Citation for FOREWORD

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Kassis, Hannah E. . "FOREWORD." In A Concordance of the Qur’an. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Jan 23, 2021. <>.


Kassis, Hannah E. . "FOREWORD." In A Concordance of the Qur’an. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, (accessed Jan 23, 2021).


This Concordance of the Quran in English satisfies a paramount need of those—and there are millions of them—who have no command of the Arabic language and yet desire to understand the Qur’an. The benefit derivable from English translations of the Sacred Book is, in principle, limited because, first, the Qur’an is not a “book” but a collection of passages revealed to Muhammad over a period of about twenty-three years and, second, because the Qur’an is not really translatable. This does not mean that the Qur’an should not be translated. It does mean that translations lose much in tone and nuance, let alone the incommunicable beauty, grandeur, and grace of the original.

Realizing this, scholars have attempted to provide assistance to the reader of the Qur’an in translation. There are topical arrangements of the Qur’an which show, for example, what it has to say on God, man, or the universe. However, these works tend to be somewhat subjective because of the interpreter’s inevitable point of view, his assumptions on given issues. Rudi Paret has produced a concordance of the Qur’an in German, an excellent piece of work in its way, in which under each verse or passage of the Qur’an, cross-references are given to other verses for the sake of comparison. The tool employed in Professor Paret’s work, however, is the idea and not primarily the word. The user of the work depends, inevitably, on Professor Paret’s decisions about how much of a given idea is to be found in a given word or set of words.

The main distinction of Hanna Kassis’s concordance, in my view, is that it utilizes the semantic structure of Arabic vocabulary itself in revealing the meaning of the Qur’an on any given issue, point or concept. A reader who looks in the index of this concordance for a word which he has encountered in reading an English translation of the Qur’an—the word pride, for example—is directed immediately to the roots of the Arabic, Qur’anic terms for pride. At the entries for these Arabic roots, all the derivative forms are shown, and the verses of the Qur’an in which they appear are there listed in translation.

The author chose this procedure to overcome the subjectivity or relativity of translations. But the result is not only the faithful revelation of the original meaning of the Quranic terms but a whole conceptual field conveyed by those terms in their denotation, connotation, and association. This achievement goes beyond the performance of indices and concordances of the Qur’an in the original Arabic.

I am confident that any person who is sincerely interested in understanding the Qur’an and appreciating the nuances of its diction and shades of its meaning can satisfy his need more fully with this book than in any way short of developing a real command over the Arabic language itself.

Fazlur Rahman

Professor of Islamic Thought

University of Chicago

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