Looking Back on IQSA 2020

Looking Back on IQSA 2020

screen-shot-2020-11-28-at-10.37.57-amThe International Qur’anic Studies Association’s Annual Meeting, usually an occasion for scholars to come together for a weekend of research and reunion, took a slightly different form this year, though still offering an opportunity to hear the latest scholarship and see (at least some) familiar faces. Rather than an in-person meeting, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted IQSA (along with the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature) to shift to a virtual format with talks and special events spread out over two weeks.

Despite the changes, the association was still able to hold twelve panels on topics ranging from the Qurʾān’s relationship with the Bible or the Late Antique milieu to manuscript studies and exegetical reflections. Talks were broadcast live around the globe, giving speakers the ability to answer questions from the audience and facilitate communication between participants via the chat and Q&A features. Events that typically take place over light refreshments like the General Reception, Business Meeting, and Graduate Student Luncheon also transitioned to the Zoom platform. Rounding out the program was a Presidential Address from Asma Hilali (which opened the conference on November 30) and a Closing Session on December 10 looking back at the panoply of topics probed, debated, and defended by the forty-one panelists.

IQSAZOOMWhile of course members would prefer to be able to meet together face to face—and despite the undeniable reality of Zoom fatigue—the benefit of the virtual format was in opening up the conference to scholars for whom travel to the traditional forum would be prohibitively expensive. This was reflected in the strong attendance across the board for this year’s talks; despite the travails of scheduling, technology, and different time zones, most panels drew a comparably sized audience as they would have in a more traditional year.

Turning to the future, the IQSA community is hoping for a faraj after the shidda of 2020 and looking forward to future conferences that build off the lessons of this year’s unusual circumstances (not to mention actually seeing each other in the flesh!). The ninth century scribe and poet Abū al-ʿAbbās Ibn Thawābah, anticipating to his freedom from prison, offers us some solace—and hopefully augurs a better 2021 for our modern world as well:

عواقبُ مكروهِ الأمور خيارُ … وأيّامُ سوءٍ لا تدومُ قصارُ
وليس بباقٍ بؤسُها ونعيمُها   … إذا كَرَّ ليلٌ ثمّ كَرَّ نها

Dire events lead to good things.
Hard times are short: they pass.
Pain does not endure, but time
brings joy, and joy will last.

(al-Tanūkhī, al-Faraj baʿd al-shidda, trans. Julia Bray: Stories of Piety and Prayer: Deliverance After Adversity, 217; the lines have also been attributed to al-Shāfiʿī)

On behalf of IQSA, we thank all of our program unit chairs, board and committee members, and participants for their unwavering support that made this unprecedented event possible. Follow us IQSA Blog, Facebook, and Twitter for updates as we transition into the New Year!

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

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2020. All rights reserved.

Access IQSA Annual Meeting Recordings

The IQSA Annual Meeting is well underway with 8 panel sessions and special events already conducted as of this afternoon! If you are a registered attendee but were unable to make a session, recordings are available online through the Virtual App/Desktop Planner just like a live session through January 31, 2021. Simply navigate to the event in the planner and click “View Recording” after the session has concluded.

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Please note that the only sessions recorded are those in which the listed participants have granted permission. If the participants have not granted permission, a recording will not be available due to licensing restrictions.

IQSA looks forward to even more special events with its community of scholars next week! Visit the online schedule to find all the details for future sessions.

Copyright © 2020 International Qur’anic Studies Association, All rights reserved.

IQSA Corona Qur’an Seminars on Zoom (#IQSAZoom)

Staring last week, IQSA began its sponsorship of new weekly online (Zoom) seminars in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame to bring scholars and students of the Qur’an together at a time when many are in social isolation. These seminars are part of IQSA’s larger mission to advance “Cutting edge, intellectually rigorous, academic research on the Qurʾan” and to be “a bridge between different global communities of Qurʾanic scholarship.”  Seminars are open to the public and all are welcome to join the meetings, although at this time we strongly encourage you to take a moment to join IQSA/renew your membership.

#IQSAZoom seminars, held at 11am EDT/New York time, will involve both a lecture and time for open discussion. To register for the seminars (free but required) visit https://theology.nd.edu/…/world-religions-world-c…/seminars/. Seminars will be recorded and posted to IQSA’s youtube channel (IQSA Online). We encourage all to continue the discussion on social media using the hashtag #IQSAZoom.

Iqsa Corona

The inaugural #IQSAZoom seminar was offered last Thursday by Dr. Hythem Sidky on the topic “Codex Damascensis and the Evolution of the Syrian Reading Tradition.” If you didn’t catch it live, check out the seminar online!

This following week on Thursday April 16, Gabriel Said Reynolds will present “Perish the Human! On Sinfulness and Satan in the Qur’an.” Register for this session in advance to watch live!

#IQSAZoom seminars, held at 11am EDT/New York time will involve both a lecture and time for open discussion.  Seminars will be recorded and posted to IQSA’s youtube channel.  We encourage all to continue the discussion on social media using the hashtag #IQSAZoom.

Stay tuned for updates on future seminars on the IQSA Blog and Twitter!

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2020. All rights reserved.