Johanne Christiansen wins Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize 2018

The International Qurʾanic Studies Association is delighted to announce that the second annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize (open to papers delivered by junior scholars at the 2017 annual meeting) has been awarded to Johanne Christiansen of Aarhus University for her paper “‘And Their Prayer at the House is Nothing but a Whistling and a Clapping of Hands’ (Q 8:35): Negotiating Processions in the Qur’an.” The winner of the Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize receives a cash award. In addition, an expanded and edited version of the winning paper qualifies for publication in the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association.

This award is given in honor of Prof. Andrew Rippin (1950-2016), a leading scholar of the Qurʾān and inaugural president of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (2014). Prof. Rippin is remembered as “an esteemed colleague, revered mentor, and scholarly inspiration to many members of the IQSA community.” An announcement regarding submissions for the second annual Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize will follow the 2018 IQSA annual meeting in Boston.


An abstract of Johanne Christiansen’s award winning paper follows:

The qur’anic text (re)introduces various ritual practices, including those around the Ka’bah. However, the qur’anic descriptions of these rituals are often general, leaving the development of the Islamic ritual complex to later traditions. The qur’anic rituals also vary in detail. Where (e.g.) the fast in Ramadan (Q 2:183-87) is outlined in some detail, the ritual prayer (Q 17:78-79) or almsgiving (Q 31:1-4) are only indicated. Thus, the question remains: why does the Qur’an contain so little information about the central Islamic rituals? There are two answers to this question. 1) Because the rituals were already known to the qur’anic milieu and did not need any further clarification. They go, so to speak, without saying.  2) Because certain aspects of the rituals worried or even generated some ideological uneasiness in the qur’anic community. See (e.g.) Q 2:158: “So whosoever makes hajj to the House, or performs the ‘umrah, it is no fault in him to circumambulate them.” In this regard, the qur’anic strategy seemed to be to not say too much. In this paper, I will argue that both answers are relevant regarding how the Qur’an negotiates the practice of circumambulation. The circumambulation (tawaf) can be defined as a type of demonstrative and participative procession (Lang 2015). It is mentioned several times in the Qur’an, but only once in a polemic distancing from an earlier practice: “And their prayer at the House is nothing but a whistling and a clapping of hands” (Q 8:35). Is this one polemic note an example of “saying too much”? Does the Qur’an here indicate what its community really thought of the pre-Islamic practices around the Ka’bah? The Qur’an is in other contexts explicit when taking a polemical stance against (e.g.) the Jews and Christians (Q 5:12-13). Is it possible that when it comes to ritual practices, the qur’anic strategy was not to utter its criticism too loudly and by that, attract as many adherents as possible? According to Robert Bellah, processional practices are in particular bound to religious orientations before Late Antiquity (Bellah & Joas 2012). However, to walk in a procession seems also to be a basic human need. In this paper, I will demonstrate that the Qur’an, as a late antique text, had to negotiate a solution between an ideal of anti-procession and the feasibility and long-term durability of its ritual practices. A circumambulation with particular gravitas and without clapping and whistling is the pragmatic result of such a negotiation (cf. Halevi 2007). Here, the most important thing, according to the Qur’an, is to pray and address one’s action to God, but if circumambulation is needed, then that can also be accepted (cf. Maghen 2005).


christiansenJohanne Louise Christiansen (Ph.D. 2016, Aarhus University) is currently a Postdoctoral fellow at the Danish research project Ambiguity and Precision in the Qurʾan, which is funded by the Danish Independent Research Fund. The project is based at the Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen and lead by Professor Thomas Hoffmann. Christiansen’s dissertation was entitled “‘My Lord, Deliver Me from the People of the Evildoers (rabbi najjinī mina l-qawmi l-ẓālimīna)’ (Q 28:21): The Root ẓ-l-m and the Semantic Field of Oppression in the Qur’ān.” She is also the author of the article “The Dark Koran: A Semantic Analysis of the Koranic Darknesses (ẓulumāt) and their Metaphorical Usage,” in Arabica 62 (2015): 185-233.


