Ayatollah al-Sayyid Abu al-Qasim al Musawi al-Khui (1899-1992) was one of the most respected and widely acclaimed authorities on Twelver Shi'ite Islam in this century. This book, which was first published in Arabic in 1974, presents al-Khuis comprehensive introduction to the history of the Quran. In it, al-Khui revisits many critical and controversial topics connected with the collection and ultimate canonization of the text that have received little attention in contemporary Muslim scholarship since the classical age. For instance, he tackles what is probably the single most controversial subject in Quranic studies: the question of possible alterations to the Quran as maintained by some succeeding generations of compilers of the Quran.
Throughout the volume, al-Khui stresses the importance of understanding the historical setting in which the Quran was revealed; he does this in order to apply its provisions appropriately in contemporary Muslim society, with its ever-expanding legal and ethical requirements. In addition to expounding his own views, al-Khui also has the polemical purpose of refuting Sunni beliefs and concepts concerning various matters related to the theories of alteration and abrogation in the Quran. His arguments illuminate some of the substantial yet little-understood and appreciated issues that have been truly at stake between the two principal segments of the Muslim community.
Translator Abdulaziz A. Sachedina supplies a helpful introduction to al-Khuis work, discussing the methodological problems involved with the study of such texts, and placing it in the historical context of polemic literature in Islam.
"This work constitutes an important addition to the Muslim scholarly literature in English.... Sachedina has written an excellent introduction that places the author and his book in their proper context and presents background information on the contents of the book itself."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"Now, with the publication [of this book], the thought of a major modern Shi-i scholar has been made accessible and invites a treatment of the principles of Islamic exegetical activity in the twentieth century that is inclusive of both Summi and Shi-i views. One hopes similar translations of other Shi-i scholarly works will follow in its wake."--Journal of the American Oriental Society