- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 306
This book which is actually entitled God and Man in the Qur'an might as well have been entitled in a more general way "Semantics of the Qur'an". I would have done so readily if it were not for the fact that the main part of the present study is almost exclusively concerned with the problem of the personal relation between God and man in the Qur'anic world-view and is centered round this specific topic. The alternative title would have the advantage of showing from the very beginning the two particular points of emphasis which characterize this study as a whole: semantics on the one hand and the Qur'an on the other.
In fact, both are equally important for the particular purpose of the present study; if we should neglect either of the two, the whole work would immediately lose its significance. For what is of vital importance here is neither the one nor the other considered separately, but this very combination itself. The combination suggests that we are going to approach a particular aspect of the Qur'an from a no less particular point of view. And, we must remember, the Qur'an is capable of being approached from a number of different points of view such as theological, philosophical, sociological, grammatical, exegetical, etc., and the Qur'an presents a number of divergent but equally important aspects. So it is quite essential that we should try to have at the very outset the clearest possible idea as to the relevance of semantic methodology to Qur'anic studies, and to see whether there is any real advantage in approaching the Scripture of Islam from this particular angle.
The title "Semantics of the Qur'an" would suggest, to begin with, that the work will consist primarily in our applying the method of semantical or conceptual analysis to material furnished by the Qur'anic vocabulary. Again this would suggest that of the two points of emphasis to which reference has just been made, semantics represents the methodological aspect of our work, and the Qur'an its material side. Both are, as I have said, of equal importance. But practically, that is, for the purposes of the present study, the former aspect is probably more important than the latter, for this book is addressed first and foremost to those readers who have already a good general knowledge of Islam and are, therefore, ready to get vitally interested from the beginning in the conceptual problems raised by this kind of study regarding the Qur'an itself, while nothing has been assumed on their part in regard to specialist knowledge of semantics and its methodology. So I am going to put in the first part of this book less emphasis on the material side than on the methodological aspect of our problem in order to bring home to Islamists the interest and value of having a new outlook on old problems.
Unfortunately, what is called semantics today is so bewilderingly complicated. It is extremely difficult, if not absolutely impossible, for an outsider even to get a general idea of what it is like.' This is largely due to the fact that 'semantics', as its very etymology would suggest, is a science concerned with the phenomenon of meaning in the widest sense of the word, so wide, indeed, that almost anything that may be considered to have any meaning at all is fully entitled to constitute an object of semantics. And, in fact, 'meaning' in this sense is furnishing today with important problems thinkers and scholars working in most diverse fields of specialized study such as linguistics proper, sociology, anthropology, psychology, neurology, physiology, biology, analytic philosophy, symbolic logic, mathematics and, more recently, electronic engineering, and still others. So much so that 'semantics as the study of Meaning, cannot but be a new type of philosophy based on an entirely new conception of being and existence and extending, over many different and widely divergent branches of traditional science, which, however, are as yet far from having the ideal of a perfect integration.