Second Aramaic & Syriac Studies Conference at the Cairo University 2019

The Department of Oriental Languages will hold its Second Aramaic and Syriac Studies Conference at the Cairo University (Egypt) between February-March of 2019.

Conference Panels Include:
Grammar and Linguistic Studies
Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and Syriac Rhetoric
Armenian and Syriac Studies
Arabic and Syriac Studies
Comparative Semitic and Syriac Studies
Archaeological studies
lnscriptions and Graffity
Old and modern Aramaic
Old and modern Syriac/Suryat
Ancient and modern Aramaic/Syriac Literature
Diaspora and Migration Studies|
Ancient and contemporary Theater and Story Studies
Travel Liteartures
Establishment of ancient and modern Syriac Schools
Dialog with Jewish and Islam
Translation of OT, NT, and Quran into Syriac
Renaissance literature/Studies
Jewish, Greek, Islamic,and Syriac Legal Texts
Christian arabic Studies
Karshoni Studies
Digital Studies in Syriac Heritage

Abstracts and Papers will be accepted until the end July 2018, and completed papers until the end August 2018.

Applications for attendance by observers are welcome and should be submitted by July 2018.

Conference Fees
US Fees include paper publication, accommodations, meals (3 days), a trip to new Library of Alexandria, and city tour.

  • Fees are $100.00 USD for Speakers without accommodations.
  • Fees for speaker attendance excluding paper publication are $350.00 USD (include accommodations, all meals for 3 nights)

Accommodations at University Hotel:

  • Limited single rooms, double and triple rooms available
  • Families should apply by the end July for suitable accomodations

Questions? Contact


*Content and images courtesy of  and Prof. Dr. Salah Abdel Aziz Mahgoub Edris.

The Future of Syriac Studies and the Legacy of Sebastian P. Brock, Sigtuna, Sweden, June 12 – 15, 2018

To celebrate Sebastian P. Brock’s 80th birthday, Sankt Ignatios Theological Academy and Stockholm School of Theology, Sweden, hosted a conference on the Future of Syriac Studies” in Sigtuna Sweden. The conference was partly funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences. Participants from the US and Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Japan were welcomed to the conference by Michael Hjälm, (Sankt Ignatios Academy, Södertälje/Stockholm), Samuel Rubenson, (Lund/Sankt Ignatios Academy, Södertälje /Stockholm) and Archbishop Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin (Syriac Orthodox Church in the Netherlands/Sankt Ignatios Seminary, Södertälje /Suryoye Seminary, Salzburg), who gave an overview of Sebastian Brock’s academic contribution to Syriac studies over the last half a century. George Kiraz (Gorgias Press) presented Professor Brock with the first edition of Gorgias Press’ new Sebastianoye series, developed in his honour 

As well as a wide range of papers on Eastern Christian subjects, the conference included a number of presentations that intersected with Islamic and qur’ānic studies, underlining the importance of Syriac and Syriac studies for research on the Qur’ān and early Islam.

Stephen J. Shoemaker (Oregan) discussed Syriac apocalypticism in light of the rise of Islam, stressing the importance of non-Islamic sources for understanding the emergence of Islam. From the sixth century onwards, Christians, Jews, and even Zoroastrians, believed they were living at the beginning of the end of time, Syriac apocalyptic writings, in particular, are therefore useful for understanding the rise of Islam. Professor Shoemaker concluded that Muhammad’s group of Believers can best/better be understood against the backdrop of this apocalyptic fervor, as eschatological expectations reached a peak in the seventh century.

Rachel Claire Dryden (Cambridge) presented a state of the field review of qur’ānic studies in relation to the role of Syriac. With few exceptions, the importance of Syriac literature for understanding the Qur’ān appears to have been ignored, or at least neglected, by scholars until the beginning of the current millennium. As well as highlighting current research on the Qur’ān that takes Syriac into account, Miss Dryden stressed the need for further collaboration between scholars of the Qur’ān and of Syriac, which has the potential to benefit both fields, by revealing more about the nature of Late Antique monotheistic debate and exchange.

Bert Jacobs (Leuven) examined Syriac translations of the Qur’ān, which has received little attention compared to translations into Greek and Latin. Dr Jacobs concluded that this may be because it is still not clear what qur’anic material is extant in Syriac, or even whether there was a full Syriac translation of the Qur’an. Dr Jacobs argued that there had never been a full Syriac translation, firstly because it would have been irrelevant to Syriac-speaking Christians, before becoming unnecessary, as Arabic became the language of Arab Christians.


