‘The Digital Muṣḥaf Project’: A New and Unique Resource for Qur’an Manuscript Studies

The Oriental Manuscripts Division of the Special Collections at the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford would like to announce the launch of a new portal for viewing the dispersed fragments of early Qur’ān manuscripts called ‘The Digital Muṣḥaf Project’, which can be accessed at http://digitalmushaf.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/ Here you can view 85 folios of high definition colour images of a parchment Qur’ān manuscript in page order as if they were physically reunited in one location.

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We are launching this portal with the modest beginning of reuniting 85 of 334 known folios of one Qur’ān codex, a 3rd/9th or early 4th/10th century Abbasid Kufic manuscript which is dispersed over at least 10 museum and library collections. The 85 folios we have chosen for the initial project are from the collections of the Bodleian Library, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, the Chester Beatty Library, and the Herzog August Bibliotek at Wolfenbüttal, Germany. We desire to complete the reunification of this manuscript in a continuing project as well as add other early dispersed parchment Qur’āns.
 
Alasdair Watson, the Bahari Curator of Persian Manuscripts and the Curator of Islamic  Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, and Dr. Keith E. Small, a Qur’ānic Manuscript Consultant and formerly Honorary Fellow to the Bodleian Library’s Centre for the Study of the Book, are co-leading this project and maintaining the site.
 
This portal represents the first attempt to reunite a dispersed Qur’an manuscript online. It holds out great promise for setting a new standard of both access to manuscripts, and completeness in the presentation of basic bibliographic and codicological information for scholarly research. In making images of manuscripts from varying collections available through a common portal, it presents a cost effective way of gaining access to images, and also provides a very direct advertisement of the treasures held in the various collections involved. It also will assist in the conservation of these important and fragile resources.
 
We gratefully acknowledge funding from The Islamic Manuscript Association, the assistance of Computer Services at Oxford University, and the cooperation of the four libraries mentioned which have all made this portal possible.
 
Please feel free to use this site for your research of early Qur’ān manuscripts. Also, if you come across a leaf or folio that might be from this parchment but is unknown to us, please let us know so that we can investigate it and if possible, include it on the site. Please also let us know your suggestions for improving the site. The Digital Muṣḥaf Project email address is: digital.mushaf@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

 

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

Review of Qur’anic Research, Vol. 3 no.3 (2017)

In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research, Johanna Pink (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg) reviews The Qur’an and Its Readers Worldwide edited by Suha Taji-Farouki (Oxford University Press, 2015). This volume presents readers with an unprecedented broad perspective on the global field of Muslim qurʾānic exegesis. It brings together ten chapters that bear witness to exegetical approaches from all over the world: Bosnia, Turkey, South Asia, Indonesia, Iran, Egypt, the U.S., East Africa, Germany, and China. Consequently, it contains examples from Muslim majority societies as well as diasporic communities from the early twentieth century to the present.

For full access to the Review of Qur’anic Research (RQR), members can log in HERE. Not an IQSA member? Join today to enjoy RQR and additional member benefits!

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics Call for Papers

SSME

The ninth annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics will be held January 4-7, 2018, at the Doubletree Hotel in Portland, Oregon, to be held concurrently with the meeting of the Society for Christian Ethics and the Society for Jewish Ethics.

Proposals dealing with any aspect of Muslim ethics—theoretical or applied, classical or contemporary—are welcome. We seek proposals on any topic, including projects that utilize historical, social scientific, literary, theological, philosophical, or legal approaches to matters of Muslim ethics. We welcome proposals for either single papers or panels with multiple papers addressing issues including (but not limited to) bioethics, economic and business ethics, environmental ethics, race, gender, globalization, post-colonial studies, political ethics, ethics and law, and ethics and violence. We are also interested in presentations dealing with pedagogy, including innovative syllabi in ethics-related disciplines, as well as reflections on the state of the field of Muslim ethics. Panel proposals involving members of the Society of Christian Ethics and Society for Jewish Ethics are particularly welcome.

Proposals for a single presenter should include the following:

  • contact information of presenter (name, institutional affiliation, phone numbers, and e-mail address)
  • tentative title
  • abstract (500 word minimum, 600 maximum)
  • selected bibliography

Proposals for panels should include a list of all panelists (including contact information), including the convener and discussant (if any), as well as the tentative title, abstract, and selected bibliography for all papers.

