Canadian Islamic Scholar and Cape Breton University Librarian Dr Robert Campbell has given a sympathetic and informative introduction to Surah An Nisa of the Holy Quran.
Women, War & Hypocrites : Studying the Quran extrapolates on subjects like marriage and lewdness, the crucifixion of Isa (Jesus) and as the title would imply, War and the Hypocrites (Al Munafiqun).
The chapter contains an inherent concatenational structure and linguistic resonance that is often tricky even for experienced scholars to identify inside the various thematic rhythms of Quranic verses.
The book contains four chapters, with an emphasis on contextual developments, an overview of the origins and early developments of the Shariah and the complex configuration of the verses of the fourth Surah of the Holy Quran.
Dr Campbell stresses on the need to approach and understand the Quran at its own terms: “I see absolutely no benefit in ever reading the Quran from the so-called beginning to the end. In fact, I would suggest that the very concepts of beginning and end apply to the Quran in only a limited manner.” (Page 31).
A significant portion of Dr Campbell’s Book examines the controversial “Beating Verse” of the Quran (4:34), which would appear to grant holy approval to spousal violence. In the analysis, he concludes that the real conundrum is the “logical fallacy of the loaded question” (Page 118).
The author proposes that the question “Does the Quran permit wife beating?” which is in itself unsound and lies on essentially flawed presuppositions.
Dr Campbell suggests that readers of this verse should really be asking about the historical and sociological context.
Experienced readers of the Quran will find the philological emphasis on English language translations and the paucity of Quranic Arabic words disappointing.
For example, Dr Campbell vigorously examines the expression “if you fear” in Surah 4, linking verses 3 and 34 (Page 77).
But he does not articulate the Arabic expression.
He relies on (Professor of Islamic Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London) Muhammad Abdel Haleem’s 1999 translation of the Quran and his commentaries. Consequently, the expression “as Abdel Haleem points out” (or variations thereof) is used with some regularity.
In addition, and I am probably showing my age or colours here, I was surprised the Bibliography did not include William Montgomery Watt and his Companion to the Quran (1967).
In many respects, Women, War & Hypocrites : Studying the Quran carries on from the author’s 2009 book Reading the Quran in English. Both serve as excellent introduction to an important religious text for first-time readers or Muslim youth who have grown up in an English speaking society and study environment.
Dr Campbell reminds readers that those who are unwilling (or indeed, unable) to explore the Quran themselves will always run the risk of having their opinions formed by others.
Dr Robert Campbell’s tome not only makes persuasive reading for those longing to increase their knowledge of Islam but also serves as a very useful educational tool for Muslims.
Abdulla Drury is a resident of Hamilton and a regular contributor to Indian Newslink. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Women, War & Hypocrites:
Studying the Quran
Author: Dr Robert Campbell
RRP: Not Available