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.

4 thoughts on “Some Prominent Women Qur’an Scholars

  1. Also an heritage of the women scholars of past generations can be mentioned in this context. For example Egyptian Bint al-Shati (Aisha Abd al-Rahman, 1913-98) and her pioneer exegesis basing on approaching Quran as a literature.

    • Thank you for your insightful comment. The breadth of Quranic Exegesis is truly surprising and inspiring. Best wishes.

  2. I would like to suggest the name of another woman working on the Qur’an and its exegesis – Dr. Asma Barlas of Ithaca College.

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