chapter  3
29 Pages

The politics of exegesis

Soon after the death of Muhammad, Qur’anic exegesis has become heterogeneous when it began as an oral tradition during the first/seventh century and when it began to be recorded during the first quarter of the second/eighth century (see Chapter 5, Section: 5.2.2). Since then, Muslim exegetes have been working in politically pressurized and hostile environments. The political status quo has impinged upon exegesis more than on any other discipline in Islamic studies. The impact of the Muslim political arena has begun to be felt ever more strongly at the inception of the Umayyad dynasty than at any other time. Similarly, theological cleavages among mainstream and non-mainstream Islam have encroached upon Qur’anic exegesis. With the evolution of sectarian Islam during the Umayyad period, the theological veil of Qur’anic exegesis has been lifted and exegesis emerged in its sectarian cloak. The present chapter provides an insight into the politico-theological aspects of Qur’anic exegesis and how Qur’anic semantics has been manipulated by Muslim exegetes to justify and propagate their political or theological ends.