Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize 2018-19

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Andrew Rippin was the inaugural president of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (2014). He is remembered as “an esteemed colleague, revered mentor, and scholarly inspiration to many members of the IQSA community.”

In honor of Andrew Rippin, the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA) will award a prize to the best paper delivered at the 2018 Annual Meeting in Denver, CO by a graduate student or early career scholar (Ph.D. awarded 2013 or later).

The prize winner will receive $250. In addition, the award committee will provide him/her with detailed feedback and guidance enabling him/her to expand the paper into a scholarly article that qualifies for publication in the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (JIQSA), subject to peer review.

Interested scholars should submit a draft of the paper which they read at the 2018 Annual Meeting at Denver; this draft should be no longer than fifteen double-spaced pages (or 3750 words). Submissions should be sent to contact@iqsaweb.org by January 5, 2019. The prize winner will be announced by February 1, 2019. The winner should then be prepared to submit a fully revised version of the winning article by April 1, 2019. Publication of the final version is contingent upon review by the award committee and editorial staff of JIQSA.

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

Promoting Scholarship & Building Bridges with IQSA #GivingTuesday

Dear Friends,

For over five years the International Qur’anic Studies Association has made fostering Qur’anic scholarship its mission. The Qur’an is an integral part of world literature, and it has shaped and continues to shape the world in which we live. By giving to IQSA you are promoting high quality scholarship and building bridges across the globe, which in turn has positive ripple effects on high quality education, journalism, publishing and public engagement.

 

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IQSA is the only non-profit learned society exclusively dedicated to convening regular Qur’an conferences in North America and in Muslim majority countries around the world, as well as to publishing rigorous cutting edge scholarship on the Qur’an. Within five short years IQSA has convened seven major conferences. These have included large scale conferences in throughout major US cities, Carthage, Tunisia and Jogjakarta, Indonesia, as well as co-sponsored panels in Berlin, Germany and St Andrews, Scotland. IQSA conferences showcase cutting edge research on manuscripts, historical documents, and high tech digital resources, as well as debate critical issues including methodology, hermeneutics and gender. This is possible because IQSA members include the very best scholars in the field.

The second issue of the bilingual Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (JIQSA) is in its final stages of production; and IQSA’s first publication in the Studies in the Qur’ān series, A Qur’ānic Apocalypse: A Reading of the Thirty-Three Last Sūras of the Qur’ān by Michel Cuypers, is now available from ISD. IQSA members receive free access to JIQSA, the Review of Qur’an Research (RQR), the exclusive member directory (including world renowned Qur’an specialists) and PhD students and recent graduates gain valuable professional development experience. Lifetime and Institutional members carry additional member benefits. IQSA also rewards junior scholars and international academics with the opportunity to learn from colleagues around the world and publish their research. By giving, you help IQSA keep membership dues low and you reward those members of our community who need it most.

Donate NOW

It goes without saying that the current political climate has made our task — especially critical scholarship and building bridges — more important than ever. As academics, professionals and philanthropists we have a duty to support the Humanities and Social Sciences at a time when they are under threat. This also means we have the opportunity to bring about a much more intellectual discussion of the Qur’an when the public needs it most.

IQSA was founded by a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, and is now funded through the generous support of its members, partners and friends.

Donate NOW

Most gratefully,

Emran El-Badawi, Executive Director

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

Final Reminders & Denver Program PDF, Nov 16-19

Dear Friends,

We are now days away from the sixth Annual Meeting of the International Qur’anic Studies Association taking place in Denver, November 16-19 (one day before AAR & SBL). We are looking forward to another exciting meeting of scholars and friends. For a complete showcase of our events, participants and sponsors we are proud to present the official AM 2018 PROGRAM BOOK (PDF). Viewers are encouraged to further circulate the program book. (Program Book link: https://iqsaweb.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/2018-iqsa-programbook.pdf)

Reminders — Please make sure to attend the following events or perform the needed duties outlined here:

