Review of Pier Tommasino, The Venetian Qur’an

Review of Pier Tommasino, The Venetian Qur’an

One of the main problems in contemporary scholarship is the loss of multilingual expertise of the scholars. The centrality of English has simplified the picture, but at the same time has permitted the emergence of students who do not know any other language and of scholars and writers who can propose ideas in English with no awareness of what has been written elsewhere and in other languages. Given such a situation, the English translation of Pier Mattia Tommasino’s study of the Italian edition of the Qurʾān attributed to the publisher Andrea Arrivabene, is a much-welcome effort to give the wider public a chance to know one of the most significant essays in the field of the last years. The original Italian appeared in 2013 and is now offered to the reader in a version updated only in the bibliography, and translated by Sylvia Notini.

Review of Richard Serrano, Qurʾān and the Lyric Imperative

As the title suggests, Richard Serrano’s Qurʾān and the Lyric Imperative examines the Qurʾān, but the intention is not to explain the holy book of Islam. The Qurʾān, as the author puts it, “continues to defy explanation, despite the legions engaged in the vast Islamic and Orientalist intellectual industry intent on doing just that” (1). Instead, the book examines the connections between the Qurʾān and poetry in the classical Arabic tradition and the ways in which those connections have served a central role in preserving people’s understanding of the text.

Review of Christian Lange, Paradise and Hell in Islamic Traditions

There was a time not long ago in Islamic Studies when one was hard pressed to find much about the Islamic afterlife, Paradise and Hell, or eschatology in general. Certainly when I was doing my doctoral studies (on a related theme) in the late 90’s, Jane Idleman Smith and Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad’s The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection (1981) had already enjoyed a longer than usual shelf life. Soubi El-Saleh’s La vie future selon le Coran (1971) and one or two fairly brief surveys of the question by German scholars in the early part of the twentieth century, as well as Ragnar Eklund’s Life Between Death and Resurrection According to Islam (1941), accounted for the remainder of an accessible bibliography in this subfield until Josef van Ess’ multivolume Theologie und Gesellschaft (1991–96). A watershed in the field was the 2009 symposium held in Göttingen, entitled Roads to Paradise, which despite its title, included papers on several different aspects of the afterlife, including eschatology in general and Hell in particular. However, the voluminous proceedings of the symposium were not published until this year.