Freiburg Conversations on Tafsir & Transregional Islamic Networks, Summer 2020

Freiburg conversations on tafsir and transregional Islamic networks, summer 2020

Hosted by Majid Daneshgar and Johanna Pink


Please register *HERE*. You will be sent an invitation to the Zoom meeting by email.
All sessions have a duration of 75 minutes including a discussant’s statement and a Q&A period. Please note that, in order to accommodate speakers and discussants from different continents, the starting time may vary.
Click here to download the programme (PDF)
July 1, 4pm CEST
Pieter Coppens, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam: “Did print change everything? Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi’s (1866-1914) tafsir between local and transregional networks“
Discussant: Walid Saleh, University of Toronto
July 8, 10am CEST
Peter G. Riddell, Melbourne School of Theology: “Exegesis across cultures: Reconfiguring Arabic tafsir for Southeast Asian audiences”
Discussant: Nico Kaptein, Universiteit Leiden
July 15, 10am CEST
Majid Daneshgar, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg: “Persian Shi’ism in Malay-Indonesian Qur’anic Commentaries”
Discussant: Peter G. Riddell, Melbourne School of Theology
July 22, 4pm CEST
Nico Kaptein, Universiteit Leiden: “Ahmad Khatib al-Minangkabawi (1860-1916) and transregional networks”
Discussant: Amr Ryad, KU Leuven
July 29, 4pm CEST
Arnold Yasin Mol, Universiteit Leiden: “Thick Comparative Tafsīr Studies: A Case Study using Q.11:117″
Discussant: Pieter Coppens, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
August 5, 4pm CEST
Walid A. Saleh, University of Toronto: “Tafsir and royalty”
Discussant: Brett Wilson, Central European University Budapest/Vienna
August 12, 4pm CEST
Ahmed El Shamsy, University of Chicago: “Muslim and Orientalist reconstructions of the classical tafsir tradition in the age of print”
Discussant: Islam Dayeh, Freie Universität Berlin
August 19, 4pm CEST
Johanna Pink, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg: “Ibn Kathir, modern Salafism and the making of a global exegetical authority“
Discussant: Younus Mirza, Shenandoah University
August 26, 4pm CEST
Amr Ryad, KU Leuven: “Salafiyya and Ahmadiyya missionary work in interwar Europe“
Discussant: Rainer Brunner, CNRS, Paris
September 2, 5pm CEST
Ash Geissinger, Carleton University, Ottawa: “Authority, gender, and contemporary Muslim appropriations of classical Qur’an commentary”
Discussant: Karen Bauer, Institute of Ismaili Studies, London
September 9, 4pm CEST
Annabel Gallop, British Library: “Qur’an manuscripts from Southeast Asia with interlinear translations: influences and networks”
Discussant: Ervan Nurtawab, State Institute of Islamic Studies Metro, Lampung
September 12, 3pm CEST

Samuel Ross, Texas Christian University: “What Were the Most Popular Qur’an Commentaries in Islamic History? An Assessment of the Manuscript Record and the State of Tafsīr Studies“

Discussant: Ahmed El Shamsy, University of Chicago

* Text adopted from the University of Freiburg website.

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

The Golden Calf between Bible and Qur’an

The Golden Calf between Bible and Qur’an: Scripture, Polemic, and Exegesis From Late Antiquity to Islam

Michael E. Pregill

Oxford Studies in the Abrahamic Religions

  • A compelling exploration of the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic understandings of the account of the Golden Calf
  • Contributes to the ongoing reevaluation of the relationship between Bible and Qur’an
  • The first major monograph on the story of the Golden Calf
  • The book also addresses the issue of Western approaches to the Qur’an, arguing that the historical reliance of scholars and translators on classical Muslim exegesis of scripture has led to misleading conclusions


