Review of Qur’anic Research, Vol. 6 no. 2 (2020)

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In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (vol. 6, no.2), Sidney H. Griffith (The Catholic University of America)  reviews Holger M. Zellentin’s (ed.), The Qur’an’s Reformation of Judaism and Christianity: Return to the Origins (London & New York: Routledge, 2019).

6.2In his review, Griffith writes “The title of this important collection of scholarly articles already gives away the hypothesis the editor intends the dozen, first rate studies of qurʾānic passages included in the volume to commend. Namely, the view that one might best understand the Arabic scripture’s relationship with contemporary Judaism and Christianity by recognizing, as he says, “the Qur’an’s attempt to reform rather than to replace the religion of the Jews and the Christians of its time.” (3). This characterization of the Qurʾān’s purpose is already debatable, albeit that one readily recognizes that the text does envision the continuing existence of the “Scripture People” within its purview, whose beliefs and practices are nevertheless criticized and whose social well-being is subjected to demeaning restrictions (Q al-Tawbah 9:29). The problem is that in several Medinan passages the Qurʾān explicitly distinguishes between “Those who believe, those who practice Judaism, and the Nazarenes (i.e., the Christians)” (Q al-Baqarah 2:62; Q al-Māʾidah 5:69; Q al-Ḥajj 22:17). It would seem that the Qurʾān really does commend replacement rather than just reformation on the basis of shared narratives. One suspects that in speaking of “reformation” in the present context, a term that readily suggests comparison with a major event in western Christianity of later times, the intention is to highlight the fact of the Qurʾān’s dialogue with Jews and Christians in the milieu of its origins, and to suggest familiarity with Jewish and Christian narratives of shared biblical and non-biblical figures, which the Qurʾān re-configures to fit its own, differing construction of revelatory meaning…

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, 2020. 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.

 

Two Free Online Courses on the Qur’an

Contributor: Holger Zellentin

We are excited to announce two new initiatives presenting the Qur’an in between Judaism and Christianity: a new MOOC starting January 15, 2018, and the immediate online publication of a related lecture series. Both projects were sponsored by the British Academy, the University of Nottingham and the Karimia Institute, and convened by Holger Zellentin (University of Cambridge) and Jon Hoover (University of Nottingham).

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About a year ago, we sought to bring cutting-edge research on the Qur’an in its relationship to Judaism and to Christianity to the broader public. In order to reflect the growing sense of a scholarly consensus in the field, we invited a number of outstanding scholars to present their research in Nottingham: Omar Ali-de-Unzaga (The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London), Mehdi Azaiez (Katholieke Universiteit Levuven), Harith bin Ramli (Cambridge Muslim College), Islam Dayeh (Free University of Berlin), Emran El-Badawi (University of Houston), Dirk Hartwig (Free University, Berlin), Asma Hilali (now Université de Lille), Marianna Klar (School of Oriental and African Studies), Shuruq Naguib (University of Lancaster), Gabriel Said Reynolds (Notre Dame University), Lena Salaymeh (University of Tel Aviv), Walid Saleh (University of Toronto), Nora K Schmid (Free University of Berlin), and Nicolai Sinai (University of Oxford) joined the organizers.

The lectures were designed to engage the public in three ways. First, we teamed up with the Karimia Institute, a Muslim community and charity based in Nottingham under the guidance of Dr Musharraf Hussain al-Azhari OBE. Members of the community constituted the primary audience of the live lectures, and engaged the academics in a series of insightful, respectful and vivid discussions.

Secondly, we recorded all lectures and discussions in their entirety and have now published the lectures on a dedicated website. We believe that both the academic acumen of the lectures and the spirit of the discussions themselves will be a wonderful resource for scholars, students and community leaders across the world for many years to come. Please feel free to share the news.

Finally, Holger Zellentin and Jon Hoover have teamed up with Shuruq Naguib (University of Lancaster) and Rachel Dryden (University of Cambridge) in order to build an open online course based on the same lecture series. We selected especially relevant excerpts of the lectures and, with the generous assistance of the University of Nottingham and FutureLearn, we developed the materials into a proper MOOC. We promise it’s worth having a look at the teaser video here, where you can also sign up. The great thing about the course is that you can explore all of it for free, and with no obligation to do anything! All you have to do is sign up on FutureLearn, and, once the course is running, you can access all the materials for the period of one month. Should you like what you find, feel free to spread the word to your students, friends, colleagues, family- we have worked hard to make the complex materials accessible to the broadest possible public. We hope to run the course once every two years or so, so it will also be a resource for many years to come (but note that it will only be accessible for four-week intervals at a time).

