The Qurʾanic word Rūḥ and its restricted interpretations: an analysis of classical Tafsīr tradition and Sufi thought

Laffoon, Peter (2020). The Qurʾanic word Rūḥ and its restricted interpretations: an analysis of classical Tafsīr tradition and Sufi thought. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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The aim of this dissertation is to uncover a fuller meaning of the Qur’anic word rūḥ through a critical analysis of classical tafsīr tradition and Sufi thought. This paper challenges the prevailing scholarly opinion that rūḥ must be interpreted through the lens of the classical tafsīr tradition. I demonstrate the classical Islamic exegetes stayed within a restricted interpretation grid for rūḥ because of theological concerns—rooted in the fear of conflating rūḥ or Jesus with God. This limited how rūḥ was understood and conceived. This restricted interpretation grid has substantially impacted later exegetes, philologists, and Islamic scholars, further limiting the scope of meanings of the Qur’anic rūḥ. In addition, this paper proposes that Sufi thought regarding rūḥ is paramount for disclosing a fuller meaning. I introduce four distinct, Sufi understandings of rūḥ that are a sharp contrast from the restricted interpretation grid of the classical exegetes and offer a different lens for interpreting the Qur’anic rūḥ. This paper recommends a more critical reading of classical tafsīr, as well as a broader acceptance of the different Sufi understandings. This more fully illuminates the meaning of rūḥ, thereby significantly effecting Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic thought, and Christian-Muslim interfaith dialogue.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Spalding Trust
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc


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