Study Quran (SQ), a project of HarperCollins, can maybe best be interpreted as an analog to its forerunner, the HarperCollins Study Bible. Formerly published, the SB is an ecumenical project. Though various denominational actors and characters are cited, the SB bears no choice for one over another. Aside from its denominational services, the SB is significant as an academic project – entry-level courses in academic schools teaching the Bible or Christianity routinely mandate the SB as needed reading.
As a result of its widespread use in academia, the SB has sold quite well, having beaten since the initial announcement. Therefore, although the SB may not hold much currency within devotional congregations, it retains a majority market share in educational contexts.Like the SB, the Study Quran is also an ecumenical work. The authors, a team of Islamic studies scholars led to account for both Shiite and Sunni perspectives when offering exegetical commentary and translating verses, and have maintained translations of a creed that can mutually support the various theological orientations that predominate in mainline Islamic.
In addition to its ecumenicist, the SQ will likely become a bona fide standard for Islamic Studies courses in academic organizations throughout the world. Unlike the SB, the SQ enters an arena in which options are sparse. Instructors have long struggled to provide accessible translations of the Quran, let alone explanations that provide meaningful insight corresponding to look vague and otherwise difficult readings found in the Quran.
Features and Overview of the Study Quran
The Study Quran approaches 2,000 pages in full. It is, according to the authors, the product of a decade of work, and the academic rigor is apparent after even a cursory reading. The exegetical explanation of the SQ references forty-one commentaries in total, with medieval commentaries constituting the predominant points of reference. Of the commentators cited, Bin are the most recent (both authors having died in the 20th century).
The book has much strength. For one, the SQ combines prophetic traditions into the commentary, something that I suspect will not please structural reformists who anchor their efforts in a Quran-only epistemology. Besides, the SQ is not a work colored by the ideologies and agendas of secular liberalism (in its many forms). It makes no apologies for verses that appear in egalitarian, malevolent, or otherwise discordant with the metaphysical engagements of contemporary liberal society.
Instead, the Study Quran contextualizes, illustrates the tradition, and offers a compromise about those verses within terms that the Muslim community (or at least some portion of it) has followed them for over a thousand years. This, I suspect as well, will not gratify reformists who see the majority of premier jurists and philosophers as having been prejudiced by patriarchy, exclusivist, and regimentation.
Points of Caution
The SQ is an educational and cultural work, and as such includes commentaries from experts that may not be thought customary depending on one’s denominational orientation.