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Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Lectures Presents ''Ark, Fire, and Staff: A Literary Analysis the Qur'anic Accounts of the Young Moses''

Monday, October 28, 2013
4:00 AM
The Michigan League ~ Michigan Room

Moses (Musa) is the prophet most mentioned and discussed of the ancient prophets in the Qur'an. In this lecture, Michael Sells offers a detailed analysis of the major episodes in the early life of Musa.

The analysis centers on the rhetorical, poetic, and narrative features of Sura 20 (Ta Ha) and Qur'anic passages concerning the role of Umm Musa (the mother of Moses) in receiving a divine inspiration and saving her infant son; Musa's vision of the fire; the divine proclamation he heard when he approached the fire; the signs of the staff-snake and the white-hand that were entrusted to him; and his subsequent duel of words and staffs at the court of Pharaoh.  In order to clarify the literary features of these Qur'anic episodes, Sells brings together different Qur'anic texts with contrasting narrative styles; points to similarities and differences between the Qur'anic narratives and those in the biblical book of Exodus; notes the relevant perspectives from classical Qur'anic commentary and rhetoric (tafsir and balagha); as well as some relevant concepts from modern theories of narrative.  The distinctive literary dimensions of the Qur'anic early Musa passages will be shown to be reflective of the core Qur'anic themes of wahi (revelation or inspiration), qawl (word given to the prophets, often quoted in the Qur'an as direct divine speech), and the distinctions between "the truth-efficacy" and false (muftarah) efficacy or merge magic (sihr) in words and actions.

Michael Sells Barrows Professor of the History and Literature of Islam and Professor of Comparative Literature Universit