Reference article on Islamic legal hermeneutics

This encyclopedia entry surveys classical Islamic legal hermeneutics, specifically the aspects of legal theory (uṣūl al-fiqh) that deal with the analysis of language. It is useful as a very brief introduction to the topics and historical development discussed in The Formation of Islamic Hermeneutics.

“Hermeneutics.” In Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law, [ed. Jonathan AC Brown], on Oxford Islamic Studies Online (, [Oxford]: Oxford University Press, [2014] (discontinued 2022); republished 2022 in Oxford Encyclopedias of the Islamic World: Digital Collection, ed. John L. Esposito, on Oxford Reference (,‌view/‌10.1093/‌acref/‌9780197669419.001.0001/‌acref-9780197669419-e-162.

The article was supposed to be published in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law, edited by Jonathan AC Brown, but Oxford University Press apparently decided not to publish that encyclopedia, and instead incorporated it into OUP’s online reference libraries. From 2014 until 2022 it was available in Oxford Islamic Studies Online, which was discontinued; the article was then moved to Oxford Reference, where it is available here.

Overview of Muslim beliefs in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics

This encyclopedia entry surveys the beliefs of Muslims, presenting them not as a set of agreed-upon doctrines but as an ongoing argument over seven main topics: God, creation, humanity, prophethood, ethics, salvation, and the Muslim community.

David R. Vishanoff. “Religious Beliefs.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics, ed. Emad El‑Din Shahin, vol. 2, 321–337. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

I find it useful as an introductory reading for my class on Islamic Theology. Unfortunately, it was written “for hire” for OUP, and cannot be made available here. It is accessible in the printed encyclopedia, and until June 2022 it was available online through Oxford Islamic Studies Online; it has now been moved to Oxford Reference.

Review of Lejla Demiri, Muslim Exegesis of the Bible in Medieval Cairo

Here is my review of a fascinating Muslim commentary on the Bible, edited and translated by Lejla Demiri.

David R. Vishanoff. Review of Lejla Demiri, Muslim Exegesis of the Bible in Medieval Cairo: Najm al-Din al-Tufi’s (d. 716/1316) Commentary on the Christian Scriptures (Leiden: Brill, 2013). Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 25.1 (2014): 138–139.

Permanent link to the published article (Version of Record), with PDF for those whose institutions subscribe to the journal:

For scholars whose institutions do not provide access to the journal, a limited number of free downloads are available at

PDF of the pre-print Accepted Manuscript