This book explores the story of the Israelites’ worship of the Golden Calf in its Jewish, Christian, and Muslim contexts, from ancient Israel to the emergence of Islam. It focuses in particular on the Qur’an’s presentation of the narrative and its background in Jewish and Christian retellings of the episode from Late Antiquity. Across the centuries, the interpretation of the Calf episode underwent major changes reflecting the varying cultural, religious, and ideological contexts in which various communities used the story to legitimate their own tradition, challenge the claims of others, and delineate the boundaries between self and other. The book contributes to the ongoing reevaluation of the relationship between Bible and Qur’an, arguing for the necessity of understanding the Qur’an and Islamic interpretations of the history and narratives of ancient Israel as part of the broader biblical tradition. The Calf narrative in the Qur’an, central to the qur’anic conception of the legacy of Israel and the status of the Jews of its own time, reflects a profound engagement with the biblical account in Exodus, as well as being informed by exegetical and parascriptural traditions in circulation in the Qur’an’s milieu in Late Antiquity. The book also addresses the issue of Western approaches to the Qur’an, arguing that the historical reliance of scholars and translators on classical Muslim exegesis of scripture has led to misleading conclusions about the meaning of qur’anic episodes.

* Text adopted from the Oxford University Press product page.

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

Holiday Break: IQSA Executive Office

Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 1.50.17 PMOn behalf of the International Qur’anic Studies Association, we wish all of our colleagues, friends, and affiliates a safe and pleasant winter holiday. Please note that the Executive Office will be observing administrative recess from Sunday, December 22nd to Thursday, January 2nd. We appreciate your patience as our staff and volunteers take a short respite, and will answer any email inquiries to upon resuming normal operations in January.

Happy Holidays!

-IQSA Executive Office

End of 2019 IQSA Reminders, Happy 2020!

It’s been a fruitful year for the International Qur’anic Studies Association. In recent years we have published three issues of the bilingual, flagship Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (JIQSA 2016-2018), with issues four and five slated for release 2019-2020. We have also successfully published two books: A Qur’anic Apocalypse by Michel Cuypers (2018) and New Trends in Qur’anic Studies edited by Mun’im Sirry (2019), which are the published proceeds of our 2015 Indonesia conference. Our publishing activity also includes the Review of Qur’anic Research (RQR), the world’s only exclusive review source on critical Qur’anic Studies. Finally, our multilingual blog and discussion group links a community of scholars and students across the globe.

Finally, IQSA maintains an impressive conference portfolio. These include eleven major international congresses, across the US and internationally. In 2019 these have included lively and fruitful meetings in Tangier, Morocco, and San Diego, CA, USA. And we have the photos to prove it! 🙂


In addition, IQSA now introduces completely new membership tiers:

(1) Student, Contingent Faculty, Global South or Income Below $30,000 $35
(2) Assistant Professor, Junior or Retired Faculty $75
(3) Associate Professor or Midrange Faculty $100
(4) Full Professor, Senior Faculty or Professional Income $100,000+ $125
(5) Lifetime Member $2,000 (one time installment)
(6) Institutional Membership $400

Exceptions: Scholars from the global south and lower income countries unable to pay membership dues for that year have the option of contacting the executive director for a courtesy waiver.

We also warmly welcomes new Lifetime Member, Devin Stewart, IQSA president, Professor, Emory University. IQSA encourages all to renew their membership for 2020 via any of the new membership levels to receive benefits including:

We appreciate your membership!


U.S. taxpayers! Are you still looking to make an end-of-year tax deductible charitable donation? Consider supporting Qur’anic scholarship with a donation to IQSA. We are a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. You can donate to IQSA online by clicking HERE.

You have all made IQSA what it is today—a community of scholars and friends. Please help our community during its time of need. If each of you makes a humble donation it will go a long way to supporting our publishing and programming activity for the coming year(s).

Finally, please do not forget to follow our BlogTwitter and Facebook accounts, and to join the NEW private IQSA Discussion Group. Thanks for your support!

We wish you a very Happy Holidays! كل عام وأنتم بخير


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2019. All rights reserved.

Congratulations to IQSA Board Members Johanna Pink and Holger Zellentin

We are proud to announce that on December 10, 2019,  IQSA board members Johanna Pink and Holger Zellentin each received a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for research projects in the field of Qur’anic Studies. ERC Consolidator Grants provide around two million euros over a period of five years to a researcher, allowing them to establish a team dedicated to a specified project. These awards are among the most prestigious research grants in Europe.    

