The Qur’an contains many miracle stories, from Moses’ staff turning into a serpent to Mary conceiving Jesus as a virgin. In When the Staff Turns into a Serpent, Isra Yazicioglu offers a glimpse of the ways in which meaningful implications have been drawn from these apparently strange narratives, both in the pre-modern and modern era. It fleshes out a fascinating medieval Muslim debate over miracles, and connects its insights with early and late modern turning points in Western thought as well as contemporary Qur’anic interpretation. Building on an apparent tension within the Qur’an and analyzing crucial cases of classical and modern Muslim engagement with these miracle stories, this book illustrates how a site of conflict between faith and reason, or revelation and science, can become a site of fruitful exchange
This book is a distinctive contribution to a new trend in Qur’anic Studies in that it reveals the presence of insightful Qur’anic interpretation outside of the traditional line-by-line commentary genre, by engaging with the works of Ghazali, Ibn Rushd and Said Nursi. Moreover, focused as it is on the case of miracle stories, the book also goes beyond these specific passages to reflect more broadly on the issue of Qur’anic hermeneutics. It notes the connections between literal and symbolic approaches, and highlights the importance of looking at reception history of the Quran through the lens of “pragmatic” hermeneutics.