Ṭanṭāwī Jawharī and the Qurʾān: Tafsīr and Social Concerns in the Twentieth Century

Ṭanṭāwī Jawharī and the Qurʾān: Tafsīr and Social Concerns in the Twentieth Century

“Shaykh Ṭanṭāwī Jawharī was an Egyptian exegete known for having produced a scientific interpretation of the Qurʾān. A pioneering scholar in terms of familiarising the people of his time with many previously neglected matters regarding Islam and science, his publications shocked the Cairo educational system and other Muslim places of learning in the early twentieth century.


This book examines the intersection between Ṭanṭāwī Jawharī and Egyptian history and culture, and demonstrates that his approach to science in the Qurʾān was intimately connected to his social concerns. Divided into three parts, part one contains three chapters which each introduce different aspects of Ṭanṭāwī Jawharī himself. The second part explores the main aspects of his tafsīr, discussing his approach to science and the Qurʾān, and how he presented Europeans in his tafsīr, and then addressing the impact of his tafsīr on wider Muslim and non-Muslim society. The third section draws attention to the themes from all 114 sūras of the Qurʾān that are discussed within his commentary. It then analyses the current status of his views and the post-Jawharism perspective on science and the Qurʾān, both today and in an imaginary future, in 2154.

Providing new English translations of Ṭanṭāwī Jawharī’s work, the book delivers a comprehensive assessment of this unique figure, and emphasises the distinctive nature of his reading of the Qurʾān. The book will be a valuable resource for anyone studying modern Egypt, the Qurʾān, Islam and Science, and scientific interpretation and inimitability.”

Routledge: Taylor and Francis Group


Bibliographic Information:
Daneshgar, Majid. Ṭanṭāwī Jawharī and the Qurʼān: tafsīr and social concerns in the twentieth century. Abingdon: Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, 2018.

Dissertation Summary: On Two Modern Approaches to Science in the Qur’an

By Majid Daneshgar*

Majid Daneshgar recently completed his PhD in Religion under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Rippin and Dr. Zulkifli Mohd Yusof. Daneshgar’s dissertation examines two modern approaches to science in the Qur’an. Tantawi Jawhari (1862-1940) and Maurice Bucaille (1920-1998) were two scholars who established novel, scientific exegetical methods that have spread throughout the Muslim world and the West.

Some academics have praised them while others have critiqued or even labeled them dreamers or charlatans because of their aspirations. A large number of people, however, (Muslim and others) have discussed these two scholars’ methodologies and the way they defined Qur’anic phrases from a scientific perspective. Tantawi interpreted some Qur’anic verses without explaining them in a scientific manner, whereas Bucaille particularly insisted on empirical approaches. It seems neither of them aimed to prove the inimitability of the Qur’an through their works, but they did have different aspirations.

Therefore, this study takes into account Tantawi and Bucaille’s views concerning science and explores their motives for invoking the realm of science. An additional reason for analyzing their methods in this thesis is to further explore the definition of science. The essential question is: Was science a tool they employed to help comprehend the Qur’an or a vehicle by which to convey their own perspectives?

Furthermore, the author tries to create a link between the Aristotelian definition of knowledge and nature, the Abbasid era concept of ‘ilm, Ghazali’s idea of ma‘rifah, and modern views towards science and education. This thesis also endeavors to display that the image depicted of the work of Tantawi and Bucaille is something other than what has previously been discussed, because there are many social and personal reasons behind their views towards science in the Qur’an.

Recently, individual parts of the thesis were published as articles: “Behind the Scenes: A Review of Western Figures’ Supportive Comments Regarding the Qur’an” in al-Bayan journal of Qur’an and Hadith, vol.11, no.2, Dec 2013; and “French Journals: A bridge for the Presence of Muslims in Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” in Ayeneh-ye- Pazoohesh, vol.24, 2, 2013 (in Persian).

*Majid Daneshgar is the international editor and review editor of al-Bayan journal of Qur’an and Hadith, which is published by Brill, Netherlands. The journal publishes articles in English, Arabic and Malay in all domains of Qur’anic and hadith studies. For more information contact albayanjournal@um.edu.my.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2014. All rights reserved.