Bestselling text introducing the scripture of Islam. Second Edition includes free MP3 downloads.
Approaching the Qur’an is a major event in religious publishing, Professor Michael Sells has captured the complexity, power, and poetry of the early suras of the Qur’an, 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 Qur’an is enriched by the recording of Quranic reciters chanting several of the early suras, allowing readers an opportunity to hear the Qur’an 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 Qur’an, commentaries of the suras, a glossary of technical terms, and chapters discussing the sound nature and gender aspects of the Arabic text.
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REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
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 Qur’an 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 Qur’an. ~ Todd Lawson, Associate Professor of Islamic Thought, University of Toronto
I am going to use Michael Sells Approaching the Qur’an 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 Qur’an, this book comes with a CD which includes Quranic 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 Qur’an to other translations brought out how most English translations of the Qur’an 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 Qur’an 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 Qur’an. The transliterations are excellent students can follow the Arabic text very easily. The Qur’an is a difficult text to teach to students who have no background. Approaching the Qur’an makes it exciting and accessible to them. ~ Shaun Marmon, Associate Professor, Department of Religion, Princeton University
Approaching the Qur’an is a sensitive and unusually accessible first book on the Qur’an 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 Qur’an plays in Muslim life and thought. Dr. Sells is to be congratulated for a significant contribution to English-language materials on the Qur’an. ~ 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 Qur’an is much more than a translation of the Qur’an. 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 Qur’an, 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 Qur’an 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 Qur’an, 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 Qur’an, 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 Qur’an, 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 Qur’an is a fluent and accessible text that flawlessly communicates the religious and literary verities of the Qur’an. Selected recitations by several internationally reputed Qur’an 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 Qur’an. 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.