Driven by a detailed hermeneutical investigation of the Qur'anic story of creation, this book questions the hybrid Biblical/Qur'anic narrative that gradually erased the lines that define the authentic Qur'anic account. Abla Hasan argues that humanity's divine status is the bedrock from which to investigate the meaning of human religiosity and address the problem of pain and suffering. The detailed analysis in this book answers many linguistic and logical pending questions in the Qur'an and is a serious departure from popular Muslim narratives that seek to alleviate our pain and suffering.
Abla Hasan is associate professor of practice of Arabic language and culture at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
1 Rethinking the Beginning of the Journey: An Earthly Dwelling, Not Exile
2 The Divine Assignment: The Divine on Earth
3 Rethinking the Divine Status of Humans: A Key to Solving the Problem of Evil
4 Rethinking the End of the Journey: Reevaluating Islamic Apocalyptic Literature
On Pain and Suffering: A Qur'anic Perspective presents a new departure in the literature of Islamic exegesis, Islamic theology, and Islamic thought at large, especially regarding the moment of creation of Adam, and the questions of natural (divine) and human (moral) evil. Abla Hasan, the theologian-scholar, interprets the Qur'an-by-the-Qur'an and leaves aside classical mainstream interpretations regarding these questions: Why is there evil on Earth? How to theologically respond to it? How is that explanation faithful to the overall Qur'anic message of human vicegerency, and responsibility, on Earth? This book reflects the quest of the modern Muslim intellect to make a more rational connection between human moral responsibilities and the Qur'anic formative stories. For its high relevance, it will certainly be read and discussed widely, beyond exegeses' circles!
This book is a serious approach to interpreting key verses in the Qur’an, as opposed to the classical “he said, she said” traditions. Any serious scholarship to understand religious scriptures must have three components: scientific rigor, focus on the scripture itself, and a heavy dose of courage. Irrespective of whether one agrees with her arguments, Dr. Hasan has adhered to these three important principles, thus presenting logical arguments to support her theses. Dr. Hasan’s approach will have a profound impact on interpreting other parts of the Qur’an. Her scholarship will most likely accelerate the ever-growing movement to reconsider traditional Qur’an exegeses.
Fresh, original, and thought-provoking, Abla Hasan’s On Pain and Suffering makes an important contribution to scholarship in the field. Well written and intelligently argued, this Qur'an-centered study stimulates the mind, consoles the heart, and soothes the soul.
Dr. Hasan’s book is a welcome and novel contribution to the literature on the ethical principles of the Qur’an and modern Qur’anic exegesis. Relying on a fresh interpretation of the verses of the Qur’an that focuses on the actual words of the scripture, she shows how traditional interpretations of the Qur’an in classical Islamic jurisprudence fall short and often do not make sense either in light of the text or logically. More importantly, she expounds on the profound implications of her new interpretation for the lives of human beings today.
In particular, Dr. Hasan deftly grapples with timeless problems such as the meaning of life, the moral reasons that God has created us to endure tests and difficulties, the role of human free will, and the true character of evil. In her rigorous and wide-ranging analysis of all these problems she articulates a Qur’anic-based conception of humans as agents of God on earth who, in order to fulfill their divinely-ordained responsibilities, must constantly be tested. Her prose is eloquent and her reasoning persuasive, benefiting from extensive research. This is a book that should be read by everyone interested in the contemporary relevance of the Qur’an for important ethical questions facing humanity today.