Category Archives: Media

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Release of “Solomon” film

Category : Media

Anyone following this blog and our social media outlets must be well aware that our Quranic storytelling film – Solomon and the Queen – has been on the verge of release for the past few weeks.

It’s now available for free viewing online! A DVD is also available, ideal as a gift. It comes in a double-DVD set together with the first ever Quranica event. Click here for details and to purchase.

YouTube


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Quick notes on the “pre-Muhammadan Qur’an”

Category : Media

By Sohaib Saeed

How did a story that apparently confirmed the antiquity of the Qur’an as we know it, and the broad accuracy of Muslim traditional accounts, turn into weird headlines claiming that the Qur’an might “predate Muhammad” and that the new discoveries may necessitate a complete rethinking of Islamic history?

Nothing new actually happened since the University of Birmingham’s announcement of the early date arising from their radiocarbon testing of the parchments. There were news stories circulating then (with some jubilation from Muslims), and then there were later articles in which revisionist academics presented an alternative sceptical theory which could make use of this radiocarbon date range – rather than being made utterly untenable thereby.

The best response I have seen so far to these revised revisionist theories is by Dr. Jonathan Brown: How Should Rationalists Deal with Dogmatism? Dr. Brown is by now a renowned scholar in the field of Hadith studies, and has done a great service to the public by clarifying this issue.

The following are some additional factors to bear in mind, which may serve as an introduction or postscript to that article.

1. The nature of academia, in which alternative theories are hypothesised, examined and debated. Yes, there are agendas and biases, but we ought not to be too dramatic about this.

2. The danger of uninformed opinions and pseudo-expertise, whether that is coming from the historians who speak to the media in matters outside their speciality; or Muslim scholars who are learned in some things but don’t follow these fields and contemporary debates on palaeography or radiocarbon science, etc.; or from the hordes of people on social media who simply must express an opinion, and right away!

3. The role of the media in distorting things, even the views of some of the academics quoted. They have their own agenda, and sensationalism is the air they breathe. We must learn to read and think critically, and to identify the real story as well as the gaps which have been filled irresponsibly.

4. Muslims should avoid hasty judgements. The reality of this particular folio in Birmingham is something which we simply don’t know yet, and can’t be sure we will ever know. Science provides fantastic opportunities to find out, but science is built upon certain assumptions and does not provide the certainty that time travel might! Our human techniques are a work in progress. By traditional Islamic accounts and methods of analysis, this copy from the Qur’an appears to be of a slightly later date than the radiocarbon dating suggests. One or the other set of theories may need to be revised. These are all questions that are raised in the context of scholarship, and are not troubling to those who can distinguish the core issues from peripheral ones.


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Features of recitation in “Solomon and the Queen”

Category : Media , Recitation

By Sohaib Saeed

This post serves as an introduction to Solomon and the Queen for people who are less familiar with Qur’an recitation, or with the particular style which is exemplified by the reciter, Qari Hajjaj al-Hindawi.

The first thing to appreciate is that the Qur’an is a vocal and oral phenomenon, as much as – if not more than – it is written and read as a scripture. As I have explained elsewhere, Qur’an recitation can be seen both as a science and and art-form, in that it is governed by certain rules of pronunciation (known as tajweed), while the beauty of vocalisation is also encouraged and emphasised.

Listening to the Qur’an being recited by an expert is a highly spiritual experience, and may be deemed as an act of worship when done with that intention. The believer listens to receive guidance and to move his or her heart into greater submission to the Creator. Yet anyone may listen in on this divine discourse and appreciate the power of the Qur’an’s internal rhythms, as enhanced by the melodies of the reciter’s interpretation. The Egyptian tradition of performative recitation (mujawwad) is of particular note, and Qari Hindawi is a contemporary master of this tradition.

Now I shall mention some key features to bear in mind when watching Solomon and the Queen, and the recitation therein from Surat al-Naml (the Chapter of the Ants), verses 15-44.

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The making of “Solomon and the Queen”

Category : Media

By Sohaib Saeed

Just as we are celebrating ten years since the launch of Quranica, it is now nine years since one of our most memorable events. On 13th August 2006, a world-renowned reciter – Sh. Hajjaj Ramadan al-Hindawi – sat down in Edinburgh’s Central Mosque to recite at the end of a whole weekend of Quranica events in Scotland.

It was quite a journey getting him over to join us, but that is perhaps another story for another time!

At this Sunday event, we did things differently, and more traditionally. We didn’t give the reciter any instructions. He began to recite from Surat al-Naml, and the story of Prophet Sulaiman and his encounters with the ants, birds and jinns, and then with the Queen of Sheba.

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“The Qur’an: An Eternal Challenge”

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Category : Media , Qur'an Sciences

Click on the image to view a playlist of 10 videos recorded in the Al-Azhar Mosque in June 2013. Sohaib Saeed, graduate of Al-Azhar University and director of Quranica, has introduced the chapters and themes of a seminal book in Quranic studies by the late Sh. Muhammad Abdullah Draz. Feedback is welcome as always.