Sinai (Nicolai), Key Terms of the Qur’an: A Critical Dictionary, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2023, 752 p. ISBN 978-0691241319
Nicolai Sinai is professor of Islamic studies at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Pembroke College. His books include The Qur’an: A Historical-Critical Introduction and Rain-Giver, Bone-Breaker, Score-Settler: Allāh in Pre-Quranic Poetry.
An essential single-volume companion to the critical interpretation of Islamic scripture
This book provides detailed and multidisciplinary coverage of a wealth of key Qur’anic terms, with incisive entries on crucial expressions ranging from the divine names allāh (“God”) and al-raḥmān (“the Merciful”) to the Qur’anic understanding of belief and self-surrender to God. It examines what the terms mean in Qur’anic usage, discusses how to translate them into English, and delineates the role they play in expressing the Qur’an’s distinctive understanding of God, humans, and the cosmos. It offers a comprehensive but non-reductionist investigation of the relationship of Qur’anic terms to earlier traditions such as Jewish and Christian literature, pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, and Arabian epigraphy. While the dictionary is primarily engaged in ascertaining what the Qur’an would have meant to its original recipients in late antique Arabia, it makes selective and critical use of later Muslim scholarship alongside an extensive body of secondary research in English, German, and French from the nineteenth century to today.
- The most authoritative historical-critical reference work on key Qur’anic terms
- Features a host of entries ranging from concise overviews to substantial essays
- Draws on comparative material such as Jewish and Christian literature, pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, and Arabian epigraphy
- Discusses how to best translate Qur’anic terms into English
- Explores the Qur’an’s vision of God, humans, and the cosmos through an analysis of fundamental and recurrent Qur’anic expressions
Fully navigable to readers with little or no Arabic