Monday, April 25, 2011

Women, War & Hypocrites: Studying the Qur’an

Robert A. Campbell
Cape Breton University Press (2010)
ISBN 9781897009536
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer, PhD, for Reader Views (4/11)


Author Robert A. Campbell has provided an in-depth view of the verses of the Qur'an for readers who are interested in learning more about how translations from inception to contemporary times have evolved. His focus is particularly on the Fourth Surah which talks about women.

Really having no knowledge of the Qur'an other than media or comments from others, this reviewer found the book to be very detailed and informative. Although the author says readers don't need to have a great knowledge about the Qur'an prior to reading this book, some general knowledge would be helpful.

In the Introduction, the author talks about if one is not willing to learn about the Qur'an, their opinions will be shaped by others. He also relates that many of the general public want to know the actual content and how it guides, or doesn't guide, the beliefs and actions of today's Muslims.

The material is presented in four major chapters. The overview of this material talks about how the Qur'an came about, including a basic outline of shariah and the structure and content of the fourth surah. After reading these chapters, he states that readers can read any of the remaining chapters in whichever order they want.

The chapter on women was very interesting and the opinion could be controversial in some of the subject matter addressed such as: marriage, wife beating, lewdness, right of the husband and wife. This reviewer found this material very interesting.

This book is not something one can just breeze through. You really need to focus on what was being said and try to absorb the information before you move further on. The hardest part of reading the book was keeping all the history in one's mind, as well as the numerous views of translators on what the verses were actually saying. I found that making notes in the margins were helpful.

Overall, "Women, War & Hypocrites: Studying the Qur'an" was a very interesting read and very informative. The author provided every bit of information that one might want and do further research on. Each individual the author wrote about and their interpretations were quite an experience. We all perceive what we read and hear based on our own beliefs, cultural experiences and stereotypes of different cultures and religions.