Venue for the Syriac music performance at the conclusion of the evening’s events.  Photo Credit: Rachel Dryden

As part of Professor Brock’s 80th birthday celebrations, Mor Dioscoros Benyamin Atas, one of two archbishops of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Sweden and Scandinavia presented him with the Order of Sankt Ignatios for 2018, in recognition of his contribution to Syriac studies and his championing of the rights of the Syriac people. The evening concluded with a performance of Syriac music.

Huge thanks goes to Miriam and Michael Hjälm, Bob Kitchen and Gabriel Bar Sawame for the initiative and organization of the conference, which brought so many scholars of Syriac from different fields together in an environment that encouraged interaction and exchange.

Conference proceedings will be published in due course.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

2018 IQSA Annual Meeting FAQs

Have questions about the 2018 IQSA Annual Meeting to be held in Denver, Colorado from November 16-19, 2018. We have answers! Read up on some Frequently Asked Questions about this year’s annual meeting below:



Q: What are the dates of IQSA’s Annual Meeting?
The IQSA Annual Meeting begins and ends November 16-19, 2018 one day before the regular SBL/AAR Meeting.

Q: How do I register for the Annual Member 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.

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.


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

We look forward to seeing you in Denver!

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

Survey: IQSA Annual Meeting User Experience


As the 2018 IQSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado (November 16-19) approaches, the International Qur’anic Studies Association seeks feedback from its members and affiliates on last year’s Annual Meeting in Boston, MA. Glance back at the 2017 Program Book, reflect on your experience last November, and take THIS SURVEY!


Your feedback is very important to IQSA and its success as one of the only learned societies dedicated to the critical study of the Qur’an. We look forward to seeing you in November!



© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

REDUCED Prices – Advertise with IQSA!

IQSA is the first and only learned society of its kind devoted to the critical investigation of the Qur’an, encompassing a broad community of scholars, students, publishers, and members of the public. In order to foster this mission, IQSA has reduced its advertising prices to broaden the reach of relevant publications and organizations. IQSA encourages advertising partnerships and opportunities in the following capacities:

  1. Advertise in the Annual Meeting Program Book ($400-$600 USD) – Every year the International Qur’anic Studies Association holds an Annual Meeting in conjunction with the Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion, attracting a wide audience in the scholarly community from across the nation. The accompanying Program Book published by IQSA is read by hundreds at the Annual Meeting and thousands around the world, providing a critical platform for relevant businesses market their publications and services. Email to reserve an advertising space today!
  2. Advertise in Print ($400-$600 USD) – IQSA provides advertising space in three of its flagship publications: the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (JIQSA), the monthly Review of Qur’anic Research, and the forthcoming monograph series IQSA Studies in the Qur’an (ISIQ). Email for details.
  3. Advertise Online ($500 USD) – While IQSA does not currently hold a physical headquarters, its website serves as the central meeting point and face of the organization visited by hundreds of members and non-members every day. Email to inquire about advertising with us online via
  4. Send an Email to IQSA Members ($250 USD) – IQSA will send emails on behalf of publishers and other advertisers of interest to our members. The publisher/advertiser is responsible for composing the email. Please contact the Executive Office at for more information.


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

REGISTRATION OPEN Annual Meeting 2018


Registration is NOW OPEN for the IQSA Annual Meeting held in conjunction with the SBL/AAR Annual Meetings in Denver, Colorado from November 16-19, 2018. You can save on the registration fee by joining IQSA and registering for the Annual Meetings as an Affiliate Member HERE! To become an IQSA member click HERE. Registration for the IQSA Annual Meeting does not require SBL or AAR membership.

Reserve your spot before rates increase on May 24th!

For step by step instructions to Register for the Annual Meeting, click HERE.

For step by step instructions to Join IQSA, click HERE.

Questions? Email Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you in Denver!

IQSA Executive Office

The 5th Annual Conference of the British Association of Islamic Studies (BRAIS), Exeter, UK

Scholars of the Qur’an and Islam from around the world came together at the University of Exeter in early April for the 5th annual conference of the British Association of Islamic Studies (BRAIS), hosted by the University’s Centre for Arabic and Islamic Studies.


The panel on “Qu’ranic Studies I: Qur’anic Contexts, Concepts and Terms” included papers on pre-qur’ānic poetry, guile or deception, nafs, angels and w-ḥ-y. Jaako Hämeen-Anttila (Edinburgh) spoke about “The Qur’an and Early Arabic Poetry” specifically Al-Khansā’’s mutaqārib poem. While Al-Khansā’’s poetry generally shows little influence of Islamic thought or use of qur’ānic vocabulary the mutaqārib poem appears to be an exception to this rule, as it exhibits some striking qur’ānic influences, which can best be appreciated in comparison with Sūrat al-Zalzala (Q99: 1-5). Despite the presence of clear qur’ānic echoes in the Kāmil version, that version cannot properly be called a seventh century poem. Although most of the poem’s verses do come from the original version, the Kāmil version is much later. Professor Hämeen-Anttila surmised that the poem appears to have been deliberately ‘islamicised’ in the Kāmil version, which exhibits a strong dependence on the Qur’ān, a trait that is absent in the Dīwān versions.