  1. If you want to gain access to all IQSA session in Boston as well as our exclusive member benefits please RENEW your 2018 IQSA MEMBERSHIP immediately here (http://members.iqsaweb.org/Sys/Login). It is not too late!
  2. The FRIDAY sessions are FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC. There is no keynote address this year. Please RSVP to join our GENERAL RECEPTION with food and refreshments, Friday Nov 16, 6:30PM. See program for details.
  3. On Saturday Nov 17 Graduate students and recent graduates should attend the Graduate Student Reception, 11:30am-1pm, where they will enjoy lunch with leading scholars in the field and share their own research. See program for details. Only a handful of spots remain. RSVP now HERE or via contact@iqsaweb.org
  4. On Sunday Nov 18, I call upon all IQSA members to fulfill their duty by attending our Business Meeting at 11:30am-12:30pm. See program for details.
  5. Finally, the world’s political climate continues to change, making international travel and collaboration more challenging. Our work is now more important than ever. Please support IQSA and DONATE (http://members.iqsaweb.org/donate). Meanwhile do not forget to enjoy this VIDEO (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg-W3Asj3R8) and share accordingly — thank you.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Standing Committees and our partners we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all friends of IQSA, and we look forward to seeing you in Boston.

Sincerely,

Emran El-Badawi, Executive Director

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

Suggestions for Presenting a Conference Paper at IQSA

With the IQSA Annual Meeting quickly approaching next month, there has never been a better time to catch up on Dr. Devin Stewart’s (Emory University) suggestions for effective presentations at academic conferences!


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.]

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

Purpose:

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.

Content:

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.

Structure:

  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

Presentation:

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 President Elect (Emory University)

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

Workshop: The Senses in the Qur’an and in Early Islam | 26 October 2018, Utrech

The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University, in collaboration with the SENSIS project, will host a workshop on the Quran’s and early Muslims’ conceptualization of the senses and sense perception. The workshop’s aim is two-fold: first, to unearth the roots of the qur’anic/early Islamic sensorium in Late Antique culture, and secondly, to examine the processes of sensory disambiguation of “Muslim” identity as distinct from other identities (Christian, Zoroastrian, etc.) in the formation of Islam. Sources considered include the Qur’an, sīra and Hadith (both Sunni and Shiʿi), as well as texts from the surrounding literary cultures, and potentially non-textual evidence. Prior to the meeting, but no later than 18 October, participants will circulate one or several short texts (in the format of a handout) for close reading in the workshop. Each paper will be 40 minutes long, and include a paper presentation (20 minutes); Q&A (10 min.); a.nd a joint reading and discussion of texts led by the presenter (10 min).

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Utrecht in the heart of the Netherlands

Programme

Location: Janskerkhof 13, 3512 BL Utrecht, room 0.06

Panel 1: Scriptural bases

9:00-9:40: Nora Schmid (Berlin), “Sense perception and the formation of ascetic knowledge in the Meccan surahs of the Qur’an”

9:40-10:20: Thomas Hoffmann (Copenhagen): “The Weltinnenraum of the Qur’an: Towards a visceral phenomenology”

10:20-11:00: Christian Lange (Utrecht): “Sensation in the canonical Sunni hadith corpus”

11:00-11:30: COFFEE BREAK

Panel 2: Sensations in early Islamic thought and sensory practices

11:30-12:10: Adam Bursi (Utrecht), “The old women of Quraysh did that: Touch and its contestations in early Islamic pilgrimage rituals”

12:10-12:50: Maroussia Bednarkiewicz (Oxford): “Diversity in the acoustic space: From the birth of the ādhān to the disappearance of the nāqūs

12:50-14:00: LUNCH

14:00-14:40: Youshaa Patel (Lafayette College): “Looking different: Some hadith traditions against imitation”

Panel 3: Sensory alterities

14:40-15:20: Eyad Abuali (Utrecht): “Voices and Visions in Early Sufi Qur’an commentaries”

15:20-15:50: COFFEE BREAK

15:50-16:30: Arash Ghajarjazi (Utrecht): “The senses in Nahj al-balāgha

16:30-17:10: Mary Thurlkill (University of Mississippi): “Muhammad’s sweet sweat:  Modeling ritual purity in early Islam”

17:10-17:30: Concluding session

18:30-: DINNER (for speakers and invited guests)

No registration is required for participation, but those interested in attending are kindly requested to contact the event’s co-organizer Dr. Adam Bursi at: a.c.bursi@uu.nl

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

Summer School in Oriental Languages: July 5 – 14, Venice, Italy

The third Summer School in Oriental Languages, organized by the University of Lausanne, took place at Venice International University, on the island of San Sèrvolo, from July 4 – 14. This year, 33 participants from more than a dozen universities in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the UK and the USA attended courses on a range of Ancient, Late Antique and Modern Oriental Languages such as Arabic, Coptic, Ge’ez, Hebrew, Syriac and Sumerian. A number of minor courses in Hebrew and Aramaic inscriptions, Semitic lexicology and non-alphabetic languages were also offered in addition to the main language courses.

