‘Flawlessly communicates the religious and literary verities of the Qur’an… Both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences, beginners as well as advanced students of Islam, will no doubt appreciate the many innovative facets of this extraordinary book. It is an indispensable aid for all students of religion and Islam.’
Approaching the Qur’an
The Early Revelations (third edition)Michael Sells
Approaching the Qur’an presents brilliant translations of the short, hymnic chapters, or Suras, associated with the first revelations to the Prophet Muhammad. These early Suras contain some of the most powerful, prophetic, and revelatory passages in religious history, offering the vision of a meaningful and just life that anchors the faith of one fifth of the world’s inhabitants.
In addition to these translations, Michael Sells provides an introduction to the Qur’an, commentaries on the Suras, a glossary of technical terms, and discussions of the auditory nature and gender aspects of the Arabic text. An ideal resource for students and interested lay readers, this third edition also includes a new full Sura and associated commentary, a new preface, and a thoroughly updated bibliography.
‘Much more than a translation of the Qur’an, the work is a carefully considered introduction to a religious appreciation of the text from within a scholarly framework. By highlighting issues of the multiple levels upon which the text conveys its meaning to its readers and auditors, Sells manages to overcome the first impression that many people have of the Qur’an being a difficult book.’
‘Sells’ translations combine the highest level of accuracy with a poetic sensitivity to language that is unmatched. I would easily rank this work as the most effective, accurate, and captivating version of the Qur’an for use in academic classes. A breathtaking achievement.’
‘When a ranking Islamicist brings to his translation a mastery of the English language that equals that of the best poets of our day, the result is certain to be remarkable. And, as here demonstrated, it is. After Michael Sells’ breakthrough rendition of the Qur’an’s earliest chapters, the English-speaking world need never again find that holy text impenetrable.’
‘Michael Sells has performed an invaluable service in making the beauty, spiritual energy, and compelling power of the Qur’an accessible to a Western audience for the first time.’
‘Scholars and students interested in the Qur’an are indebted to Michael Sells for his outstanding contribution to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Holy Book of Islam. His book, with its scholarly introduction, its sensitive English translation of the early Suras, its insightful commentary on them, its analytical study of the auditory and literary aspects of selected Suras, its visually pleasing illustrations from the Arabic text of the Qur’an, and its accompanying [recordings], is a veritable and enriching spiritual experience for everyone seeking a meaningful exposure to the Scripture of Islam.’
‘Michael Sells is to be congratulated for making a major contribution to religious literature with Approaching the Qur’an, the best version of Muslim scriptures available in English. This is an important and illuminating work, one that will be welcomed by scholars, students, believers, and all who seek to better understand Islam and its sacred scripture.’
‘A sensitive and unusually accessible first book on the Qur’an and its function as scripture… For the reader who knows little of Islam and Muslim piety, this book opens up many facets of the special role that the Qur’an plays in Muslim life and thought.’
‘…unrivalled for its ability to make the thought world and religious presuppositions of the Book accessible to the uninitiated… It meets an urgent, plangent need and does so in a clear, jargon-free and deeply learned language. There is no better introductory book on the Qur’an.’
‘This groundbreaking work goes a very long way to bridging the gap that separates the non-Islamic reader from the Qur’an; [Sells] translates and extensively annotates a careful selection of the earliest “suras” (revelations), setting them in their cultural context. Further chapters discuss sound and gender in the meaning of the Qur’an, and the book includes extraordinary field recordings of male and female Qur’anic reciters. Highly recommended.’
‘The response of my students has been very positive… Listening to the [recordings] provoked all kinds of discussion about chant in different religious traditions… The transliterations are excellent; students can follow the Arabic text very easily. The Qur’an is a difficult text to teach to students who have no background. Approaching the Qur’an makes it exciting and accessible to them.’