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.



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 IQSA conferences showcase cutting edge research on manuscripts, historical documents, and high tech digital resources, as well as debate critical issues including methodology, hermeneutics and gender.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.

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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.

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Most gratefully,

Emran El-Badawi, Executive Director

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

Biblical Traditions in the Qur’ān, British Academy, London | October 11 – 12, 2018

Delegates were welcomed to the conference at the British Academy, in London by Nicolai Sinai (Oxford), who explained the impetuous behind the conference; a new publication on biblical traditions in the Qur’ān, which will hopefully go to press in 2019. While noting the continuing importance of the contribution made to the field by, amongst others, Heinrich Speyer, with his Die Biblischen Erzählungen im Qoran (1931), Sinai noted that this work remains untranslated and thus inaccessible to many scholars. Developments in the ways in which scholars approach the Qur’ān and view its relationship with biblical literature also call for a new publication that comprehensively examines biblical traditions in the Qur’ān, in light of these new approaches and methods.


The British Academy was established in 1902 and is based at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace in London (Photo Courtesy of the British Academy)

The conference suitably began with a presentation about The Creation in the Qur’ān and its reworking of biblical antecedents by Sean Anthony (Ohio State). Marianna Klar (Oxford) discussed the qur’ānic presentation of Adam, His Mate, and Their Sons, and Shari Lowin (Stonehill College) examined Noah and the Deluge in the context of the Qur’ān. Nicolai Sinai (Oxford) then spoke about the qur’ānic view of Abraham, while Adam Silverstein (Bar llan University) focused on Joseph. Nora K. Schmid (FU Berlin) and Michael Pregill (University of California, Los Angeles) considered Moses in Egypt and Moses in the Wilderness, respectively. The first day of the conference concluded with a presentation by Saqib Hussain (Oxford) on Elijah, Jonah, Job, and Uzayr.

Day two of the conference began with presentations by Walid Saleh (Toronto) on Saul, David, and Solomon and Jack Tannous (Princeton) on John the Baptist and Zechariah. This was followed by Gabriel S. Reynolds’ (Notre Dame) exposition of Mary, Jesus, and the Apostles, while Sidney Griffith (CUA) discussed The Narratives of Surah 18: The Companions of the Cave, Moses’ Journey, Dhū l-Qarnayn. In the afternoon, Stephen J. Shoemaker (Oregon) examined qur’ānic Eschatology, while Devin Stewart (Emory) looked at Qur’anic Parables. The final panel of the conference concluded with presentations by Angelika Neuwirth (FU Berlin) on the Qur’an and Liturgy and Holger Zellentin (Cambridge) on Law and Ritual.

The conference was well-attended by academics, graduate students and members of the public. Both the particular interests of the participants and the venue itself fostered a positive environment for further discussion and exchange both during the question sessions and various breaks.

IQSA looks forward to the publication resulting from the conference and will endeavor to keep readers posted as to a publication date. Many thanks to the organizers, both delegates and the staff at the British Academy for making the conference such a success.

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

First IQSA Studies in the Qur’ān Publication with Lockwood Press “A Qur’ānic Apocalypse: A Reading of the Thirty-Three Last Sūras of the Qur’ān” by Michel Cuypers

IQSA is proud to announce that the first publication in the Studies in the Qur’ān Series, together with Lockwood Press, is now available from ISD:


The present volume closes a trilogy devoted to the exegesis of the Qurʾān analyzed according to the principles of Semitic rhetoric, a method of textual analysis developed in the field of biblical studies. It studies the shortest sūrahs of the Qur’ān, which are traditionally dated to the beginnings of the preaching of Muḥammad in Mecca. The reference to the initial vision of Muḥammad in Sūrah 81, the point of departure for his career as Prophet, provides the starting point of the study of this group of sūrahs. The analysis shows that the redactors who assembled the textual fragments of the Qur’ān into a book were guided by precise intentions. In the end, it is these intentions that the rhetorical analysis of the text enables us to discover and better understand.

About the Author:
Michel Cuypers is a researcher at the IDEO, the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, Cairo, Egypt.

384 pages | 9 x 6 inches | Published October 2018
Hardback | ISBN 9781948488013 | $49.95
PDF eBook | ISBN 9781948480994 | $40.00

* Accessed from

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

New Publication Muhammad: Prophet of Peace amid the Clash of Empires by Juan Cole

Below is an adapted excerpt from Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires by Juan Cole. Copyright © 2018. Available from Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. This and the image of the cover are reproduced by kind permission of the author and publishers.


