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.

Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize 2020-21

rippinAndrew 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.”

In honor of Andrew Rippin, the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA) will award a prize to the best paper delivered at the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting by a graduate student or early career scholar (Ph.D. awarded 2015 or later).

The prize winner will receive $250. In addition, the award committee will provide him/her with detailed feedback and guidance enabling him/her to expand the paper into a scholarly article that qualifies for publication in the Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (JIQSA), subject to peer review.

Interested scholars should submit a draft of the paper which they read at the 2020 Annual Meeting; this draft should be no longer than fifteen double-spaced pages (or 3750 words). Submissions should be sent to contactus@iqsaweb.org by January 31, 2021. The prize winner will be announced in March, 2021. The winner should then be prepared to submit a fully revised version of the winning article by April 30, 2021. Publication of the final version is contingent upon review by the award committee and editorial staff of JIQSA.

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

Welcoming New IQSA Lifetime Member: Abdulla Galadari


It is with great honor that the International Qur’anic Studies Association welcomes a new lifetime member: Abdulla Galadari (Khalifa University of Science & Technology). Abdulla has had different incarnations in the past, before settling in his present one. His previous academic and professional training was fully emerged in engineering, sciences, and mathematics earning Civil Engineering PhD from the University of Colorado. He worked simultaneously in the industry and in academia. Yet, he still delved into the humanities, as well, earning a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Aberdeen.

Abdulla-Galadari_Abdulla publishes academic books and articles in various venues. He is also the convener of the Qur’an and Islamic Tradition in Comparative Perspective Unit of the Society of Biblical Literature. He is invited to give lectures at various universities around the world, such as Harvard University, the University of Toronto, the University of Notre Dame, and others.

What drives humanity is curiosity, and Abdulla takes that to heart. He is always fascinated by the big questions of life. His main field of inquiry is Qur’anic Studies, especially in relation to its Late Antiquity context with its Biblical, extra-biblical rabbinic engagements, as well as comparative theology and Christology. Because he is well-versed in both science and religion, they allow him to have a unique perspective in understanding religion not only from the historical perspective, but also from the scientific perspective.

Abdulla is also highly engaged with interfaith dialogue continuously participating in the Parliament of the World’s Religions. He is a licensed mediator and always uses his skills to mediate between various religions, as well as between science and religion. Reflecting on IQSA in particular, he comments “I was introduced to IQSA in 2012 by its founding co-directors (Gabriel Reynolds and Emran El-Badawi) when it was first formed. IQSA is more than just a learned society. It is family and like any family, its strength stems from its diverse voices. Different approaches to scholarship from a wide spectrum are welcomed and encouraged. This openness is highly commended as it unites many scholars of different backgrounds making one thrilled to be part of this inclusive family.”

Please join us in welcoming IQSA’s seventh lifetime member! Read about membership tiers and benefits at this link.

Content adapted from Khalifa University’s Faculty Bio.

Holiday Break: IQSA Executive Office

Happy Holidays!

winterbreakOn behalf of the International Qur’anic Studies Association, we wish all of our colleagues, friends, and affiliates a safe and pleasant winter holiday. Please note that the Executive Office will be observing administrative recess from Wednesday, December 23rd to Sunday, December 27th. We appreciate your patience as our staff and volunteers take a short respite, and will answer any email inquiries to contactus@iqsaweb.org upon resuming normal operations in January.

Happy Holidays!

-IQSA Executive Office

IQSA Closing Session: Annual Meeting 2020

The first ever Virtual Annual Meeting of the International Qur’anic Studies Association will come to a close tomorrow, Thursday December 10, after a successful program of special events, addresses, and panels with scholars from around the globe. IQSA thanks its affiliates at the Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion, in addition to its programming coordinators and officers, for making this unprecedented event possible during the current global health crisis.

A friendly reminder that IQSA will hold its Closing Session (open to all registered meeting attendees) tomorrow, December 10 from 1-1:30pm EST. The code for this session is P10-206b and login link is available in the desktop and mobile app virtual planner.

This short gathering will provide an opportunity for members to finish the IQSA Annual Meeting with closing remarks and a farewell from the current Executive Director, Emran El-Badawi, and an introduction to the new Executive Director for the coming calendar year. In addition, election results for the 2020 Officer and Director polls will be announced by Chair of the IQSA Board, Holger Zellentin. This session can be accessed via the virtual planner by navigating to Thursday, December 10 on the calendar after logging in using your registration reference number as your user name and your last name as your password.