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Venice International University offers a fanastic location for studying on the Venetian island of San Sèrvolo.

Participants on the summer school were also able to visit the monastery of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, which is based on the island next to San Sèrvolo, and has been home to the Armenian Mekhitarist community since 1717.

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Amongst its collection of paintings and objects d’art, the monastery’s library houses a number of manuscripts and books, including some Islamic/qur’ānic ones.

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An 8th century Qur’ān fragment in kufic script. Reproduced courtesy of San Lazzaro degli Armeni.

The summer school represents a rare opportunity to study some of the languages that relate to the broader field of qur’ānic/Islamic studies. Thanks to Professor David Hamidovic (Lausanne), for this initiative and also to the administrative coordinator in Lausanne, Salomé Evard and her team. Applications for next year’s summer school will open in Spring of 2019 and IQSA will endeavour to keep you updated.

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

Conference and Workshop: The Translation of the Qur’ān in Indonesia – Yogyakarta, Indonesia | July 30 – 31, 2018

Indonesia is not only the most populous Muslim-majority state but also one of the most multilingual ones. This is one of several reasons that make the field of Qur’ān translation in Indonesia highly interesting. Another, is the early and strong presence of reformist trends in the country that led, on the one hand, to sustained daʿwa activities centered on the Qur’ān and, on the other, to doctrinal debates on the permissibility of such activities, that mirrored those in Egypt. Rashīd Riḍā actually issued one of his fatwas on Qur’ān translation in response to a question from Indonesia. In the 1960s, the government of the newly independent Republic of Indonesia emerged as a strong actor in the field of religion, commissioning a national Qur’ān translation that still dominates the market. The government also promoted Bahasa Indonesia as a national language at the expense of the multitude of regional languages spoken by Indonesia’s citizens. In recent years, however, the Ministry of Religion has started to reverse that trend and published Qur’ān translations in more than a dozen regional languages. These translations often compete with existing works by local religious scholars.

Recognising the complexity and relevance of the field of Qur’ān translation in Indonesia, the Department of Islamic Studies at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany, and the School of Graduate Studies at the State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, organised the first conference on this topic. On July 30 and 31, 2018, dozens of scholars and students met in Yogyakarta to discuss the political, social and linguistic dimensions of Indonesian Qur’ān translations. The schedule allowed for plenty of time to discuss the twenty-three papers, including six given by students, that were delivered in two plenary sessions and several panels on politics and media, gender, education, and regional languages.

Some dominant themes emerged during the discussions: First, the dominant role of the authoritative Qur’ān translation published by the Indonesian Government. Owing to its wide distribution, it has been able to influence social and political debates but the scholars who produced it were also forced to react to social change, as is apparent in the evolution of the translation’s approach to gender. Another topic that was discussed a great deal was the question of script. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Arabic script competed with the Latin alphabet in qur’ānic exegesis and Qur’ān translation. For some languages, such as Javanese and Buginese, these systems, in turn, competed with traditional scripts such as Carakan and Lontara. Many papers touched upon this issue but it became apparent during the conference that a conclusive history of the rise and fall of different writing systems in Islamic literature, particularly during the 19th and 20th centuries, still remains to be written.

Several papers brought up unusual, little-known and unexpected facts, such as the existence of new prophets in Indonesia who base their message on the Qur’ān and their own translation of it, or the production of rhyming translations in traditional meters in languages such as Sundanese and Acehnese by traditional scholars. The field of qur’ānic translation in practice is clearly larger than is generally assumed, and includes interlinear translation, often considered a pre-modern phenomenon, is, in fact, thriving, both due to its roots in traditional Islamic schools and to a recent upsurge in interest in learning to read the Qur’ān in Arabic, as opposed to relying on stand-alone translations.

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Participants at the First Conference and Workshop on the Translation of the Qur’ān in Indonesia

The conference was judged a great success by the participants and will hopefully lead to a publication that will make scholarship on Indonesia, particularly that conducted by Indonesians, more visible within the field of qur’ānic Studies. It will also help develop a theoretical framework for the study of Qur’ān translations that takes multilingual contexts, changes in writing systems, and the politics of translation into account.

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