Recent Publication: “Geography, Religion, Gods, and Saints in the Eastern Mediterranean” by Erica Ferg (Routledge, 2019)

Routledge has recently released a new book, Geography, Religion, Gods, and Saints in the Eastern Mediterranean by Erica Ferg. This book is the ninth volume in the series Studies in the History of the Ancient Near East, edited by Greg Fisher.


Geography, Religion, Gods, and Saints in the Eastern Mediterranean explores the influence of geography on religion and highlights a largely unknown story of religious history in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In the Levant, agricultural communities of Jews, Christians, and Muslims jointly venerated and largely shared three important saints or holy figures: Jewish Elijah, Christian St. George, and Muslim al-Khiḍr. These figures share ‘peculiar’ characteristics, such as associations with rain, greenness, fertility, and storms. Only in the Eastern Mediterranean are Elijah, St. George, and al-Khiḍr shared between religious communities, or characterized by these same agricultural attributes – attributes that also were shared by regional religious figures from earlier time periods, such as the ancient Near Eastern Storm-god Baal-Hadad, and Levantine Zeus. This book tells the story of how that came to be, and suggests that the figures share specific characteristics, over a very long period of time, because these motifs were shaped by the geography of the region. Ultimately, this book suggests that regional geography has influenced regional religion; that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are not, historically or textually speaking, separate religious traditions (even if Jews, Christians, and Muslims are members of distinct religious communities); and that shared religious practices between members of these and other local religious communities are not unusual. Instead, shared practices arose out of a common geographical environment and an interconnected religious heritage, and are a natural historical feature of religion in the Eastern Mediterranean.

This volume will be of interest to students of ancient Near Eastern religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, sainthood, agricultural communities in the ancient Near East, Middle Eastern religious and cultural history, and the relationships between geography and religion.

Want to read more? Purchase the book here, or find a copy at a library near you.

Erica Ferg, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at Regis University.


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2020. All rights reserved.

Corovavirus Health Alert

Dear Colleagues,

The International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA) is monitoring the situation closely as the Covid-19 Coronavirus continues to impact communities throughout the globe. Our mission remains to foster Qur’anic Studies, bringing about peace and mutual understanding through scholarship. At this time, the health and safety of our members and friends is our highest priority.

We are aware that our members and their institutions have concerns about the spread of the Coronavirus. Most academic institutions have closed temporarily or moved to online instruction. Colleagues with health concerns are encouraged to follow the directives offered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC for the US, or their national equivalent elsewhere) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The restrictions imposed on travel by an increasing number of nations, while unfortunate, are a crucial measure to curb the growth of the virus. That being said travel restrictions do impact the convening of international conferences. Countless spring and summer meetings have been cancelled as a result. We remain in contact with our affiliates, including the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion, with whom our annual meetings are convened. Of immediate concern is the November 20-23, 2020 Annual Meeting to be held in Boston, MA, USA.

Registration does not typically open until mid-April. We hope to gain greater clarity on the situation between now and then. Nevertheless, we suggest that you postpone booking airfare that does not have flexible change policies until registration opens.

We hope the virus is contained soon, and urge everyone to exercise the utmost caution meanwhile. Should you have any questions or concerns please write



Holger Zellentin, Chair

Emran El-Badawi, Executive Director

Review of Qur’anic Research, Vol. 6 no. 3 (2020)


In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (vol. 6, no.3), Andrea Stanton (University of Denver) reviews Johanna Pink Muslim Qurʼānic Interpretation Today: Media, Genealogies and Interpretive Communities (Sheffield/Bristol, UK: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2019).

6.3In the review, Stanton writes “Have you ever wondered why Ibn Kathīr’s tafsīr is so ubiquitous online, in multiple languages, and in translations of different lengths? Or, what percentage of Muslims read the Qurʾān in previous centuries, and what “reading” meant? About the proliferation of pious lectures or advice-giving programs on YouTube and the details of the people behind them? Have you wondered about the role of nation-states in the politics of Qurʾān interpretation?

If you have not, Johanna Pink’s expansive, rigorous, and compelling new book on the development and contours of contemporary Muslim interpretations of the Qurʾān will open your eyes to and your understanding of these phenomena and more. If you have, then – like me – you will delight in every page, because this is the book that you have been waiting for…”

Want to read more? 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, 2020. All rights reserved.

New Publication— “Allah: God in the Qur’an” by Gabriel Said Reynolds (Yale University Press)

IQSA’s own Gabriel Said Reynolds, professor of Islamic studies and theology at Notre Dame University, has recently published a new book titled Allah: God in the Qur’an (Yale University Press, 2020)


The theme of God’s mercy runs throughout the Qurʾan, every Sura of which (except Sura 9), begins with the invocation “In the name of God the merciful, the benevolent.”  The Qurʾan, however, also emphasizes God’s justice and even His vengefulness.  The Qur’an has God destroy nations for their rejection of prophets, and oppose unbelievers by sealing their hearts and leading them astray.  It also describes the punishments of hell in gory detail.  Thus the Qur’an does not offer a God who is simply merciful or vengeful. He is both.

