This issue of the Australian Journal of Islamic Studies, together with the following issue, address the topic of Qur’ānic exegesis, or tafsīr al-Qur’ān, in the non-Arab world.
Much scholarly attention has been devoted to exegesis of the Qur’ān produced in Arabic down the centuries, and deservedly so. Arabic language exegetical output represents an invaluable treasure of Islamic studies.
Furthermore, exegetical writings outside the Arab world through time have often drawn on, and sometimes closely mirrored, exegetical writing in Arabic. We need look no further than the profound influence exerted on non-Arab exegetes by works such as al-Ṭabarī’s Jāmiʿ al-bayān ʿan ta’wīl āy al-Qur’ān, the Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr, and the exegetical output of Jalāl al-Dī̄n al-Suyūṭī.
Nevertheless, exegetical gifts and callings are found across Muslim communities the world over. Islamic exegetical activity is not unidirectional from the Arab world to non-Arab Muslim communities. Rather, it is a dynamic dialogue, a call and response. Richly diverse Muslim cultures have specific requirements in terms of interpreting the Qur’ān. Thus, the world of Islam produces a rich mosaic of interpretations of the Qur’ān, which all Muslims can draw on.
This issue of AJIS carries strong flavours of Islam in Southeast Asia and Africa. Of the ten authors included in the papers, nine originate from Indonesia and Malaysia, while the tenth is a North American scholar of African origin. All thus speak with considerable authority about their topics and regions of focus.
Further, the authors are engaged in diverse educational settings, again outside the Arab world. Five are faculty members of state universities and institutes of Islam in Indonesia; three are faculty members of private Islamic institutions in Indonesia; one is on the faculty at the National University of Malaysia; and the last is on the faculty at Adelphi University in the United States. Three are currently undertaking PhD research into topics related to Qur’ānic exegesis. In this way, this issue of AJIS presents readers with rich perspectives from diverse settings on a range of vitally relevant topics in the field of tafsīr al-Qur’ān.
The six articles in this issue of AJIS demonstrate the richness of resources in tafsīr al-Qur’ān produced outside the Arabic-speaking world. These articles provide a snapshot of the rapidly developing interest in this field of studies in Southeast Asia and Africa. Further exciting glimpses into non-Arab world research into Qur’ānic exegesis will be on display in the next issue of AJIS, focusing on scholarship from India, Iran, Turkey and central Caucasus.
To read the six articles published in the new AJIS special issue, please visit: www.ajis.com.au.
Editorial Introduction written by Prof Peter G Riddell * and Hakan Çoruh **
* Prof Peter G Riddell is a Professorial Research Associate in History at SOAS University of London and Senior Research Fellow of the Australian College of Theology.
** Dr Hakan Çoruh is Senior Lecturer of Islamic studies at Faculty of Arts and Education, Charles Sturt University.