NEWS

Tobunken Seminar "Interpreting “Those in Authority”: The Hermeneutics of Medieval Qurʾānic Commentary"

Interpreting “Those in Authority”: The Hermeneutics of Medieval Qurʾānic Commentary

Jennifer Thea Gordon, Visiting Fellow at the Tobunken (May-August), is going to give a talk at the Tobunken Seminar on May 23. The topic should be of interest broadly to those interested in Shi`ism, scriptural hermeneutics, or political aspects of Islamic scholarship, to name a few. The seminar is open to public.


Date & Time:   May 23, 12:15-13:45

Venue:   Seminar Room 2, 3rd floor, the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo (http://www.ioc.u-tokyo.ac.jp/access/index.html).

Note:   This is a brown bag meeting.


Title:   Interpreting “Those in Authority”: The Hermeneutics of Medieval Qurʾānic Commentary

Lecturer:   Jennifer Thea Gordon (Visiting Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo; P h.D. Candidate, Harvard University)

Abstract:   This paper examines Twelver Shīʻa exegesis on the fifty-ninth verse of the fourth sura of the Qurʾān, which reads “O you who believe, obey God, and obey His Messenger, and those in authority among you,” focusing on different interpretations of the phrase “those in authority among you.” By comparing commentary on this phrase with the same authors’ writings on government in other genres, differences emerge that increase our understanding of the nature of tafsīr and its uses. While works such as Sharīf al- Murtaḍā’s Treatise on the Legality of Working for the Government and Shaykh al-Ṭūsī’s al-Nihayah reflect a willingness to accept and work within the contemporary political sphere, their Qurʾānic commentaries emphasize the importance of not obeying any authority, unless that authority is immune from sin. Tafsīr reveals Twelver Shīʻa exegetes at their least censored and most idealistic, giving us greater insight into medieval Twelver Shīʻa hermeneutics.