Introduction to Quranic Sciences

Level 4

Credit 15

Term 1


 Description of the module:

The Course is intended to provide a deep understanding of the Quran, examined under the twin concepts of the oral and the written, indicated by the names given to it: al-Qura’an (Recitation) and al-Kitab (The Book). It will explore the history of the muṣḥaf, collection, readings, makki & madani, and occasions of revelations. It will also investigate the oral aspect of the Qur’an and its role in the life of Muslims. The investigation will engage with both the classical and modern scholarship of the Qur’an.


Assessment methods

This module is assessed by a combination of a critical review and an essay:

Coursework Assignment 1: critical review

Word limit: 1500 words

Critically review the following chapter:

        “An Arabic Reciting”:  Qur’an as spoken book, by William Graham in Beyond the Written Word:     Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion, CUP, 1993, pp. 79-116.


End of year Assignment 2:  Essay

Word limit: 2000 words

      Examine the significance of asbab al-nuzul

      (Further bibliography will be given about this topic)

Lectures’ schedule:

1- Introduction

2- Early revelation

Reading: Esack, chapter 2, Saeed Chapter 2

3- The written Qur’an  : Division and language

Reading : Esack, chapter 3

4- The historical context of the Qur’an : Asbab al-nuzul

Reading:  Occasions of revelation, in Encyclopedia of the Qur’an

5- Chronology of the Qur’an: Makki and Madani

Reading:  Von Denffer, chapter 5, Chronology of the Qur’an in Encyclopedia of the Qur’an

6- Collection of the Qur’an

Reading: Esack, chapter 4, Saeed chapter 3

7- The doctrine of inimitability (‘ijaz)

Reading:  Esack, chapter 5, inimitability in  Encyclopedia of the Qur’an

8-Recitation of the Qur’an

Reading: Saeed, chapter 5 , Recitation in  Encyclopedia of the Qur’an

9- Western Scholarship and the Qur’an

Reading: Saeed, chapter 6

10- Interpreting the Quran: tafsir

Reading: Saeed, chapters 10 &11, Esack, chapter 6

11- Major themes

Saeed chapter 4 and Esack 7 & 8


Required texts

Ahmad von Denffer, ‘Ulum al-Qur’an: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an, (the Islamic Foundation, Leicester, 1994),

Esack, F., The Qur’ān: A User’s Guide, Oneworld, 2005. (the same book is also published as Introduction to the  Qur’ān and  The Qur’an: A Beginner’s Guide by the same publisher)

Saeed, A. The Qur’an: An Introduction, Routledge, 2008.

Nasr, S. H., et el, The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary, Harperone, 2015.


Azami, M. M., The History of the Qur’anic Text (UK Islamic Academy, Leicester, 2003).

Graham W., Beyond the Written Word: Oral aspects of scripture in the history of religion, Cambridge 1987

Haleem, M. A., Understanding the Qur’an: themes and style (London: I. B. Tauris, 1999).

Imam, A. A., The variant readings of the Quran (Virginia: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1998).  Khalifah, M., The Sublime Qur’an and the Orientalism (Longman, 1983).

Leaman, O, (ed), The Qur’an: an Encyclopaedia (Oxford: Routledge, 2006).

Mattson, Ingrid. The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life, Blackwell, 2008.

McAluiffe, J. D. (ed.) Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an (Brill, 2001).

Nelson, K., The Art of reciting the Qur’an (University of Texas Press, 1988).

Robinson, N., Discovering the Qur’an, A contemporary approach to a veiled text (London, SCM, 1986).

Jalal al Din al Suyuti, Itqān fī ʻulūm al-QurʼānThe perfect guide to the sciences of theQur’an, Vol. 1, translated by Hamid Algar, Michael Schub and Ayman Abdel Haleem; reviewed by Osman S. A. and Isma’il A. al-Bili (Reading: Garnet, 2011).

Watt, W. M., Introduction to the Qur’an (Edinburgh University Press, 1997).