The God of the Qur’an transcends any simple classification. He is personal and mysterious. Because of this, no limits can be placed on His mercy. Allah: God in the Qur’an argues that the Qur’an is open to God’s salvation of both sinners and unbelievers.  At the same time, the book argues, Allah can and does lead humans astray.  This paradox reveals the homiletic nature of the Qur’an.

This portrait of the dynamic and personal God in the Qur’an is illuminated with reference to the classical Islamic theological tradition, careful analysis of the Qur’an’s vocabulary, and reference to modern thinkers including Muhammad Ahmad Khalafallah.

While Allah: God in the Qur’an emphasizes the uniqueness of the Qur’an’s God, it also shows how many of His characteristics – including mercy and vengefulness – have antecedents in the Bible.

The epilogue of Allah: God in the Qur’an argues that because Allah demands the right to exact vengeance, humans have no license to do so. The Qur’an provides no justification for religious violence.

Want to read more? Purchase the book at Yale University Press, or find a copy at your local library!

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2020. All rights reserved.



Deadline Approaching: IQSA 2020 Annual Meeting Paper Proposals

The deadline is approaching for the International Qur’anic Studies Association’s call for papers for its Annual Meeting to be held in Boston, Massachusetts from November 2023, 2020! Paper proposals should be submitted through the SBL’s automated online submission system under the corresponding “Affiliates” link by March 11, 2020 (note: IQSA membership is required for proposal submission; see below). Submission links can be found below under the respective program units. If you require further information or experience difficulties with the submission process, please contact the chairs of the program unit to which you would like to apply.

Please note that all proposals must include:

  • Author name and affiliation
  • Paper title
  • 400 word paper abstract (written in English)

Eligibility for proposal submissions is contingent upon the following:

  • Active IQSA membership is required at the time of proposal submission for the IQSA Program, and the membership status of all applicants will be checked prior to acceptance
  • Participants must maintain current IQSA Membership through their participation in the Annual Meeting

Please also note that:

  • To ensure equity and diversity amongst participants, participants should submit only one paper presentation per IQSA Annual Meeting
  • All participants must adhere to IQSA’s Professional Conduct Policy
  • Participants will be required to register for the conference by submitting payment through SBL’s online submission system (users are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the “Super Saver” rates which end mid-May)

The Annual Meeting includes panels for each of IQSA’s eight program units:

Linguistic, Literary, and Thematic Perspectives on the Qur’anic Corpus
The Societal Qur’an

The Qur’an and the Biblical Tradition
The Qur’an: Manuscripts and Textual Criticism
The Qur’an: Surah Studies
The Qur’an and Late Antiquity
Qur’anic Studies: Methodology and Hermeneutics
Qur’anic Exegesis: Unpublished and Recently Published tafsīr Studies


Q: How do I register for the IQSA Annual Meeting?
To register for this year’s meeting, visit the SBL Annual Meeting Page and choose Register for the Annual Meeting. Then, complete a New Registration under the Affiliate Members category, and choose International Qur’anic Studies Association when prompted.

Q: What are the dates of IQSA’s Annual Meeting?
The IQSA Annual Meeting begins and ends November 22-25, 2019 one day before the regular SBL/AAR Meeting.

Q: How do I register for the Annual Meeting as an IQSA member?
Register as an AFFILIATE MEMBER on SBL’s Meetings and Events page. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the Affiliate link and choose “International Qur’anic Studies Association” in the drop-down menu.

Q: Do I have to be an IQSA member to register for the Annual Meeting?
YES – current IQSA membership is required and verified by staff upon registration. However, SBL/AAR membership is not required to attend the IQSA Annual Meeting. You can renew your IQSA membership HERE.

Q: I already registered for the Annual Meeting as an SBL/AAR member. Do I have to register again as an affiliate to attend IQSA events?
No – duplicate registration is not required to attend IQSA events if one has already registered as an SBL/AAR member. However, you must register as an active IQSA member if you are presenting at an IQSA session.

Q: Where can I find a schedule of events for the Annual Meeting?
IQSA  and SBL/AAR’s Program Book will be distributed in print and online as the meeting date draws closer. Members can chose to access the Program Book via mobile app, online, or in print while completing the registration process.

Q: Where can I find information about Housing and Travel Accommodations?
A: Visit SBL’s Meetings and Events page and/or choose your hotel during your online registration.

Q: Does IQSA provide funding or reimbursement for its members to attend the meeting?
At this time, IQSA does not have the resources to provide financial assistance for housing and travel at the Annual Meeting. However, IQSA encourages its members to seek financial aid through institutional grants and other funding.

Q: I will be traveling internationally. How do I obtain a non-immigrant Visa Letter?
A: Check the required box during online registration (see below) and email to arrange for a Visa Letter.



© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2020. All rights reserved

Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize Winners 2020

The International Qurʾanic Studies Association is delighted to announce that the third annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize (open to papers delivered by early career scholars at the 2019 annual meeting) has been awarded to both Saqib Hussain (University of Oxford) and Andrew J. O’Connor (St. Norbert College). The winners 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.rippin

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 announcement regarding submissions for the fourth annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize will follow the 2020 IQSA annual meeting in Boston.

