Read, Write, and Share Commentaries on Qur’an 3:1-7 

Read, Write, and Share Commentaries on Qur’an 3:1-7 

Photo by Habib M'henniThe Qurʾan Seminar invites you to add your own commentaries on a new selected passage of the Qur’an: Q. 3 :1-7. The Qurʾan Seminar, organized by IQSA, is dedicated to collaborative study of selected passages that are significant for understanding major themes and structures of the Qur’anic text. Contributors are encouraged to address the Qur’an directly and to not rely on classical exegesis as a lens through which to view the text. Of particular interest to the discussion are the following questions:

  1. The structure of the Qur’an (its logical, rhetorical, and literary qualities, or naẓm)
  1. The Qur’an’s intertextual relationships (with both Biblical and other literary traditions)
  1. The Qur’an’s historical context in Late Antiquity

Access to Qur’an Seminar is open to IQSA members only. To become a member, click HERE. Once you are a member, you can access the Qur’an Seminar website:

  1. Go to
  1. Click on Log in / Sign up
  1. As a member of IQSA, fulfill the required field under Have an account? Sign in and then, click on Login.
  1. Click on “All passages selected”
  1. Click on Āl ʿImrān 3, 1-7

The Qur’an Seminar website has two principal elements. First, the website includes a database of passages of the Qur’an with commentaries from a range of scholars. This database is meant to be a resource for students and specialists of the Qur’an alike. The commentaries may be quoted and referenced by citing the corresponding URL.

Second, the website includes an active forum in which additional Qur’anic passages are discussed. At regular intervals the material on the forum will be saved and moved to the database, and new passages will be presented for discussion on the forum. As a rule, the passages selected for discussion are meant to be long enough to raise a variety of questions for discussion, but short enough to lend that discussion coherence.

If you have any questions, please write to

We hope you will enjoy the content and consider contributing!

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

Scriptural Hermeneutics in Sunni Muslim Juristic Thought

misquoting muhammad coverIn the latest installment of IQSA’s Review of Qur’anic Research 1, no. 3, Mohamad Ballan (University of Chicago) reviews Jonathan A. C. Brown’s ambitious new book, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choice of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy (London: Oneworld, 2014), which explores the relationship between the Qurʾan and Ḥadīth and the various subjective ways that Sunni ʿulamāʾ in medieval and modern times have selectively appropriated the scriptures in their debates.

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.

Traditional and Modern Qur’anic Hermeneutics in Comparative Perspective

by Adis Duderija*

Recent decades have witnessed the emergence of groundbreaking scholarship in Qur’anic hermeneutics, including the works of Hasan Hanafi, Nasir Abu Zayd, Abdolkarim Soroush, Amina Wadud, and Khaled Abou El Fadl, to name but a few. One of the benefits of this growth in scholarship is that it highlights the complexities of the theories and methods in the field.

Cover of Duderija, Constructing a Religiously Ideal Believer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

Cover of Duderija, Constructing a Religiously Ideal Believer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

In my Ph.D. dissertation, completed in 2010 and published in 2011, I offer a comparative examination of these complexities and their implications in both traditional and modern Qur’anic scholarship, and delineate the epistemological and methodological tendencies that distinguish modern and traditional approaches with respect to the following seven key criteria.

  1. The Nature of Language and the Nature of Revelation

Traditional approaches to interpreting the Qur’an are heavily philological, with interpretations largely restricted to observable linguistic features of the Qur’an text. According to this methodology, readers retrieve the text’s meaning through analysis of the Arabic grammar, syntax, and morphology. At the same time, the Qur’an text is considered as the verbatim Word of God essentially different from human language. Moreover, its meaning is completely independent of the psychological make-up of the Prophet Muhammad and his prophetic experience. Qur’anic language is thus considered to be operating outside of history and possessed of a fixed meaning that is, in principle, not dependent on human modes of perception and analysis.

