AGYA Conference: Translation and Multilingualism in the Premodern Islamic World(s)

November 2024 15-16
Institute of Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
In the premodern Islamic world(s), translation was instrumental in fostering intellectual, scientific, and cultural advancements. The process of translation contributed to the development of Islamic sciences and intellectual traditions, such as astronomy, medicine, philosophy, and mathematics. Many classical works of philosophy, science, medicine, mathematics, and literature from ancient civilizations were translated into Arabic and subsequently preserved, influencing Islamic scholarship and contributing to the advancement of knowledge production in the region, especially during the Abbasid era (8 to the 10 centuries). It is well known that translation in the premodern Islamic world has facilitated the transfer of knowledge from diverse sources such as Greek, Persian, Indian, and Chinese texts into Arabic, which became a lingua franca of the Islamic scholarly community.

Unlike modern nation-states that exert control over specific territories and languages, the premodern Islamic world(s) featured several cosmopolitan languages in practice. These languages facilitated interactions and the exchange of knowledge within local societies. For example, the translation of Arabic sacred texts played a crucial role, serving as a vital link for effective communication among speakers of different languages and facilitating the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and cultural values across diverse Islamic nations throughout various historical periods. These writers either sought to emulate or drew upon the shared meanings embedded in the collective memory of their respective communities. By revisiting the multilingual texts produced on Qurʾan and Hadith, we can gain insight into how these texts served as a wellspring of inspiration for generations of writers spanning more than twelve hundred years.

The conference explores the role of translation and multilingualism in disseminating scholarly works and educational materials across linguistic boundaries, enriching the intellectual vitality of premodern Islamic societies. The conference invites contributions from the social sciences and the humanities on the process of translation and the nature of multilingualism throughout the premodern Islamic history. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

– Studying the translation of sacred texts such as the Quran, Hadith, and theological works into various languages and its impact on religious discourse and interpretation.

– Examining the translation of literary works, poetry, and prose from different languages into Arabic and other languages within the Islamic world, and its influence on literary traditions.

– Examining the role of multilingual manuscripts in preserving and transmitting knowledge across linguistic boundaries in the premodern Islamic world.

– Analyzing the techniques and strategies used by translators in the premodern Islamic world to convey complex ideas and concepts from one language to another.

– Exploring the impact of non-Arabic languages such as Persian, Greek, Sanskrit, and Syriac on the development of Islamic intellectual and cultural traditions through translation.

– Investigating historical approaches to multilingual education and language learning in the premodern Islamic world, including the development of language curricula and pedagogical methods.

Each paper should present a clear case study that effectively highlights its historical and cultural contexts. The conference proceedings, to be published in 2025, will undergo a peer-review process and will be edited by the co-organizers before being published by a prestigious university press.

Those interested in presenting papers are invited to submit an abstract in a Word file (500 words, including references) and a short biography that includes affiliations and publications (150 words) to Hany Rashwan ( by 15 July 2024 at the latest.

The conference is organized by AGYA members Hany Rashwan (United Arab Emirates University, UAE) and Florian Zemmin (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany). It is planned to take place in person from 15 − 16 November 2024 at the Institute of Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. The conference is part of a tandem project within the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA). The accommodation and travel costs for invited speakers will be covered by AGYA. Funding is still subject to approval.

Selected References

Gutas, Dimitri. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ʿAbbasaid Society (Second to Fourth / Fifth to Tenth Centuries.). Routledge, 1998.

Marlow, Louise. “Translation of the Words of ʿAli b. Abi Tālib in Early Fourteenth-Century Iran: A Local Bilingual Network.” Iranian Studies, vol. 53, nos. 5–6, 2020, pp. 741–87.

Zadeh, Travis. Mapping Frontiers across Medieval Islam: Geography, Translation, and the ʿAbbāsid Empire. I. B. Tauris, 2011.

