Recent manuscript evidence from al-Jami` al-Kabir in ?an ‘a’ suggests that the Qur’an took its final shape well before 671 CE. Irrespective, however, of who composed it or when it was compiled, questions remain about whether the Qur’an followed any kind of preconceived plan or compositional schema that makes sense in today’s world. In The al-Baqara Crescendo, Nevin Reda introduces a bold new avenue of research: the poetics of Qur'anic narrative structure. Focusing on Surat al-Baqara, the longest and most challenging of the suras, she explores the beauty and rationale behind the Qur'an’s unusual organization. Reda argues that the sura – often dismissed by Muslim traditionalists and Orientalist critics as a baffling collection of disjointed material – can be appreciated as a coherent composition if it is approached as a spoken text. Calling attention to oral organizational techniques such as repetition, this book’s repertoire of figures showcases Surat al-Baqara’s ingenious layout and pinpoints the sophisticated meanings that are embedded within it. Incorporating insights from literary theory and Biblical studies, the author advances inclusivity and intercultural bridge-building in the study of scripture. In an engaging narrative that is bound to captivate and challenge the reader, Reda communicates a deep love and thorough command of her subject, all while presenting a significant new development in Islamic feminist hermeneutics.
“The al-Baqara Crescendo provides a sensitive, holistic reading of the text. In addition, it has a feminist dimension, highlighting the Qur?an’s call for people to read the text for themselves and not rely on existing judgments.” Raymond Farrin, American University of Kuwait
“The al-Baqara Crescendo represents not only a careful and insightful analysis of the sura, but also an aesthetic appreciation of the text. It makes an important and original argument, and represents a subsustantial contribution to Qur?anic studies, particularly to the question of the structure and unity of the long Medinan suras, which has been hotly debated.” Devin Stewart, Emory University