End of 2017 Reminders, Happy 2018

It’s been a fruitful year for IQSA. In 2017 we furthered our work in the Review of Qur’anic Research (RQR), awarded the first winner of the Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize, published the first issue of the Journal of the International Qur’an Studies Association, and held the second biennial International Meeting in Carthage, Tunisia. We also welcomed hundreds of friends and colleagues from around the world to our  Annual Meeting in Boston. As the year winds to a close we reflect on our association’s achievements with gratitude to our members, contributors, and readers around the world. We also take this time to renew our dedication to providing valuable resources and opportunities for collaboration in Qur’anic studies in 2018.


In addition, IQSA also introduced two new membership tiers – Institutional and Lifetime membership, and warmly welcomed its inaugural Lifetime Members, Professor Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Director of National and International Outreach, Library of Congress, and President Emeritus, Bryn Mawr College, and Professor Reza Aslan, University of California in Riverside. IQSA encourages all to renew their membership for 2018 via any of the five membership levels to receive benefits including:

We appreciate your membership!

U.S. taxpayers! Are you still looking to make an end-of-year tax deductible charitable donation? Consider supporting Qur’anic scholarship with a donation to IQSA. We are a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. You can donate to IQSA online by clicking HERE.

Finally, please do not forget to follow our BlogTwitter and Facebook accounts, and to join the private IQSA Discussion Group. Thanks for your support!

We wish you a very Happy Holidays! كل عام وأنتم بخير


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

Introducing our Inaugural Lifetime Members

Dear friends across the globe,

Today is another proud and historic day for the International Qur’an Studies Association (IQSA). It is with great honor that I welcome IQSA’s inaugural Lifetime Members. They are: Professor Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Director of National and International Outreach, Library of Congress, and President Emeritus, Bryn Mawr College; as well as Professor Reza Aslan, University of California in Riverside, and contributor at CNN, HBO, ABC and other media outlets. Among her many impressive achievements Professor McAuliffe is the editor of the monumental research reference work known to every student and scholar of the Qur’an today, namely the Encyclopedia of the Qur’an (2001-). Likewise, Professor Aslan is known across the world for his television appearances and best-selling books, including No God but God (2005) and Zealot (2013).

Professors McAuliffe and Aslan have already contributed to IQSA’s governance and membership, but they wished to renew their commitment on a permanent basis. And for their generosity and foresight I share with them my deepest gratitude. The caliber of their leadership directly empowers IQSA’s mission and vision, not least because they represent high quality scholarship and a commitment to building bridges across the globe. Their lifetime commitment to IQSA reinforces–ensures even–IQSA’s mandate as the only independent, member controlled, learned society dedicated to critical, cutting edge scholarship on the Qur’an. By becoming Lifetime Members of IQSA Professors McAuliffe and Aslan also send a powerful message to the public, “we support the Humanities and Higher Education.”

As renowned scholars, IQSA’s inaugural Lifetime Members each produced an exciting new book in 2017. These are:

Jane Dammen McAuliffe, The Qur’an (W.W. Norton, 2017) 

9780393927054_300This Norton Critical Edition is based on a thoroughly revised and annotated version of the well-regarded Pickthall translation of the Qur’an. Jane McAuliffe introduces the Qur’an as a living scripture, preparing readers for an informed encounter with the text. Topics include the scholarly traditions of the study of qur’anic origins; the centuries of commentary, analysis, and intellectual dissemination that have created a library of qur’anic literature; the history of translations, particularly those in English; and the many ways the Qur’an informs Muslim life and material culture.

This Norton Critical Edition also includes:

• Seven illustrations.

• Fifty judiciously selected texts representing the full spectrum of Islamic religious thought that demonstrate the Qur’an’s intellectual impact while those from related Near Eastern literatures, including biblical and extra-biblical sources, elucidate the comparative contexts of qur’anic themes and narratives. A concluding section presents the Qur’an as an American book, with a long history and significant influence in the United States.

•A Selected Bibliography.

