Contemporary Approaches to the Quran

Akbar, Ali and Saeed, Abdullah. Contemporary Approaches to the Qur’an and its Interpretation in Iran. Routledge, 2019.

This book sets out how contemporary Iranian scholars have approached the Qur’an during recent decades. It particularly aims to explore the contributions of scholars that have emerged in the post 1979-revolution era, outlining their primary interpretive methods and foundational theories regarding the reading of the Qur’an.

Examining issues such as the status of women, democracy, freedom of religion and human rights, this book analyses the theoretical contributions of several Iranian scholars, some of which are new to the English-speaking academy. The hermeneutical approaches of figures such Abdolkarim Soroush, Muhammad Mojtahed Shabestari, Mohsen Kadivar, Hasan Yousefi-Eshkevari, Abolqasem Fanaie and Mostafa Malekian are presented and then analysed to demonstrate how a contextualist approach to the Qu’ran has been formed in response to the influence of Western Orientalism. The effect of this approach to the Qu’ran is then shown to have wide-ranging effects on Iranian society.


Human Rights and Islam

Saeed, Abdullah. Human Rights and Islam: An Introduction to Key Debates between Islamic Law and International Human Rights Law. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018.

Is there a basis for human rights in Islam? Beginning with an exploration of what rights are and how the human rights discourse developed, Abdullah Saeed explores the resources that exist within Islamic tradition. He looks at those that are compatible with international human rights law and can be garnered to promote and protect human rights in Muslim-majority states. A number of rights are given specific focus, including the rights of women and children, freedom of expression and religion, as well as jihad and the laws of war. Human Rights and Islam emphasises the need for Muslims to rethink problematic areas of Islamic thought that are difficult to reconcile with contemporary conceptions of human rights.


Al-Qran Abad 21

Saeed, Abdullah. Al-Qran Abad 21: Tafsir Kontextual. Mizan, 2016.

This book highlights the development of interpretation of the Koran and raises the latest debates about new approaches to interpretation. The author offers practical guidance on how to interpret and present key ideas about a contextualist approach, which places the original message of the Koran in a broader social, political, economic and intellectual context. He proposes a more flexible method of interpretation, which recognises the repertoire of old Qur’anic interpretations while looking at changing conditions, and recognises the need for new approaches to interpreting the Koran.

The book reviews dominant approaches in pre-modern times, textualist approaches, and reactions to feminist interpretations of the Koran; reviews the hierarchical nature of the values of the Koran; and critiques the important themes of the Koran, comparing pre-modern and modern interpretations to show the evolutionary nature of the interpretation.

Islamic Teachings on Contemporary Issues for Young Muslims

Saeed A., Gould R. and Duderija, A. Islamic teachings on contemporary issues for young Muslims (11.9Mb pdf) Melbourne: National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, 2016.

The book is divided into eight themes covering core issues related to religion, identity and diversity, as well as more advanced topics such as the meaning of jihad, Islamic teachings concerning governance, the historical phenomenon of slavery, and the challenge of Islamophobia. Students will learn about mainstream Islamic teachings on these topics and be challenged to research and present information, debate contentious issues and write persuasive essays covering this material.

The resource will equip students with the knowledge and critical thinking skills to question many of the divisive and isolationist narratives that have emerged in recent times concerning Islam and the relationship of Muslims with those of other faiths, with a special emphasis on topics relevant to young Muslims living in Australia today. In addition, it is hoped that it will form a starting point for students interested in deepening their knowledge of Islamic tradition to pursue such education at a higher level.