Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Did a Woman Help Write the Quran?


Professor Ruqayya Khan, chair of Islamic Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, argues that Muhammad’s fourth wife, Hafsa, may have helped edit early sections of the Quran.  Specifically, according to Vocative, which published the story, "Khan claims Hafsa transcribed and then disseminated some of Muhammad’s verses in the Quran."

It;s a controversial claim. He told Vocative,  "I think, for orthodox Muslims, the view is that Muhammad literally dictated the entire Quran to a scribe and he wrote it down verbatim. So the notion of editing the Quran is one that devout Muslims would dispute."

What does this say about the role of women in Islam?  Here's what Kahn told Vocative. "I take the view of Leila Ahmed, author of Women and Gender in Islam. Theoretically, there’s much in the religion that supports gender equality. Spiritually, if you look at the Quran, it definitely suggests that women and men are equal in the eyes of God, they are created equally, etc."

This is a fascinating story and argument, one that religion students might find interesting. It shows the dynamism of religious research and shows how new arguments can create questions.

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