Seven Ways to Improve Your Understanding of the Qurʾan

Posted by Tim Murphy  |  

At Qurʾan Gateway, we remain engaged in a continual effort to improve its content and value to our users, to improve how our site operates, and to make our site easier and more intuitive to use. Seven recent additions to our site make it more useful to all our users on four continents. Here is a brief summary of recent improvements you’ll see at to help improve your understanding of the Qurʾan:

Content

A.J. Droge Translation. By the gracious agreement of its publishers, Qurʾan Gateway users now have access to A.J. Droge’s English translation found in his The Qurʾan: A New Annotated Translation. This 2013 translation offers a new translation into English that includes all the latest qurʾanic scholarship and more modern English usage than older translations. If you want, you can set Droge as your default English translation in your preferences.

Loanwords. Our scholars have tagged loanwords to Arabic that are included in the text of the Qurʾan. These words, identified by Arthur Jeffery’s classic work and important dictionary, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qurʾan, are identified as loanwords in our popup palette where there is a link to that word’s entry in Jeffery’s dictionary. You can also access Jeffery’s dictionary through the dictionary tool in the cases where a word is a loanword.

Intertextual Connections. Third, we have added a very interesting feature, the connections between the Qurʾan and other literature we call “Intertextual Connections”. This feature identifies the extensive connections the Qurʾan has to other religious traditions from Late Antiquity and earlier, especially Jewish and Christian traditions (both scriptural and apocryphal). While there are a number of scholarly theories concerning how this material found its way into the Qurʾan, Qurʾan Gateway is simply concerned with recording the connections, making them easy to discover, and equally easy to explore.

Intertextual connections may be explored under our browse menu (“Intertextuality”). They are also identified in small icons to the left of each verse with a small “link” icon. If that icon highlights, clicking it will call up the list of other literature connected to that passage with an option to see the passage from that literature with simply the click of your mouse.

Enhanced Tools

Turn off Transliteration. For those researchers skilled in qurʾanic Arabic, we have added the option to turn off the transliteration column in our basic search display. This option offers a much cleaner view and larger display of search results for those who do not need a transliteration to understand the Arabic script.

Rhyme Patterns. To aid those interested in the Qurʾan’s extensive rhyme patterns, we have added—in the top bar on our basic page—a Rhymes menu that will lead a user to tables of rhyme endings for each sura. While we understand there is much more to the qurʾanic rhyme schemes, this is a start in helping a researcher quickly see that part of a rhyme scheme at just a glance. We plan to expand our rhyme pattern data in the future to include more complex ending schemes and more.

Search by Mood. Finally, we have added the ability to search a word by its mood: indicative, jussive or subjunctive. We are very pleased that this change came from a specific request from a user at the University of Oxford who needed that capability for his own work. Because of the way our search function is built upon a database of each individual word in the Qurʾan, we were able, with very little delay, to offer this as a new capability both to this user and all future users of Qurʾan Gateway.

Enhanced Training

Training Videos. Finally, we have developed 10 short videos of 2-4 minutes each to demonstrate the basic capabilities of Qurʾan Gateway and how you can get the very most from all of its many features. We plan to add another dozen videos covering the major features of the software, then more videos as we add new capabilities. Our User Guide offers very detailed information about how each page, menu and button on the site works. But there is nothing like seeing a function demonstrated to grasp how powerfully our tool can help you understand the Qurʾan.

We work daily to improve, enhance and add to the content of Qurʾan Gateway and the best way for us to know what to work on next is feedback from our users. We invite you to send us a note at info@qurangateway.org or just click the “Contact Us” button under our Help menu to send us your ideas.

In the meantime, we wish you great success in your current work.