Reza Aslan, God: A Human History (Penguin Random House, 2017)

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer explores humanity’s quest to make sense of the divine in this concise and fascinating history of our understanding of God.9780553394726

In Zealot, Reza Aslan replaced the staid, well-worn portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth with a startling new image of the man in all his contradictions. In his new book, Aslan takes on a subject even more immense: God, writ large.

In layered prose and with thoughtful, accessible scholarship, Aslan narrates the history of religion as a remarkably cohesive attempt to understand the divine by giving it human traits and emotions. According to Aslan, this innate desire to humanize God is hardwired in our brains, making it a central feature of nearly every religious tradition. As Aslan writes, “Whether we are aware of it or not, and regardless of whether we’re believers or not, what the vast majority of us think about when we think about God is a divine version of ourselves.”

But this projection is not without consequences. We bestow upon God not just all that is good in human nature—our compassion, our thirst for justice—but all that is bad in it: our greed, our bigotry, our penchant for violence. All these qualities inform our religions, cultures, and governments.

More than just a history of our understanding of God, this book is an attempt to get to the root of this humanizing impulse in order to develop a more universal spirituality. Whether you believe in one God, many gods, or no god at all, God: A Human History will challenge the way you think about the divine and its role in our everyday lives.

As a reward for their investment, lifetime members enjoy benefits in perpetuity. To accommodate the different levels of our members, IQSA offers five membership tiers starting 2018. We encourage all scholars and students in the field to consider renewing their membership or to become IQSA MEMBERS NOW.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Standing Committees, I offer a warm welcome to Professors McAuliffe, Aslan and all incoming 2018 IQSA members.


Emran El-Badawi, Executive Director

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize 2018


The International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA) is proud to announce the second annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize. The  Prize is awarded to the best paper delivered at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Boston, typically by a graduate student or early career scholar (Ph.D. awarded 2012 or later).

Interested scholars should submit a draft of the paper which they read at the 2017 Annual Meeting at Boston; this draft should be no longer than fifteen double-spaced pages (or 3750 words). Submissions should be sent to jiqsa@iqsaweb.org by January 5, 2018. The prize winner will receive $250, and an expanded and fully sourced edition of the paper will be subject to review and likely publication in the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association Volume 2 (2017).The winner must be prepared to submit a revised “journal article” version of the paper by May 1, 2018. Publication of the final version is contingent upon review by the award committee and editorial staff of JIQSA.

The first annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize was awarded to Jawad Anwar Qureshi of the University of Chicago for his paper “Ring Composition, Virtues, and Qurʾanic Prophetology in Sūrat Yūsuf (Q 12)”. Visit this link for more details.

Andrew Rippin was the inaugural president of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (2014).  He is remembered as “an esteemed colleague, revered mentor, and scholarly inspiration to many members of the IQSA community.”


Andrew Rippin (third from left) and colleagues at the spring 2014 IQSA board meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, USA


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.

IQSA 2017 Annual Meeting – Conference Report

The fifth Annual Meeting of the International Qur’ānic Studies Association, held in Boston from November 17-21, brought together many of the foremost scholars within qur’ānic studies, for four days of engaging panels, presentations, and roundtables on all aspects of the text and its reception. Taking place concurrently with the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature conferences, IQSA served as a nexus for conversations which brought together new research from historians, philologists, Late Antique specialists, manuscript scholars, and many others.


Daniel Madigan (Georgetown Unviersity) and others participate in the joint session roundtable Discussion of Islam and Its Past: Jahiliyya, Late Antiquity and the Qur’an 

The weekend began on Friday afternoon with the program unit on The Qur’ān and the Biblical Tradition with talks from Devin Stewart and Nicolai Sinai, focusing on Abraham’s lies and his general qur’ānic profile respectively, from Shari Lowin, on the nature of the Qur’ān’s claim that “the Jews say the Hand of God is chained” (Q. 5:64), Gavin McDowell, on the Qur’ān and Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer, and Faris Casewit, on Jesus’ sayings in al-Harrālī’s exegesis. This was followed by Gerald Hawting’s presidential address, entitled “The House and the Book”, which focused on the tensions between scripture and sanctuary, as early elements of the emergent Islamic movement, and for which Sean Anthony served as respondent.