Modern approaches recognize that the Qur’an’s language is, at least for exegetical purposes, socio-culturally contingent, and its meaning necessarily operates within the framework of human perception and analysis. The nature of revelation, moreover, is closely intertwined with the mind and the phenomenological experience of the Prophet Muhammad. The interpretational implications are that the Qur’anic text has a historical dimension and that its meaning is conditioned by the cultural contexts in which it was revealed and is read.

  1. The Location and Breadth of Meaning


When interpreting a text, one may posit that the meaning of the text is primarily determined either by the intent of the author, by the form of the text itself, or by the perception of the reader. Furthermore, one may hold that readers are either able to fully recover the meaning intended by the author, or to only approximate the intended meaning.

Traditional approaches largely consider that readers can perceive authorial intent and recover some objective meaning of the text. Since the meaning of the text is fixed, the role of the reader in determining or influencing meaning is minimal. Belief in the objective existence of meaning in the mind of the author, which is readily accessible in a similarly objective fashion to the reader, contributes to the idea that there is only one correct interpretation of the text.

Modern hermeneutical approaches maintain that readers cannot recover authorial intent in a completely objective fashion. Rather, readers with their socio-cultural backgrounds, educations, moral inclinations, etc., actively participate in producing the text’s meaning(s), which can only approximate authorial intent but can never completely and objectively capture it. While the text is fixed in its form, its meaning is not fixed by the author. Even if the text’s meaning is considered static and monovalent, the significance of its meaning is contextually dependent and liable to change. Thus the text can sustain a large number of interpretations. However, to curb unreasonable or unpopular interpretations, some hermeneuticists have recourse to the concept of “communities of interpretation”—groups of readers who share similar cultural perspectives, values, and hermeneutical principles—to argue that the validity of interpretations is relative to, and limited by, the assumptions that characterize such communities.

  1. The Relationship between Text and Context

Traditional philological hermeneutics tends to marginalize the historical context in which the Qur’an text was revealed. Although there is recognition of the historical character and development of the Qur’an when speaking of “occasions of revelation” (asbab al-nuzul) and “abrogation” (naskh), there are no clear hermeneutical models for fully integrating and utilizing these aspects in interpreting the language of the Qur’an. To the extent that historical context is considered, traditional philologists do not systematically distinguish between historical and ahistorical dimensions of meaning to the text. As a result, there is a strong tendency to universalize a historically particular meaning.Photo by Habib M'henni

By contrast, modern hermeneuticists emphasize how the historical context in which the Qur’an text was revealed significantly influenced the text’s form and meaning, and how the historical frames of reference and cultural norms of the text’s initial audience informed their understanding of the nature of the Qur’anic text and its meaning.

  1. Textual Coherence

The Qur’an text was revealed orally over a period of some two decades, and the process of its canonization took decades more. The canonical order of Qur’anic sūrahs does not appear to be governed by chronology; nor does it appear to be governed by theme, as references to themes are often dispersed throughout the Qur’an. Traditional exegetes downplay the essentially oral and kerygmatic nature of the revelation and mainly take a word-by-word segmental and sequential analysis of the canonical text. Thus this approach fails to fully appreciate the Qur’an’s thematic coherence.

cropped-header1.jpgMany modern exegetes recognize the interconnectedness of Qur’anic concepts and themes and undertake a holistic and corroborative-inductive approach to interpreting the Qur’an, based not only on insights stemming from the traditional scholarly principles of conceptual/textual chaining (munāsaba) and corroborative induction (istiqrā’), but also on modern linguistics approaches to textual coherence, sequentiality, and progression. Understanding a Qur’anic concept requires analyzing all relevant passages throughout the text and synthesizing them within a larger thematic framework. The task of interpretation is to discover a “comprehensive constant.”

  1. The Role of Reason in Ethico-Legal Interpretations of the Qur’an

Traditional exegetes heavily restrict the role of reason to its analogical form, so that all ethico-legal interpretations must be linked to textual evidence. If there is no directly pertinent text, then every effort is made to identify an indirectly pertinent text with a common underlying principle and to interpret it in light of its significance to the new case. The underlying assumptions are that ethico-legal knowledge must always derive from revelation and that humans cannot know what is ethically or legally right by independent reason. From this perspective, many exegetes infer a legalistic dimension to all of the Qur’an, so that even those Qur’anic exhortations that could be seen as broadly ethical or didactic are interpreted as positive legal injunctions.