ERCIn her ERC funded project “The Global Qur’an“ (GloQur), Johanna Pink will be researching the international dimension of Qur’an translations, which have become established as a key medium of Muslim religious practice all over the world since the early 20th century. She will be studying international connections in this field on two levels. First, she will investigate the institutional actors who produce Qur’an translations in many different languages for an international audience. These actors are primarily nation states like Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as missionary communities such as the Ahmadiyya. Second, she will analyze the complex history and spread of Qur’an translations into the languages of former colonial empires: in other words, English, French, and Russian. Based on this analysis, Pink will address the question of how discussions about interpretation are reflected in the various Qur’an translations – for example, regarding gender, the status of non-Muslims, and the idea of God. She will also be researching how the language, location, producers, and target audiences influence these debates. For example, what happens when a Mauritanian sheikh is commissioned by a Saudi institution to produce a French Qur’an translation? And will that translation be interpreted and received differently by Muslims in France than by French-speaking Muslims in Senegal?    

The project led by Holger Zellentin is titled “The Qur’an as a Source for Late Antiquity” (QaSLA). QaSLA’s main innovation consists in turning the table on the predominant hermeneutics of Western approaches to the Qur’an, which tend to focus on the question of how the Qur’an is influenced by Judaism and Christianity. By taxonomizing the religious profiles reflected in the demonstrable interface between the Qur’an and its Jewish and Christian contemporaries, the project first will reorient and then revamp this approach. QaSLA initially analyses the affinity between the Qur’an and known forms of Judaism and Christianity surrounding Arabia in order to identify which biblical, exegetical, homiletic, legal, narrative, ritual, and poetic discourses and practices circulated within the peninsula. It then employs the Qur’an as a new vantage point from which to reconsider broader late antique religious trends across the Middle East. QaSLA combines expertise across disciplines to create a novel local Arabian and an enhanced longitudinal Middle Eastern understanding of Rabbinic Jewish and Syriac, Ethiopic and Arabic Christian cultures. In a final step, the project then returns to portray the Qur’an in sharper contradistinction to more clearly defined forms of Judaism and Christianity.

Once again, IQSA extends a hearty congratulations to Professors Pink and Zellentin and wishes them much success in their research.


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2019. All rights reserved.


Giving Tuesday: Promoting Scholarship and Building Bridges

gt-logoFor over six 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 six short years IQSA has convened eleven 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 third issue of the bilingual Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (JIQSA) was released this year; 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.

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. Please take time this #GivingTuesday to DONATE NOW to further IQSA’s mission across the globe.

Most gratefully,

Emran El-Badawi, Executive Director
International Qur’anic Studies Association |

URGENT: Yahoo Group Discontinuation/Migration

Attention all IQSA colleagues and friends!

As you might have seen, Yahoo has made the decision to discontinue the Yahoo Groups service and platform.

Beginning October 28 users will not be able to upload any more content to the site. 

As of December 14 all previously posted content on the site will be permanently removed. Users have until that date to save any content uploaded by downloading and storing on their own device.

The IQSA Executive Office is currently working on a group migration that will ensure the longevity of this important communication platform for the International Qur’anic Studies Association. Please monitor the IQSA Blog and your email for updates.

For questions, please email Thank you for being an active member of the IQSA community!

New IQSA Blog Coordinator: Meet Justin!

The International Qur’anic Studies Association is pleased to welcome a fresh face to its Executive Office! This year, Justin Novotny (Catholic University of America) joins the team as IQSA’s new Blog Coordinator.

NovotnyJustin began graduate school at the Catholic University of America in 2014. He earned his master’s in Medieval and Byzantine Studies in 2016 and is currently completing dissertation under the guidance of Lev Weitz. Justin’s dissertation examines narratives about Ethiopia within the Islamic literary tradition. While at CUA,  he studied both Arabic and Syriac, and his broader research interests include Qur’anic Studies, Muslim–Christian relations, and Islamic history.  Before coming to CUA, Justin completed a Masters of Liberal Arts at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM and taught high school history and English for three years.

