ISD117 – Qur’anic Sciences and Approaches to Exegesis


The Qur’anic Sciences part of the module examines:

  • What is meant by Revelation?
  • The seven modes (ahruf) of the Qur’an and different recitations (qira’at)
  • Clear and ambiguous verses (muhkam and mutashabih)
  • Abrogation (naskh)
  • The question of alteration and distortion of the Qur’an (tahrif)
  • Compilation of the Qur’an
  • Relevant concepts of Qur’anic sciences, such as: the disjointed letters (huruf muqatta’ah), reasons of revelation (asbab al-nuzul), and the arrangement of verses and chapters of the Qur’an.

The Approaches to Exegesis part of the module examines:

  • The historical development of Qur’anic exegesis, especially during the time of the Prophet, his Companions, Successors and Imams from the Ahl al-Bayt
  • The need for Qur’anic exegesis, its possibility and permissibility
  • The concept of ta’wil (esoteric interpretation) and its accepted criteria
  • Exegetical methods and approaches
  • The expertise required by an exegete
  • Sources used in exegesis

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, the successful student will be able to:

  • Examine the continuation and preservation of the Qur’an as it was revealed to the Prophet of Islam. (A2)
  • Define two key concepts, tafsir (exegesis) and ta’wil (esoteric interpretation) and their relationship to the literal meaning of the Qur’an. (A1)
  • Analyse key concepts discussed in mainstream sciences of the Qur’an and exegetical approaches. (A1)
  • Compare and evaluate opinions held by scholars in exegetical approaches. (A3, B2, B4)

This module will call for the successful student to:

  • Demonstrate an ability to identify and explain exegetical methods and approaches, and examine opinions held by scholars on Qur’anic sciences. (B2, C1, D1, D5)

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

A variety of teaching and learning methods are used, including lectures, assignments, class discussion and individual study. The use of questioning and small group work in class ensures that students are constantly engaged and take an active role in the learning process. Students are expected to undertake independent study consisting of set and free reading.

Assessment Mode

Formative Assessment:
Questions arising from lectures form the basis formative assessment, through small group discussions leading the development of exegetical skills. The module leader will regularly give feedback to student regarding the progress of their coursework, a draft copy of the completed coursework need be handed in to the module leader before the 10th learning week as part of the formative learning process. Moreover, tutorial time enables Tutors to give constructive feedback to student on the preparation and development of their case studies. Tutorials will not be assessed but will form part of the formative learning process, and would help develop students’ learning and enhance their final submissions.

Summative Assessment:
Summative, graded assessment is by coursework and case study. The coursework will require the student to write an essay of 2,500 words examining topics agreed on Qur’anic Sciences as part of the module. (Outcomes 1,2, 5) The case study will be of 1,500 words in which students will be required to examine scholarly exegetical approaches in relation to syllabus topics discussed in class (Outcomes 3, 4, 5).

Assessment Weighting
Coursework: 50%
Case Study: 50%

Learning Materials

Core Reading

  • Bahmanpour, A. ed. (2012), A Student’s Guide to Qur’anic Sciences and Shi’a Exegesis, London: ICAS Press
  • Jaffer, A. and M. (2009). Quranic Sciences. London: ICAS Press