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.


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.

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 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.

IQSA Annual Meeting in Boston: Preliminary Schedule Now Available!

IQSA has an exciting program lined up for the Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. The preliminary program book is now available! To view the full schedule and abstracts please visit the Annual Meeting 2017 page HERE. For a preview of exclusive IQSA events, see below!

The IQSA Annual Meeting in Boston is scheduled to take place November 17-20, 2017 in conjunction with the SBL/AAR Annual Meetings. Registration is open at the SBL page HERE. Save big on registration by joining IQSA or renewing membership and registering for the Annual Meetings as an Affiliate Member. If you are not yet an IQSA member we encourage you to please join us HERE. Visit the following links for detailed instructions on registering for the Annual Meeting and/or IQSA Membership .


IQSA members will also enjoy the added benefits of full access to the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association and the monthly Review of Qur’anic Research, professional development opportunities, and more! Read about all membership benefits HERE.

Support IQSA’s work and the Annual Meeting through a tax-deductible contribution. All contributors will be formally recognized in Boston at the IQSA Reception on November 17, 2017.

We look forward to an exciting meeting of members and friends in Boston!


Preliminary Schedule: IQSA Events

You can now view the full schedule of IQSA events HERE.


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

Ninth SOAS Conference on the Qur’an: Call for Papers*

Proposals are invited for the Ninth SOAS Conference on the Qur’an: “The Qur’an: Text, Society And Culture,” to be held on 11-13 February 2016. The conference series, hosted by SOAS, University of London, seeks to address a basic question: How is the Qur’anic text read and interpreted? The goal is to encompass a global vision of current research trends, and to stimulate discussion, debate, and research on all aspects of the Qur’anic text and its interpretation and translation. While the conference will remain committed to the textual study of the Qur’an and the religious, intellectual, and artistic activity that developed around it and drew on it, contributions on all topics relevant to Qur’anic studies are welcomed. Attention will also be given to literary, cultural, politico-sociological, and anthropological studies relating to the Qur’an.

The primary conference language is English, but papers may be presented in English or Arabic. Further information on the conference series is available on the SOAS Centre of Islamic Studies site HERE. The submission deadline for abstracts is 24 August 2015. 

* Text adopted from the official CFP available on the SOAS website.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2015. All rights reserved.

International Qur’an Conference: “Recent Trends in Qur’anic Studies”

by Mun’im Sirry

cropped-header1.jpgIQSA and State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, are co-hosting an international conference on “Recent Trends in Qur’anic Studies,” to be held in Yogyakarta on 4-7 August 2015.

This international Qur’an conference will be a forum where the Islamic tradition and rigorous academic study of the Qur’an will meet, and various approaches to the Qur’an will be critically discussed. In the spirit of learning from, and enriching, one another, we are working on a conference that will introduce our unique model of collaboration between IQSA and UIN Sunan Kalijaga to enhance the field of Qur’anic studies.

Over the last few decades, Qur’anic studies emerged as an exciting and vibrant field of research among scholars both in the West and in the Muslim-majority countries. This is evident not only in the flurry of books and articles that deal with the Qur’an and in the convening of various workshops and seminars on the subject, but also in the controversies that this field engenders. Diverse methodologies are currently applied to Qur’anic studies, and various issues are raised. Some of these methodologies and issues are new discoveries, while others revive older researches. As a result, many assumptions that for years have been taken for granted are now under rigorous scrutiny and often disputed to such an extent that, as Fred Donner has rightly noted, the field of Qur’anic studies seems today “to be in a state of disarray,” in the sense that there is little consensus among scholars. Questions such as the milieu within which the Qur’an emerged, the Qur’an’s relation to the Biblical tradition, its chronology, textual integration, and literary features are hotly debated today.

This international conference aims to explore major methodological and thematic issues in recent scholarly studies of the Qur’an in different parts of the world. We also wish to engage in scholarly conversations about the possibility of collaborative works to enhance the field of Qur’anic studies by bringing together scholars who may have little other chance to directly interact. There clearly needs to be closer collaboration among scholars of different perspectives and backgrounds. Rather than deepening conflicting approaches to the Qur’an, these scholars will explore the extent to which they may learn from one another in terms of methodological/hermeneutical approaches as they will also address current issues being debated in the field.

Among scholars in the field who will participate in the conference, to mention a few names (in alphabetical order), are: Fred Donner, Ali Mabrouk, Daniel Madigan, Jane McAuliffe, Gabriel Reynolds, Andrew Rippin, Abdullah Saeed, Nayla Tabbara, along with Indonesian scholars such as Amin Abdullah, Noorhaidi Hasan, Moch. Nur Ichwan, Syafaatun el-Mirzanah, Yusuf Rahman, Quraish Shihab, Sahiron Syamsuddin.

If you are interested in presenting your research on any of the following topics, please send your abstract (250 words) to Mun’im Sirry (

Possible topics:

  1. Critical Approaches to the Qur’an
  2. Qur’anic Milieu
  3. Intertextuality: The Qur’an and the Biblical tradition
  4. The Qur’an and Other Religions
  5. Re-assessing the Exegetical Tradition of the Qur’an
  6. Modern Trends in the Tafsir Tradition
  7. The Indigenization of the Qur’an: Is there an Indonesian Tafsir

Please note that abstracts, papers and presentation must be in English.

Important Dates:

  • Deadline for submission of abstract: November 1, 2014
  • Notification of acceptance: November 15, 2014
  • Confirmation of attendance: December 1, 2014
  • Submission of full paper: June 1, 2015
  • Conference dates: August 4-7, 2015

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2014. All rights reserved.

CFP: International Conference on “Religions and Political Values”*

The Adyan Foundation, in partnership with the Lebanese American University (LAU), invites papers for a two-day conference on “Religions and Political Values,” to be held at LAU’s Byblos campus, 26-28 November 2014.

scholars in library_maqamat haririResponding to widespread interest in a values-based paradigm for engaging religions in the public domain, the goal of the conference is to create a forum for diverse sectors of society to reflect on how political values are defined and activated in Muslim and Christian discourses, and to explore and promote dialogue about these values across diverse worldviews. In so doing, the conference seeks to put recent scholarship in the humanities and social sciences in direct conversation with social-political and scriptural theologies, in Christianity and Islam specifically, and to confront questions and recommendations from public leaders and policy makers.

The conference will be conducted in English and Arabic. The deadline for abstract submissions is 1 September 2014. For more details and submission instructions, you can download the full call in PDF here: CFP: Religions and Political Values.

* Thanks to Nayla Tabbara, Director of Cross-Cultural Studies at Adyan, for sharing this CFP.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2014. All rights reserved.