Raymond Farrin

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Interest in the structure of the Qur’an has its beginnings in the ninth century CE with Muslim scholars. Since that time, Muslim and Western scholars have debated the coherence of the Qur’an’s structure. Raymond Farrin, professor of Arabic at the American University of Kuwait, opens his newest book, Structure and Qur’anic Interpretation: A Study of Symmetry and Coherence in Islam’s Holy Text (White Cloud Press, 2014) with a historical synopsis of the views adopted by the two primary camps regarding the structure of the Qur’an and the development of the study of the Qur’an’s constitution. Following in the footsteps of Muslim scholars and Western scholars of Islam who acknowledged and demonstrated patterns of connectivity between verses and chapters, Farrin argues that the entirety of Qur’an is organized according to three common patterns of symmetry: parallelism, chiasm, and, the most ubiquitous of three, concentrism. As the reader moves form chapter to chapter, Professor Farrin explores how these patterns of symmetry are found in the individual chapters, chapter pairs, groupings of chapters, systems of chapters, and then the entire corpus. This structural analysis provides Farrin the opportunity to explore the overall connectivity of messages throughout the Qur’an. Accompany this study, Farrin provides multiple appendixes providing structural analysis of selected chapters, a complete listing of chapter pairs and groups, a “Reading Group Guide” of revelations mentioning prophets, and a chronological listing of chapters based on the work of Nöldeke. Professor Farrin’s work is a significant contribution to the field. It is of great value to scholars of Islam but written in terms accessible to all interested in exploring the Qur’an.


Sophia Rose Arjana, “Muslims in the Western Imagination” (Oxford UP, 2015)

March 10, 2015

In Muslims in the Western Imagination (Oxford University Press, 2015), Sophia Rose Arjana explores a variety of creative productions—including art, literature, film—in order to tell a story not about how Muslims construct their own identities but rather about how Western thinkers have constructed ideas about Muslims and monsters. To what extent are these imaginary constructs […]

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Cabeiri RobinsonBody of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists

February 19, 2015

The idea of jihad is among the most keenly discussed yet one of the least understood concepts in Islam. In her brilliant new book Body of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists (University of California Press, 2013), Cabeiri Robinson, Associate Professor of International Studies and South Asian Studies at […]

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Neilesh BoseRecasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Colonial Bengal

February 18, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in South Asian Studies] In his new book Recasting the Region: Language, Culture, and Islam in Colonial Bengal (Oxford University Press, 2014), Neilesh Bose analyses the trajectories of Muslim Bengali politics in the first half of the twentieth century. The literary and cultural history of the region explored in the book reveal the pointedly Bengali ideas of Pakistan […]

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John RenardIslamic Theological Themes: A Primary Source Reader

February 6, 2015

Islamic theology is generally understood or approached in terms of its systematic or speculative forms. In Islamic Theological Themes: A Primary Source Reader (University of California Press, 2014), John Renard, Professor of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University, has produced a collection of primary sources that thinks through theological deliberation far beyond the narrow strictures […]

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Isra YaziciogluUnderstanding Qur’anic Miracle Stories in the Modern Age

January 23, 2015

In Understanding Qur’anic Miracle Stories in the Modern Age (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013), Isra Yazicioglu draws connections between an array of scholars, from different time periods and cultures, in order to make sense of miracles and miracle stories in the Qur’an. What are miracles? Why do they occur in stories? And how does the […]

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Kavita DatlaThe Language of Secular Islam: Urdu Nationalism and Colonial India

December 24, 2014

In her brilliant new book, The Language of Secular Islam: Urdu Nationalism and Colonial India (University of Hawaii Press, 2013), Kavita Datla, Associate Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, explores the interaction of language, nationalism, and secularism by focusing on the religious and social imaginaries of important twentieth century Muslim scholars from the state of […]

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Michael HawkinsMaking Moros: Imperial Historicism and American Military Rule in the Philippines’ Muslim South

December 12, 2014

For many Muslim communities particular religious identities were formulated or hardened within colonial realities. These types of cultural encounters were structural for the various Muslim tribes in the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao and Sulu during the turn of the twentieth century. In Making Moros: Imperial Historicism and American Military Rule in the Philippines’ Muslim […]

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Sahar AmerWhat is Veiling?

November 18, 2014

There are few concepts commonly associated with Islam and Muslims today that evoke more anxiety, phobia, and paranoia than the veil, commonly translated as the hijab. Seen by many as the most quintessential symbol of the alleged Muslim oppression of women, the veil has for some time represented a subject of tremendous rage, debate, polemics, […]

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Michael CookAncient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective

November 5, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Global Conflict] Michael Cook, a widely-respected historian and scholar of Islam begins his book with a question that everyone seems to be asking these days: is Islam uniquely violent or uniquely political? Why does Islam seem to play a larger role in contemporary politics than other religions? The answers that are […]

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