Tenth SOAS Qur’ān Conference, November 9 – 10, 2018, London

Around a hundred delegates met in London from November 9 – 10, 2018 for the Tenth SOAS Qur’ān Conference. The conference theme was “Text, Translation and Culture” and featured presentations in both English and Arabic. SOAS LIBRARY, BLOOMSBURY

The conference began with an opening address by Professor Abdel Haleem, who first established the conference. The first morning featured two panels on qur’ānic rhetoric, which included papers by Adam Flowers (Chicago), on The qur’ānic Exhortation, Salwa El-Awa (Swansea), on Discourse Markers as Indicators of Text and Structure in the Multiple-topic qur’ānic Suras: A Meta-analysis of Q. 2, Thomas Hoffmann (Copenhagen), on A Qur’anic Self-Deconstruction? Q. 20:113 and Mamoon Abdelhalim Wagih (Fayoum University), on ‘أثر النحو العربي في خدمة النص القرآني’ (The Role of Arabic Grammar in Understanding and Interpreting the qur’ānic Text). 

After coffee, Rachel Claire Dryden (Cambridge) discussed The Typology of Rain and Other Weather-Related Phenomena in the Qur’ān, Johanne Louise Christiansen (Copenhagen) examined How to be Deliberately Vague: On the Rhetorical Strategy of Vagueness in the Qurʾān and Ulrika Mårtensson (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) analysed Between mustaqīm and mukhliṣ: ‘Covenant’ as a Linguistic and Rhetorical Analysis of the Canon’s Composition and Key Concepts. The first morning’s session concluded with a presentation by Professor Haleem himself on Sūrat al-Mulk, Q 67: Reading the Qur’an According to its balāgha: ‘ḥaqqa tilāwatihi’. 

In the afternoon, a panel on qur’ānic reception featured Mirina Paananen (Oxford), who discussed Taghannī or not taghannī? Ibn al-Jazarī on the Musical Recitation of the Qurʾān, Suleyman Dost(Brandeis), who examined The Rise and Fall of a Genre: The maṣāḥif Books in Context. Under the broader theme of qur’ānic theology, Livnat Holtzman (Bar-Ilan University), presented on The Rhetorical Aspect of āyāt al-ṣifāṭ: The Ashʿarite Prohibition of Gestures and the Ultra-Traditionalistic Response (12th–14th Centuries), Oliver Leaman (Kentucky), asked Is the Ethics of the Qur’an Utilitarian? and Ramon Harvey (Ebrahim College), discussed Al-Māturīdī on Abrogation of the sharīʿa in the Qur’an and Previous Scriptures. 

Day two of the conference continued with presentations on contemporary approaches to the Qur’ān by Todd Lawson (Toronto), who spoke about The Qur’an and the Shaykhiyya, Walid Saleh (Toronto), who discussed The Encyclopaedia of Tradition-based Qur’an Commentary and Sohaib Saeed (Glasgow), who examined Qurʾān Citations in Qurʾān Exegeses: A Case Study of Sūrat al-Anʿām (Q. 6) and a panel on tafsir, which included presentations by Ahmad Al-Dubayan (ICCUK), ‘نقد منهج المعالجة اللغوية لدى محمد شحرور’ (Linguistic Methodology of Muhammad Shahrur), and Ahmed Bouaoud (Université Abdelmalek Essaadi), ‘القرآن والتاريخ بحث في أطروحة أنجليكا نويفيرت حول تاريخ النص القرآني’ (Qur’ān and History: Angelika Neuwirth’s Thesis on the History of the Qur’anic Text). 

The afternoon sessions focused on different aspects of qur’ānic translation: Nàdia Petrus Pons (Autonomous University of Barcelona) discussed the Transmission and Survival of Mark of Toledo’s Latin Qur’an translation, Nora S Eggen (Oslo), analysed Modality in translations of the Qur’ān and Shawkat M. Toorawa (Yale), examined Ḥaqqa tilāwatihiDoing the Qur’an justice in English translation. 

The theme of qur’ānic translation continued with presentations on The Qur’ān in Non-Western Languages such as that by Johanna Pink (Freiburg), on Joseph and the Tiger, Mary and the Angel: What we can learn from Javanese Qur’an Translation, M. Brett Wilson (CEU/Macalester College), on The Poet of Islam’s Translation of the Qur’an and Philipp Bruckmayr (Vienna), which was entitled From Manuscripts to Printed Editions: The Translation of the Qurʼān into Indochinese Languages. 

The conference concluded with some closing remarks by Professor Abdel Haleem. Many thanks to the SOAS Qur’ān conference team for organizing such a successful conference. 

 

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

 

Details from Denver: 2018 Annual Meeting Conference Report

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The sixth Annual Meeting of the International Qur’anic Studies Association was held in Denver this year from November 16-19, concurrent with the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature. This year once again provided an opportunity for scholars from across the academic world to come together to exchange new ideas and continue ongoing conversations on the Qur’an, the milieu from which it emerged, and the exegetical discussions which it inspired.

