Qurʾān Seminar Commentary OPEN ACCESS


IQSA is delighted to announce that the Qurʾān Seminar Commentary (De Gruyter 2016), offering new insights on the Qur’an from 25 scholars, is now available for free (see here).  The Qurʾān Seminar Commentary, including contributions in English and French from the perspective of different disciplines, offers a collaborative study of 50 central Qurʾān passages.  A full list of contributors is below.


Mehdi Azaiez
Patricia Crone
Michel Cuypers
Guillaume Dye
Emran El-Badawi
Reuven Firestone
Marcin Grodzki
Gerald Hawting
Asma Hilali
Frédéric Imbert
Nejmeddine Khalfallah
Manfred Kropp
Daniel Madigan
Michael Pregill
Gabriel Said Reynolds
Andrew Rippin
Mun’im Sirry
Emmanuelle Stefanidis
Devin Stewart
Esma Hind Tengour
Tommaso Tesei
Shawkat M Toorawa
Abraham Winitzer
Munther Younes
Holger Zellentin

Take advantage of this free, valuable resource HERE or copy and paste the following link: https://www.degruyter.com/viewbooktoc/product/462559?rskey=6OGxUY&result=1

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

Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize Winner 2017

The International Qurʾānic Studies Association is delighted to announce that the first annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize (open to papers delivered by junior scholars at the 2016 annual meeting) has been awarded to Jawad Anwar Qureshi of the University of Chicago for his paper “Ring Composition, Virtues, and Qurʾanic Prophetology in sūrat Yūsuf (Q 12)”. The winner of the Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize receives a cash award. In addition, an expanded and edited version of the winning paper qualifies for publication in the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association. An announcement regarding submissions for the second annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize will follow the 2017 IQSA annual meeting in Boston.

This award is given in honor of Prof. Andrew Rippin (1950-2016), a leading scholar of the Qurʾān and inaugural president of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (2014). Prof. Rippin is remembered as “an esteemed colleague, revered mentor, and scholarly inspiration to many members of the IQSA community.”


An abstract of Jawad Qureshi’s award winning paper follows:

This paper focuses on the structure of Surat Yusuf (Q. 12), arguing that the surah demonstrates the most prominent features of ring composition, then noting how its structure informs the larger argument of the surah concerning prophetology. The first half of Joseph’s story of betrayal, exile, slavery, temptation, and imprisonment is mirrored inversely in the second half by his freedom, exoneration, elevation in society, and reunion, forming a perfect chiasm. Scholarship has noted this chiastic structure and building on the work of Michel Cuypers, I argue that the ring structure of Q. 12 is in fact more intricate and detailed than scholarship has considered thus far. Specifically, I demonstrate that Q. 12 is composed of not merely of one ring but that there are in fact four distinct rings—a ring addressing the Prophet (which frames the surah), followed by Joseph’s dream, then Jacob’s narrative, and at the center is a retelling of Joseph’s experience in Egypt. After detailing the surah’s intricate ring composition, using the surah’s ring structure, I argue that each ring argues a set of qurʾānic teachings, namely, the Qurʾan’s monotheistic message and the reality of revelation (Joseph’s ring), trust in God’s plan along with patience through trials (Jacob’s ring), and the truth of revelation (the dream ring). All of this is framed in the ring addressed to the Prophet, putting him in line with Jacob and, more directly, Joseph as a continuity of prophetic missions, shaping the Qurʾān’s unique prophetology. 

Jawad Anwar Qureshi



Jawad Anwar Qureshi, PhD Candidate
University of Chicago (Divinity School)

University of Groningen PhD Scholarship Programme

PhD Scholarship Faculty Theology and Religious Studies



Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 30,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is truly an international place of knowledge. The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies is an ambitious faculty with a dynamic and accomplished staff drawn from around the world (58% international), and a Graduate School with 60 PhD students.

