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Major Themes of the Qur’an is Fazlur Rahman’s introduction to one of the richest texts in the history of religious thought. In this classic work, Rahman unravels the Qur’an’s complexities on themes such as God, society, revelation, and prophecy with the deep attachment of a Muslim educated in Islamic schools and the clarity of a scholar who taught for decades in the West.

“Generations of scholars have profited from [Rahman’s] pioneering scholarly work by taking the questions he raised and the directions he outlined to new destinations.”—Ebrahim Moosa, from his new foreword

“The religious future of Islam and the future of interfaith relationship . . . will be livelier and saner for the sort of Quranic centrality which Major Themes of the Qur’an exemplifies and serves.”—Kenneth Cragg, Middle East Journal

“There shines through [a] rare combination of balanced scholarly judgment and profound personal commitment. . . . [Rahman is] eager to open up the mysteries of the Qur’an to a shrinking world sorely in need of both moral regeneration and better mutual understanding.”—Patrick D. Gaffney, Journal of Religion

“I can’t think of any book more important, still, than Major Themes of the Qur’an.”—Michael Sells, author of Approaching the Qur’an

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Call me Ishmael. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs — commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme down-town is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.

Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall northward. What do you see? — Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the bulwarks

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