Taira Amin (Lancaster) presented a paper entitled “Verily it is of your guile; verily your guile is great! (Q12:28): A Critical Discourse Analysis of all References to kayd (guile) in the Qur’ān and Classical Tafsir”, which forms part of her analysis of the Joseph, Mary and Solomon narratives in the Qur’ān. Using the example of the Joseph narrative, she noted how the notion of deception has been attributed to the female figures in the passage and examined how this was interpreted by early Islamic exegetes, what kinds of discourses and ideas about women ensued from these exegetical discourses and how they evolved between the formative and post-Classical periods. She found, not only that deception was often viewed positively with regards to men and negatively when applied women but also that the notion of guile in relation to women has evolved over time. In relation to the five kayd verses from the Joseph narrative, Taira compared and contrasted the interpretative strategies and conclusions of three Islamic exegetes: Al-Zamaksharī, Al-Qurṭubī and Al-Bayḍāwī, who all made similar claims regarding women’s kayd with differing degrees of criticism but employed diverse forms of authority ranging from the ulama to divine authority to prophetic hadith. Taira was critical of the exegetes’ atomistic approach and literal, de-contextualised interpretation, as well as their re-contextualisation of the supporting evidence employed. Despite the traditional attribution of kayd to women, Taira found that of the 35 occurrences of the term in the Qur’ān, only six of these relate to women and the group to whom it is applied most often are the Unbelievers (20 times), and yet this is not mentioned in the interpretations she outlined.


Abdullah Galadari (Khalifa University) discussed “The Concept of Nafs in the Qur’an”, and asked whether the Qur’ān understands nafs in the same way as the Ancient Israelites understood the term nefesh, as referring to a disembodied soul. Dr Galadari explained that the answer is complicated by the fact that early Muslim scholars often used the terms nafs (soul) and rū(spirit) interchangeably, despite the fact that the Qur’ān appears to distinguish between both and assumes its audience is familiar with the former but not the latter. The philosophical view, as outlined by Al-Rāzī (d. 606/1209) is that the soul (nafs) is different from the body (badan) and that the soul does not die, even though this suggestion contradicts the Qur’ān. Although the nafs might appear to go hand in hand with a physical body, Dr Galadari’s examination of the qur’ānic material showed that the word nafs does not typically subject itself with a physical body. The reason for this is that, if God has a nafs but God is not a physical being, a nafs cannot be something physical. This raises the question, when the Qur’ān explicitly discusses the death and resurrection of the soul, why it is typically understood as the death and resurrection of the body. In answering this question, Dr Galadari posited that the death of the soul could be understood as a form of spiritual death, with unbelievers being physically alive but more akin to zombies. He concluded by discussing what implications this has for understanding and interpreting qur’ānic references to resurrection and suggested that the Qur’ān appears to talk about two deaths and two lives, that of the nafs and that of the body.

Rachel Dryden (Cambridge) presented the results of her research to date on angels in the Qur’an, with a paper entitled “Angels in the Qur’an: From Heaven to Earth and from Mecca to Medina”, concluding that although the Qur’ān stresses the importance of belief in angels relatively infrequently, as Stephen Burge has noted, angels do in fact appear to be a “fundamental part of the Islamic worldview”. While the noun malak/malā’ika (angel) appears most frequently in material from the Medinan Period, angels are referred to by a range of other terms, which are often limited to certain periods or roles. Angels are described as performing a variety of distinct roles throughout the Qur’ān and while the range of roles remains fairly stable across all periods, some are limited to one or more of them. Rachel believes that the differences between the four qur’ānic periods are key to understanding angels and their roles in the Qur’ān and stressed the necessity of examining the terms, roots and roles assigned to them in each period, in order to understand in how angels are viewed and portrayed in the Qur’ān and how this changes between Mecca and Medina.

Simon Loynes (Edinburgh) spoke about “The Meaning and Function of the Term waḥy in the Qur’ān”,  arguing that in pre-Islamic poetry, the root w-ḥ-y refers to a type of communication, which can only be understood by the one receiving it and is incomprehensible to outsiders. This meaning would appear to be carried over into the Qur’ān, albeit considerably realigned, to refer to the divine communication of revelation to prophets. Simon cited the many verses which link the root with the qur’ānic Messenger’s revelatory experience, as evidence of this, something which can also be observed regarding earlier prophets.


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.