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An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries, Volume II On Women (October 2021)

Karen Bauer and Feras Hamza (eds)

An Anthology of Qur'anic Commentaries, Volume II On Women (October 2021)

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Bauer (Karen) & Hamza (Feras), An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries, Volume II On Women, Oxford, Oxford University Press/Institute of Ismaili Studies, ("Qur’anic Studies Series"), 688 p. ISBN 9780192842855


Karen Bauer is a Senior Research Associate at The Institute of Ismaili Studies. Her publications include Gender Hierarchy in the Qur’an: Medieval Interpretations, Modern Responses (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and Aims, Methods and Contexts of Qur’anic Exegesis (2nd/8th-9th/15th Centuries). She has written numerous articles on the history of Qur’anic interpretation, on women’s status in Islamic interpretation, and on the history of emotions in Islam.

Feras Hamza is Head of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, and a Research Fellow in the Qur’anic Studies Unit at The Institute of Ismaili Studies. He co-edited An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries, Volume I: On the Nature of the Divine (with Sajjad Rizvi and Farhana Mayer; Oxford University Press, 2008) and is the general series editor for the multi-volume project Anthologies of Qur’anic Commentaries. He has authored several historical articles on the early Muslim community, as well as articles on the epistemological and methodological approaches in Qur’anic and tafsir studies.


Building on from An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries, Volume I: On the Nature of the Divine, this second volume focuses on a critical and contentious theme: women in the Qur’an and Qur’anic interpretation. Comprising analysis and translations of the Qur’an, traditional Qur’anic commentaries, and interviews of scholars, this work probes the impact of the medieval interpretive tradition on modern Muslim women’s rights, social status, intellectual authority, and spiritual standing within their communities. It also provides a counter to that historical interpretive monopoly by engaging contemporary Muslim voices. An Anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries, Volume II: On Women begins with a ground-breaking discursive analysis of all the Qur’an’s verses on women and the female subject. This prolegomenon follows the Qur’anic narrations on women in a chronological sequence, showing how the Qur’an’s worldview developed from the earliest Meccan revelations—when women were addressed only implicitly as a part of households or in the course of anti-pagan polemic—through the Later Meccan period—when prominent women appeared as exemplary figures—to the period of the final revelations in Medina—when women were addressed directly as pious and social subjects. The remainder of the volume translates, critically annotates, and analyses interpretations of six select Qur’anic verses on women. These verses, chosen because of their relevance to women’s lived experience, speak of the creation of humankind from the first couple, beginning with a single soul (Q. 4:1); the exemplary figure of Mary, the mother of Jesus (Q. 3:35-6); women’s status in marriage (Q. 4:34); women’s legal testimony and hence legal capacity (Q. 2:282); and ’veiling’ as it relates to Qur’anic norms of modesty (Q. 24:31). The interpretations include commentaries composed between the eighth and the twentieth centuries and interviews with leading Muslim scholars of the Qur’an, both traditionalist and reformist. While highlighting variation, continuity, and plurality in the genre of Qur’anic commentaries, Volume II goes beyond medieval interpretive paradigms to include perspectives marginalised by that tradition, such as the voices of women themselves.

Table of contents

Prolegomenon: The Qur’an on Women
The Commentators and their Commentaries
1 Creation of the First Woman (Q. 4:1)
2 Mary (Q. 3:35-6)
3 Marital Roles (Q. 4:34)
4 The Veil (Q. 24:31)
5 Women’s Testimony (Q. 2:282)
Prosopographical Appendix

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