Alhamdulillah, I have started a lectureship at Ebrahim College, London. My work at the college involves teaching, research and academic development work. See the updated About section for more on that.
I have received a very useful anonymous review on my book manuscript courtesy of my wonderful editor at Edinburgh University Press and am taking the time to try to bring the work to completion in the best way. Every writer can only dream of a higher word count and I am spending a 10,000 word bonus mainly on deepening the theological and ethical aspects of the book. I also have had time to reflect on some of the exegetical moves that I have made and decide if I need to do any ruju’ (ie, u-turns!)
Anyway, here is the cover (and spine) design for the book to whet your appetite:
My current institution, Cambridge Muslim College, recently asked me to contribute a short and lightly edited extract from my forthcoming book. I have reblogged it from here.
Q. 38:34, ‘Indeed We tested Sulaymān and threw upon his throne a body, then he turned in repentance (thumma anāba)’, has been explained within the exegetical literature through a number of stories, often involving an impostor jinn stealing his signet ring and taking his position as ruler for a period of time. Another opinion is that the phrase ‘threw upon his throne a body’ refers to Sulaymān as gravely ill, such that he became, according to classical Arabic usage, as if ‘a body without a spirit’, or ‘a mere skeleton’.
Interestingly, both of these explanations are based on the idea of role reversal: Sulaymān, born to great wealth and power, is tested by being reduced to a state of powerlessness, a reminder for him that real authority is in the hands of God, and that he is only a delegated representative. The verb anāba is used in this verse for the meaning of turning back to God in repentance, yet the word can also connote the delegation of authority. The root meaning of nawb is that of returning to something again and again. In the context of the Qur’anic concept of khilāfa, it is the responsibility of stewardship that God entrusts time after time, as nations rise and fall, and people live and die.
Here is how I am thinking of starting Chapter 1 – The Moral Narrative of my forthcoming book The Qur’an and the Just Society,
In God’s wisdom all things begin and so shall they end. This is the idea that animates this chapter, a reflection upon the story that the Qur’an tells from the primordial beginning of human existence to its infinite future. Unlike the Torah, or Bible, in which the historical unfolding of God’s covenant with humanity is traced through the linear order of the text, the Qur’an’s moral narrative must be reconstructed from passages dispersed throughout its pages. In one sense this reflects more general principles of Qur’anic structure, in another it accords with the attention it pays to the metaphysical patterns of the human condition, rather than the history of particular peoples. It is God’s wisdom that informs His creation of the world just as it underlies both His strict justice and mercy in the Hereafter.