Please note that in line with IQSA privacy laws, this session will not be recorded. Recordings of select sessions 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. 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.

On behalf of IQSA, we thank you for your continued support for the entirety of this unprecedented event and look forward to seeing you virtually tomorrow!

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

Reminder: IQSA Elections 2020

Attention IQSA members,

A friendly reminder that given the unprecedented circumstances, this year’s IQSA elections are being conducted online. Each active member will be polled for their vote exclusively through the IQSA members portal via your unique login. The election will close on December 9, 2020 at 12pm EST. Election results will be announced at the Annual Meeting Closing Session on December 10, 2020.

IQSA 2020 Officer Elections

IQSA 2020 Director Elections

Questions? Email contactus@iqsaweb.org. We are delighted to have you as part of the IQSA community!

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

Review of Qur’anic Research, Vol. 6 no. 9 (2020)

pageHeaderLogoImage_en_USIn In the latest installment of the Review of Qur’anic Research (Vol. 6, no 9), Nora K. Schmid (University of Oxford) reviews Sean W. Anthony, Muhammad and the Empires of Faith: The Making of the Prophet of Islam (Oakland: University of California Press, 2020).

empiresIn her review, Schmid writes “What do we know about Muḥammad? How do we know what we know and how certain can we be of that knowledge? These are questions that have been asked by scholars many times and answered in many different ways. In Muhammad and the Empires of Faith: The Making of the Prophet of Islam, Sean W. Anthony presents a fresh attempt to provide answers to these questions. The book has two goals. It strives to “revitalize historical research into the life and times of Muḥammad” and it attempts to “shed new light on the historical circumstances and the intellectual currents that gave rise to the sīrah-maghāzī tradition as a discrete genre of Arabic letters from the last decade of the seventh century C.E. up until the end of the eighth.” The book is therefore truly a study of two topics, the historical Muḥammad and the sīrah-maghāzī genre, and an urgent plea to make sense of the former in light of the latter…”

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, 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.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 11.00.09 AM

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.

Reminder: IQSA Graduate Student Roundtable Tomorrow

Attention all graduate students and early career scholars!

Every year the International Qur’anic Studies Association hosts a Graduate Student Luncheon at the IQSA Annual Meeting held in conjunction with the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). This event is a valuable opportunity for emerging scholars to mingle with established experts in Qur’anic studies in a more relaxed setting.

In keeping with this year’s new Annual Meeting format, this event will take place virtually as a Graduate Student Roundtable over Zoom tomorrow on December 3, 2020 from 11am to 12pm EST. To participate, visit the SBL Annual Meeting Page and choose Register for the Annual Meeting. Then, complete a New Registration under the Affiliate Members category, and choose International Qur’anic Studies Association when prompted. Then, use the Virtual Meetings Platform to locate and log into the event (P3-112a). This event is free for anyone who has registered for the Annual Meeting.

Participants should be prepared to discuss the following questions:

1. Please provide a brief personal introduction (Name, Title, Affiliation, Reason for Interest in Qur’anic Studies)
2. Mentors—what advice would you give to graduate students and rising academics today?
3. Graduate students and rising scholars—what is your fundamental concern in your field today?

Need Technical Support? Visit the SBL Help Desk online!

IQSA is committed to fostering community in Qur’anic studies by supporting students on their path to professional success and encouraging collaboration across generations, all of which are vital to the advancement of knowledge in our field. We hope you join us for this valuably opportunity!

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

Bring your questions for IQSA to the General & Business Meetings!

Dear Friends of IQSA,

Today IQSA members and the general public will have the opportunity to gather virtually as a group for the IQSA Annual Business and General Meetings. As we are not able to convene in person this year, this will be a valuable opportunity for members and the wider community to converse in a group setting for discussion of important agenda items, including but not limited to elections, plans for future meetings, and IQSA’s annual operations. 

We invite you to use this opportunity to bring any questions or concerns you might have for IQSA Leaders and Officers to either or both of the below sessions. IQSA representatives will do their best to answer and address all inquiries, especially in light of the challenging times we are facing as a global community of scholars today.

  • Business Meeting Wednesday DEC 2, 10-11AM EST
    • Members Only
  • General Meeting Wednesday DEC 2, 11:30AM-12:30PM EST
    • Open to Public

Attendees can find links and instructions on accessing sessions through the Virtual Planner at this link. Because of this year’s virtual meeting format on Zoom, meeting registration is required for participation.

Need Technical Support? Visit the SBL Help Desk online!

We look forward to gathering with you and the IQSA community!


IQSA Executive Office