chapter  10
11 Pages

Interpreting the Bible through the Qur'ān

It is commonly stated that Muslims approach the Bible with the attitude that when the biblical text agrees with the Qur'an, the statements may be accepted, but when it disagrees, the Qur'an is to be preferred.' The aim of this paper is to sketch out the ramifications this attitude has had in practice and to put it in historical perspective. This paper is no more than an attempt to outline a field of study and investigate some of its potential directions.2 Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done here, both conceptually, in discovering new approaches to the material, and constructively, in bringing disparate sources together for analysis. It is significant to note that Muslims themselves have generally not separated out this field of biblical interpretation-allusion within their own intellectual systematizations; this is not a 'genre' of ta/sir. From a Muslim perspective, it may well be said that this question cannot be separated from the notion of quranic interpretation in general. Yet, from a modern academic perspective, such a topic seems to have legitimacy by virtue of the way in which it reflects an investigator's own interests and construction of reality. That is, quranic studies as a modem, academic discipline cannot, even must not, stay within the intellectual constraints (as it often does) of what are frequently the medieval Muslim efforts towards the categorization of knowledge (as represented, for example, in the works of al-Suyii~i). Our intellectual efforts to make sense of the world around us must reflect our own understandings and form our knowledge into meaningful elements of our own world view.