Emran_Gab_RecepThe first panel of the weekend, chaired by Alba Fedeli, focused on the topics of accessibility and interpretation as they relate to Qur’anic manuscripts. The early history of the Qur’an, as indicated by manuscript evidence, was a recurring theme, including the import of the Sana‘a palimpsest, the role of orthography, and interlinguistic connections. Participants also considered the role of digital technology in opening up new paths for manuscript studies and the relevance of these tools for the Qur’an in particular. The day was capped off by a lively general reception for IQSA members.

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Saturday was the first full day of talks, beginning with a panel on linguistic and literary perspectives on the Qur’anic text. The ambit of this discussion ranged from specific words (Shawkat Toorawa on awtād) to broader concepts (Saqib Hussain on ḥikma) to linguistic context (Marijn van Putten on the lack of Syriac borrowing in the Qur’an) to theoretical frameworks (Joseph Lowry on a ‘nomochronic’ assessment of the Qur’an’s normativity). After a luncheon which brought together senior scholars and graduate students, the afternoon featured an important and lively panel discussion on the topic of bias, representation, and the importance of diverse perspectives in Qur’anic studies. The panel highlighted both the work already undertaken to widen the scope of the field and significant improvements that have yet to be made. The day closed with a panel on manuscripts and commentaries, which featured Iskandar Bcheiry’s consideration of the Arabic and Syriac manuscript resources of the St. Lazarus monastery in Venice, along with Hacı Osman Gündüz discussing the concept of ṣarfa in al-Nāshiʾ al-Akbar’s poetry and Sheza Alqera considering the importance of oral context in an understanding of manuscripts.

Eleonore_PalimspsestThe third day of the conference was again full of panels, kicking off with a morning session on ways of contextualizing the Qur’an. Sarah Schwarz and Tommaso Tesei focused on the relevance of a Jewish background, respectively discussing Solomonic power and 4 Ezra 7. David Powers revisited the question of Zayd, Zaynab, and Muhammad, and how to understand the historicity of the traditional story combining those three figures. Finally, Johanne Louise Christiansen presented a summary of Roy Rappaport’s contributions to system theory and considered its relevance to studying the Qur’an. The theme of the Qur’an’s place within the Biblical tradition continued in the afternoon, with talks focusing on Hārūt and Mārūt from a comparative perspective (Rachel Claire Dryden), the polemical understanding of accusations of God’s poverty in Q. 3:181 (Shari L. Lowen), the theme of prophetic protection and Satanic utterances (Holger Zellentin), and the connection of Joseph to the rhetoric of clothing in the Qur’an (Sarra Tlili). The evening session completed the day’s emphasis on placing the Qur’an in a Late Antique world of literary and religious influences. Stephen Burge considered the interreligious rhetoric of fasting, while David Vishanoff discussed the tradition of an Islamic psalter, and Stuart Langley compared Q. 7:179, Isaiah 6:10, and Matthew 13:15.

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Monday, the last day of talks, brought together themes ranging from hermeneutics to genre theory to the Arabian context of the rise of Islam. In the morning set of presentations, Gabriel Said Reynolds offered thoughts on the problem of Qur’anic insertions, followed by Thomas Hoffman reflecting on a materialist understanding of the Qur’an’s iconicity and Johanna Pink considering the evolution of the term ṣabr between medieval and modern exegesis. The afternoon featured IQSA’s annual session on Sūra Studies, which this year was dedicated to the group of sūras known collectively as the Musabbiḥāt (Q. 57, 59, 61, 62, and 64). Both Adam Flowers and Karim Samji focused on genre as a method of understanding this grouping, while Andrew J. O’Connor spoke about the function of prophetic authority within them. Finally, the weekend concluded with another set of talks looking at the Qur’an through the broad lens of Late Antiquity. Four discussants considered a wide-ranging set of topics, including the Greco-Roman image of Arabia (Karen L. Carducci), the topos of Trinitarian deities between Arabian religion and the Qur’an (Emran El-Badawi), the long history of camel sacrifice (Brannon Wheeler), and the attestations of earliest Islam extant in Anastasius of Sinai (Stephen J. Shoemaker).

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This year’s Annual Meeting was one of IQSA’s most outstanding yet, packed with excellent presentations across the board and consistently high attendance. It was exhilarating as always to see the flourishing of new perspectives within the world of Qur’anic scholarship as well as the always impressive level of academic rigor exemplified by all of this year’s speakers. We look forward to moving from the shadow of the Rocky Mountains this year to the sunny shoresof the Pacific for next year’s meeting, and hope to see faces both familiar and new there!

By Conor Dube (Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University)

© 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.

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 secondcairoconference@gmail.com

 

*Content and images courtesy of http://arts.cu.edu.eg/  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.

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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 .

BOSTON

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.