Hamilton, Michelle M., and Nuria Silleras-Fernandez, eds. Iberian Babel: Translation and Multilingualism in the Medieval and the Early Modern Mediterranean, (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 11 Jul. 2022) doi:

About AGYA

The Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA) is based at the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) in Germany and at the Academy of Scientific Research & Technology (ASRT) in Egypt. It was established in 2013 as the first bilateral Young Academy worldwide. AGYA promotes research cooperation among outstanding early-career researchers from all disciplines who are affiliated with a research institution in Germany or in any Arab country. The academy supports the innovative projects of its members in various fields of research as well as in science policy and education. With members and alumni in currently 18 Arab countries and Germany, AGYA enjoys strong relations in various research ecosystems, promoting and supporting Arab-German research exchange and North-South-South cooperation. AGYA is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and various Arab and German cooperation partners

Nahj al-balāghah (The Wisdom and Eloquence of ʿAlī A Parallel English-Arabic Text)

Author: al-Sharīf al-Raḍī

“People! We live in a challenging age and a difficult time …”. This is one of the many statements that still ring true, and it is not surprising that Nahj al-balāghah (The Way of Eloquence) has remained one of the most revered Arabic texts among both Sunni
and Shiʾi Muslims. These speeches, letters, and sayings attributed to ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muḥammad, one of the key figures in Islamic history and considered an outstanding orator, were compiled around ce1000. This volume, with Tahera Qutbuddin’s splendid scholarly edition and masterly translation, is a major achievement. Geert Jan van Gelder, Laudian Professor of Arabic Emeritus, University of Oxford Translating the sermons and sayings of Imam ʿAli, “the gate to the city of knowledge,” is a momentous task. Dr. Qutbuddin has not only encapsulated the thoughts and ideas of
Imam ʿAli accurately, but she has also beautifully preserved the fluency, flow and tempo of Nahj al-Balāghah’s sermons and sayings in English through her selective choice of words and flowing structure. I strongly recommend this translation to the specialist and casual reader alike.
Syed Muhammad Rizvi, Principal Director, Shiʿa Research Institute, Toronto, and Head, Council of Shiʾa Muslim Scholars of North America Few works in Arabic contain the depth of wisdom and eloquence found in Nahj al- Balāghah, the fourth-century ah collection of the statements of Imam ʿAli b. Abi Talib. My journey with the text—published and lauded by the Egyptian reformer Muhammad Abduh began more than fifty years ago at the Beirut Religious Seminary where I was required to memorize sections to hone my speaking skills; later, at al-Azhar University in Cairo, my professor Dr. Abd al-Halim Mahmoud made me recite from a sermon for my oral exams. This new edition of Nahj al-Balāghah, edited by a scholar of Arabic rhetoric,
utilizes the oldest and most reliable manuscripts and includes an erudite and in-depth introduction, ensuring its place as a core reference for scholars and researchers. I congratulate Professor Qutbuddin on this outstanding academic achievement.
Ridwan al-Sayyid, Dean of the College of Postgraduate Studies and Research, Mohamed
Bin Zayed University for Humanities, Abu Dhabi “Below the speech of the Creator but above the speech of created beings” this is how commentator Ibn Abī al-Ḥadīd (d. ca. 1258) famously described Nahj al-Balāghah, recognizing this collection as the pinnacle of eloquence in the Arabic language. Tahera Qutbuddin presents in this volume a painstaking new edition of this monument of Arabic literature, based on the oldest and most reliable manuscripts and thorough consideration of the commentarial tradition. Her brilliant translation is faithful to the original text, precise, and elegant, capturing the force of pithy aphorisms, the cadence of Arabic oratory, and contemplative reflection on the trials and tribulations of human experience, the ethical quandaries of social and political life, and the wonders of the natural world. 

Postdoctoral Fellowships in Berlin (EUME)

(Location: Berlin / Closing Date: 8 April, 2024)

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien invites scholars to apply for up to four postdoctoral fellowships for the academic year 2024/25 for the research program


EUME seeks to rethink key concepts and premises that link and divide Europe and the Middle East. The program draws on the international expertise of a growing network of scholars in and outside of Germany and is embedded in university and extra-university research institutions in and outside of Berlin. EUME supports historical-critical philology, rigorous engagement with the literatures of the Middle East and their histories, the social history and life of cities and the study of Middle Eastern political and philosophical thought as central fields of research not only for area or cultural studies, but also for European intellectual history and other academic disciplines. The program explores modernity as a historical space and conceptual frame. EUME is interested in questions relating to ongoing transformation processes in and between Europe and the Middle East, in re-imaginations of the past and present that contribute to free, pluralistic and just societies.

