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

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.

Save the Date – Friday, November 22

By Emran El-Badawi

Last December IQSA announced its first annual meeting to be held in Baltimore this November. We are now happy to share with you the details of our meeting’s exciting first day. Those planning to attend should keep in mind that the first day of our meeting will be on Friday, November 22 (i.e. one day before the start of both AAR and SBL, which begin on November 23).

Baltimore, MD (

Baltimore, MD (

Our program on Friday will include a panel on Qur’an manuscripts as well as the much anticipated keynote lecture by Prof. Aziz al-Azmeh, and an insightful response from Prof. Jane Dammen McAuliffe. A reception with food and refreshments will immediately follow. See below for a more detailed schedule, and look for further details concerning the rest of our Baltimore meeting soon.

November 22, 2013 (FRIDAY)

Panel – Qur’an Manuscripts: Text, Object and Usage

1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Gabriel Said Reynolds, University of Notre Dame, Chair

Keith Small, London School of Theology

  • Gems of the Bodleian: Qur’an Manuscripts at Oxford University

Simon Rettig, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery–Smithsonian Institution

  • Codicology versus History of Art? Rethinking the Visual Study of Qur’an Manuscripts

Alasdair Watson, Bodleian Libraries

  • The King’s Mushafs: A Glimpse at Some of the Qur’ans from Tīpū Sulṭān’s Royal Library

Asma Hilali, Institute of Ismaili Studies

  • The manuscript 27.1 DAM: Sacred words and words about the sacred

Keynote Lecture – Implausibility and Probability in Studies of Qur’anic Origins

4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.

Emran El-Badawi, University of Houston, Introduction

Aziz al-Azmeh, Central European University, Keynote Speaker

Implausibility and Probability in Studies of Qur’anic Origins: On the assumption that an answer is only as good as the question posed, the lecture will address trends in the present state of studies of the origins and composition of the received Qur’anic text, by challenging questionable assumptions and exploring promising avenues for future research. It will consider certain physical—textual and codicological—features of the Paleo-Muslim Qur’anic text and a number of historical reports, in order to propose a model for the process of its constitution, composition and circulation prior to and up to the constitution of the literary canon. In so doing, the lecture will adopt a perspective rather more attentive to historical and socio-linguistic processes than to purely philological consideration.

Jame Dammen McAuliffe, Bryn Mawr College, Respondent

Reception – Details TBA

Professor Aziz al-Azmeh (

Professor Aziz al-Azmeh (

Aziz al-Azmeh is CEU University Professor in the School of Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies, Central European University, Budapest. He has been a long-term fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin, and a fellow at: the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies, Uppsala; the Collegium Budapest; the Rockefeller Center for Scholars, Bellagio; and the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris. He was a visiting professor at Columbia, Yale, Georgetown, and the University of California, Berkeley. Among his books in English are Ibn Khaldun (1982), Arabic Thought and Islamic Societies (1986), Muslim Kingship (1997), The Times of History (2007),  A History of Islam in Late Antiquity: Allah and His People (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming) and Arabic Literary Sources and the Religious and Ethnographic History of the Arabs in Late Antiquity (Harrassowitz, forthcoming).

Professor Jane Dammen McAuliffe (

Professor Jane Dammen McAuliffe (

Jane Dammen McAuliffe is a scholar of the Qur’an and Muslim-Christian relations who served as President of Bryn Mawr College (2008-2013) and Dean of Arts and Sciences at Georgetown University (1999-2008). Her publications include Qur’anic Christians: An Analysis of Classical and Modern Exegesis (Cambridge University Press, 1991), Abbasid Authority Affirmed (SUNY Press, 1995), With Reverence for the Word (Oxford University Press, 2002; paperback 2010), the six-volume Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an (Brill Publishers, 2001-2006), The Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and the forthcoming Norton Anthology of World Religions and Norton Critical Edition of the Qur’an.

McAuliffe’s research has been supported by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. She has served on the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims and was a long-standing member of Building Bridges, an international interfaith meeting convened annually by the Archbishop of Canterbury from 2002 to 2012.  In 2004 she served as the elected president of the American Academy of Religion. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the Council on Foreign Relations. McAuliffe received a Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Toronto, and a B.A. from Trinity College (Washington, DC).

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

Some Prominent Women Qur’an Scholars

By Emran El-Badawi

Qur’anic Studies is, now more than ever, a discipline wherein women scholars have demonstrated groundbreaking expertise and leadership.

In the western academy especially, Muslim and Non-Muslim women have helped give shape to the discipline itself. Among the former are scholars like Ingrid Mattson, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and author of The story of the Qurʼan: its history and place in Muslim life and Amina Wadud, whose Qurʼan and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective, explores the intersection between Gender and Qur’anic Exegesis. The latter includes Jane Dammen McAuliffe, author of Qur’anic Christians: An Analysis of Classical and Modern Exegesis and editor of preeminent, standard Qur’an reference works like Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an and the Cambridge Companion to the Qur’an. Included in the latter category as well is Angelika Neuwirth, director of the Corpus Coranicum, as well as author and editor of landmark publications including Der Koran als Text der SpätantikeThe Qur’an in Context: Historical and Literary Investigations into the Qur’anic Milieu; and several others. Jacqueline Chabbi, similarly, has authored a number of important works on the Qur’an, most notably Le coran décrypté : Figures bibliques en Arabie, préface d’André Caquo.

Among Qur’an translators—most of whom are still men—a handful of women have distinguished themselves and built bridges between the western academy and those in Islamic societies, including Iran. Among them are Laleh Bakhtiar, author of The Sublime Qur’an, and the late poet Tahere Saffarzadeh (d. 2008) who authored The Holy Qur’an English and Perisan Translation with Commentary. In the Arab world the work of Olfa Youssef–author of Le Coran au risque de la psychanalyse— and Asma Hilali continue to both shape and enrich the discipline.

The expertise and leadership demonstrated by women scholars in Qur’anic Studies is perhaps demonstrated best in two recent talks delivered at the Qur’an Seminar, and ongoing conference at the University of Notre Dame co-directed by Mehdi Azaiez and Gabriel Reynolds. Below are the video of the talks delivered by two eminent scholars: Nayla Tabbara (Adyan Foundation, Lebanon) and Maryam Mosharraf (Shahid Beheshti University, Iran).


Lecture of Nayla Tabbara Director of Cross-Cultural Studies Department (Adyan Foundation, Lebanon) “The Qur’ān and Muslim-Christian relations” ; December 6, 2012


Maryam Mosharraf Associate Professor of Persian Language and Literature (Shahid Beheshti University, Iran)“The Qur’ān and Islamic Mysticism”; December 7, 2012

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2012. All rights reserved.