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.


Review of Qur’anic Research, Vol. 4 no.2 (2018)

In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 4 no.2), Adis Duderija (Griffith University) reviews Koran erklӓrt edited by Willi Steuhl (Berlin: Suhrkapm Verlag, 2017).

In his review, Duderija writes…”As a scholar from a Muslim background and someone with an activist mindset, I, for better or worse, over the last decade or so, have actively contributed to the dissemination of academic knowledge in non-academic contexts. I am a firm believer that (Western) academics specialising in Islamic Studies, regardless of their backgrounds, are ethically obliged to contribute to the current debates on Islam and Muslims, especially but not only in their native socio-political contexts, so as to help increase the level of informed opinion among the lay audiences. As such, I particularly welcome the timely publication of Koran erklӓrt, edited by Willi Steuhl, which goes some way in achieving this objective, especially in the German speaking world…”


Want to read more? For full access to the Review of Qur’anic Research (RQR), members can log in HERE. Not an IQSA member? Join today to enjoy RQR and additional member benefits!


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

IQSA Job Vacancies: Blog Coordinator & Grant Writer

The International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA), a non-profit organization, seeks both a Blog Coordinator and Grant Writer to start part-time work (2-3hrs/week) as members of the Executive Office ASAP. Work is remote-desk and may be performed from any geographical location. This is a great opportunity for those who enjoy high-performance work and are looking to join a collaborative team of scholars in a dynamic professional field.

Please find detailed job descriptions and application instructions below:

Job Vacancy: IQSA Blog Coordinator

Job Description: The IQSA Blog Coordinator serves as a member of the Executive Office reporting directly to the Executive Director. This position entails the solicitation and composition of weekly blog posts as well as the evaluation of guest submissions for publication on IQSA’s communication channels. The Blog Coordinator works closely with the Executive Director and Assistant to maintain a schedule of weekly content relevant to IQSA and its mission.

Qualifications: The required duties can be performed remotely/from home so long as candidates have reliable access to online communication channels. Knowledge of Middle Eastern and European languages is strongly desired. The candidate must show attention to detail and a professional communication style and work ethic. The candidate must demonstrate the ability to foster positive relationships with contributors, kin-organizations, publishers, and others as needed. The candidate should also have a background in Qur’anic Studies, Late Antiquity, Islamic Studies or related field (preferably graduate level or higher) and familiarity with best practices in online publishing and content management.

Compensation: This position is Volunteer/Service based. The successful candidate will receive (1) complementary IQSA membership, including but not limited to access to publications, the membership directory, professional development opportunities, and (2) conference support as available.

Interested candidates should send a (1)CV and (2)250 word Cover Letter to Dr. Emran El-Badawi ( Please email with questions about the positions or application process.


Job Vacancy: IQSA Grant Writer

Job Description: The IQSA Grant Writer works as a member of the Executive Office reporting directly to the Executive Director.The Grant Writer assists the Executive Director to prepare, submit, and manage proposals toward private and public associations for funding and support of the organizations. The Grant Writer is responsible for maintaining current and archival records of proposals and assist with other fundraising projects upon request.

Qualifications: The candidate should have a working knowledge of fundraising techniques and strategies for 501(c) nonprofit organizations. The candidate must demonstrate effective written communication skills including structured, persuasive proposals and boilerplate language associated with grant composition. A background in the Humanities or Social Sciences is strongly desired. The candidate should have strong editing skills, attention to detail, the ability to meet deadlines, and familiarity with basic fundraising techniques and strategies. The candidate should also show enthusiasm for IQSA’s mission and work as a scholarly guild.

Compensation: This position is Volunteer/Service based. The successful candidate will receive (1) complementary IQSA membership, including but not limited to access to publications, the membership directory, professional development opportunities, and (2) conference support as available.

Interested candidates should send a (1)CV, (2)250 word Cover Letter, and (3)Writing Sample to Dr. Emran El-Badawi ( Please email with questions about the positions or application process.

