- Book Notes
The Silent Qurʾan and the Speaking Qurʾan: Scriptural Sources of Islam Between History and Fervor by Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, trans. Eric Ormsby, 2016. New York: Colombia University Press, xviii + 273 pp., £45.00, $65.00. isbn: 9-780-23117-378-0.
In this latest volume, Amir-Moezzi returns once again to the early Shiʿi Hadith literature as he sets out to trace its development through the turbulent formative period of Islamic history that, for Shiʿi Muslims, began with the demise of the Prophet in 11/632 and came to an end at the time of the major occultation in 329/941. He approaches this task through a philological and historical survey of a series of significant Imāmī Shiʿi works and authors that date from this period. Amir-Moezzi begins by studying the controversial Kitāb Sulaym ibn Qays al-Hilālī, before considering al-Sayyārī’s Book of Revelation and Falsification, al-Ḥibarī’s commentary on the Qurʾan, and al-Ṣaffār al-Qummī’s Baṣāʾir al-Darajāt. His study culminates with al-Kulaynī’s opus, al-Kāfī. In its overarching themes, the present work builds on Amir-Moezzi’s earlier contributions to the field. As both the title and the choice of works surveyed suggest, a recurring concern is the relationship between the sayings of the Shiʿi Imams and the text of the Qurʾan, with a particular focus on the esoteric or mystical aspects of nascent Shiʿism. This study is accompanied with the copious footnotes we have come to expect from this erudite author (taking up over one-third of the physical text!) and also enjoys contributions from two other respected scholars of Shiʿi Studies, Etan Kohlberg (with whom Amir-Moezzi published a critical edition of al-Sayyārī’s Book of Revelation and Falsification) and Hasan Ansari, on the chapters on al-Sayyārī and al-Kulaynī, respectively. It is expected that The Silent Qurʾan and the Speaking Qurʾan will serve to stimulate further lively debate about the nature and history of early Shiʿism. [End Page 531]
The Islamic College, London, UK
Islamic Counselling: An Introduction to Theory and Practice, by G. Hussein Rassool, 2016. Hove, UK & New York: Routledge, xiii+ 282 pp., £100. isbn: 9-780-41574-264-1 (hbk).
G. Hussein Rassool has written Islamic Counselling for both Muslims and non-Muslims. The book introduces Sunni Islam to Western counsellors who face more and more Muslim clients and need a quick reference to understand them. While not overwhelming the non-believer with terminology, he does introduce and define Sunnah, jinn, hadith, ṣalāt, and a host of other terms and traditions. A glossary of Islamic terms at the book’s end would have helped such individuals. The Muslim audience, in turn, will come away with a deeper understanding of how Western notions and practices of counselling fit into their beliefs, and why some are more appropriate than others.
The first part introduces Islamic beliefs and practices and their influence on the personality. The secular West often forgets religion’s deep impact on the individual, and tends to judge as intolerant anyone offended or unsettled for religious reasons. Rassool explains how religion can positively build the self. The author’s distinction between religion and spirituality further refines this discussion. The book’s second part evaluates the major secular counselling theories, including psychoanalysis, humanistic client-centred therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and solution-focused brief therapy. Rassool favours the last of these, highlighting how its positive, goal-oriented outlook parallels Islam’s optimistic anthropology. He outlines why the others fall short, some more than others. While the more pessimistic, backward-thinking nature of psychoanalysis is contrary to Islam, the author does hold out some possibilities for CBT, noting: ‘There is wide consensus among Islamic scholars and practitioners that the underlying principles on which cognitive therapy rests are congruent with Islamic values. It is the nature and the methodology in which cognitive therapy is operationalised in the Western counselling paradigm that creates the dissonance’ (146). This tentative willingness...