Geschichte des Qorans” Of Theodore Noeldeke

Review tak­en from Abu Ammaar Yasir Qad­hi, An Intro­duc­tion to the Sci­ences of the Qur’aan (Al-Hidaayah Pub­lish­ing and Dis­tri­b­u­tion, 1999).

The first work is by Theodore Noeldeke, a very famous Ger­man Ori­en­tal­ist. He enti­tled it Geschichte des Qorans, or His­to­ry of the Qur’an”. The work was writ­ten with the help of three oth­er Ger­man Ori­en­tal­ists : Pret­zl, Schwal­ly and Bergstraess­er. It was pub­lished over a peri­od of three decades, in three vol­umes. The first vol­ume was pub­lished over a peri­od of three decades, in three vol­umes. The first vol­ume was pub­lished in 1909, and the last in 1938. It won nation­al awards from the Paris Acad­e­my of Inscrip­tions, and drew great acclaim from Ori­en­tal­ists all over the world.

Von Den­fer has a brief, yet superb, review of the work, which is quot­ed in its entirety :

The His­to­ry of the Qur’an’ pro­duced by four Ger­man ori­en­tal­ists, deals in three parts with The Ori­gin of the Qur’an’, The Col­lec­tion of the Qur’an’, and The His­to­ry of the Qur’an­ic Text’. The com­plete book nat­u­ral­ly reflects the dif­fer­ent approach­es and types of schol­ar­ship of the var­i­ous authors. Noeldeke’s bias against Islaam can still be clear­ly dis­cerned, although he lat­er renounced some of his views regard­ing the his­to­ry of the Qur’an.

The main sub­stance of the first vol­ume is its sec­ond part On the Ori­gins of the Var­i­ous Parts of the Qur’an”. Here, on the basis of Noeldeke’s ear­li­er works, the soorahs have been arranged in four peri­ods, three Makkan and one Mad­i­nan, depend­ing heav­i­ly on Mus­lim sources, espe­cial­ly on Suy­ootee’s Itqaan and Tabari. Due to this, the mate­r­i­al pre­sent­ed is, apart from the usu­al biased com­ments, a good cross-sec­tion of clas­si­cal Mus­lim writ­ings on the sub­ject. Inci­den­tal­ly, Pick­thall (the well-known Qur’an trans­la­tor), relied heav­i­ly on this for his remarks on chronol­o­gy in his translation.

There is a final dis­cus­sion on Rev­e­la­tion not includ­ed in the Qur’aan dis­cussed on the basis of the var­i­ous aha­dith and oth­er sources.

The sec­ond vol­ume, deal­ing with the col­lec­tion, is almost com­plete­ly based on Mus­lim sources (again Itqaan dom­i­nates) and presents a calm dis­cus­sion of the rul­ing tra­di­tion’ vis-?is oth­er reports about the col­lec­tion of the Qur’an. Schwal­ly, after pre­sent­ing the mate­r­i­al and his reflec­tion on it, comes to the con­clu­sion very close to clas­si­cal Mus­lim views, name­ly that the shape of the Qur’an, as we have it now, was com­plet­ed two or three years after the death of Muham­mad, since the Uth­man­ic edi­tion is only a copy of Haf­sa’s piece, the edi­to­r­i­al work of which had been com­plet­ed under Aboo Bakr, or at the lat­est under Umar. This edi­to­r­i­al work how­ev­er prob­a­bly only con­cerned the com­po­si­tions of the surat and their arrange­ment. As far as the var­i­ous pieces of rev­e­la­tion are con­cerned, we may be con­fi­dent that their text has been gen­er­al­ly trans­mit­ted exact­ly as it was found in the Prophet’s legacy.”

Vol­ume three is most­ly con­cerned with the writ­ten text of the Qur’an and the var­i­ous read­ings. It is once more a sober pre­sen­ta­tion of infor­ma­tion derived basi­cal­ly from Mus­lim sources. Bergstraess­er has dealt main­ly with the writ­ten form of the Uth­man­ic Qu’ran’, the vari­ant read­ings, as con­tained in the masaahif of Ibn Mas’ood and Ubay. He then intro­duces the his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ment of the qira’aat.

Pret­zl presents the var­i­ous read­ings, empha­sis­ing the famous sev­en read­ings”, describes the Mus­lim lit­er­a­ture on the qira’at and final­ly deals very briefly with palaeog­ra­phy and dec­o­ra­tive designs of old Qur’an­ic man­u­scripts. As in vol­ume two, the main sources are clas­si­cal Mus­lim authors, espe­cial­ly as-Suy­ootee, al-Maba­nee, al-Jaza­ree and var­i­ous writ­ers on the qira’at. Until today, Noeldeke/​Schwally is the most com­pre­hen­sive-if not the sole seri­ous attempt by Ori­en­tal­ists to deal with the Qur’an — at least in a descrip­tive man­ner. For this is what the lat­er authors — not so much Noeldeke had in view : to col­lect the avail­able mate­r­i­al on the sub­ject and to present it. While some of the authors’ com­ments and con­clu­sions would not be wel­comed by Mus­lims, the vast area that has been cov­ered and the pre­sen­ta­tion based on the clas­si­cal Mus­lim lit­er­a­ture on the top­ic are of mer­it that has to be acknowl­edged. Espe­cial­ly in the lat­ter two vol­umes, there is sur­pris­ing­ly lit­tle that Mus­lims might find deroga­to­ry in style, and indeed the basic pre­sen­ta­tion is not unlike clas­si­cal Mus­lim lit­er­a­ture on the subject.” "Geschichte des Qorans" Of Theodore Noeldeke 1Endmark

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