Modern exegetes, on the other hand, emphasize the importance of reason in interpreting the Qur’an and consider the Qur’an itself to be constitutive of reason. Inasmuch as human reason can independently make ethical judgments, the function of revelation is to remind people of  their ethical obligations. Contrary to the traditional legalistic approach, they consider that the Qur’an is primarily ethico-religious in its concern, and that its legal aspects are peripheral to its broader ethical vision and subject to change as societal conditions change. Thus legal interpretations of the Qur’an ought to evolve with evolving ethical values by means of reason—keeping in mind, however, that Islamic ethics is firmly anchored in a Qur’anic religious cosmology.

  1. Interpreting Universal Principles of the Qur’an

All of the aforementioned aspects of traditional hermeneutics make for a rather limited understanding of the Qur’an when it comes to its embodiment of basic ethical values, such as justice and equality, and its underlying objectives, such facilitating public welfare and promoting the common good. On the other hand, all of the aspects of modern hermeneutics contribute to a broader intepretational concern to realize such principle values and objectives.

  1. The Conception of the Prophetic Sunna

It is widely held in Islamic tradition that the prophetic sunnah enjoys exegetical supremacy over independent rational methods, and moreover that this sunnah is entirely and solely embodied in sound Hadith texts. Thus for traditional exegetes, recourse to the sunnah as an exegetical device is necessarily constitutive of, and constrained by, the textual corpus of Hadith. One noteworthy implication of this textual conception of sunnah is that interpretive reasoning, while to some extent important in selecting and evaluating individual hadith reports, is not constitutive of the concept of sunnah itself as an exegetical device.

In contrast, modern exegetes tend to hold a more meta-textual conception of the prophetic sunnah, more in line with how sunnah was understood in the early Islamic era, which does not conflate the concept of sunnah with the concept of Hadith as text. Thus in addition to the traditional Hadith sciences, modern exegetes employ several additional methodological mechanisms to distinguish the prophetic sunnah, the details of which cannot be fully addressed here.

Hopefully this blog post helps to demonstrate the complexity of Qur’anic hermeneutics and the importance for scholars of religion and the Qur’an to be aware of the critical implications of distinct hermeneutical approaches for determining what is a normative “Qur’anic position” on any particular legal, political, or ethical issue.

* Dr. Duderija is Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of Malaya, and author of Constructing a Religiously Ideal ‘Believer’ and ‘Woman’ in Islam (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

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

Call for Papers: Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association

IQSA is pleased to announce the launch of the Journal of the International Qurʾanic Studies Association (JIQSA). In support of the Association’s mission of fostering scholarship on the Qurʾan, JIQSA will commence publication twice annually beginning in the first quarter of 2016.



The Journal is being launched at a time of particular vitality and growth in Qurʾanic Studies, and its primary goal is to encourage the further development of the discipline in innovative ways. Methodologies of particular interest to the Journal include historical-critical, contextual-comparative, and literary approaches to the Qurʾan. We especially welcome articles that explore the Qurʾan’s origins in the religious, cultural, social, and political contexts of Late Antiquity; its connections to various literary precursors, especially the scriptural and parascriptural traditions of older religious communities; the historical reception of the Qurʾan in the West; the hermeneutics and methodology of Qurʾanic exegesis and translation (both traditional and modern); the transmission and evolution of the textus receptus and the manuscript tradition; and the application of various literary and philological modes of investigation into Qurʾanic style and compositional structure.

We currently welcome submissions of articles for publication in the first volume. The complete Call for Papers is available here. Articles will be rigorously peer-reviewed through a double-blind review process, with reviewers appointed by the Head Editor and the Editorial Board. Interested parties are invited to email for more information about JIQSA and style and submission guidelines.

