This book focuses on reconnecting with the lost rich humanitarian content of the Qur’an through a hermeneutical investigation of al-Khidr’s story. Through an active engagement with primary and secondary sources, the book provides a new analytic reading of this puzzling Qur’anic story. By reinvestigating the largely overlooked pluralistic message in the Qur’an, the book debunks an Islamic fundamentalism, which often uses the text as a justification for ill-informed choices that can be easily seen to drag the Qur’anic text in unexpected directions. It introduces current academic controversies over proper addressing of critical issues in Islamic heritage and goes beyond mystic romanticization to clarify blind spots in reading al-Khidr’s story. Through rethinking al-Khidr’s story, the book addresses the exegetical classical and modern attempts to reconcile the Qur’anic unconditional endorsement of the right to life for everyone regardless of their faith, with the perplexing reference to infidelity as a justification for killing found in chapter 18. The Qur’nic Dilemma will be of interest to all scholars of Islamic Studies or those interested in Qur’anic interpretation, Muslim ethics, or comparative theology.
"Hasan’s work advances the conversation in important ways by considering the historical, textual, linguistic, and literary aspects of the story of Prophet Khidr from within the ethical frame of view. This book addresses the "dilemma" posed by the Khidr narrative in the Qur’an concerning some of the key theological themes: taking of life, religious other, pluralism, human and divine powers, etc. Hasan examines the issues at hand at the granular level; something that is missing in many other works on the subject, and in that makes a significant contribution to Qur’anic studies, ethics, and to religious studies more broadly."
"The Qur’anic Dilemma is a beautifully written, fascinating and brave book that takes the reader on a journey into one of the most controversial and wicked questions of Islam: How to reconcile the Qur’anic message of social justice and humanity with elements that seem to portray infidelity as a justification for killing? Through her analysis of the controversial (and often misunderstood) Qur’anic story about al-Khidr, Abla Hasan convincingly finds the solution to this dilemma in the Qur’an itself – a solution that centers the Qur’an’s deeply humanitarian message and challenges purposively politicising interpretations of both militant Islamists as well as Islamophobes from around the world. This book is highly engaging and deserves a broad readership, within and beyond Islamic Studies, within and beyond academia, and everyone interested in religious pluralism and co-existence."
"With close textual analysis, Dr. Hasan demolishes claims by those who distort the Qur’an to argue that Islam is the sole legitimate faith and to justify brutality toward non-followers. She ably explains the enigmatic tale of al-Khidr, a mysterious figure whose killing of a young boy is cited by terrorists to rationalize murdering so-called infidels. Contradicting that distortion, Dr. Hasan instead eloquently demonstrates how the power of life and death in matters of faith resides in the hands of the Divine alone. She also draws fascinating parallels to the Biblical story in which Divine intercession spares Abraham’s son, despite a commanded sacrifice. Her work is an insightful contribution both theologically and politically, drawing on the text to advance the ideals of tolerance, compassion and understanding."
Driven by a detailed hermeneutical investigation of the Qur'anic story of creation, this book questions the hybrid Biblical/Qur'anic narrative that gradually erased the lines that define the authentic Qur'anic account. Abla Hasan argues that humanity's divine status is the bedrock from which to investigate the meaning of human religiosity and address the problem of pain and suffering. The detailed analysis in this book answers many linguistic and logical pending questions in the Qur'an and is a serious departure from popular Muslim narratives that seek to alleviate our pain and suffering.
"It may be little comfort to think that life is hard because God made it that way, couldn’t God have made it easy instead? These and other similar questions are dealt with at length in this rich, complex book in which Professor Hasan walks the reader through some of the most vexing problems facing religious adherents today: what is the origin of Evil? Why do we suffer? What awaits us at the end of time? And while this book is focused on the Qur’anic message, all will benefit from reading it. After all, pain and suffering are universal phenomena"
"It would be reasonable to ask how the Qur’an, a book understood to have been revealed in Arabia over 1,400 years ago, could help us make sense of these issues. But in four beautifully organized chapters, Hasan finds Qur’anic insights on such subjects as the horrors of the Holocaust and the suffering of animals. While her conclusions will not be accepted by all, her arguments and careful explication of the text demand attention. Readers will come away with a new appreciation for the inimitable qualities of the Qur’an, the book that serves as her constant conversation partner"
"On Pain and Suffering: A Qur'anic Perspective presents a new departure in the literature of Islamic exegesis, Islamic theology, and Islamic thought at large, especially regarding the moment of creation of Adam, and the questions of natural (divine) and human (moral) evil."
"Abla Hasan, the theologian-scholar, interprets the Qur'an-by-the-Qur'an and leaves aside classical mainstream interpretations regarding these questions: Why is there evil on Earth? How to theologically respond to it? How is that explanation faithful to the overall Qur'anic message of human vicegerency, and responsibility, on Earth?"