The Companions of the Right Hand, the second group of good but perhaps not beatific people, are a “crowd of ancients and of moderns.”  That is, there are more contemporaries of the Prophet in this group.  The Event (56:90-91) promises, “And if they are among the companions of the right hand, then they will be greeted, ‘Peace be to you,’ by the companions of the right hand.”  They will dress up in fine silk and exotic brocade as though Asian royalty.  Any lingering rancor or grudges in their hearts for others will be removed, and they will all become siblings.  Concord is so central to the Qur’an’s view of the afterlife that it names heaven for it, saying, “God summons all to the Abode of Peace.”  The association of peace with heaven is also made in the New Testament.  In Luke 19:38, when Jesus approached the Mount of Olives after entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey, the crowds are said to have shouted, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

The chapter of Y.S. 36:52-58 represents paradise as having levels, with enjoyment the most basic, then above that a stage in which you recline on couches facing your spouse, followed by a plane on which you savor luscious fruit.  The pinnacle of paradise, however, comes at the fourth stage, when the voice of God addresses you with “Peace!”  Many readers will immediately think of the Paradiso of Dante Alighieri, which imagines heaven as nine levels.  The Qur’an positions peace at the apex of the delights of heaven.

These images have a moral purpose.  The Meccan sanctuary on earth dimly reflects the spectral asylum of the next world.  The comportment of the Vanguard and the Companions of the Right Hand, the Qur’an implies, exemplifies ideal behavior to be mirrored as well as possible even in this world.  Middle Platonism, the “spiritual commonwealth” of late antiquity, held that the spiritual is real and the material earth only participates in the archetypes of the other world.  In the classical rhetorical tradition that was all around Muhmmad when he journeyed north every year, the aim of a speaker was to use vivid, energetic language that brought the thing described to life before the eyes of the audience, making them feel as though they were witnesses to it.  It was not enough, however, simply to describe.  The speaker sought to whip up hearers emotionally by appealing to their imagination.  The Qur’an uses these literary devices in making paradise present to the believers.

Likewise, Christian sermonizers urged believers to keep the prospect of joining the concourse of heaven in mind.  Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) preached, “Even now, I beseech you, lift up the eye of your understanding: imagine the angelic choirs, and God, the Lord of all sitting, and his Only-begotten Son sitting with him on his right hand, and the Spirit with them present . . .”

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

Beyond Timbuktu: Preserving the Manuscripts of Djenné, Mali

A display at the British Library will chart and celebrate a remarkable project to preserve and digitize Malian manuscripts from Djenné.

Timbuktu hit the headlines in 2013 when local people rallied together to save their manuscripts from militants, who were occupying the city. Djenné, a World Heritage Site, founded in the eighth century, often described as Timbuktu’s “twin city”, was spared the occupation, but its documentary heritage remained vulnerable.  Thanks to the Endangered Archives Programme, these valuable manuscripts are in the process of being digitized and thus preserved for posterity. Established in 2004, the Programme aims to contribute to the preservation of archival material in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration world-wide. It is administered by the British Library and has been generously funded by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

In 2009, a pilot project discovered nearly 3,000 manuscripts held in 13 family collections. However, it quickly became clear that often only a small proportion of the collections were being shown to the team and it was subsequently estimated there were at least 10,000 manuscripts of interest in Djenné and the surrounding area. The overwhelming majority of the material was copied in Djenné on paper using Sudani Arabic script. Some manuscripts are written in local languages using Arabic script. Most of the manuscripts date from between 1700 – 1900, although the oldest dates from the thirteenth century. The condition of the documents varied enormously, with those held by libraries generally being in better condition, although sufficient measures needed to be introduced regarding their safekeeping in acid-free boxes. Manuscripts that had been held privately had often deteriorated considerably, due to damage from termites and water.


Some of the manuscripts that have been preserved and digitised as part of the project, photograph reproduced courtesy of the British Library.

Concurrent with the digitisation process, courses and study days on various aspects of manuscript and library science were held for the benefit of manuscript owners and to raise awareness of the manuscripts’ cultural value. A reading room for the digitised collection was established, and a website created to host the collection. Since the pilot project, Djenné Manuscript Library has gradually become the custodian of over 100 families’ collections and the library has become the cultural centre of the town. In recent years, the Arabic manuscripts of Mali have helped to change the perception of sub-Saharan West Africa as an area without a written past. These manuscripts belong to the cultural heritage of the world and it is thus a duty to attempt to preserve them.


A page from qur’ān EAP488/1/8/1 (undated), which appears in the display, reproduced courtesy of the British Library.

The manuscripts from the first stage of the project are now available online . To-date, 187 qur’āns have been digitized and are also available online, representing an invaluable resource for research and teaching.

The display is FREE runs from 28th September 2018 – 6th January 2019.

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


Review of Qur’anic Research, Vol. 4 no. 9 (2018)

In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 4, no.9), Johanna Pink (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) reviews  Kristian Petersen’s Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, & Language in the Han Kitab (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).


In her review, Pink writes… “Some readers of the Review of Qurʾanic Research might wonder whether a book on Islam in China is worth their attention. It most definitely is, especially if their interest transcends the Qurʾānic text itself and extends to Muslims’ engagement with their sacred scripture. As the author of Interpreting Islam in China, Kristian Petersen, rightfully criticizes, “much of Western scholarship has associated Islam very closely, and at times even exclusively, with Arab Muslims in the Middle East—often establishing essentialized orientations of the center and the periphery” (3)… It is therefore highly advisable especially for scholars who have no expertise on Islam in China to take his book seriously as a contribution to our understanding of how the Qurʾān was read and interpreted by Muslims throughout history, across space and language divides…”

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, 2018. All rights reserved.

