Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Articles

The function of asbāb al-nuzūl in Qur'ānic exegesis

A. Rippin

In John Wansbrough's work, Quranic studies: sources and methods of scriptural interpretation, several theses are put forth regarding the material known as asbāb al-nuzūl, occasions of revelation; the overall view of Wansbrough is one which is derived (critically) from al-Suyūxs1E6Dī, which is that the asbāb material has its primary reference point in works devoted to deriving law from the text of the Qur'ān, that is, halakhic works. He suggests that the presence of asbāb material as found in a haggadic or narrative tafsīr such as that of Muqātil is ‘accidental’ because, while the narrative asbāb reports serve as anecdotes, they do not fulfil what Wansbrough sees as the ‘essential function’, that of establishing ‘a chronology of revelation