"This book reflects the quest of the modern Muslim intellect to make a more rational connection between human moral responsibilities and the Qur'anic formative stories. For its high relevance, it will certainly be read and discussed widely, beyond exegeses' circles!"
"This book is a serious approach to interpreting key verses in the Qur’an, as opposed to the classical “he said, she said” traditions. Any serious scholarship to understand religious scriptures must have three components: scientific rigor, focus on the scripture itself, and a heavy dose of courage irrespective of whether one agrees with her arguments, Dr. Hasan has adhered to these three important principles, thus presenting logical arguments to support her theses. Dr. Hasan’s approach will have a profound impact on interpreting other parts of the Qur’an. Her scholarship will most likely accelerate the ever-growing movement to reconsider traditional Qur’an exegeses."
"Dr. Hasan’s book is a welcome and novel contribution to the literature on the ethical principles of the Qur’an and modern Qur’anic exegesis. Relying on a fresh interpretation of the verses of the Qur’an that focuses on the actual words of the scripture, she shows how traditional interpretations of the Qur’an in classical Islamic jurisprudence fall short and often do not make sense either in light of the text or logically. More importantly, she expounds on the profound implications of her new interpretation for the lives of human beings today."
"In particular, Dr. Hasan deftly grapples with timeless problems such as the meaning of life, the moral reasons that God has created us to endure tests and difficulties, the role of human free will, and the true character of evil."
"In her rigorous and wide-ranging analysis of all these problems she articulates a Qur’anic-based conception of humans as agents of God on earth who, in order to fulfill their divinely-ordained responsibilities, must constantly be tested. Her prose is eloquent and her reasoning persuasive, benefiting from extensive research. This is a book that should be read by everyone interested in the contemporary relevance of the Qur’an for important ethical questions facing humanity today."
"Fresh, original, and thought-provoking, Abla Hasan’s On Pain and Suffering makes an important contribution to scholarship in the field. Well written and intelligently argued, this Qur'an-centered study stimulates the mind, consoles the heart, and soothes the soul."
This volume challenges a long history of normalizing patriarchal approaches to the Qur’an and calls for a questioning of the interpretive credibility of many inherited Qur’anic commentaries. The author presents a fresh reading of the sacred text and Islamic teaching traditions as the rediscovery of a lost humanitarian and gender-egalitarian textual richness that has been poorly and loosely handled for centuries. The book stresses the importance of reviewing the interpretive linguistic choices that jurists and exegetes over the last fourteen centuries have adopted to semantically reshape the Qur’anic text. The vigilant reading the author provides of carefully chosen texts and commentaries suggests that many interpretive approaches to the Qur’an are dominated by sociopolitical factors alien to the intrinsic values of the text itself. More importantly, inconsistencies across putatively sound books of tafsīr indicate that the Qur’anic text often suffers from historical and systematic drainage of its humanitarianism, gender-egalitarianism, and religious pluralism.
"Islam and Its holy book, the Qur’an, have traditionally been interpreted as being at odds with the egalitarian ideals of feminism. This book argues that, to the contrary, The Qur’an affirms the equal rights and equal values of men and women."
"Hasan, while respecting the sacred nature of the Qur'an, uses her background in linguistic philosophy to provide a much-needed corrective to centuries of (mis)interpretation. The result is a Muslim feminist reading of the Qur'an from inside the tradition."
"This book helps us to better understand the Qur’an by illuminating the gender egalitarianism of the text. It is useful both for scholars who seek new ways to examine an ancient scripture, and for believers who need new theological resources for their faith."
"Abla Hasan’s Decoding the Egalitarianism of the Qur’an is the book many readers have been waiting for. Hasan, a Syrian feminist specializing in the linguistics of the Qur’an as well as Women's Studies, succeeds in the task of arguing in an engaging and passionate way for the Qur’an’s egalitarian message."
"In Decoding the Egalitarianism of the Qur’an, Hasan aims to provide new interpretations of qur’anic verses related to gender and family—or, at least verses believed by others to be about the family—through a Qur’an-only approach. She shows that it is possible, meaningful, and necessary to read the Qur’an outside of any external sources such as hadiths, fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence, tafsir, and other traditional ways through which the Qur’an has historically been read. This allows her to offer new interpretations of many verses, such as those related to polygyny, the hijab, child marriage, the claim that men have a degree of superiority over women, and verse 4:34, which is traditionally believed to grant husbands the right to physically discipline their wives. Using her background in the linguistics of the Qur’an, she analyzes the textual context of each verse in question as well as in specific key terms to highlight what she argues are the original, intended meanings of these verses. "