Scholarship opportunities

The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies offers a three-year scholarship to complete a PhD in Theology and Religious Studies. The PhD student will be enrolled in our Graduate School.
The PhD in “Late Antiquity and Early Islam” will conduct research that fits with the profile of the Islamic Origins segment of the research unit Jewish, Christian and Islamic Origins: https://www.rug.nl/research/centre-for-religious-studies/jewish-christian-islamic-origins/

The proposed PhD research plan should match one of the following trajectories:
• Qur’ānic studies – Projects could include qur’ānic engagement with Late Antique, biblical or other pre-Islamic themes (literary, societal, material), as well as the multi-faceted reception history of such qur’ānic representations (e.g. in tafsīr, grammar, literature, fiqh, kalām, etc.).
• Textual studies – Research projects on specific texts in their doctrinal, historical and social contexts, including their production and reception history. Proposals with this focus could include a critical edition and/or English translation of a text (either a manuscript or an edited, but untranslated, text).
• Acculturation and cultural resistance – How did Islam develop in the multicultural world of Late Antique Asia, Africa or Europe? Proposals with this focus would be expected to demonstrate competence in both Islamic and pre-Islamic history.


The PhD student is expected:
• to have graduated with excellent results in a research-based MA thesis in Theology/Religious Studies, History, Islamic Studies or another relevant discipline (by 1 August 2017 at latest)
• to have ample experience with relevant languages and qualitative methodologies such as literary analysis and cultural-historical approaches, as well as the ability to combine these methodologies
• to have an interest in presenting his/her research findings at academic conferences, as well as in non-specialist settings
• to be able and willing to work in an interdisciplinary environment
• to have an advanced level of Arabic or other relevant linguistic skills, so as to be able to read primary sources
• to be fluent in English (both oral and written)
• to have the skills necessary to complete the PhD thesis in three years (project planning, time management, taking initiative in research, and academic writing).


The successful candidate will receive a scholarship of € 1,700 per month, with wage tax and social insurance premiums already deducted. She/he will be required to be resident in Groningen and will initially be offered a scholarship of one year; prolongation of the scholarship for a further two years is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year.
General information about the University of Groningen’s PhD scholarship programme can be found here: https://www.rug.nl/education/phd-programmes/phd-scholarship-programme.

The preferred starting date is 1 September 2017.

How to apply
You may apply for this position until 2 April 11.59 PM / before 3 April 2017 Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on “Apply” below on the advertisement on the university website).

Your application should include:

  • a brief letter of motivation
  • a CV, including contact details of two academic referees
  • a research proposal of up to 2000 words, covering (a) state of the art, (b) main research question, key objectives, and relevance, (c) the proposed (methodological) approach, and (d) the proposed timetable for the writing of your thesis (if your project is interdisciplinary, please also list potential co-supervisor[s])
  • a writing sample of no more than 5000 words, such as an essay or part of a master’s thesis
  • certified official transcripts of your academic degrees.

Official documents must be in the English or Dutch language. Any translation of originals not in these languages must be authenticated.

Note that the procedure will include interviews. Selected candidates will be invited for an interview in Groningen. Interviews are scheduled to take place 19 April 2017.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

(please do not use for applications)

Please visit the University of Groningen’s webpage for more program information.


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

Last Chance! IQSA Call for Papers 2017


The deadline to submit paper proposals for IQSA’s 2017 Annual Meeting to be held in Boston, Massachusetts from November 18-21, 2017 is quickly approaching! Paper proposals are due by 11:59 PM (23:59) Eastern Standard Time (UTC -5) on March 7, 2017. Proposals should be submitted through the Society of Biblical Literature’s online submission system via the affiliate form corresponding to one of the six IQSA program units listed on the Call for Papers Page. Detailed instructions and requirements for the submission process can be found HERE.

If you have not yet done so, please renew your membership immediately to avoid complications as the Call for Papers closes and the Annual Meeting in Boston approaches.

In addition, early-bird registration for the 2017 IQSA Annual Meeting to be held in Boston, Massachusetts from November 18-21 will soon be open! Stay tuned to register as an AFFILIATE via the Society of Biblical Literature’s Meetings and Events page.