Please let us know what you think about the course. In the meantime, have a happy, blessed, and hopeful 2018!

Here are the two websites once more:

https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/theology/research/quran-lecture-videos-2016.aspx

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/quran-judaism-and-christianity

Moreover, please note that beginning on February 19 (running for eight weeks) Gabriel Reynolds will be hosting a free MOOC through EdX entitled “Introduction to the Qur’an.”  This is the new and updated version of the course (which initially ran in 2015).  It is meant to provide a basic introduction to the academic study of the Qur’an and likewise includes lectures, discussion with scholars and religious leaders, and live interactive sessions.  For more information and to enrol visit:

https://www.edx.org/course/introduction-to-the-quran-the-scripture-of-islam

Prof. Reynolds and I have been in correspondence as we have developed these two open courses. We both think that they complement each other very well, and you might consider sharing, or even enrolling in both.

 

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

The Qur’an’s Legal Culture

In the latest installment of IQSA’s Review of Qur’anic Research 1, no. 5, Lev Weitz reviews Holger Zellentin, The Qurʾān’s Legal Culture (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013). In this book, Zellentin considers the apparent affinities between the Qur’an and the Didascalia Apostolorum, a late antique Syriac church order that took shape between the third and seventh centuries CE. The Didascalia records a significant number of the laws promulgated in the Qur’an, and the Didascalia’s legal narratives about the Israelites and Jesus, as well as the legal and theological vocabularies of its Syriac version, show kinship with the Arabic Qur’an. Zellentin argues that the legal tradition evident in the Didascalia was a key element of the “legal culture” of the Qur’an’s seventh-century milieu, and that the Qur’an’s own conception of a prophetically delivered, divine law for Gentiles emerged both in conversation with and against that precedent.

Full access to the Review of Qur’anic Research (RQR) is available in the members-only area of our IQSA website. Not an IQSA member? Join today to enjoy RQR and additional member benefits!

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

Nomination of President-Elect Now Open to IQSA Members

by Holger Zellentin, Chair of the IQSA Nominations Committee

All members of IQSA are encouraged to propose names for the position of the next IQSA President-Elect!

(alimabrouk.blogspot.com)

(alimabrouk.blogspot.com)

The Nominations Committee are now accepting nominations for the position. The next President-Elect will be elected in 2015 and, pending confirmation at next year’s Annual Meeting, will then serve as President-Elect in 2016 and as President of IQSA in 2017. Please send your nomination to contact@iqsaweb.org. 

Non-members interested in participating in the IQSA nomination process must first become members of IQSA by completing the online membership form (here), and then may submit their nominations by email to contact@iqsaweb.org.

Nominations for President-Elect must be received in advance of the Annual Meeting beginning on Friday 21 November. As a reminder, all IQSA members are welcome to attend the Business Meeting of this year’s Annual Meeting, which will take place on Sunday 23 November, 11:30-12:00, Room 24 C (Upper Level) in the San Diego Convention Center.

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

Call for Papers Highlight: The Qur’an and the Biblical Tradition

The International Qur’anic Studies Association welcomes paper proposals from all graduate students and scholars for its upcoming meeting in San Diego, CA, November 21-24. Submissions can be made under any of the five program units, listed here. Important guidelines regarding submission can be found below, as well as on the Annual Meeting page.

This week, we highlight the program unit titled “The Qur’an and the Biblical Tradition,“ chaired by Cornelia Horn and Holger Zellentin.

The focus of this unit, which will also host two panels at the November conference, is the Qur’an’s relationship to the Biblical tradition in the broadest sense. Thus the program unit chairs seek papers that engage the books of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament in the various languages of their original composition and later translations (regardless of a particular book’s status of canonization within specific Jewish or Christian groups); the exegetical traditions of the Bible; and the homiletic, narrative, and legal corpora that have developed in close dialogue with this Biblical tradition prior to the emergence of the Qur’an and subsequently in exchange with the Qur’an.

