Review by Choice Review
McAuliffe's encyclopedia promises to become the central English-language reference work for qur'anic studies. The roster of prominent Muslim and non-Muslim contributors at major universities (primarily in the US and Europe) underscores the encyclopedia's commitment to academic rigor. It seeks also to be widely accessible, beginning with readers who lack knowledge of classical Arabic or experience of Islam. In contrast with the chief existing English-language reference work, The Encyclopedia of Islam (new ed., 7v., 1954-93 with supplements), entry words are in English rather than transliterated Arabic, an innovation long overdue for undergraduates and general readers. The focus rests on the Qur'an itself rather than the history of interpretation, though references to interpretation occur throughout. Essay-length articles address major topics, are signed, and include bibliographies of works in major Western languages. Awareness of Muslim sensibilities is abundantly apparent--for example, in a brief section of illustrations that restricts itself to calligraphy. The first volume fulfills the project's aim to summarize recent decades of scholarship and will without doubt fulfill another aim, to inspire new work in the decades to come. Enthusiastically recommended for all readership levels. P. S. Spalding Illinois College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.