Bell's Introduction to the Qurʼān, Issue 8

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Edinburgh U.P., 1970 - Religion - 258 pages
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Surveying the life, aims, character and inspiration of Muhammad, this classic introduction explains the history, form and chronology of the Qur'an, and gives the views of Muslim and Occidental scholars.

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You cannot just read the Qur'an. It is encrypted about fifteen different ways in an exegetical science called tafsir. Richard Bell's book is the best book that I have experienced to sort through it's encryption and there have been doctoral level dissertations at the prestigious Al Ahzar University in Cairo, Egypt - as well as the Hambali Madhab in Saudi Arabia.
It appears that Bell has taken apart the Haditha (biography of Muhammad by his companions or saHaba) sentence by sentence and clearly contextualized the Qur'an.
Traditional dogmatic scholars might use the "Tanwir al Miqbas min Tafsīr Ibn 'Abbās" which has nine separate and disputable chains of transmission.
Independently, Book one of the Bukhari, narrated by Aisha bint Abu Bakr, places Chapter (surat) 96 as the first revelation occuring August 10, 610 CE in the cave of Mount Hira, outside Mecca.
Quranic verse 15:87 mentions the first seven verses of the opener - which decisively places Chapter one in the fifth order at Mecca.
All this might be hard to understand - but it won't be once you read the book.

About the author (1970)

William Montgomery Watt, Professor Emeritus of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, is well known as an authority on the life of Muhammad and the origins of Islam. His many books include the Faith and Practice of Al-Ghazali and Religious Truth for our Time, both published by Oneworld. Richard Bell is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Maryland.

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