Sufi Commentaries On The Qur ' An Of Classical Islam

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In her book Sufi Commentaries on the Qur’an in Classical Islam, Kristin Zahra Sands concisely presents the major themes, styles, authors, and issues related to both Sufi and non-Sufi Qur’anic commentaries. She begins her analysis by acknowledging the ambitious endeavor of those academics who have written extensively on the subject before her, adding that she sees the goal of this book to be a further elucidation and examination of these accomplished studies. Since Sufism’s nascent days, the examinations of the Qur’an and reliance on its knowledge have been relevant to Sufi communities and authors, a claim often disputed by classical Europeans Orientalists such as Ignaz Goldziher. In this piece, Sands introduces the relationship between…show more content…
Although the final section of this part relates to the polemical arguments proposed by non-Sufi exegetes such as Ibn al-Jawzi and Ibn Taymiyya and al-Ghazali’s apologetics for Sufi methods and interpretations, throughout all the discussions prior, she carefully introduces non-Sufi perspectives in order to emphasize contrast and difference between traditional tafsir and Sufi commentaries.
In the second half the book, the author focuses on Quranic commentaries regarding select Quranic verses that are relevant to Sufi identity and exegesis. After briefly mentioning the biographical background of some Sufi commentators, she explores the story of Musa and al-Khidr in Surah 18:60-82, the stories regarding the mother of Maryam, Maryam, and Zakariyya primarily in Surah 3 although references are scattered throughout the Qur’an of Maryam, and lastly the Light Verse in Surah 24:35. It is important to note that the author really accentuates the didactic and preachy nature of many of these Sufi commentaries, a theme not typically found in tafsir. Regarding the story of Musa and al-Khidr, Sufi commentaries debate who can and how can people acquire the divine knowledge that al-Khidr exhibits so

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