An abstract of both award winning papers follows:

“The Prophet’s Visions in Sūrat al-Najm.”
Saqib Hussain

Several fruitful studies have shown that sūrah-opening oaths frequently depict an observable, physical phenomenon as an artistic illustration of a supernatural reality that the sūrah goes on to describe. Q al-Najm 53 opens with an oath by the movement of the Star (al-najm), and goes on to describe the Prophet’s two visions of an angelic or divine being.  However, the connection between the oath by the Star and the Prophetic visions has hitherto proven difficult to establish. There are in addition several features of the visions that are difficult to understand. I show in this paper, by reference to pre-Islamic poetry and pre-Islamic astronomy, that the opening oath is recalling the motion of the Pleiades across the night sky, and this mirrors the Prophet’s described encounter with the divine/angelic being in the sūrah. This allows us to solve several interpretive difficulties that the sūrah presents. In addition, there appears to be a strong continuity between the broader astronomical lore of the sūrah and Safaitic inscriptions, which in turn can be used to further our understanding of the sūrah. Finally, as the Prophetic visions seem to describe the onset of revelation, I explore the possibility that we can use the astronomical data embedded in the sūrah to help date the solar month when the first revelation occurred.


“Paraenesis, Recreation, and the Revocation of Bodily Agency in Surat Ya Sin (Q 36).”
Andrew O’Connor

Surat Ya Sin (Q 36) employs a remarkable variety of imagery associated with the body, including both direct statements about parts of the body and evocative language appealing to one’s sense of pleasure or harm. This symbolism serves a paraenetic purpose, fostering a particular response from its addressees. Thus, it urges addressees to become inhabitants of paradise through appealing to their sense of bodily enjoyment, constructing a mental picture of leisure and recreation. However, the second component of this discourse is intentionally jarring and brings to mind violence to the body; in short, to describe unbelief the surah employs corporeal imagery that implies the revocation of bodily agency. The damned lose control of their body—their very limbs work against them to ensure their perdition. With this language in particular we can find echoes and developments of biblical symbolism. In this paper, I present the diverse ways that Surat Ya Sin constructs its arguments utilizing symbolism of the body. The surah uses somatic presentations of the otherworld as part of a rhetorical strategy: linking bodily resurrection with a bodily subsistence after judgment. I first (1) present a brief overview of some recent scholarship on heaven, hell, and the resurrection in the Qur’an and then (2) argue for the centrality of the doctrine of bodily resurrection in Q 36. Lastly I highlight the contrast between corporeal agency in (3) paradise and (4) the revocation of agency for unbelievers.

Saqib-pictureSaqib Hussain is a doctoral student at the University of Oxford, holding a scholarship from the AHRC and affiliated with the QuCIP project. He has studied for several years in Damascus and Cairo, focusing on Arabic and Qur’anic exegesis. His DPhil research is on the term “wisdom” in the Qur’an, and its possible connection to late antique notions of natural law. He has a forthcoming publication on Qur’anic textual criticism in the edited volume Unlocking the Medinan Qur’an, and a chapter on several minor Qur’anic prophets in the forthcoming Biblical Traditions in the Qur’an.

O'ConnorAndrew J. O’Connor is Assistant Professor of Theology & Religious Studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin (USA). He completed his Ph.D. in 2019 at the University of Notre Dame. His doctoral dissertation analyzed the Qur’an’s different models of prophethood in conversation with notions of prophecy within other communities in the Near East. He also holds a M.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Andrew’s current research interests are the Qur’an’s engagement with Jewish and Christian traditions (and the cultural/religious environment of Late Antiquity broadly speaking) and the Qur’an’s eschatology. Andrew was the recipient of a Fulbright Research Grant to study in Amman, Jordan, for 2017–18.


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2020. All rights reserved.

New Publication: “An Early Christian Reaction to Islam: Išū‘yahb III and the Muslim Arabs” (Gorgias Press, 2019)

Gorgias Press has recently published a new book, An Early Christian Reaction to Islam: Išū‘yahb III and the Muslim Arabs, by Iskandar Bcheiry.

The year 652 marked a fundamental political change in the Middle East and the surrounding region. On this date the Sasanid Empire collapsed and the major part of the Byzantine dominion in the East was lost to the hands of Muslim Arabs. The conquests of the Arabs were followed by deep cultural, social and religious changes that affected the life of the populations in the seized territories. An important and contemporary source of the state of the Christian Church at this time is to be found in the correspondence of the patriarch of the Church of the East, Išū‘yahb III (649–659), which he wrote between 628 and 658. This books discusses Išū‘yahb’s view of and attitudes toward the Muslim Arabs. Although his view of the Muslim Arabs has been a subject of discussion by many scholars, there are still questions to be clarified about his attitudes towards the Muslim Arabs, especially with regard to the chronological development of his views, the issue of the dating of his letters and their chronological arrangement, as well as the identification of literary sources that he relied upon in portraying the Muslim Arabs.

Want to read more? Purchase the book at the Gorgias Press, or find it at a library near you!

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2020. All rights reserved.