Proposals should be sent by e-mail to:

Jamie Schillinger

Chair, Program Committee

E-mail: schillin@stolaf.edu

The deadline for submission of proposals is June 1, 2017. Successful applicants will be notified by July 1st, 2017.


The Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics (SSME) is a scholarly association dedicated to advancing intellectual inquiry in Muslim ethics, including the relation of Muslim ethics to other ethical traditions and to social, political, and economic problems. The Society supports academic work in both philosophical and applied ethics, historical as well as contemporary issues. The Society also aims to promote the teaching of Muslim ethics in colleges, universities, and theological schools, to improve understanding of Muslim ethics in the broader society through publications and other educational activities, and to provide a community of discourse and debate for those engaged professionally in the study of Muslim ethics.

All presenters in the annual meeting of the SSME must be members of the Society. For membership forms and other information, please consult the website: www.SSMEthics.org

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

2017 Annual Meeting Early Bird Registration OPEN

It’s that time of year! Early Bird Registration is NOW OPEN for the IQSA Annual Meeting held in conjunction with the SBL/AAR Annual Meetings in Boston, Massachusetts from November 18-21, 2017. Register as an affiliate member HERE. Discounted Early Bird prices end May 19, so don’t wait!

You can save on the registration fee by joining IQSA and registering for the Annual Meetings as an Affiliate Member! The membership fees for IQSA are $25, $50, and $75 depending on the level. To become an IQSA member click HERE.

Member benefits not only include discounted conference rates, but also the newly released first issue of IQSA’s flagship journal, the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association by Lockwood Press. JIQSA, vol. 1 (2016) is co-edited by Michael Pregill (Boston University) and Vanessa De Difis (Wayne State University) and features new research on the Qur’an. The editors offer an insightful introductory essay on the scope and subject matter of JIQSA, locating the field of Qur’an Studies today “between the Bible and Tafsir.” Articles include the 2015 presidential address by Reuven Firestone on and a response by Ebrahim Moosa, as well as a number of original contributions by international scholars, including posthumous contributions by Patricia Crone and Ali Mabrouk.

IQSA members have FREE online access to JIQSA 1 via the MEMBER PORTAL on IQSAWEB.org. Non-members can gain access by signing up for membership HERE. At this time institutions are strongly encouraged to subscribe for print or online access by filling out this SUBSCRIPTION FORM. Print subscriptions are also available for individual subscribers via THIS FORM.

Questions about JIQSA, IQSA membership, or Annual Meeting Registration? Email us at contact@iqsaweb.org.

We hope you’ll join us as an IQSA member and meet us in Boston!

 

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

Unlocking the Medinan Qur’an

Conference Report: International Workshop held at Pembroke College, Oxford   (19–21 March 2017)

The surahs and passages that are commonly associated with the Medinan period of Muhammad’s life occupy a key position in the formative history of Islam. They fundamentally shaped later convictions about the paradigmatic authority of Muhammad and thereby fueled the post-Qur’anic emergence of the hadith canon; they constitute an important basis for Islam’s development into a religion with a strong focus on law; and it is by and large only in Medinan texts that we find injunctions to militancy and an explicit demarcation of Islam from Judaism and Christianity. A proper comprehension of the Medinan Qur’an is thus crucially important to our understanding of Islamic religious history in general. At the same time, the Medinan surahs have proven much more recalcitrant to scholarly analysis than the texts that are customarily assigned to the Qur’an’s Meccan period. The workshop Unlocking the Medinan Qur’an, funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant reference AH/M011305/1), assembled an international group of scholarly experts, from doctoral students to senior professors, to grapple with the Qur’an’s Medinan layer from a variety of methodological vantage points and historical premises. A generous donation by Brian Wilson, a long-standing benefactor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Pembroke College, made it possible to open up the proceedings to a much more extensive audience than had originally been anticipated.

