Earlham College, asked North American scholars of Islam and Muslim religious leaders for exegetical essays on passages in the Qur’an that were significant for them. Birkel’s is the guiding hand; he organizes the short commentaries by theme and provides introductory material and helpful back matter, including a glossary of Arabic terms and useful footnotes. But the heart of the book is the chorus of assembled voices from men and women; converts and those born in the faith; chaplains, imams, and academics; and people of many ethnicities. The result is a range of interpretation and study that will dazzle and open the eyes of serious students new to the Qur’an, at whom this book is aimed. Though many of the writers are scholars, the text is accessible and at times remarkable for its heartfelt candor. Birkel’s book comes at a fine time, when serious critical study of the Qur’an is gaining momentum in the Western religion academy—it is groundbreaking. (Aug.)