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

IQSA San Diego Program, 21-24 November 2014

cropped-header22.pngThe Qur’an: Historical Context, Manuscripts, and Material Culture (IQSA)
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room 23 B (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Panel 2: The Qur’an: Historical Context and Material Culture
Wadad Kadi, Oriental Institute, Chicago
‘Abd al-Hamid al-Katib’s Use of the Qur’an in His Legal, Theological, and Historical Letters (30 min)
Francesca Leoni, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Mighty (S)words: Protective and Apotropaic Uses of the Qur’an (30 min)
Peter Webb, University of London
Inhabiting the Book: The Qur’an and Space in Mamluk Religious Architecture (30 min)
Robert Hoyland, Oriental Institute, Oxford
Writing the Qur’an in Stone: Use of the Muslim Scripture in Early Arabic Inscriptions (30 min)
International Qur’anic Studies Association
4:00 PM to 5:15 PM
Room: Room 23 C (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Keynote Lecture Emran El-Badawi, University of Houston, Presiding
Emran El-Badawi, University of Houston, Introduction (10 min)
Angelika Neuwirth, Freie Universität Berlin
Qur’anic Studies and Historical-Critical Philology. The Qur’an’s Staging, Penetrating, and Eclipsing Biblical tradition (45 min)
Andrew Rippin, University of Victoria (BC), Respondent (20 min)
International Qur’anic Studies Association
5:15 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room 24 A (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Qur’anic Studies: Methodology and Hermeneutics (IQSA)

9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Room: Room 24 C (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: The Qur’an and Justice: How Removable are the Contradictions?
Farid Esack, University of Johannesburg
The Qur’an on Black and White: Exploring Possible Traces of Race and Racism in Tafsir (20 min)
Jerusha Tanner Lamptey, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
Muslima Theology and Relational Qur’anic Hermeneutics (20 min)
Karen Bauer, The Institute of Ismaili Studies
Interpreting away the Qur’an: Hermeneutical Strategies for Reconciling Text and Values (20 min)
Fred M. Donner, University of Chicago
Approaching the Qur’an’s Contradictory Statements on Ahl al-Kitab (20 min)
Discussion (20 min)
International Qur’anic Studies Association
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Room: Room 1 B (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Mentorship Lunch (Details TBA)
The Qur’an: Historical Context, Manuscripts, and Material Culture (IQSA)
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room 24 C (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Panel 1: Historical Context and Qur’an Manuscripts
François Déroche, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
MS R38 from Kairouan, Tunisia and Its Umayyad Context (20 min)
Daniel Brubaker, Rice University
Manuscript and Tradition: Exploring Scribal Alterations in Early Qur’ans in View of the Qira’at and Masahif Literature (20 min)
Umberto Bongianino, University of Oxford
Early Qur’anic Manuscripts from the Muslim West: A Typological Survey (20 min)
Nuria Martínez-de-Castilla-Muñoz, Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Sixteenth-Century Spanish Translations of the Qur’an: The Almonacid de la Sierra Atelier (20 min)
Discussion (50 min)
The Qur’an and the Biblical Tradition (IQSA)
Joint Session With: The Qur’an and the Biblical Tradition (IQSA), Syriac Literature and Interpretations of Sacred Texts
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room 24 B (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme:The Qur’an and Christian Oriental Traditions
Holger Zellentin, University of Nottingham, Presiding
Sidney Griffith, Catholic University of America
The Suhuf of Abraham and Moses (25 min)
Abdulla Galadari, Masdar Institute
The Camel Passing through the Eye of the Needle: A Comparison between the Qur’an, the Greek Gospels, and Tatian’s Syriac Diatessaron (25 min)
Cornelia B. Horn, Catholic University of America
Parallel Structures, Polemical Interpretations: An Intertextual Approach to Jesus’ Miracles in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Normative and Interpretive Texts (25 min)
Nicolai Sinai, Oxford University
The Eschatological Kerygma of the Early Qur’anic Surahs in Light of Syriac Literature (25 min)
Paul Neuenkirchen, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
The Qur’anic “Vision Pericopes” in Light of a Christian Apocrypha (25 min)
The Qur’an and the Biblical Tradition (IQSA)