Saturday kicked off with a lively roundtable on the new book Islam and Its Past: Jahiliyya, Late Antiquity, and the Qur’an (OUP, 2017), co-edited by Carol Bakhos, who chaired the session, and Michael Cook. The discussion focused on paradigms for the study of early Islam vis-à-vis the jāhilī and/or Late Antique milieux, from which it is seen to have emerged. The early afternoon saw a panel on various aspects of sūrat al-Aḥzāb, including its legislative content (Joseph Lowry), its relevance for blasphemy law (Matthew Anderson), the translation of verse 35 (Bruce Lawrence), and a comparative reading of sūra 45 (Ghazala Anwar). The late afternoon/early evening slot was the busiest of the weekend, with three concurrent panels: one on Mustafa Akyol’s new monograph The Islamic Jesus (Macmillan, 2017), one on the implications of sūra titles for the study of the Qur’ān, and one on reconceptualizing Late Antiquity before and after Muhammad.

The third day of the conference continued these conversations with Late Antiquity with a session dedicated to qur’ānic themes and rites seen against their Late Antique background. Abraham Winitzer began with a presentation on the Akkadian expression ‘kipir kishâdim‘ and its possible qur’ānic resonances. He was followed by talks from Javad Hashmi, on the influence of a jāhilī ethos on the Qur’ān’s view of just war; Johanne Christiansen, on the notion of processions; Ari Gordon, on Late Antique discussions of ‘liturgical direction’ and their potential importance for understanding the Qur’ān’s qibla; and Karen Bauer, on comparing the emotional content of the Qur’ān and pre-Islamic poetry. The afternoon concluded with another session from the unit on The Qur’ān and the Biblical Tradition, with presentations by Rachel Dryden (biblical angels in the Qur’ān), Holger Zellentin (the prohibition of incest), Thomas Hoffman (the doxological mode of religiosity in the Qur’ān), Gabriel Said Reynolds (biblical turns of phrase in the Qur’ān), and Cornelia Horn (oral and written transmissions between the Bible and the Qur’ān).


Members of the IQSA community gather over light refreshments at the General Reception following Gerald Hawting’s Presidential Address

The first panel of the final day began with some of the widest-ranging discussions of the weekend, under the theme of ‘Minority and Marginalized Hermeneutics.’ Falling under this ambit were new theorizations of Ismāʿīlī hermeneutics (Khalil Andani), the trajectory of the Indian Nazm school of Qur’anic exegesis (Charles Ramsey), conversations around women’s veiling at the turn of the twentieth century (Orhan Elmaz), the importance of critiques of gender and gender inequality within Islamic studies (Shehnaz Haqqani), and medieval Islamic debates over whether Samaritans were ‘people of the Book’ (Joseph Stewart). This was followed by two afternoon panels, one on the Qur’ān Gateway project and the digital study of the Qur’an, the other on re-evaluating the relevance of ‘Jewish Christianity’ as a lens through which to study early Islam. Finally, the last session of the day focused on the manuscript tradition and textual criticism. Shady Nasser (the evolution of the system of qirāʾāt or variant qur’ānic readings) and Raymond Farrin (the evidence for consistent verse numbering systems), both used the extant Islamic literature to study the Qur’ān’s changing status in early Islam, while Joshua Falconer (systems of marking variant readings in different colors) and Elif Behnan Karabiyik (dating the MS 4313 Qur’ān) worked with extant manuscripts themselves.

islamic jesus

An eager crowd attends the roundtable book discussion of Mustafa Akyol’s recent monograph The Islamic Jesus (Macmillan, 2017)

The conference was one of IQSA’s most successful yet, with consistently high attendance, wonderful presentations, and growing conversations with other units under the general umbrella of the Society for Biblical Literature. We look forward to seeing many of the same faces, and many new ones, next year in Denver for IQSA’s 2018 Annual Meeting!


-Conor Dube (Harvard University) and Rachel Dryden (University of Cambridge



*A special thanks to Conor Dube (Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University) and Rachel Dryden (Graduate Student – Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge) for their assistance at conference events and composition of the above report.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2017. All rights reserved.