Perhaps the most fundamental question to be posed during the workshop was whether and to what extent the subdivision of the Qur’anic corpus into an earlier Meccan and a later Medinan layer, a division inherited from medieval Islamic scholarship, remains a valid assumption for contemporary literary and historical research. Most speakers seemed comfortable continuing to employ the distinction, if only to designate the fact that the material that medieval Muslim and/or modern scholars have allocated to the Qur’an’s Medinan period is united by a certain number of salient stylistic, terminological, and doctrinal features that set it apart from the remaining portions of the Islamic scripture. Many of the papers accordingly explored specific themes and preoccupations that are prima facie characteristic of the Medinan Qur’an. Andrew O’Connor (University of Notre Dame) investigated the significantly increased status and authority that Medinan surahs ascribe to the Qur’anic Messenger, memorably characterised by David Marshall as Muhammad’s “godward movement”, and examined cases in which the Medinan surahs’ signature demand of obedience to “God and His Messenger” seems to be present in, or foreshadowed by, Meccan surahs. A flip side of the Medinan surahs’ demand for obedience to the Messenger is constituted by their denigration of some of their recipients as “hypocrites” lacking in obedience and commitment, a term whose etymology and meaning was analysed by Devin Stewart (Emory University). Legal and ritual commandments in the Medinan surahs were addressed by Angelika Neuwirth (Free University Berlin) and Holger Zellentin (University of Nottingham). Neuwirth reconstructed the likely pre-history of the change of the direction of prayer (qiblah) mandated in Q 2:142–150, maintaining that it most likely supplanted a qiblah towards Jerusalem that had already been introduced prior to the hijrah, while Zellentin examined the late antique context of a number of legal and law-related passages such as Q 4:15–18, which Zellentin argued contains a prohibition of sex between men and of sex between women.

Perhaps the central problem in the study of the Medinan surahs is the question of their literary organisation as well as their compositional history. The topic was first broached by Marianna Klar (SOAS), who presented an analysis of the opening section of Q 2 (vv. 1–39) in the light of a multitude of lexical and structural parallels from other surahs, both Meccan and Medinan. Klar argued that the introduction of Q 2, which is strikingly reminiscent of two Meccan surah openings, was crafted in order to serve as the prelude to an already extant Medinan sermon beginning at v. 40. Adam Flowers (University of Chicago) proposed that Medinan surahs should generally be seen as secondary compilations of genetically independent prophetic utterances and outlined an analysis of Q 49 into its component pronouncements. Nora K. Schmid (Free University Berlin) contrasted the different ways in which both Meccan and Medinan surahs employ questions and then went on to embed the Qur’anic use of questions in late antique literary culture. Nicolai Sinai (University of Oxford) examined the phenomenon of serially iterated paragraph openers, especially vocatives, showing that these are frequently employed to engender compositionally meaningful patterns of clustering and alternation that serve as the structural backbones of many Medinan texts.

The workshop’s remaining presentations engaged in a study of specific surahs or passages. Walid Saleh (University of Toronto) undertook a detailed analysis of Q 16, which Saleh proposed to read, not as a Meccan surah that was subsequently updated by a number of Medinan insertions, but rather as a “transitional text” documenting the incipient emergence of some key themes and concepts of the Medinan Qur’an. Gabriel Reynolds (University of Notre Dame) analysed Q 61 and 66, two comparatively short surahs that are conventionally classed as Medinan. Responding to Andrew Bannister’s recent contention that the Qur’an’s heavy reliance on formulaic language points to oral composition, Reynolds reminded the audience of Gregor Schoeler’s finding that Abbasid-era poetry that was certainly composed in writing can nonetheless be highly formulaic. An opposing position – namely, that the employment of formulaic systems does indicate oral composition – was espoused by Cecilia Palombo (Princeton University), whose paper focussed on the use of formulaic language in different Qur’anic accounts of the Israelites’ worship of the Golden Calf. Joseph Witztum (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) examined the passages in which the Israelites (Q 2:55–56 and 4:153) and Moses (Q 7:143) demanded or requested to see God. Witztum presented a comprehensive study of the Biblical and Rabbinic antecedents to these passages and analysed the Qur’anic adaptation of pre-existing exegetical and narrative motifs. Karen Bauer (Institute of Ismaili Studies) emphasised the importance of studying Qur’anic constructions of and appeals to emotions, putting forward a detailed case study of what Bauer termed the “emotional plot” of Q 8. The workshop’s concluding presentation by Neal Robinson was dedicated to Q 5. After a critical review of Michel Cuypers’ recent monograph on the text, Robinson proceeded to explore the surah’s complex intertextual resonances, with a particular focus on the concluding section about Jesus (vv. 109–120), and put forward a novel argument in favour of dating the text to the year 631 CE.