9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Room: Room 24 C (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Bible, Qur’an, and Jewish Traditions
Cornelia Horn, Catholic University of America, Presiding
Hamza M. Zafer, University of Washington
Jonah and the Ninevites: Prophecy to Communal Outsiders in the Qur’an (25 min)
Emad Botros, McMaster Divinity College
The Recalcitrant Prophet: Jonah Between the Qur’an and the Hebrew Bible Traditions (25 min)
Michael Pregill, Elon University
Another Brick in the Wall: The Intertwining of Biblical and Qur’anic Exegesis in Islamicate Midrash (25 min)
Reuven Firestone, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (California Branch)
Shabbat Violation in Qur’anic Discourse (25 min)
Holger Zellentin, University of Nottingham
The Qur’an and Rabbinic Judaism: “Mecca” and “Medina” between Palestine and Babylonia (25 min)
Business Meeting (30 min) All IQSA Members are expected to attend!
Qur’anic Studies: Methodology and Hermeneutics (IQSA)

1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Room: Room 24 B (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Qur’anic Hermeneutics: Diversity Beyond Muslim/Non-Muslim Binaries
Ebrahim Moosa, Duke University, Presiding
Clare Wilde, University of Auckland
Contemporary Echoes of Early Christian Arabic Approaches to the Qur’an (20 min)
Sayeh Meisami, University of Toronto
Qur’anic Hermeneutics and Islamic Philosophy: A Study of Ibn Sina’s Commentary on Surat al-Falaq in Comparison with His Philosophical Writings on the Problem of Evil (20 min)
David R. Vishanoff, University of Oklahoma
Reenchanting the Qur’an: Hermeneutical Applications of the Ash’ari Concept of God’s Eternal Speech (20 min)
Yusuf Rahman, State Islamic University Jakarta Indonesia
The Indonesian Muslim Responses to the Use of Hermeneutics in the Study of the Qur’an (20 min)
Discussion (30 min)
Andrew Rippin, University of Victoria (BC), Respondent (10 min)
The Qur’an and the Biblical Tradition (IQSA)
Joint Session With: The Qur’an and the Biblical Tradition (IQSA), Qur’an and Biblical Literature
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room 24 C (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Bible and Qur’an: Confirmation, Conversation, Conflict
John Kaltner, Rhodes College, Presiding
Ashoor Yousif, University of Toronto
Claiming the Claimed: Islamic Exegesis of Biblical Prophecies During the ‘Abbasid Period (30 min)
Salah Mahgoub Edris, Cairo University
The Christian Interpretation of the Qur’an in Syriac Literature (30 min)
Mohammad Hasan Ahmadi, University of Tehran
The Qur’anic Terminology of the Biblical Tradition (30 min)
Carol Schersten LaHurd, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
The Academy vs. the Grassroots: Cognitive Dissonance on Interfaith Dialogue (30 min)
Roberta Sabbath, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Teaching Tanakh, New Testament, and Qur’an to Undergraduate English Majors and Elective Students (30 min)
Linguistic, Literary, and Thematic Perspectives on the Qur’anic Corpus (IQSA)
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Room: Room 24 C (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Themes and Rhetorical Tools in the Qur’an
Sarra Tlili, University of Florida, Presiding
Anne-Sylvie Boisliveau, University of Groningen, Presiding
D.S. Adnan Majid, University of California-San Diego
Virgins of a Virginal Paradise: The Use of Synecdoche in Surah Rahman (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Thomas Hoffmann, Københavns Universitet
Delivering the Qur’an: Metaphors of Qur’anic Maternality and Natality (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Devin Stewart, Emory University
Anomalous Rhyme-Words in the Qur’an and Their Implications (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Break (10 min)
Vanessa De Gifis, Wayne State University
The Economy of Excellence: A Thematic Study of Fadl in the Qur’an (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Andrew G. Bannister, Melbourne School of Theology
Retelling the Tale: A Computerized Oral-Formulaic Analysis of the Qur’an (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Carl Ernst, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Respondent (25 min)
Qur’an Seminar (IQSA)
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: AB (Level 3 (Aqua)) – Hilton Bayfront (HB)
Theme: Surah 74 and Q 18:60–102
Participants will discuss together the two selected Qur’anic passages.
Mehdi Azaiez, University of Notre Dame, Panelist
Gerald Hawting, School of Oriental and African Studies, Panelist
Thomas Hoffmann, Københavns Universitet, Panelist
Daniel Madigan, Georgetown University, Panelist
David Penchansky, University of Saint Thomas (Saint Paul, MN), Panelist
Gabriel Reynolds, University of Notre Dame, Panelist
Stephen Shoemaker, University of Oregon, Panelist
Tommaso Tesei, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, Panelist
Sarra Tlili, University of Florida, Panelist
Qur’an Seminar (IQSA)
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: AB (Level 3 (Aqua)) – Hilton Bayfront (HB)
Theme: Surahs 19 and 88
Participants will discuss together the two selected Qur’anic passages.
Mehdi Azaiez, University of Notre Dame, Panelist
Gerald Hawting, School of Oriental and African Studies, Panelist
Thomas Hoffmann, Københavns Universitet, Panelist
Daniel Madigan, Georgetown University, Panelist
David Penchansky, University of Saint Thomas (Saint Paul, MN), Panelist
Gabriel Reynolds, University of Notre Dame, Panelist
Stephen Shoemaker, University of Oregon, Panelist
Tommaso Tesei, Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
Sarra Tlili, University of Florida, Panelist
Linguistic, Literary, and Thematic Perspectives on the Qur’anic Corpus (IQSA)
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room 17 B (Mezzanine level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Detecting Ring Patterns: Insights into the Qur’an’s Structure and Meaning
This panel is dedicated to the emerging field of Semitic Rhetoric/Ring Composition theory applied to the Qur’an.
Sarra Tlili, University of Florida, Presiding
Anne-Sylvie Boisliveau, University of Groningen, Presiding
Dalia Abo-Haggar, Harvard University
Symmetry and Asymmetry in the Qur’an (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Giuliano Lancioni, Università degli Studi Roma Tre, and Raoul Villano, Università degli Studi Roma Tre
The Self-Similar Koran (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
AbdelMadjid Benhabib, University of Tlemcen – Algeria
Lexical Repetition in Noah’s Discourse in the Qur’an (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Break (10 min)
Raymond Farrin, American University of Kuwait
Ring Structure in Sura 9: Repentance Emphasized (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Rick Oakes, North-West University (South Africa)
The Semitic Rhetoric of Surat al-Nisa’ 153-162 Imparts Meaning to Shubbiha in Aya 157a (18 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Anne-Sylvie Boisliveau, University of Groningen, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (15 min)

