Reading Session on “Scriptural Polemics: The Qur’an and Other Religions” With Dr Mun’im Sirry

August 17, 2017

Date: Sunday, 20th August 2017
Time: 7PM – 10PM
Venue: Graha Pemuda, Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur


A number of passages in the Qur’an criticize Jews and Christians, from claims of exclusive salvation and charges of Jewish and Christian falsification of revelation to cautions against the taking of Jews and Christians as patrons, allies, or intimates. Mun’im Sirry offers a novel exploration of these polemical passages, which have long been regarded as obstacles to peaceable interreligious relations, through the lens of twentieth-century tafsir (exegesis). He considers such essential questions as: How have modern contexts shaped Muslim reformers’ understanding of the Qur’an, and how have the reformers’ interpretations recontextualized these passages? Can the Qur’an’s polemical texts be interpreted fruitfully for interactions among religious communities in the modern world?

Sirry also reflects on the various definitions of apologetic or polemic as relevant sacred texts and analyzes reformist tafsirs with careful attention to argument, literary context, and rhetoric in order to illuminate the methods, positions, and horizons of the exegeses. Scriptural Polemics provides both a critical engagement with the tafsirs and a lucid and original examination of Qur’anic language, logic, and dilemmas, showing how the dynamic and varied reformist interpretations of these passages open the way for a less polemical approach to other religions.


700-800PM:  Dinner and Solat
800-810PM:  Opening speech by Moderator, Ehsan Shahwahid
810-900PM:  Presentation by Dr Mun’im Sirry
900-1000PM:  Discussion
1000PM:  End


Organized by: Islamic Renaissance Front



Mun’im Sirry’s academic interest includes political theology, modern Islamic thought, Qur’anic studies, and interreligious relations. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology with additional responsibilities for the “Contending Modernities Initiative” at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. He has his PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School with a dissertation entitled “Reformist Muslim approaches to the Polemics of the Qur’an against Other Religions.” His publications have appeared in several peer-reviewed journals, including Arabica, BSOAS, Interpretation, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Journal of Semitic Studies, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, The Muslim World, Studia Islamica, and Die Welt des Islams. His most recent book, Scriptural Polemics: The Qur’an and Other Religions, has just come out from Oxford University Press.

Dr Sirry is currently developing a project within the framework of the “Contending Modernities” exploring the conditions for the possibility of peaceful co-existence in a plural society like Indonesia. He also serves as an editorial board member in the following journals: Studies in Interreligious Dialogue, al-Bayan: Journal of Qur’an and Hadith Studies, Indo-Islamika, Journal of Journal of Indonesian Islam, and ‘Ulumuna: Jurnal Studi KeIslaman.