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The exegesis of Tabatabaei and the Hermeneutics of Hirsch: a comparative study

Mokhtari, Mohammad Hossein (2007) The exegesis of Tabatabaei and the Hermeneutics of Hirsch: a comparative study. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis is a comparative study between Hermeneutics on the one hand and exegesis of the Holy Qur'an on the other. Its objective is to discover whether there are salient points of convergence between the two disciples, and whether issues germane to the Hermeneutical tradition in the West have been referred to and/or employed in Muslim works of Qur'an commentary. To this end, the works of one of the most prominent Shi'ite philosophers and exegetes. Allama Mohammad Hossein Tabataei, have been analysed and compared with the perspective and methodology of E D. Hirsch, one of the most important hermeneuticians in the Western World. Hirsch has been chosen since, in the opinion of the author, there is a considerable number of commonalities between the Hirschian approach to hermeneutics and the exegetical methodology of Tabatabaei and other Shi'ite Muslim interpreters of the Qur'an.. Hirsch, as an objectivist, along with a number of other Hermeneutical scholars, are critical of those who subscribe to philosophical Hermeneutics, such as Heideger and Gadimer. The same approach is taken in Tabatabaei's works, thus providing a strong rationale for an academic comparison of these two scholars. For this reason, this thesis attempts to study the theories of Tabatabaei and Hirsch in order to highlight the similarities and differences in their works. The central hypothesis is that while small differences in approach exist, there is much common ground, and that it is possible to use certain facets of Hirschian hermeneutics in the interpretation of the Qur'an, thus modernising some of the existing exegetical approaches employed by Shi'ite scholars.Since the aim of this thesis is to compare the interpretive works of Tabatabaei with those of Hirsch's, an introductory chapter has been dedicated to the study of the evolution of Shi'ite exegesis from the beginning to date. Tabatabaei's Al-Mizan has been chosen as the foremost work of Shi'ite exegesis in the modem period. Furthermore, a complete chapter has also been dedicated to Tabatabai's exegetical modus operandi as reflected in Al-Mizan, in order to arrive at a better understanding of his perspectives. This research arrives at the conclusion that philosophical Hermeneutics and Epistemology have opened new horizons on which we will always be dependent. Whatever interpretive theories with regards to the understanding of the text are accepted, or whatever the tendency as far as literary criticism is concerned, or whatever ideas are accepted in the arena of philosophy of human and social sciences, the discussion of the nature of understanding in general cannot be avoided. This does not mean that Hermeneutics is limited to these new theories. Rather, the opportunity always exists to introduce new interpretive theories in connection with the understanding of the text. It is indeed possible to study these discussions in detail in a separate sphere independent of the other branches of Islamic sciences and arrive at a number of stable principles in the interpretation of the text in Islamic research.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:34

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