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Science of Tafseer

Quranic Exegesis

Science of Tafseer (Quranic Exegesis)


This course introduces students to the theory and application of Qur’anic tafsir. Initially the students will learn the various concepts developed in what is referred to as Qur’anic sciences (ulum al-Qur’an) regarding the compilation of the Qur’an, the modes of reading, the language of the Qur’an. It will also look at various methodologies developed by different scholars in different generation to the contemporary periods.





This course aims to:

  • introduce students to the issues surrounding the history of the Qur’anic text

  • Highlight the significance of the Qur’an  in the life of Muslims

  • study approaches to various issues related to the Qur’an


  • develop research skills including effective oral, written and presentation skills

  • enable students to develop critical thinking and analytical skills




  • On the successful completion of the course the students would be able to:

  • Engage with primary texts without the guidance of handbooks.

  • Understand, and have an ability to make use of, various texts and ideas studied

  • Link and assess ideas from diverse historical, philosophical and theological contexts

  • Construct a sustained argument and demonstrate intellectual flexibility.


The course will examine the following topics:

  1. Understanding the Qur’an

  2. Compilation of the Qur’an

  3. Approaches to Qur’anic exegesis (manahij al-tafsir)

  4. Occasions of revelation (asbab al-Nuzul)

  5. Division of the Qur’an into Makki and Madani and their characteristics

  6. Content of the Qur’an 1

  7. Content of the Qur’an 2

  8. Content of the Qur’an 3

  9. Inimitability of the Qur’an (I’jaz al-Qur’an)

  10. Modern/contemporary approaches to the Qur’an 1

  11. Modern/contemporary approaches to the Qur’an 2

  12. Concluding Remarks and reflections 

Transferable skills


  1. structure and the ability to communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing

  2. participate constructively in group discussions and work independently;

  3. Present sound written and oral argument and provide personal views on the  different themes of the course

  4. deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively,




The students will be assessed on one piece of written assignment around the topics of the course or in consultation with the Lecturer (3500-5000 words).


Guidelines to Academic Essay Writing


Explain why this question is important in your introduction (about 500 words). If you feel this question is not important, you may also express this and give explanations why. The introduction might also be the place to explain which topics you are focusing on and why.

Many students make the mistake of providing too many unnecessary details in the introduction or making the essay in general more a description of the topic, rather than answering the question. Bear in mind that essay questions are often phrased in an ambiguous way, not only to test the student’s understanding, but also to provide opportunities for a wide range of answers. Read the question carefully, and ask yourself what it is asking, or whether there is more than one way to read it. You may select one preferred way of reading the question, even there are other alternatives, although it is worth mentioning this in the introduction.

An excellent essay will draw on at least three papers and two books on relevant topics, while also bringing in some examples from primary sources in translation. The argument should be clearly articulated, and well-structured (introduction, interconnected main arguments, conclusion), well-referenced in accordance with the Chicago Humanities style system (footnotes), contain a bibliography, and contain minimal mistakes in spelling and grammar.




Azami, M. M., The History of the Qur'anic Text (UK Islamic Academy, Leicester, 2003).

Boullata, I. J., Literary structures of religious meaning in the Qur'an (London: Curzon Press, 2000).

Izutsu, T. Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2002

McAluiffe, J. D. (ed.) Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an (Brill, 2001).

 Rahman, F., Major themes of the Qur’an (Bibliotheca Islamica, Minneapolis, 1994).


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