Sometimes you can tell a book by its cover. Women, War & Hypocrites: Studying the Qur’an (CBU Press, 2010), a new book by sociologist Robert A. Campbell, is such a book—an important and focused follow-up to Campbell’s 2009 book Reading the Qur’an in English: An Introductory Guide.
The unique beauty and richness of the Qur’an, Islam’s sacred book, calls out for it to be read and enjoyed by all. It is the ultimate source of authority on all matters in Islam and is at the center of ritual life. But the Qur’an, especially an English translation of it, is very difficult to get anything out of, unless you are open to following its structural logic. Western expectations about the use of narrative, description and dialogue should be set aside.
Campbell’s first book, Reading the Qur’an in English, helps readers experience the Qur’an on its own terms, revealing a great deal about the nature of Islam and how the Qur’an compares with other Abrahamic scriptures.
“A concerted effort should be made to separate what one reads in the Qur’an from what we think we have learned about the Qur’an and Islam through media coverage of current events,” says Campbell. “People who are unwilling or unable to delve into the text of the Qur’an on their own are at risk of having their opinions shaped by others,” he writes.
In this new book, Dr. Campbell expands his analysis to the thematic structure of the Qur’an’s fourth book (surah), known by many as, simply, “The Women”. This is a large and complex surah containing some of the most controversial verses and ideas in the Qur’an: women (on marriage, lewdness, wife beating and hijab), war (on killing, battle, jihad and terrorism) and hypocrites (on believers, the People of the Book, idolatry, intoxication and the crucifixion of Jesus).
Like Reading the Qur’an in English, Women, War & Hypocrites is highly readable. It’s an enlightening book about inflammatory issues affecting Muslim-non-Muslim relations and even relations between Muslims within Islam.
Robert Campbell, PhD, has taught and lectured on various aspects of religion in university classrooms as well as in public settings. His published articles appear in such journals as the Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and The Leadership Quarterly.
Campbell will be giving a public talk on his new book on March 22 at 7 pm at the McConnell Memorial Library, Falmouth Street, Sydney.
For more on the book visit http://cbup.ca/books/women-war-hypocrites-studying-the-quran.