In the name of God

Discussion Forum on Divine Scriptures(DFDS)
The Report of DFDS Spring 2021 first meeting ;The semantics of Qur'anic Language: al-Akhira

 Dr. Ghassan El Masri, Bavarian Research Center for Inter-religious Discourses (BaFID),Berlin, Germany


Wednesday May 19th, 4 pm(Tehran zone)



Exegetical strategies for interpreting a text differ among the different scriptural cultures. The Islamic approach to Qurʾanic exegesis makes extensive use of etymology. However, historical philology caused confusion in the way modern scholars understand the practice of etymology, which they dismissed as ‘folk’ or mistaken etymologies. A distinction must here be taken into consideration, namely between semantic and historical etymological methods. Muslims practiced semantic etymology, which consists of identifying the original world-thing relation (aṣl al-tasmiya) by appealing to a focal root-meaning common to all lexemes that derive from the same consonants. Historical etymology, by contrast, traces the origin of a word in a preexisting related language.  These are two different methods of lexical analysis that should supplement, rather than supplant each other. Traces of Muslim engagement with the semantic etymological method appear in the earliest layer of Islamic philological production, in the genre of al-wuğūh wa-l-naẓāʾir and the science of etymology has reached a surprisingly rapid maturity in Kitāb al-ʿayn by al-Ḫalīl b. Aḥmad al-Farāhīdī.  Modern scholars investigating the historical background of Qurʾanic terms with Hebrew, Aramaic, or Syriac cognates; must take the semantic process that is reshaping these terms’ meanings in the Qurʾān into consideration as a purposeful process of semantic re-etymologizing

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