Dialogue with a researcher from University of Melbourne about Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd 

Adis Duderija

One element of progressive interpretation of the Islamic tradition is contextualisation and one important element of contextualisation is the differentiation between meaning of a text and its significance. While the meaning can be static ( as well as operate at different levels) its significance is dynamic. This aspect of progressive islamic hermeneutics is discussed most systematically by N.H. Abu Zayd as per the quote below taken from Sukidi (2009,207) :The first task of the human interpreter, insists Abū Zayd, is to fully understand the historical meaning of the Qur’ān (al-dalāla al-tārīkhiyya) within the social, historical, and cultural contexts of the first addresses of the text, i.e. the Prophet and his communities. Meaning (ma’nā) of the text may be valid and stable according to what the Prophet meant in the historical past. However, the significance (maghzā) of the text may vary in the present context as a result of the text’s encounters with the human interpreter or the reader in a different time and space. A subsequent task Abū Zayd assigns to the human interpreter is to discover the changing character of significance of the text in the present context.
Ishmael Abraham Abu Zayd was a blind anti-traditionalist and he criticized the legacy of traditional scholars like Salafi extremists. Quran 9:100 praises people who follow the pioneers and predecessors of Islam, and Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him also warned that later impious generations will hate and abuse former righteous generations like Shia extremists. The Arabic word for ‘following’ is Ittiba’ which means following like shadow follows the sun and honey bees follow the queen(yasub).

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