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2014. 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.

Call for Papers Highlight—Qur’anic Studies: Methodology and Hermeneutics

This week, IQSA concludes its series of blog highlights on featured program units for the upcoming Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA, with a focus on “Qur’anic Studies: Methodology and Hermeneutics.” For detailed information on all of the units accepting submissions, please visit our web page here.

This unit, chaired by Karen Bauer and Farid Esack, aims to understand and contextualize the methods applied to the Qur’anic text, both historical and contemporary. The Methodology and Hermeneutics unit addresses questions that might implicitly govern other units, such as:

  • What is Qur’anic Studies, and how does the study of the Qur’an differ from the study of its interpretation?
  • What are the methodological differences between descriptive and normative approaches to the text?
  • How does context (intellectual, social, ethical, historical) affect hermeneutical approaches to the text?

The unit welcomes papers addressed to the hermeneutics and methods of particular schools of interpretation or thought, and also on hermeneutics as applied to specific subjects or concepts, such as social justice and gender. For the 2014 meeting in San Diego, the Methodology and Hermeneutics unit will host two panels:

  1. The first panel focuses on the hermeneutics or methods applied to the Qur’an by particular groups of interpreters or schools of thought. A grouping could be theological, sectarian, or geographical, but need not be limited by such boundaries.
  2. The second invites papers in any aspect of methods and hermeneutics applied to the Qur’an.

Proposals should include a title and an abstract of approximately 400 words.

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.