El-Badawi, Emran. “For All Times and Places”: A Humanistic Reception of the Qur’an. English Language Notes 50.2 (2012): 99-112.
“Humanism” is a perennial philosophy that gives primacy to the honor and frailty of the human condition.Two of its core values, “reason and compassion,” are demonstrated in the literary rationalism of Xenophanes (d. 475 BCE) and the ethics of Confucius (d. 479 BCE) respectively. Humanistic values are evident throughout the great teachings and literary works of all world civilizations including the Qur’an. This study explores the Qur’an’s humanistic language and teachings that is the clarity of its articulation and the rhetorical qualities of its argumentation, as well as the text’s ethical dimension, which stresses humankind’s inherent intellect, freedom, and accountability for a diverse modern audience through the eyes of the text’s “first audience.”
This audience was composed of the individuals for whom the text was primarily intended, and who belonged to Arabia in the Late Antique/Pre-Islamic Period (ca. sixth-seventh century CE; Cf. jahiliyyah) and Early Islamic ￼Period (Cf. sadr al-islam; the Sufyanids). This time period was centuries prior to the development of the traditional forms of Islam that emerged in the Classical Period of Islam (ca. tenth-thirteenth century CE).
When traditional Muslims today think of the Qur’an—especially in its original Arabic form they will likely appreciate the text as the literal Word of God, warning against the horrors of eternal hellfire, bringing good news of eternal paradise and, ultimately, as a means of personal salvation (furqan). Insofar as traditional Jews and Christians are familiar with the Qur’an, they might find its beliefs, parables, and laws in close dialogue with those of Hebrew and Christian scripture, but also in direct competition with them. Critical scholars of the Qur’an are likely to subject its text to the tools of rational inquiry and intellectual discourse…