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The Exceptional Qur'an

Flexible and Exceptive Rhetoric in Islam's Holy Book


This monograph examines the principle of dispensation in the Qur’an, which seems to be, if not unique, articulated in a new manner compared to previous religions (cf. Deut 12,32). The Qur’anic dispensations have never been systematically studied and this monograph aims to fill this vacuum in the fields of Qur’anic studies and the Study of Religion.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0729-8
  • *
Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Oct 29,2021
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 343
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0729-8
$120.00
Your price: $96.00

The Exceptional Qurʾān: Flexible and Exceptive Rhetoric in Islam’s Holy Book is a synchronic, theoretical study of the Qurʾānic complex of exception and flexibility. Through analyses of rhetorical devices, including direct exceptions, recurring standardized arguments with a dispensatory aim, and modifying hypotheticals within the Qurʾān’s legal discourse, the author argues that this complex seems to be – if not entirely unique – articulated in a new and deliberate manner as compared to previous scriptures: The Qurʾān continuously negotiates a balance between strictness and leniency, between principle and dispensation. Joining its philological results with the system theoretical framework of anthropologist Roy A. Rappaport, The Exceptional Qurʾān considers how such rhetorical strategies contributed to the systemic long-term durability of the Qurʾān, becoming the successful founding document of a religious community and discursive tradition.

The Exceptional Qurʾān: Flexible and Exceptive Rhetoric in Islam’s Holy Book is a synchronic, theoretical study of the Qurʾānic complex of exception and flexibility. Through analyses of rhetorical devices, including direct exceptions, recurring standardized arguments with a dispensatory aim, and modifying hypotheticals within the Qurʾān’s legal discourse, the author argues that this complex seems to be – if not entirely unique – articulated in a new and deliberate manner as compared to previous scriptures: The Qurʾān continuously negotiates a balance between strictness and leniency, between principle and dispensation. Joining its philological results with the system theoretical framework of anthropologist Roy A. Rappaport, The Exceptional Qurʾān considers how such rhetorical strategies contributed to the systemic long-term durability of the Qurʾān, becoming the successful founding document of a religious community and discursive tradition.

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ContributorBiography

Johanne Christiansen

Johanne Louise Christiansen (Ph.D. 2016, Aarhus University) is Assistant Professor at the Department of the Study of Religions, University of Southern Denmark. Her research focuses on the application of theoretical perspectives from other research fields, such as the study of religions, to the Qurʾān.

Acknowledgements .................................................................. xi
Introduction .............................................................................. 1
Chapter One. Linguistic and Textual Features of Exception
and Flexibility in the Qurʾān............................................ 17
The Qurʾānic Usage of illā and ghayr................................ 17
God as the Exception ....................................................... 20
Exceptions from Groups .................................................. 24
I. Exception from Condemnation ................................ 27
II. Exception from Pardon........................................... 34
III. Varying Degrees through Exceptions ..................... 35
Other Linguistic Tools of Exception and Nuance in the
Qurʾān ..................................................................... 38
I. dūn .......................................................................... 38
II. ḥattā ...................................................................... 41
III. innamā .................................................................. 43
IV. min, ākhar, baʿḍ, ṭāʾifah min, farīq min, and kth-
r...................................................................... 46
Chapter Two. Direct Legal Exceptions in the Qurʾān – An Overview
................................................................................ 59
Chapter Three. Recurring Legal Arguments of Exception and
Flexibility in the Qurʾān .................................................. 85
I. The best-manner argument ....................................... 87
II. The what-happened-in-the-past argument ................. 90
III. The duress argument ............................................. 92
IV. The oppression argument ....................................... 95
V. The by-right argument ............................................ 98
VI. The virtue argument ............................................ 100
VII. The do-what-is-proper argument .......................... 101
VIII. The no-fault argument ....................................... 105
IX. The no-blame argument ....................................... 114
X. The no-sin argument ............................................. 116
XI. The no-recourse argument .................................... 117
XII. The exaggeration argument ................................. 119
XIII. The no-hardship argument ................................. 122
Terms of Hardship and Ease .......................................... 126
Other Qurʾanic Articulations of the Exceptive Purpose .... 138
Chapter Four. Legal Hypotheticals with a Dispensatory Aim
in the Qurʾān ................................................................. 147
Dispensatory Circumstances in the Qurʾān ..................... 151
I. The SICKNESS Circumstance .................................... 152
II. The TRAVEL Circumstance ..................................... 154
III. The (LACK OF) MEANS Circumstance ..................... 156
IV. The GENDER Circumstance ................................... 159
V. The FEAR and SAFETY Circumstance ...................... 160
VI. The OBLIGATION and VOLITION Circumstance ........ 162
VII. Additional EXTERNAL Circumstances ................... 164
VIII. INTENT and Other COGNITIVE Circumstances ....... 164
IX. The HOSTILITY Circumstance ................................ 168
X. The Circumstance of ABANDONMENT and
RECIDIVISM ......................................................... 171
SPECIFIC Circumstances and Qurʾānic Solutions .............. 173
Chapter Five. Legal Exceptions in the Biblical Traditions and
Late Antiquity ............................................................... 177
Exceptive Language in the Hebrew Bible ....................... 177
Exceptive Language in the New Testament .................... 188
The Qurʾān and the ‘Late Antique Legal Culture’ ........... 193
Chapter Six. A System Theoretical Approach to the Qurʾān ... 203
Introducing Rappaport .................................................. 203
System Theory as an Academic Field of Study ............... 205
Adaptive ‘Living Systems’ .............................................. 208
Corrective Responses ..................................................... 210
Transformation and Outcome ........................................ 212
A Hierarchy of Value-laden Terms ................................. 214
A System Theoretical Reading of Q 73:1–9, 20 .............. 217
I. A Relative and Hypothetical Historical
Contextualization of Q 73 ................................. 219
II. The Vigil as a Qurʾānic Subsystem........................ 223
Chapter Seven. Balancing the Qurʾānic System – The Use of
Exceptive Language as a Sign of Flexibility....................... 239
God as the Vague and Incomprehensible Exception ....... 239
The In-group/Out-group Strategy of the Qurʾān ............. 248
The Balanced Law of the Qurʾān .................................... 253
Systemic Methods of the Qurʾānic ‘Soft Field’ ................ 258
The General versus the Specific ................................ 259
Vagueness (again) .................................................... 264
The Seeming Indecisiveness ...................................... 269
The Articulated Intention to Create a Soft Field ........ 273
Later Considerations of the Qurʾān’s Balanced System ... 278
Bibliography ......................................................................... 285
Index .................................................................................... 313

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