DESCRIPTION Approaching the Qurán is a major event in religious publishing, Professor Michael Sells has captured the complexity, power, and poetry of the early suras of the Qurán, the sacred scripture of Islam. In this 2nd edition, Sells introduces important new translations of Quranic suras and a new preface that addresses the ongoing controversy over teaching about Islam and the Quran in American universities.
This book presents brilliant translations of the short, hymnic chapters, or suras, associated with the first revelations to the Prophet Muhammad. Most of these early revelations appear at the end of the written text and are commonly reached only by the most resolute reader of existing English translations. These suras contain some of the most powerful, prophetic and revelatory passages in religious history. They offer the vision of a meaningful and just life that anchors the religion of one-fifth of the world's inhabitants.
Approaching the Qurán is enriched by the recording of Quranic reciters chanting several of the early suras, allowing readers an opportunity to hear the Qurán in its original form. These recordings are now available as MP3 downloads free with the purchase of the book. The book includes Sells' Introduction to the Qurán, commentaries of the suras, a glossary of technical terms, and chapters discussing the sound nature and gender aspects of the Arabic text.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This recently revised work by Michael Sells is unrivalled for its ability to make the thought world and religious presuppositions of the Book accessible to the uninitiated. I use it in all courses on the Qurán I teach and strongly recommend it in all my other classes on Islam. It meets an urgent, plangent need and does so in a clear, jargon-free and deeply learned language. There is no better introductory book on the Qurán.
~ Todd Lawson, Associate Professor of Islamic Thought, University of Toronto
I am going to use Michael Sells Approaching the Qurán in my Experiencing Islam class. I used it last spring and it was a huge hit with students! There are a number of points about the book that deserve special mention: For about the cost of most translations of the Qurán, this book comes with a CD which includes Quránic recitations by male and female reciters from a number of different countries. It was a powerful experience for many students to hear for the first time the Qurán being recited by women. Also remarkable is the wonderful attention given to the gendered language of the Qurán. It made for a wonderful discussion in the class. Comparing Sells Approaching the Qurán to other translations brought out how most English translations of the Qurán bury the gendered nuance of many important Quránic passages. Michael Sells translations combine the highest level of accuracy with a poetic sensitivity to language that is unmatched. I would easily rank this work as the most effective, accurate, and captivating version of the Qurán for use in academic classes. A breathtaking achievement
~ Omid Safi, Associate Professor, Colgate University
The response of my students has been very positive. Students who had been rather quiet became much more participatory. Listening to the CD provoked all kinds of discussion about chant in different religious traditions. I have used recordings in the past, but without the kind of apparatus provided in Approaching the Qurán. The transliterations are excellent students can follow the Arabic text very easily. The Qurán is a difficult text to teach to students who have no background. Approaching the Qurán makes it exciting and accessible to them.
~ Shaun Marmon, Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Princeton University
Approaching the Quran is a sensitive and unusually accessible first book on the Quran and its function as scripture for over one-seventh of the human race. For the reader who knows little of Islam and Muslim piety, this book opens up many facets of the special role that the Quran plays in Muslim life and thought. Dr. Sells is to be congratulated for a significant contribution to English-language materials on the Quran.
~ Professor William A. Graham, History of Religion and Islamic Studies, Harvard University, and author of Divine Word, Prophetic Word in Early Islam
Michael Sells Approaching the Quran is much more than a translation of the Quran. The work is a carefully considered introduction to a religious appreciation of the text from within a scholarly framework. By highlighting issues of the multiple levels upon which the text conveys its meaning to its readers and auditors, Sells manages to overcome the first impression that many people have of the Qur'an being a difficult book. The structure of Approaching the Quran, with its parallel translation and commentary, will prove valuable both for interested general readers and for students studying the text within a classroom setting.
~ Professor Andrew Rippin, Islamic and Religious Studies, University of Calgary, Associate Editor of the Encyclopedia of the Quran, and Editor of Approaches to the History of the Interpretation of the Quran
Scholars and students interested in the Quran are indebted to Michael Sells for his outstanding contribution to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Holy Book of Islam. His book, Approaching the Quran, with its scholarly introduction, its sensitive English translation of the early Suras, its insightful commentary on them, its analytical study of the auditory and literary aspects of selected Suras, its visually pleasing illustrations from the Arabic text of the Quran, and its accompanying CD is a veritable and enriching spiritual experience for everyone seeking a meaningful exposure to the Scripture of Islam.
~ Issa J. Boullata, Professor of Arabic Literature & Language, at the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. Editor of Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Quran
Michael Sells is to be congratulated for making a major contribution to religious literature with Approaching the Quran, the best version of Muslim scriptures available in English. This is an important and illuminating work, one that will be welcomed by scholars, students, believers, and all who seek to better understand Islam and its sacred scripture.
~ Carl Ernst, Professor of Islamic Studies, University of North Carolina, and author of The Shambhala Guide to Sufism
Approaching the Quran is a fluent and accessible text that flawlessly communicates the religious and literary verities of the Quran. Selected recitations by several internationally reputed Quran reciters in the accompanying compact disc only enhances the quality of this presentation. The reader-listener cannot help but be carried away by the ecstasy and rhapsody that both the aural and visual texts produce. Every selection has a brief, lucid and, I dare say, seductive commentary that stimulates further exploration of the Quran. Both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences, beginners as well as advanced students of Islam will no doubt appreciate the many innovative facets of this extraordinary book. It is an indispensable aid for all students of religion and Islam, with Sells again at his best.
~ Ebrahim Moosa, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, University of Cape Town, Visiting Professor, Stanford University, editor of a posthumous volume of the late professor Fazlur Rahman, Revival and Reform.
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