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In Allah: God in the Qur’an (Yale University Press, 2020), Gabriel Said Reynolds argues that contrary to many scholarly and popular claims about the God of the Qur’an as either merciful or vengeful, God is in fact both. He suggests that God’s nature is a mystery and the descriptions of God, as both merciful and vengeful, are intended to have an impact on the audience of the Qur’an. Through productive comparisons between the Qur’an and the Bible, Reynolds also discusses the common themes and descriptions of God shared by these scriptures, such as the – of course, vengeance and mercy of God, but also divine scheming, God’s derision of unbelievers, and ideas of God as the Father, the Ruler, the Judge, and/or similar characteristics. Other themes covered in the book include heaven and hell, and the fate of sinners and unbelievers in the Qur’an and the exegetical tradition, the idea of humans as having been created in God’s image, and the idea of the Qur’an as a literary truth versus a historical truth, the latter point helping explain any inconsistencies in the stories that the Qur’an tells.
The book would be of interest to folks teaching theology and comparative religions courses, particularly Abrahamic religions. Its accessible writing style makes it especially useful for undergraduates and for non-specialists looking to better understand God in either just the Qur’an or in the Qur’an and the Bible.
Shehnaz Haqqani is Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. Her primary research areas include Islam, gender, and questions of change and tradition in Islam. She also vlogs on YouTube, her videos focused on dismantling the patriarchy and available at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClvnmSeZ5t_YSIfGnB-bGNw She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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