How to Read the Qur'an

A New Guide, with Select Translations

By Carl W. Ernst

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 8 halftones, 2 graphs, appends., notes, bibl., index

Not for Sale in the British Commonwealth (Except Canada) or in Europe or South Asia

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-0976-8
    Published: August 2013
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6907-9
    Published: December 2011
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8094-9
    Published: December 2011

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For anyone, non-Muslim or Muslim, who wants to know how to approach, read, and understand the text of the Qur'an, How to Read the Qur'an offers a compact introduction and reader's guide. Using a chronological reading of the text according to the conclusions of modern scholarship, Carl W. Ernst offers a nontheological approach that treats the Qur'an as a historical text that unfolded over time, in dialogue with its audience, during the career of the Prophet Muhammad.

About the Author

Carl W. Ernst is William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World, among other books.
For more information about Carl W. Ernst, visit the Author Page.


"This will serve both as a fine teaching tool at the college or seminary level and as a useful resource for engaged nonspecialists, who will find it challenging but rewarding."--Library Journal

"Ernst offers this elegant guide on how to read and understand the text sacred to Muslims."--Publishers Weekly

"This book includes an accessible discussion of Qur'anic studies to date, along with easily followed investigations of particular chapters using the ring methodology. Also included is a brief appendix with pointers for students so that they can use the author's approach to treat other chapters of the Qur'an similarly. Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers."--Choice

"Muslim, non-Muslim, religious, and irreligious readers will all find in the Qur’an, as Ernst presents it here, something of interest. This is a groundbreaking and essential book, surely to be of interest and use in mosque study groups and intellectually minded book clubs as well as classrooms. An appendix on “Suggested Interpretive Exercises” will serve all such audiences well."--Rain Taxi Review of Books

"The Qur’an is widely misunderstood, partly because it’s very difficult to read. . . Ernst explains why and offers a way through."--Endeavors

"Ernst’s scholarship makes room for a respectful appreciation of the religious

commitments of many who approach it. Such a judicious approach models a way forward for Christians, Jews, Muslims and people who profess none of these faiths to read the Qur’an and talk with one another about what they read."--Christian Century

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