-Nicolai Sinai, University of Oxford

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

Launch: Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association,Vol.1 (2016)

IQSA is proud to announce the release of the first issue its flagship journal, the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association by Lockwood Press. JIQSA, vol. 1 (2016) is co-edited by Michael Pregill (Boston University) and Vanessa De Difis (Wayne State University) and features new research on the Qur’an. The editors offer an insightful introductory essay on the scope and subject matter of JIQSA, locating the field of Qur’an Studies today “between the Bible and Tafsir.” Articles include the 2015 presidential address by Reuven Firestone on and a response by Ebrahim Moosa, as well as a number of original contributions by international scholars, including posthumous contributions by Patricia Crone and Ali Mabrouk.

Readers will find JIQSA reflects the depth, diversity and debate latent within Qur’an Studies today. Subjects explored in this issue include the Qur’an’s place in late antiquity, literary and inter-confessional dialogue, its reception in the west, the hermeneutics of traditional and modern exegesis, transmission of the text, manuscripts, philology, rhetoric and more. A table of contents follows below.

Preparation for JIQSA, vol. 2 has already begun. Potential English and Arabic contributions to JIQSA, vol. 3 should be sent to the editors at jiqsa@iqsaweb.org for peer review.

JIQSA flyer copy

The Table of Contents for JIQSA Volume 1 is as follows:

  1. Pregill, Michael E. and Vanessa De Gifis. “Editors’ Introduction: The Qurʾān Between Bible and Tafsīr.” JIQSA 1 (2016): 3-9.
  2. Firestone, Reuven. “The Problematic of Prophecy: 2015 IQSA Presidential Address.” JIQSA 1 (2016): 11-22.
  3. Moosa, Ebrahim. “Response To Reuven Firestone’s 2015 IQSA Presidential Address.” JIQSA 1 (2016): 23-27.
  4. Bauer, Karen. “The Current State of Qurʾānic Studies: Commentary on a Roundtable Discussion.” JIQSA 1 (2016): 29-45.
  5. Graves, Michael. “Form Criticism or a Rolling Corpus: The Methodology of John Wansbrough through the Lens of Biblical Studies.” JIQSA 1 (2016): 47-92.
  6. Anthony, Sean W. and Catherine L. Bronson. “Did Ḥafṣah Edit the Qurʾān? A Response with Notes on the Codices of the Prophet’s Wives.” JIQSA 1 (2016): 93-125.
  7. Crone, Patricia. “Nothing but Time Destroys Us”: The Deniers of Resurrection in the Qurʾān.” JIQSA 1 (2016): 127-147.
  8. Melchert, Christopher. “Bukhārī’sKitāb Tafsīr al-Qurʾān.” JIQSA 1 (2016): 149-172.
  9. Stewart, Devin and Gabriel Said Reynolds. “Afterword: The Academic Study of the Qurʾān—Achievements, Challenges, and Prospects.” JIQSA 1 (2016): 173-183.

10. علي مبروك†,القرآن: ما بعد أبي زيد وما قبل المصحف. مجلة الجمعية الدولية للدراسات القرآنية. (2016): 192-187.

IQSA members have FREE online access to JIQSA 1 via the MEMBER PORTAL on IQSAWEB.org. Non-members can gain access by signing up for membership HERE. At this time institutions are strongly encouraged to subscribe for print or online access by filling out this SUBSCRIPTION FORM. Print subscriptions are also available for individual subscribers via THIS FORM.

ISSN 2474-8390 (Print)
2474-8420 (Online)

Subscription Rates:
Print and Online: US$70
Print only: US$40
Online only: US$40

For information about submissions, visit https://iqsaweb.wordpress.com/publications/call-for-papers-jiqsa/ or send an email to the editors at jiqsa@iqsaweb.org.

 

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

Review of Qur’anic Research Vol. 3 no. 2 (2017)

In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research, Orhan Elmaz reviews Christian Peltz’s two-volume Der Koran des Abū l-ʿAlāʾ (Weisbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013). Peltz’s work is dedicated to a text unique in classical Arabic literature in many respects: Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī’s (d. 449/1057) Kitāb al-Fuṣūl wa’l-ghāyāt fī tamjīd allāh wa’l-mawāʿiẓ. Maʿarrī’s work has drawn scholarly interest because it has been believed to constitute an attempt at imitating or parodying (muʿāraḍah) the Qurʾān.

der

Full access to the Review of Qur’anic Research (RQR) is available to IQSA members by logging in HERE. Not an IQSA member? Join today to enjoy RQR and additional member benefits!

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.