Please email contact@iqsaweb.org with questions or concerns about the paper submission process. IQSA looks forward to receiving your proposals!


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

Suggestions for Presenting a Conference Paper at IQSA

Attendance at many conferences over the years and observing the presentations of both neophytes and older scholars has proved to me that nearly no one is taught in explicit terms how to write or deliver a conference paper. For the most part scholars have learned by osmosis, watching examples, whether good, middling, or bad. It is my hope that the scholars who participate in IQSA will be able to rise above the sea of mediocrity and make excellent presentations. I have witnessed a number of papers at IQSA that fall short of that mark, and while such lapses are not more prevalent at IQSA than at other conferences, my hope for the performances at IQSA is that they will be exceptionally high.

[The following statements represent my own considered opinions. It does not represent the opinion of the IQSA board or any other identifiable body in academia. My intention in presenting these comments and guidelines is only to help improve the quality of papers at the annual conference and thus to improve the experience and edification of all conference attendees.]


Alba Fedeli presents her work on the “Birmingham Qur’an” manuscript at the 2015 IQSA Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA.


The main purpose of a conference paper is to announce to the world a new result that you have discovered. In practical terms, it is also to force you to write something, or to finish writing something, that you will publish, and to get feedback from scholars in the field before you do so. If you are lucky, members of your audience may alert you to problems in your argument, plausible counter-arguments, sources you have overlooked, or relevant secondary studies you have not come across. They may push you to explain your argument better, more clearly, or more precisely. All of this will help improve the resulting publication and help ensure that you do not publish something that is unoriginal, incompletely documented, or badly argued.


A conference paper should be a report about completed research that 1) is new, 2) makes a solid argument and 3) emphasizes concrete results. Especially for this society, 4) concrete results primarily consist of concrete conclusions regarding the text of the Qur’an, its meaning, or its historical interpretation and use. This definition has several implications that may go against what young scholars have been told by their sophomoric graduate student peers or benighted advisors and what they have seen performed by droves of misguided conference-goers.

  • The content of your conference paper should not have been published before. It should be a new contribution to the field. You should not deliver a paper that is an info-mercial for your latest book. You should not present something that is an article already in press.
  • A conference paper is a report about research that you have completed. It is not a verbatim, blow-by-blow transcript of the publication you intend to complete. You do not have time to read the entire article or book chapter that you are working on. You are presenting the news story about the project you have completed. Emphasizing the results.
  • A conference paper should not be an interim progress report. While in many organizations, researchers and scholars present such reports as conference papers and lectures, doing so is akin to submitting one’s tax forms or an application for a business license. Many papers produced as part of a government-funded project or by scholars working in teams or for industry are presented as evidence that the project is moving forward and producing tangible results. However, unless the project has reached the point where there are actual results and conclusions can be drawn, it is not yet time to inflict it on the audience. It is acceptable to present something that is not 100% complete, or in which the conclusion is tentative or provisional. It is not acceptable to present something that has no identifiable conclusion yet. One should avoid presenting something that simply states that we have reached the middle of our work, this is the procedure that we are following, and this is where we stand. That is just shop-talk.
  • A conference report should not be a plan for or introduction to research that will be carried out in the future, a prolegomenon, the equivalent of the introduction to a dissertation, a book, or an article. Papers that do this are quite frequent, and leave one asking, “Where’s the beef?” Avoid presenting an introduction to a blank.
  • A conference paper must have a conclusion. Show and tell is not enough. No matter how fantastic the manuscripts you have to show are, it is insufficient merely to describe them. You must explain what they tell us that we did not know before about something greater: the historical transmission of the Qur’ān, its textual variants, patterns of copyists’ errors, and so on. A negative result is still a conclusion; it can make for a good presentation if it is interesting for some particular reason.
  • If you must present the theoretical background or describe a controversy in order to frame your results, do it quickly. An excessively long wind-up is one of the most common faults of conference papers in general. If you write an article or the introduction to your book or dissertation, you can take the time to write at length, but in a conference paper, a long introduction merely delays and in some cases completely displaces the concrete results, which is a disappointment for the audience.
  • Do not leave out the concrete results. Your colleagues in the field are most interested in these, and if you don’t get to specific results, you are robbing them. Include as many results as you can explain well in the time allotted. If you only have only a few examples, then you can spend some time. If you have many examples to choose from, select examples that are representative and can stand in for the others.  A long wind-up to a simple and small example is disappointing.
  • Your paper should take into account the relevant scholarship in the field. There may be too much for you to address in your presentation in any detail, but you should briefly indicate that you are aware of it. Especially in Qur’anic studies, there is a problem with reinventing the wheel. Do not assume that your idea has not been said before. Consult other scholars about the studies that might be relevant, especially studies in German and Arabic.


