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.

Sincerely,

Emran El-Badawi, Executive Director

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

RIP Andrew Rippin (1950-2016)

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Andrew Rippin passed away at his home in Victoria, British Columbia. Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria since 2013—where he was formerly Professor of History and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Andrew (or Andy as he was known to some)—was an esteemed colleague, revered mentor, and scholarly inspiration to many members of the IQSA community.

Since entering the fields of Qur’anic and Islamic Studies in the 1980s, Andrew’s scholarly output was immense, helping to shape these fields for almost four decades: he was author or editor of two dozen well-known textbooks, anthologies, and thematic volumes; around eighty journal articles and book chapters; and literally hundreds of encyclopedia entries and reviews. For scholars of the Qurʾān, Andrew was perhaps best known for his profound impact on the study of tafsīr in particular. Viewed collectively, his numerous surveys of the field and introductory works allow the student of the Qur’an and its interpretation to grasp both the immensity of the field and appreciate its transformation over the decades since he published his earliest attempt to take stock of the state of the field, “The Present Status of Tafsīr Studies” (Muslim Studies 72 [1982]: 224-238) some thirty-five years ago.

rippin

Andrew Rippin (1950-2016)

Seeking to apprehend the full range of subjects covered in Andrew’s publications, one is struck by the sheer breadth of his interests and expertise. Already in the articles published during his first decade or so of activity in the field of Qurʾānic Studies, Andrew touched on a number of subjects that would be of interest to him throughout his career: the complex relationship between doctrine, grammar, and lexicography in the formation of the tafsīr tradition; the intertwining of Qurʾān and tafsīr with Jewish and Christian scriptural, parascriptural, and exegetical cultures; the benefits that bringing epigraphic and archaeological data to bear in the interpretation of the Qurʾān might potentially yield; the origins of Muslim attempts to impose hermeneutic frameworks linked to the biography of Muḥammad and accounts of the process of revelation such as naskh and asbāb al-nuzūl upon the Qurʾān; and the construction of authority figures in the received tradition—most notably ʿAbd Allāh Ibn ʿAbbās (d. 68/687)—to demarcate certain strands of exegesis as ancient in pedigree and thus of greater legitimacy.

Today, Tafsīr Studies has clearly emerged as a vibrant field of inquiry. That it should be so is in no small part due to Andrew’s tireless efforts to establish it as such. Andrew long advocated for scholars to take seriously the worlds of meanings and symbols which were produced by classical commentaries on the Qurʾān so that tafsīr and other branches of ʿulūm al-Qurʾān could be seen as significant in their own right, and not simply as records of transmitted traditions. That is, he emphasized the necessity of striking a balance between reading the Qurʾān on its own terms and appreciating the importance of how Muslims have made sense of the Qurʾān as scripture over the last 1,400 years of Islamic history. It is no exaggeration to say that both the revival of interest in the study of the Qurʾān over the last decade and the flourishing of the study of tafsīr in the same period were greatly encouraged by Andrew’s contributions in publishing, teaching, and mentorship.

It is supremely fitting that Andrew has been honored with a Festschrift edited by Majid Daneshgar and Walid Saleh that has just been published by Brill: Islamic Studies Today: Essays in Honor of Andrew Rippin, featuring chapters by some twenty prominent contemporary scholars of Islam as well as two vivid personal tributes by Jane McAuliffe and Claude Gilliot.

sp-2014-mtg

The spring 2014 board meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (from left to right: Hamza Zafer, Fred Donner, Andrew Rippin, Emran El-Badawi, Gabriel Reynolds, Jane McAuliffe, with John Kutsko)

We remember in particular with gratitude that Andrew Rippin served as the inaugural president of IQSA in 2014.  An address which he gave on that occasion can be downloaded here. On November 18 and during his final days the IQSA board of directors announced the Andrew Rippin Best Paper Prize, awarded to an outstanding paper delivered at the annual meeting. Since the announcement of this prize a number of contributions have been received in Andrew’s name.

The richness and sophistication of the contributions to Andrew’s Festschrift is testimony to the massive impact Andrew has had, though the short biographical notes and comprehensive bibliography one may find there only capture his contribution to the field in largely quantitative terms. The depth of his true impact is almost unfathomable, judging from the hundreds of students, colleagues, and friends he influenced over the decades, and who will remember Andrew as the very model of thorough, exacting, yet humane and engaged scholarship.

Board of Directors, International Qur’an Studies Association

© International Qur’anic Studies Association, 2016. All rights reserved.