Two Free Online Courses on the Qur’an

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).


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:

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:

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.

Public Lecture Series: The Qurʾān between Judaism and Christianity

unnamedA Public Engagement Initiative funded by the British Academy

Hosted at the University of Nottingham, co-Sponsored by the Karimia Institute

What can the Qurʾān, the Holy Scripture of Islam, teach us about Judaism and Christianity? How does knowledge about Judaism and Christianity help us better to understand the Qurʾān? This public lecture series seeks to make cutting edge research in Islamic Studies accessible to the broader public. The speakers integrate literary and historical approaches in order to illustrate the intricate relationship between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. A better understanding of the past may in turn help us to reconsider the present in a more nuanced way, and to formulate answers to the challenges faced by the Muslim communities in the Western World and beyond. The talks will be followed by a response and a discussion. Attendance is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For the conference website, please click here, for registration, please see below.

September 17, 2016, 1 – 6  pm, A1 Highfield House, University Park

1:00 pm -1:10 pm: Welcome, Dr. Holger Zellentin, The University of Nottingham

  • How to Study the Qurʾān – ‘Traditional’ and ‘Academic’ Approaches

1:10 pm – 2:00 pm: Prof. Islam Dayeh, Free University, Berlin

2:00 pm – 2:50 pm: Prof. Mehdi Azaiez, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

2:50 pm – 3:20 pm: Response by Dr. Marianna Klar, School of Oriental and African Studies

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm: Coffee Break

  • The Qurʾān and the Bible

3:50 pm – 4:40 pm: Prof. Angelika Neuwirth, Free University, Berlin

4:40 pm – 5:30 pm: Prof. Gabriel Said Reynolds, Notre Dame University

5:30 pm – 6:00 pm: Response by Dr. Omar Ali-de-Unzaga, Ismaili Institute, London


October 16, 2016, 1 – 6 pm, A48 Sir Clive Granger Building

1:00 pm – 1:05 pm: Welcome, Dr. Musharraf Hussain, OBE, DL, Karimia Institute

1:05 pm – 1:10 pm: The Lecture Series, Dr. Holger Zellentin, The University of Nottingham

  • The Qurʾān’s Arabian Background

1:10 pm – 2:00 pm: Prof. Devin Stewart, Emory University

2:00 pm – 2:50 pm: Dr. Nora K. Schmid, Free University of Berlin

2:50 pm – 3:20 pm: Response by Dr. Asma Hilali, Ismaili Institute, London

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm: Coffee Break

  • The Qurʾān and Christianity

 3:50 pm – 4:40 pm: Dr. Nicolai Sinai, University of Oxford

4:40 pm – 5:30 pm: Prof. Emran El-Badawi, University of Houston

5:30 pm – 6:00 pm: Response by Dr. Jon Hoover, The University of Nottingham


December 4, 2016, 1 – 6 pm, A48 Sir Clive Granger Building

1:00 pm – 1:10 pm: Welcome, Dr. Jon Hoover, The University of Nottingham

  • The Qurʾān and Judaism

1:10 pm – 2:00 pm: Dirk Hartwig, Free University, Berlin

2:00 pm – 2:50 pm: Prof. Walid Saleh, University of Toronto

2:50 pm – 3:20 pm: Response by Dr. Harith bin Ramli, Cambridge Muslim College

3:20 pm – 3:50 pm: Coffee Break

  • Law from the Bible to the Qurʾān

3:50 pm – 4:40 pm: Dr. Holger Zellentin, The University of Nottingham

4:40 pm – 5:30 pm: Prof. Lena Salaymeh, University of Tel Aviv

5:30 pm – 6:00 pm: Response by Dr. Shuruq Naguib, University of Lancaster


All lectures are free and open to the public. Advanced registration is mandatory, please visit

For information on transportation and parking at the University, please visit

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at