IQSA welcomes its members and affiliates to contribute to its mission by submitting content for its weekly blog! Examples of past blog posts can be found HERE. Content can range from relevant event announcements to professional development opportunities to literature reviews and more. Submissions should be pertinent to the Qur’anic Studies, Late Antiquity, or Islam.

Submissions will be evaluated according to their relevance to IQSA and the interest of its members. Please send your submission to to be considered. Questions? Email for clarification.

Once again, a warm welcome to Justin Novotny as IQSA’s newest member of the Executive Office!

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2019. All rights reserved.

Comment after New Zealand Incident


On behalf of the International Qur’anic Studies Association, we offer our condolences to Muslim communities across the world after the New Zealand mosque attacks. At least one IQSA member has already confirmed that they lost a loved one in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. We are pained by this horrific incident and alarmed at the rise of terrorist attacks based on hatred and bigotry. These include similar attacks against a synagogue in Pittsburg, a church in Charleston, and against other houses of worship.

Our professional conduct policy and mission uphold pluralism and the strongest commitment to diversity. Critical scholarship is an integral weapon against extremist, fundamentalist narratives. IQSA is a community of scholars and friends. Our organization will always promote and embody goodwill between members coming from different cultures.Our thoughts are with all those who mourn.

Emran El-Badawi, Executive Director                                 Gabriel Reynolds, Chair


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2019. All rights reserved.

Eléonore Cellard wins Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize 2019

The International Qurʾanic Studies Association is delighted to announce that the second annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize (open to papers delivered by junior scholars at the 2018 annual meeting) has been awarded to Dr. Eléonore Cellard for her paper “From Coptic to Arabic: A new palimpsest for the history of the Qur’ān in Egypt during the first centuries of Islam.” 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.

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 second annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize will follow the 2019 IQSA annual meeting in San Diego.


An abstract of Eléonore Cellard award winning paper follows:

According to the Islamic tradition, the Qur’ānic text was fixed some years after the conquest of Egypt by ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ. Egypt, however, didn’t received any of the archetypal codices sent by ‘Uṯmān ibn ‘Affān. Without this archetype, how did the Qur’ānic text spread to this region during the first centuries of Islam? Did Egypt play a role in the beginning of the written transmission of the Qur’ān? Unfortunately, the hundreds of early Qur’ānic fragments found in Egypt in the last centuries can’t attest to their Egyptian origin, as they contain no information about their dating or their origins.

A new palimpsest, recently emerged on the antiquities market, could shed some light on these issues. On its scriptio inferior – the original text which has been erased – we could so far decipher fragments of Deuteronomy and Isaiah, probably written in the 6th or 7th century, within a Coptic monastery, located between Cairo and Assiut. The scriptio superior – the upper text which supersedes the Coptic text – is a Qur’ān, sharing similarities with the large copies kept in Fustat (Old-Cairo) and elsewhere, and dating from the middle of the 8th century. The originality of this palimpsest is its lower cost manufacture, reflecting a more modest, and regional context of production in this period, perhaps in Middle-Egypt like the former Coptic manuscript.

Revealing the existence of another way of production of Qur’ān copies as early as the 8th century, this document shows also that the written transmission of the Qur’ān was already well established and under control. Last, but not least, this artifact reminds us of the material proximity of Qur’ānic and Coptic scribal cultures in Egypt. The copyists never ignored each other, but what were exactly their relationships? Studying this palimpsest and the others, we approach the Qur’ān as a tridimensional book, never isolated from the other scriptural cultures, but rather interacting with them, in the multicultural story of Egypt at the end of Late Antiquity.          

portrait pro Eleonore-3Dr. Eléonore Cellard is specialist in Qur’ānic manuscripts. She started her research activities in 2008, under the supervision of François Déroche. In 2015, she submitted her dissertation intitled “The written transmission of the Qur’ān. Study of a corpus of manuscripts from the 2nd H./8th CE” (INALCO/EPHE). Until 2018, she carried on her research at the Collège de France, as research assistant and post-doctoral researcher.  Involved first in the French-German Coranica project, then in the Paleocoran project, she published Codex Amrensis 1, the first volume of the collection of facsimile and diplomatic editions of the earliest Qur’ans (Brill, 2018).



© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2019. All rights reserved.



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