The Qur’an: Analysis and Explanation القرآن تحليل وبيان (Arabic Version)


نتناول في الجزء الثاني من هذا الكتاب، تسع عشرة سورة (من السورة العاشرة إلى السورة الخامسة والعشرين)، وهذا ما يغطي تقريباً الثلث الثاني من القرآن. وهذ الجزء متابعة لمشروع يدرس القرآن: لغةً، ومضمونًا، وتاريخًا. والكتاب يحتوي على الأقسام التالية: القراءات (محمد المسيِّح)؛ الناسخ والمنسوخ، والتحليل النقدي (مالك مِسلماني).

تطوير في القراءات

يعكس تطور القراءات وتعددها التعدد في المصاحف، كما يكشف عملية الصراع في قلب السلطة الدينية والسياسية للإسلام من أجل توحيد النص القرآني وإنتاج نص رسمي؛ وبالتالي، فإن القراءات تكتسب أهمية خاصة من حيث كونها الحقل الذي يكشف عدم وجود قرآن واحد، لا بل إن القراءات تكشف أنه على مدى تاريخ الإسلام لم تتمكن السلطات الإسلامية من اعتماد نسخة مرجعية واحدة.

بما أن للقراءات أهمية عالية، كان لزاماً علينا تطوير معالجتها بالكتاب، وذلك بإضافة المنهجية التالية؛

توسيع نطاق المراجع لتشمل المخطوطات.

عندما تكون الانتقائية قائمة على هذين البندين، ويتوثق من أن كل الروايات بُحثت ودُرست علمياً، المواد بشكل موضوعي، وبعيداً عن خطر السقوط في التحييز أو الذاتية.
على مدار صفحات الكتاب سوف يلاحظ القارئ وجود ملاحظات تحمل حكم قيمة في كل أقسام الكتاب، ولعل بعض القراء سيطرح سؤالاً: ألا يبعد أيُّ حكم قيمة الكتابَ عن الموضوعية؟

في الحقيقة، الموضوعية في البحث الاجتماعي لا تعني عدم تقييم أحداث التاريخ. فالتاريخ يقوم به فاعلون بشريون. وحينما ندخل مجال التاريخ البشري، فإن الباحث إذ يحلل التاريخ ويتناوله، فإن عليه أيضاً أن يقيّم الفاعلين به، ولكن بشرط أن يكون التقييم حسب معايير عصر الشخصيات قيد الدَّرس؛ ولهذا، حيثما يقرأ القارئ حكم قيمة في كتابنا، فإن الهدف منه هو إعطاء قيمة الحدث في حينه، فلم نطبق معايير العصر الحديث، بل أي تقييم موجود في الكتاب يعتمد على ما هو موجود في القرن السابع الميلادي، عصر الدعوة المحمدية، فعندما يتناول الباحث الآية 3 من سورة التوبة التي تخيّر المشركين إما قبول الإسلام وإما الحرب، فهل يمكن ألا يعبر عن موقف نقدي بناءً على معايير العصر الذي عاش فيه محمد؟ لا بل عما هو سائد في نفس مدينة محمد ـ مكة، حيث كان المشركون يتقبلون مبدأ تنوع الإيمان ولم تنشأ فيما بينهم حروب على مبدأ ديني. وهل يمكن للباحث أن لا يعلق نقدياً على منح الرجل حق ضرب زوجته (النساء 4: 34)؟ إن أمثال المعايير التي تدخل في صميم العلاقات الإنسانية لا يمكن تناولها بدون حكم قيمة. وأي كتابة تتناول الإنسان والمجتمع يجب أن يكون فيها حكم قيمة على هذا الموقف أو ذاك السلوك، وأي تخل عن تقييم التاريخ، هو لاموضوعية، بل حتي عدم صدق مع الذات والقارئ. الموضوعية تفترض أن نحكم على الفاعلين ضمن عصرهم. والحياد لا يعني السلبية في تفسير الأحداث، أو تجاهل تقييم الحدث التاريخي، أو عدم توصيف البشر الفاعلين بصناعة التاريخ: ديكتاتور، مصلح، معادي للإنسانية، إنساني، وغيرها من التوصيفات.

إن دور الإسلام في الحياة الاجتماعية للمسلمين كبير، ودوره في الميدان الدولي شديد الأهمية والخطور سواء عبر تأثير الدول الإسلامية في مجال السياسة الدولية والوزن الديمغرافي والمالي لها، أو عبر حضور جاليات كبيرة مسلمة في العالم الغربي. إن هذا الحضور للإسلام في العالم المعاصر يجعل كتابنا (بأقسامه ودراساته المختلفة) ذا أهمية كبيرة للقارئ المعني بمعرفة المزيد عن الإسلام، وأيضاً، للقارئ المهتم بفهم العالم المعاصر والسياسة العالمية من خلال معرفة المزيد عن محور الإسلام ـ ألا وهو القرآن.

*Content courtesy of Water Life Publishing.