By Jane McAuliffe
When the discussions surrounding the Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān commenced in 1993 the scholarly world was a different place from the one we find ourselves in today. It hardly needs to be stated that public attention to the Islamic world has increased considerably over the past two decades, and publishing houses have responded with a flood of popular and academic tomes. The Qurʾān and Qurʾānic studies have enjoyed (and at times suffered from) a central role in this changing context. The timing of the publication of EQ over the period of 2001 to 2006 was fortuitous and welcomed by readers around the world. In the years since its publication its value has been revealed in many ways, as witnessed by its consistent citation in scholarly and general books. Still, the intervening time from the original planning until today shows that there is much more that could be accomplished. A new generation of scholars devoted to the Qurʾān and its interpretation has emerged. The broader field of Islamic Studies has generated topics of both academic and popular interest for which the Qurʾān and its scholarship is an important source. And new forms of publication, particularly electronic and online, allow completed work, such as a multi-volume encyclopedia, to be reimagined as a more flexible and continually refreshed reference source, one that can keep pace with a field of study as it changes and push its boundaries.
The Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān, the first such work in western languages, was designed to define the field of Qur’ānic studies and to capture the state of scholarship as it stood at the time of its publication. This it did quite successfully. The structure of the Encyclopaedia, as outlined in the Preface, which combined entries of varying length with longer, synoptic essays, was intended to summarize past academic work and to set an agenda for the future. The very success of the Encyclopaedia in advancing the field has resulted, perhaps inevitably, in the suggestion that a way be found to expand, improve, and update it. The revolution of electronic publication and online access now permits the realization of that suggestion.
Discussions have thus been initiated between Brill and an editorial team under the direction of Jane McAuliffe to issue regular supplements to the Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān. The goal is not to replace published entries—the original edition will remain intact—but to expand the existing base of articles with freshly commissioned ones on the same, related and new topics. These will serve to complement, supplement, elaborate on, and provide additional perspectives on the current print and online edition. Future supplements will provide entries and longer essays under new headings, reflecting work currently being undertaken and recently published in the scholarly arena. The editors will also commission additional entries dealing with the exegetical tradition, filling in information about authors and works that are referenced throughout the published Encyclopaedia but not treated independently or expansively within its pages.
With this expansion of the online edition, the basic editorial approach of EQ will remain the same. Entries will be found primarily under English keywords. The perspective of the work will continue to be thoroughly academic and rigorous, incorporating a plurality of perspectives and presuppositions, as the Preface to the original Encyclopaedia expressed it. The editorial team continues to uphold the notion that “[s]cholarly perspective can no longer be neatly pinned to religious identification and good scholarship is flourishing in this richly plural environment” and will strive to ensure that it is in this spirit that the Encyclopaedia continues to expand.
Now that this opportunity to create a supplement is available to those of us who work in this field, the editorial team would welcome suggestions of topics that users of the Encyclopaedia feel should be included or expanded upon. While proposing a topic does not guarantee its inclusion, surfacing as many good suggestions as possible will certainly launch this project in a productive direction. Following the contemporary process of “crowdsourcing,” the collective input of the scholarly community and other interested individuals will ensure that the coverage of the Encyclopaedia continues to evolve with the field of Qur’ānic Studies itself and to be as comprehensive as possible.
Please send all suggestions and correspondence to any of the individual email addresses below or to: firstname.lastname@example.org
William Graham, associate editor (email@example.com)
Daniel Madigan, associate editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Andrew Rippin, associate editor (email@example.com)
Mona Siddiqui, associate editor (Mona.Siddiqui@ed.ac.uk)
© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2013. All rights reserved.