The program puts forward three programmatic ideas:

1) supporting research that demonstrates the rich and complex historical legacies and entanglements between Europe and the Middle East; 2) re-examining genealogical notions of mythical ‘origins’, and ‘purity’ in relation to culture and society; and 3) rethinking key concepts of a shared modernity and future in light of contemporary cultural, social, and political divisions and entanglements that supersede identity discourses as well as national, cultural or regional canons and epistemologies that were established in the nineteenth century.

EUROPE IN THE MIDDLE EAST—THE MIDDLE EAST IN EUROPE supports and rests upon interconnected research fields and themes that mark the open framework for the fellowship program that constitutes EUME:

Travelling Traditions: Comparative Perspectives on Near Eastern Literatures
represented by Friederike Pannewick (Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies/Department for Arabic Studies, Philipps-Universität Marburg) and Samah Selim (Rutgers University) reassesses literary entanglements and processes of translation and canonization between Europe and the Middle East.

Cities Compared: Governance, Consultative Mechanisms and Plurality
represented by Ulrike Freitag and Nora Lafi (both Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin) contributes to the debates on civil society, deliberation, opinion formation, citizenship, migration and mobilization from the experience of cultural and religious differences in cities around the Mediterranean and beyond.

Tradition and the Critique of Modernity: Secularism, Fundamentalism and Religion from Middle Eastern Perspectives
represented by Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva) tries to rethink key concepts of modernity in the context of experiences, interpretations, and critiques from the Middle East in order to contribute to a more inclusive language of culture, politics and community.

Politics and Processes of Change, Archaeologies of the Present, and Imaginations of the Future are research themes that emerged during the last years and are represented by the work of several EUME Fellows and members of the Collegium (e.g. Cilja Harders, Friederike Pannewick, Rachid Ouaissa).

Since 1997, more than 400 scholars from and of the Middle East have been EUME Fellows, who, by their scholarly projects, engagement, and their inquiries into the order of knowledge, society and politics, shape the academic program of EUME that is coordinated by Georges Khalil, Jessica Metz, Claudia Pfitzner and Rashof Salih at the Forum Transregionale Studien.
“The Prison Narratives of Assad’s Syria: Voices, Texts, Publics” (SYRASP), directed by Anne-Marie McManus, and “Beyond Restitution: Heritage, (Dis)Possession and the Politics of Knowledge” (BEYONDREST), directed by Banu Karaca, are two ERC funded projects related to EUME, hosted at the Forum.


We invite scholars in the humanities and social sciences who want to carry out their research projects in connection with the Berlin-based program. The fellowships are intended to contribute to the mobility of researchers, and are primarily addressed to scholars from outside Germany. We especially encourage scholars from the Middle East to apply.

Applicants should be at the postdoctoral level and have obtained their doctorate within the last seven years. Fellows gain the opportunity to pursue research projects of their own choice within the framework of EUROPE IN THE MIDDLE EAST—THE MIDDLE EAST IN EUROPE. Successful applicants will be fellows of EUME at the Forum Transregionale Studien, and associate members of one of the university or non-university research institutes listed below or connected to the Forum Transregionale Studien.

The fellowships start on 1 October 2024 and will end on 31 July 2025. Postdoctoral fellows will receive a monthly stipend of 2,500 € plus supplements depending on their personal situation. Organisational support regarding visa, insurance, housing, etc. will be provided. Fellows are obliged to work in Berlin and to help shape the seminars and working discussions related to their research field. The working language of EUME is English.
As the number of fellowships is limited we invite interested scholars also to apply with their own or for external funding. If this may be an option, please contact us.


We kindly ask you to submit your application via the secure online application platform of the Forum Transregionale Studien by 8 April 2024, 12.00h (noon) CEST:

Please note that applications by email will not be considered.

As part of your application, you will be asked to prepare and upload the following:

— a curriculum vitae (including a list of publications);
— a project description (no longer than 5 pages), stating what the scholar will work on in Berlin if granted a fellowship, and
— the names of two university faculty members who can serve as referees (no letters of recommendation required).

