Review of Interpreting Islam in China – Review of Qur’anic Research

I was very honored when I found out that Dr. Johanna Pink reviewed Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab in Review of Qur’anic Research, the official journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association.

I was even more pleased by what she had to say, especially since she is not a scholar of Islam in China but of Islamic intellectual history more broadly. If you’d like to read the full review you can access it through Review of Qur’anic Research’s website (paywall).

Here are some key passages:

We are still far from being able to write a history of Qurʾān translation or, more broadly, non-Arabic Muslim engagement with the Qurʾān. Books such as Petersen’s are important steps on the way to this goal. His thoughtful analysis, his insightful conclusions, and his broad reflections on the authors’ contexts, motives, and audiences provide ample potential for comparative readings.

Petersen’s book constitutes an important contribution to analyzing how the concept of ‘translation’ emerged and how its meaning changed for non-Arab Muslims.

It is well-structured and carefully theorized, but not at the expense of an equally careful empirical analysis of its textual sources. It is thus a highly valuable scholarly resource.

It is therefore highly advisable especially for scholars who have no expertise on Islam in China to take his book seriously as a contribution to our understanding of how the Qurʾān was read and interpreted by Muslims throughout history, across space and language divides. … Petersen has taken great care, throughout the book, to go beyond a philological analysis of his sources and draw systematic conclusions that make his findings accessible, theoretically useful, and suitable for comparison with the development of Muslim scholarship, education, and scriptural exegesis in other regions of the world.




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