The Promised Land: A Trans-textual Reading of the Qur'an and Hebrew Bible

This paper examines a number of Qurʾānic passages that deal with the narratives and motifs surrounding the Israelite entry into the Promised Land. Special attention is given to certain phrases that are connected to that event as described in the Qurʾān. These phrases include "inheriting the land" (wirathata l-arḍ), "the oppressed in the land" (al-mustaḍʿafūna fil arḍ) and "the corrupt in the land" (mufsidūna fil arḍ). Such phrases are linked to Torahic themes pertaining to the oppression that the Israelites faced in Egypt (as detailed in the Pentateuch), their consequential conquest of the land of Canaan, and the ethical conditions that were proscribed for their presence in the land. The paper is trans-textual as it analyzes the Qur'an in light of the biblical literature, insofar as such analysis brings a new understanding of the terms used in the qur'anic text. As such, the Qur'an not only alludes to the land topoi found in the Bible, but further develops and appropriates the text for its own narrative and for its own community of believers. The result is a new Qur'anic Promised Land with new features, ambivalent boundaries, and teleological functions. The analysis then helps to develop a Qur'anic Theology of the Land that understands the land (al-arḍ) universally that the umma of believers inherit and reside in in order follow the precepts of faith obediently, and keeping the land pure and without and corruption (fasādin fil- arḍ).