In case of questions, please consult the FAQ or send an email to


EUROPE IN THE MIDDLE EAST—THE MIDDLE EAST IN EUROPE (EUME) has been initiated in 2006 as a joint research program of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. It builds upon the previous work of the Working Group Modernity and Islam (1996-2006). Since 2011, EUME is continued at the Forum Transregionale Studien.

In scholarly terms EUME is steered by a Collegium that currently consists of Ulrike Freitag (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin), Cilja Harders (Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin), Nora Lafi (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin), Rachid Ouaissa (Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Philipps-Universität Marburg / MECAM – Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb), Friederike Pannewick (Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Philipps-Universität Marburg), Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva), Samah Selim (Rutgers University), and Stefan Weber (Museum for Islamic Art, Berlin).

The Forum Transregionale Studien (Forum) is a platform for the international cooperation between scholars of different expertise and perspectives on global issues. Transregional approaches connect and confront diverse disciplines, regional, national and local positions and insights on global issues. The Forum provides scope for exchange on questions of science policy, epistemology and ethics, and develops infrastructures and formats that allow transregional research ideas and projects to be tested, implemented and communicated. The Forum is constituted by its members and the diversity of their research expertise and networks. It is committed to strengthening regional studies and to the principle of non-hierarchical research. It appoints scholars from around the world as fellows and engages in joint research programs and initiatives with partners from universities and research institutions in and outside Berlin. The Forum is funded by the Berlin Senate Department for Higher Education and Research, Health and Long-Term Care.

The Forum currently supports the following research programs and initiatives: EUROPE IN THE MIDDLE EAST—THE MIDDLE EAST IN EUROPE (EUME), PRISMA UKRAÏNA: Research Network Eastern Europe, and re:constitution: Exchange and Analysis on Democracy and the Rule of Law in Europe. The Forum is a member of the consortium of MECAM: Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb, and of the research college EUTIM: European Times – A Transregional Approach to the Societies of Central and Eastern Europe. ZUKUNFTSPHILOLOGIE: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship and 4A LAB: Art Histories, Archaeologies, Anthropologies, Aesthetics are connected programs developed at the Forum that are continued at other institutions.

For more information on the Forum Transregionale Studien, its programs, initiatives and communication, please visit

Beyond Restitution: Heritage, (Dis)Possession and The Politics of Knowledge

Call for Applications

Starting on July 1st, 2024, the Forum is looking for a

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (f/m/d)

for the research project BEYOND RESTITUTION: HERITAGE, (DIS)POSSESSION AND THE POLITICS OF KNOWLEDGE (BEYONDREST) (EG 13 TV-L, full time, location: Berlin, fixed-term contract until June 30th, 2026, a one-year extension is aspired).

BEYOND RESTITUTION: HERITAGE, (DIS)POSSESSION AND THE POLITICS OF KNOWLEDGE (BEYONDREST) is an interdisciplinary research project, funded by the European Research Council (Grant Agreement No. 101045661). At the Forum, it is affiliated with the research program EUROPE IN THE MIDDLE EAST – THE MIDDLE EAST IN EUROPE (EUME). Against the backdrop of ongoing debates about decolonializing museums, the interdisciplinary research project BEYONDREST takes restitution not as an endpoint but as the point of departure to explore what kind of loss dispossessed artworks engender, and how this loss has shaped the knowledge production on heritage. Geographically it focuses on the interlocution between Western Europe, the Near and Middle East, and North Africa, mapping relationships between people and “things†that have largely been left out of current restitution debates. The research is directed by Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. Banu Karaca. More information can be accessed here.

– Conducting independent research in areas relevant to BEYONDREST’s research agenda;
– Contributing to the intellectual development of the project and active participation in BEYONDREST’s working group;
– Coordinating BEYONDREST events and other academic activities;
– Conception and organization of academic events, such as conferences or workshops, that advance BEYONDREST’s themes and goals and support the fellow’s own research interests;
– Attending and participating in all BEYONDREST events and related academic events of EUME in close consultation with the PI;
– Contribution to BEYONDREST’s publishing agenda, an interactive online glossary, and the project’s public facing activities