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

Arabic in Context: Celebrating 400 years of Arabic at Leiden University.

The writing of Arabic’s linguistic history is by definition an interdisciplinary effort, the result of collaboration between historical linguists, epigraphists, dialectologists, and historians. The present volume seeks to catalyse a dialogue between scholars in various fields who are interested in Arabic’s past and to illustrate how much there is to be gained by looking beyond the traditional sources and methods. It contains 15 innovative studies ranging from pre-Islamic epigraphy to the modern spoken dialect, and from comparative Semitics to Middle Arabic. The combination of these perspectives hopes to stand as an important methodological intervention, encouraging a shift in the way Arabic’s linguistic history is written…*



ISBN13: 9789004343030
Publication Date: June 2017
Imprint: BRILL
Language: EnglishArabic
*Content courtesy of Brill Publishers.
© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.

New Publication “John of Damascus and Islam: Christian Heresiology and the Intellectual Background to Earliest Christian-Muslim Relations”

How did Islam come to be considered a Christian heresy? In John of Damascus and Islam, Peter Schadler outlines the intellectual background of the Christian Near East that led John, a Christian serving in the court of the caliph in Damascus, to categorize Islam as a heresy. Schadler shows that different uses of the term heresy persisted among Christians, and then demonstrates that John’s assessment of the beliefs and practices of Muslims has been mistakenly dismissed on assumptions he was highly biased. The practices and beliefs John ascribes to Islam have analogues in the Islamic tradition, proving that John may well represent an accurate picture of Islam as he knew it in the seventh and eighth centuries in Syria and Palestine.


Published by E. J. Brill (December 2017), John of Damascus and Islam can be ordered on the publisher’s website or found at your local library.

Table of contents



1 Heresy and Heresiology in Late Antiquity
Problems in Associating Islam with Heresy
Manichaeism: The Exception that Proves the Rule
Heresy as Opposition to the Church
Other Understandings of Heresy in Late Antiquity
Early Christian Use of Heresiology
The Demonic Nature of Heresy
Heresy as the Result of Philosophical Speculation
Other Typical Traits of Heresiology

2 Aspects of the Intellectual Background
The Encyclopedism of Christian Palestine
Heresiology as History?
The Sociological Imperative to Institution Building as a Force for Islam’s Inclusion
From Heresiology to Panarion and from Panarion to Anacephalaeosis: The Shifting Nature of Heresiology
John of Damascus and non-Christian Philosophy
The Definition of Heresy in John’s Works
Demons and the Heresiology of John

3 The Life of John of Damascus, His Use of the Qurʾan, and the Quality of His Knowledge of Islam
The Life of John of Damascus
John of Damascus and Arabic
The Qurʾan and its Apparent Use Among Christians
John of Damascus and the Qurʾan
Anastasius of Sinai and the Qurʾan
The Alleged Leo-Umar Correspondence
Lives of the Prophets and Other Sources

4 Islamic and Para-Islamic Traditions
Scholarly Accounts of Early Islam
Revisionist Islamic Studies and its Antecedents
Contemporary Islamic Studies
John of Damascus, the Black Stone, and the Ka’ba
The Ka’ba, the Black Stone, and the Maqām Ibrāhīm in the Islamic Tradition
An Untraditional Perspective
The Damascene’s Observations Given the Untraditional Perspective
Rivers in Paradise
The Monk and an-Nasara
Female Circumcision
Pillars of Faith

5 John of Damascus and Theodore Abu Qurrah on Islam
Problems Authenticating Abu Qurrah’s Greek Corpus
Theodore Abu Qurrah on Islam
Theodore, the Qurʾan, and Muhammad
The Arian Monk
Theodore and Heresy
Theodore and John: Some Differences and Conclusions

Appendix 1: Greek Text and English Translation of ‘On Heresies 100’
Appendix 2: Potential Qurʾanic References in ‘On Heresies 100’

Content courtesy of the publisher, E. J. Brill at


© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2018. All rights reserved.