A number of passages in the Qur'an contain doctrinal and cultural criticism of Jews and Christians, from exclusive salvation and charges of Jewish and Christian falsification of revelation to cautions against the taking of Jews and Christians as patrons, allies, or intimates. Mun'im Sirry offers a vel exploration of these polemical passages, which have long been regarded as obstacles to peaceable interreligious relations, through the lens of twentieth-century tafsir (exegesis). He considers such essential questions as: How have modern contexts shaped Muslim reformers' understanding of the Qur'an, and how have the reformers' interpretations recontextualized these passages? Can the Qur'an's polemical texts be interpreted fruitfully for interactions among religious communities in the modern world? Sirry also reflects on the various definitions of apologetic or polemic as relevant sacred texts and analyzes reformist tafsirs with careful attention to argument, literary context, and rhetoric in order to illuminate the methods, positions, and horizons of the exegeses. Scriptural Polemics provides both a critical engagement with the tafsirs and a lucid and original sounding of Qur'anic language, logic, and dilemmas, showing how the dynamic and varied reformist intepretations of these passages open the way for a less polemical approach to other religions.
Mun'im Sirry is Assistant Professor at the Department of Theology and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He earned his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School. His articles have appeared in several peer-reviewed journals, including Arabica, BSOAS, Interpretation, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Journal of Semitic Studies, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, The Muslim World, Studia Islamica, and Der Welt des Islams.