The first panel will be co-sponsored by the SBL Syriac Literature and Interpretations of Sacred Texts section. For it, proposals are encouraged that engage the Qur’an’s dialogue with any aspect of the Biblical tradition. Examples of possible emphases include the role of Syriac homilies by authors such as Jacob of Serugh or Philoxenos of Mabbug and the role of the Ethiopic tradition.

For the second panel, proposals should address methodological questions pertinent to the study of the literary shape of the Qur’an─both on its own terms and in relation to other written and oral texts.

Proposals should include a title and an abstract of approximately 400 words. For further detail see here.

Important Notes about Proposing a Paper for IQSA 2014

* IQSA is an independent learned society, although our meeting overlaps with those of SBL and AAR.  In order to attend IQSA 2014, membership in IQSA and registration for the SBL/AAR conference will be necessary. (The first day of the IQSA conference, however, will be open to the general public).

* All interested students and scholars may submit a proposal through SBL’s website, here. Scroll down to the “Affiliate” section, then click on the chosen IQSA program unit name. [Look in particular for the “(IQSA)” indication at the end of the unit titles]. Instructions for those with and without SBL membership can be found by clicking through to these individual program unit pages.

* Details on low-cost membership in IQSA will be published on the IQSA blog in Spring 2014. Make sure you are subscribed!

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

“Fragmentation and Compilation” Workshop at the Institute for Ismaili Studies, London

By Holger Zellentin

This past week, an exciting conversation took place at the Institute for Ismaili Studies in London. The event was convened by one of the Institute’s researchers, Dr. Asma Hilali, who brought together a broad range of researchers in Qur’anic studies. The workshop was the second installment in a series titled “Fragmentation and Compilation,” which seeks to explore the difficult conceptualization of partial transmission and re-arrangement of various “particles” relating to the Qur’an. Among the elements considered in terms of their fragmentation and subsequent compilation were sketches of individual Qur’anic verses and their arrangement within the Qur’an (and beyond), Qur’anic reading instructions and textual variants, and the role of Jewish literary frameworks and exegetical traditions in our understanding of the Qur’an. Presentations were given on material evidence such as: the Ṣan‘ā’ palimpsest (Asma Hilali), early Qur’anic graffiti from Arabia (Frédéric Imbert), the various voices used in Qur’anic discourse (Mehdi Azaiez), the Qur’an’s integration of Jewish exegetical topoi (Holger Zellentin), and on the compositional features of Tafsir collections (Stephen Burge).

Photo by Frédéric Imbert

Photo by Frédéric Imbert

The presenters’ initially distinct points of departure were united by more than their common focus on the text of the Qur’an. Aziz Al-Azmeh served as a brilliant and erudite discussant, probing the theses and turning the focus of the public discussion towards one overarching topic: the palpability of both unity and dynamism within the Qur’anic text, in its traditional form as well as in its various early iterations. The discussion among the presenters and the notable guests (such as François Déroche, Gerald Hawting, and Hermann Landolt) explored two topics in particular. The first constituted the possibilities and challenges inherent to integrating a study of Qur’anic manuscripts with a study of the Arabian Qur’anic graffitis from the first two centuries after the Hijra. Adjacent foci here were the dating of the earliest graffitis; the importance of the Parisino-Petropolitanus codex from Fusṭāṭ (Ms. Arabe 328); and the difficulties pertaining to the carbon-dating, the palaeography, and the reconstruction of the Ṣan‘ā’ 1 palimpsest. Secondly, the discussion repeatedly returned to the limits and imperatives of considering a basic chronology of the Qur’an, and the need to differentiate between the development of micro- and macroforms: i.e. between individual stories or traditions and the Surahs as a whole. A more objective way of establishing an inner Qur’anic chronology, it was suggested, is perhaps the increasingly precise tracing of the relatively pointed appearance of Syriac and Rabbinic literary form and content in specific Surahs.

More than a few doctoral theses are yet to be written covering even the most basic preliminaries connecting the material evidence of the text with its relationship to Late Antiquity. The conference was framed by a discussion of the state of the field of Qur’anic studies, and included a presentation of recent research projects housed in Berlin, Notre Dame, and Nottingham. Overall, the open atmosphere and spirit of respectful inquiry was a great success for the organizer and the hosting institution. Those who have missed the event will be able to read the proceedings in a publication edited by Dr. Hilali.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2013. All rights reserved.