  1. Problem or issue.
  2. Earlier scholarship on the issue, presented briefly.
  3. Your sources, method, approach, briefly
  4. Your results, conclusions [This should be the main part.]
  5. Implications


The single biggest problem with conference presentations in general is that presenters read a prepared text that was written as if it were a journal article or a book chapter.  If you read a prepared text, you must write it to be read aloud in the first place. Most scholars are not trained to do this type of writing. Doing so is a skill on its own, and it takes practice. An alternative is to prepare notes, a handout, or a power-point presentation, and to speak to the audience from these notes.

If you use power-point, do not read out paragraphs of text from the power-point slides—this is an insult to the audience, whom you are accusing of being inattentive or lazy.

Speaking to the audience directly is about ten times better and more engaging than reading, unless you can write like P.G. Wodehouse. Unfortunately, speaking directly to the audience is a road not taken by 80-90% of conference presenters in all fields, and not just ours.


-Dr. Devin Stewart, IQSA Board of Directors (Emory University)

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

Review of Qur’anic Research, Vol. 3 no. 1 (2017)


In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research, Fred M. Donner reviews Michael Penn’s When Christians First Met Muslims: A Sourcebook of the Earliest Syriac Writings on Islam (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2015). Since the publication of Patricia Crone and Michael Cook’s Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World (1980), several collections of non-Muslim sources used to reconstruct the history of Early Islam have appeared in conversation, bringing together languished manuscripts that were previously unpublished and often untranslated into one place. A major milestone was the appearance of Robert Hoyland’s Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam (1997), a collection whose value has hardly diminished in the two decades since its publication. Also critical in this regard is Andrew Palmer’s The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles (1993). Michael Penn’s When Christians First Met Muslims is a welcome addition to this list of useful compendium of non-Muslim sources that describe the origins of Islam.

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.

IQSA Call for Papers: Instructions and Updates

The Call for Papers is open for IQSA’s Annual Meeting to be held in Boston, Massachusetts from November 18-21, 2017. Please find details and updates about the submission process and requirements below.


Q: How do I submit a paper proposal for IQSA’s 2017 Annual Meeting?
A: Proposals should be submitted through the Society of Biblical Literature’s online submission system via the affiliate form corresponding to one of the six IQSA program units listed below:


An example of the online SBL affiliate paper proposal submission form

Q: Where can I find more detailed information about each program unit?
More detailed information about the program units and chairs is available on IQSA’s website HERE.

Q: Who should I contact if I experience difficulties with the submission process or need further information about program units?
 Please email contact@iqsaweb.org for submission difficulties, or contact the program unit chairs detailed on the CFP page for more information about specific program units.

Q: Do I have to be a member of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) to submit proposals?
A: SBL membership is NOT required for IQSA paper proposal submissions. IQSA membership IS required both to submit proposals and attend the Annual Meetings. Become a member or renew your membership HERE.

Q: What information is required to complete the paper proposal submission form?
Each submission form will require the presenter/co-presenter’s name(s), affiliated institution, and email address. Proposals require a title and abstract written in English with length of around 400 words. There is also an option to list scheduling conflicts and Audio/Visual needs for the presentation.

Q: When are submissions due?
The deadline for paper proposals is 11:59 PM (23:59) Eastern Standard Time (UTC -5) on March 7, 2017.


IQSA looks forward to receiving your submissions!

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