– Completed dissertation in anthropology, (art) history, cultural studies, sociology, archaeology or a related field (no more than 3 years before the commencement of the fellowship);
– Established research focus on critical heritage studies, cultural policy, museum studies, politics of knowledge, material culture, and/or state violence;
– Experience with ethnographic research and preferably also with archival research;
– Regional expertise regarding the Near and Middle East and/or North Africa that complements the regional focus of the PI and the other Postdoctoral Researcher in the project;
– A clear relationship between the applicant’s research specialization and the goals of BEYONDREST, with an expressed interest in questions relating to restitution and decolonizing museums;
– Experience in the organization and coordination of academic events and publications;
– Very good knowledge of English and of at least one language spoken in the Near and Middle East and/or North Africa;
– Knowledge of German or willingness to acquire German language skills is an advantage;
– Willingness to occasional international travel (for research on museum collections and ethnographic fieldwork, especially in the Near and Middle East and/or North Africa);
– Readiness to take on organizational tasks pertaining to event organization, project development, and budgetary follow-up;
– Readiness to work in close collaboration with the BEYONDREST and Forum’s team, in addition to the fellow conducting their individual research.

The position is advertised full time, but part-time options are possible.

The fellow will receive support for relevant professional development and for open access publications on research produced during the fellowship tenure.

We offer an interesting workplace in a young and international research institution, the possibility of alternating mobile work and a pleasant working atmosphere. Our institution aims to reflect society in its entirety. Therefore, we invite applications from individuals regardless of their cultural and social background, gender, age, religion, worldviews, disabilities, and sexual orientation.

Please send your application documents (letter of motivation; curriculum vitae, incl. the names and contact details of two academic references; list of publication; a research statement of max. 3 pages; certificates) in English exclusively by e-mail and in one PDF document to The contact person is Dr. Banu Karaca, BEYONDREST’s Principal Investigator. The deadline for applications is April 15th, 2024. Job interviews are expected to take place from May 13th to 24th, 2024 at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin or via video conference.

De Gruyter Brill Press

On March 1 2024, Brill and De Gruyter finalized the process to become De Gruyter Brill. The merger of De Gruyter and Brill marks an exciting new chapter in the long history of our two publishing houses: Together, we will become one of the leading publishers in the humanities and beyond.

Since our two publishing houses were founded in 1683 and 1749, respectively, we have been committed to serving scholars from all disciplines by publishing books and journals of the highest quality. As De Gruyter Brill, we are now carrying this heritage into the future: advancing and disseminating scholarship, driven by the conviction that all research is vital in addressing the pressing challenges of our times. The combination will be perfectly positioned to offer the best possible services and infrastructure to our authors and the academic community. The enlarged scale will accelerate our transition to open access and increase our ability to deliver cutting-edge technology, such as a state-of-the-art content platform.

Next steps
We will be headquartered in de Gruyter’s current offices in Berlin, Germany, and Leiden will be the second largest office. De Gruyter Brill will be a medium-sized, family-owned, independent publishing house with one long-term goal: To advance scholarly research by supporting academic authors. We will maintain De Gruyter and Brill as individual publishing brands with their respective imprints and publishing programs. We will remain steadfast partners to the scholarly community and sustain our close and personal relationships with authors, librarians, and academic institutions.  We intend to maintain the size, breadth, and depth of the publishing programs and to offer our authors as many opportunities to publish under our imprints, within our series, and in as many subject areas as before.

What does this mean for the authors?
At this moment, this does not change anything in our service to authors. Your contacts at both publishing houses remain the same. Existing author contracts and agreements including publication timelines will not be affected by the process. For the time being, titles will continue to be published under the brands De Gruyter, Brill, or their respective imprints.  We will now start working on the integration of our operational processes. Of course, we will keep you informed during this process and will notify you in advance of any changes that may impact you.

For more information, visit our new website at

Scholarship at Harvard Law School

Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World

Visiting Fellowships 2024–2025

Applications due February 15, 2024

Harvard Law School’s Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World invites applications for Visiting Fellowships for the 2024–2025 academic year. This fellowship provides opportunities for outstanding scholars and legal practitioners to undertake research, writing, and scholarly engagement on law and society in Muslim majority and minority contexts. We are particularly interested in applicants whose work focuses on constitutional law, human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, minority rights, animal welfare and rights, food law, environmental law and climate change, migration and refugee studies, LGBTQ issues, and related areas.


