Book Review: Daniel A. Madigan: The Qurʾan’s Self-Image: Writing and Authority in Islam’s Scripture
Islam is frequently characterized as a "religion of the Book". Many scholars consider it the most developed example of this kind of religion, probably because the words of scripture occupy a more central position in the faith and practice of Muslims than in other religions. Yet, there is no physical book at the center of Islamic rituals. Muslims' approach to their scripture is almost totally oral. Many recite the whole sacred text from memory, and it was years after the Prophet's death that it was first put in book form. What does the Qur'an mean, then, when it insistently calls itself kitab, a term that is usually translated as 'book' or 'scripture'? In order to answer this question, Daniel Madigan reexamines this key term, kitab, as it occurs in the Qur'an's own discourse about itself. The main task of The Qur'an's Self-Image is, hence, to bring to light the complex connotations of the Qur'an's 'book' and 'writing' language as "it is allowed to interpret its own concepts and speak for itself " (p. 9).