We welcome applications from scholars who have completed an advanced degree (e.g., PhD, SJD, JD, LLM, or other comparable degree) and have an established academic record, as well as experienced and accomplished practicing lawyers who aim to draw upon their legal experience in their Fellowship project. Fellows may spend from one month up to one academic year (excluding June-August) in residence at Harvard Law School working on an independent project. We seek applicants from a diverse range of backgrounds, academic traditions, and scholarly interests.

Fellows will receive a stipend of up to $5,000 per month. While Fellows will devote the majority of their time to their research projects, they are expected to participate in Program activities and contribute to the intellectual life of the Program. Fellows are expected to deliver a lecture or workshop related to their topic of interest. Under certain conditions, a PLSMW fellowship may be combined with another fellowship or award.

The deadline to submit all application materials (including letters of recommendation) is February 15, 2024 to be considered for a fellowship term during the 2024–2025 academic year. Click here for additional information and how to apply.

International Conference: ‘A Boundless Ocean: Rumi’s Thought and Reception’

Location: Sweelinckzaal (room 0.05), Drift 21, Utrecht University

The year 2023 marks the 750th anniversary of Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī’s death (1207-1273), one of the mostly read authors in the Islamic world, and a best-selling poet in the United States, praised for his aesthetics, his wisdom, practical advice, and passionate love. Why is Rūmī so appealing to people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds? What is his timeless message that attracts both Muslims and non-Muslims alike? Is his modern appreciation merely to do with his non-conformist and transgressive ideas? How are his transgressive ideas used as a counter to the violent ideas of Islamist ideology, emphasizing a different Islam? Rūmī composed an impressive amount of works, his poetry consists of about 120.000 lines. His magnum opus, the Spiritual Poem (Masnavī-yi ma‘navī) is called the Koran in the Persian language as he comments on the Koran in an attractive fashion, adorning his message with metaphors and illustrative anecdotes. His opening lines about the complaint of a reed cut from the reedbed is a metaphor for the separated human soul, longing to return to the original home.

This conference brings together scholars who have worked or are working on various aspects of Rūmī as a mystic, a religious scholar, and a poet. We would like to invite scholars who are working on Rūmī to present a paper on any aspects of this medieval sage who has become a source of inspiration for many people around the world today. The conference is organized to encourage discussion on understudied aspects of Rūmī’s poetry, personality, legacy and his reception history. His oeuvre is unmatched. In Professor William’s words, “It is perhaps the single most influential piece of mystical writing ever conceived.” Therefore, we would like to analyse new aspects of Rūmī’s mystical philosophy.

To see the full programme click here.

You can attend the conference both on location and by livestream. In both cases registration is needed by sending an email to

Kitāb al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kabīr

The Kitāb al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kabīr (Biography of Muḥammad, His Companions and the Successors up to the Year 230 of the Hijra) by Ibn Saʿd (d. 230 A.H./845 C.E.) is the earliest extant biographical dictionary on the life of the Prophet and the early generations of Muslims. It is one of the most important historical works about the first centuries of Muslim society in Arabic. This classic Brill edition was supervised by Eduard Sachau and was originally titled Biographien Muhammeds, seiner Gefährten und der späteren Träger des Islams bis zum Jahre 230 der Flucht.

This edition was originally published by Brill between 1904 and 1940. The print version was republished in 16 paperback volumes in January 2022.

This is the online classical Arabic text edition of the Kitāb al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kabīr (Biography of Muḥammad, His Companions and the Successors up to the Year 230 of the Hijra) by Ibn Saʿd (d. 230 A.H./845 C.E.). The print version has been published between 1904 and 1940 by Brill, and a paperback reprint version was published in January 2022. This online version is published as a full text searchable product on the Scholarly Editions platform.

ICMA Conference

The Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding of Georgetown University and the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation of Charles Sturt University in collaboration with Comparative Islamic Studies (Equinox Journal) are pleased to host an online conference on Isnād-cum-matn Analysis (ICMA) as a Method in Contemporary Hadith Studies on 27-28 January 2024.

Western academic scholarship on the origin and transmission of hadith and traditional Muslim hadith methodologies of authentication, though studying the same body of literature, often operate in disconnected universes. It is of scholarly importance to academic development and for the continued vibrancy of the hadith tradition, as practiced by Muslim ulema, that dialogue continues between the two. Conferences aiming to do so, such as the one at Pembroke College, Oxford in 2019 on the topic of Modern Hadith Studies between Arabophone and Western scholarship, are a welcome effort, though the field remains siloed.

Since the academic movement is most closely associated with the work of Harold Motzki from the 1990s, there has been a shift beyond the so-called ‘skeptical’ school with respect to hadith using the technique of ICMA. This method analyses the variation of hadith texts according to their paths of transmission, seeking to provide a reliable date for the time at which a hadith was first in common circulation (as witnessed by its corroborated chains). Scholars with a range of theoretical perspectives have used this methodology to analyze and in particular, date hadiths on various topics. The method is commonly used to recover as much as possible of the hadith corpus as a viable historical source for the first two centuries of Islam, even though the canonical compilations date mainly to the third century and later. Though ICMA has received positive reception, especially in the context of the prior prevailing academic skepticism about hadith, critical voices have been raised. Some scholars have argued for the continuation of a more skeptical attitude towards the transmission of hadith, based on the ways that fabricated reports and chains can enter the corpus. Others have suggested that Motzki’s focus on full textual corroboration does not go far enough and other techniques, including those used within the Islamic intellectual tradition, could be legitimately added to date hadiths earlier still. Finally, some scholars defend the integrity of the canonical hadith collections as a whole.

This conference will provide a forum for the assessment of an international group of experts on hadith, from a variety of backgrounds and theoretical perspectives. The intention is to provide a ‘state of the art’ appraisal of ICMA within hadith studies and related academic disciplines, with selected papers published with the blind peer reviewed journal Comparative Islamic Studies.

The conference invites papers on a range of methodological and historiographical inquiries surrounding the use of ICMA in the field of hadith studies. While case studies involving the application of the method to specific hadith clusters is likely to feature in many of the papers, the intended focus is the broader question of method. The ability to advance questions of hadith methodology through the analysis of specific traditions is modelled by Motzki’s pioneering contributions to the field.

Papers are requested on topics addressing questions such as:

  • How has ICMA been received in hadith studies in the past three decades?
  • What is the epistemic status of ICMA analysis?
  • What does ICMA reveal about the common links of hadith?
  • What are the advantages and limitations of the technique, and the scope of its application?
  • Are there similar techniques to the ICMA in classical Muslim scholarship and have they yielded the same results?
  • What are the challenges of conducting ICMA and can technology, such as electronic databases and AI generated tools, contribute to the development of reliable tools?
  • How does ICMA relate to the historiographical reception of hadith in academic circles and the hadith canon in Islamic religious tradition?

These topics are intended to be taken broadly and papers on ICMA from different theoretical, methodological and empirical perspectives are also welcome.

  • Call for abstracts deadline: 31 August 2023
  • Announcement of accepted papers: 18 September 2023
  • Online Conference: 27-28 January 2024
  • Manuscript submission deadline: 31 March 2024

Hadith Commentary Continuity and Change

Explores key texts and critical themes of hadith commentary

  • Represents a milestone for the field: the first-ever edited volume on the important subject of hadith commentary
  • Presents diverse case studies of hadith commentaries across time, place and sect
  • Delivers new insights into themes of Islam and politics, Islamic mysticism, Islamic law, Islamic philosophy and the digital humanities
  • Offers cross-disciplinary models of cutting-edge methods in textual studies from a group of international scholars

Hadith commentary has been a central site of Islamic intellectual life for more than a millennium, across diverse periods, regions and sects. This is the first volume of scholarly essays ever collected on the key texts and critical themes of hadith commentary. The book unfolds chronologically from the early centuries of Islam to the modern period, and readers will discover continuities and changes as a group of international experts offer illuminating studies of Sunnis, Shi‘i and Sufis who interpret and debate the meaning of hadith that spans a wide terrain: Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, India, and further. The volume also models a variety of methodological approaches, including social history, intellectual history, the study of religion, and digital history. By highlighting both differences and commonalities as the practice of hadith commentary circulated across distant eras and lands, this volume sheds new light on the way Muslims have historically understood the meaning of Muhammad’s example.

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