Duke Islamic Studies Center and Duke University Middle East Studies Center are hiring again! If you’d like to work with us, please read on, and feel free to share.

This position is for a Research Project Coordinator, a person who will work with the directors of the two centers to design, develop, and carry out research projects that pull together faculty from across the university.

“The projects integrate campus-based, local, national and international scholars and initiatives that reflect new research in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. The position makes significant contributions to research agendas and outcomes relating to the ME and Islamic Studies.” Continue reading

(via ResetDOC)
(via ResetDOC)

via ResetDOC, SEPTEMBER 2015: 

Three great Arab intellectuals - Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, Mohammed Abed Al-Jabri and Mohammed Arkoun - died in 2010, shortly before the outburst of the Arab Springs and in the midst of an identity crisis that is tearing apart the Muslim world, in a region beset with complex questions related to identity, religion’s place in society and politics, modernity, the democratization process, the status of minorities in Islamic societies and the concretization of a borderless Maghreb and Mashrek.

Five years later, many of the important open questions that have for so long plagued this part of the world, have not yet been resolved. However, the intellectual and moral legacy that arises from the life-long work and commitment of these three thinkers can still help us understand and imagine a way out of the darkness.


Death took them in 2010: let’s celebrate their legacy
by Brahim El Guabli

Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd: A Theologian Confronting Hijackers of the Quran
by Mohammed Hashas
Al-Jabri’s exegetic methodology and the presentation of the Qur’an
by Mariangela Laviano
Mohamed Arkoun: Unveiling Orthodoxy and Hegemony through Spiritual Responsibility
by Mohammed Hashas
The case of Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd
by Abdou Filali-Ansary
Opening the Doors of Ijtihad
by Fred Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame
«Problems in the Islamic world cannot be blamed exclusively on Islam»
Nasr Abu Zayd interviewed by Nina zu Fürstenberg
VIDEO: The Other as Mirror of Selfunderstanding
Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd




Emran el-Badawi
Emran el-Badawi

The Qur’an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions (Routledge, 2013) written by Emran El-Badawi, professor and director of the Arab Studies program at the University of Houston, is a recent addition to the field of research on the Qur’an and Aramaic and Syriac biblical texts. Professor El-Badawi asserts that the Qur’an is a product of an environment steeped in the Aramaic gospel traditions. Not a “borrowing” from the Aramaic gospel tradition, but rather the Qur’an contains a “dogmatic re-articulation” of elements from that tradition for an Arab audience.

He introduces and examines this context in the second chapter, and then proceeds to compare passages of the Qur’an and passages of the Aramaic gospel in the subsequent four chapters. These comparisons are organized according to four primary themes: prophets, clergy, the divine, and the apocalypse. Each chapter contains numerous images constituting the larger theme at work. For example in the chapter “Divine Judgment and the Apocalypse,” images of paradise and hell taken from gospel traditions are compared to the Qur’anic casting of these images. Moreover, Professor El-Badawi includes three indices following his concluding chapter that provide a great deal of raw data and textual parallels between the Qur’an and the wide range of sources he has employed.

The value of his work is evidenced by the fact it was nominated for the 2014 British-Kuwait Friendship Society’s Book Prize in Middle Eastern Studies.


In September 2014 the Duke Islamic Studies Center (which manages the Transcultural Islam Project of which TIRN and ISLAMiCommentary is a part), announced its official institutional affiliation with New Books in Islamic Studies — a bi-weekly audio podcast featuring hour long conversations with authors of exciting new research. For an archive see HERE.


Ebrahim Moosa
Ebrahim Moosa

Recent years have witnessed a spate of journalistic and popular writings on the looming threat to civilization that lurks in traditional Islamic seminaries or madrasas that litter the physical and intellectual landscape of the Muslim world. In his riveting new book What is a Madrasa? (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of History and Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame, challenges such sensationalist stereotypical narratives by providing a nuanced and richly textured account of the place and importance of Madrasas in Islam both historically and in the contemporary moment.

519B98pnpSL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Rather than approaching madrasas from a policy studies viewpoint as institutions requiring reform and modernization, this book instead examines madrasas on their own terms with a view of highlighting their internal complexities and tensions. Focused primarily on the madrasas of South Asia, what makes this book particularly remarkable is the way it brings together the intellectual histories and traditions that define madrasa education and the everyday practices in madrasa life today.

The reader of this book travels through an arcade of the seminal texts, scholars, and sites that have shaped the madrasa as an institution and its curricula over the last several centuries. But moreover, this book also provides readers intimate portraits of daily life at madrasas through the eyes of students who study there, thus bringing into view the rhythms of everyday practices that punctuate the lives of madrasa students, and the hopes, anxieties, and aspirations that irrigate their religious and social imaginaries.

In our conversation, in addition to discussing these themes, we also talked about Professor Moosa’s own journey as a teenager in the madrasas of South Asia to the corridors of the American academy. Written in an exceptionally lucid fashion, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of Muslim traditions of knowledge and education. It will also be particularly well suited for undergraduate and graduate seminars on Muslim intellectual thought, education, and Islam in South Asia.

LISTEN to interview with MOOSA

Continue reading

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, TIRN via the Door of Mercy International Kenan Rifai Symposium (Session 3 streamed live) on May 30, 2015:

Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center Omid Safi and UNC Chapel Hill professor Juliane Hammer spoke at a symposium over the weekend in Turkey: “Kenan Rifai: Bringing Mawlana Rumi to the 20th Century.”

Safi lectured on “how the teachings of the path of love have been adapted for the 20th and 21st centuries , with an eye towards deep models of spiritual fellowship and friendship.”

Hammer addressed the topic: “On Women’s Bodies: Gender, Islamophobia, and Resistance in America.”

A Turkish professor, Cangüzel Güner Zülfikar, gave a talk on “Kenan Rifai’s Teaching and Training Methods.”

The Door of Mercy International Kenan Rifai Symposium was hosted by Cemalnur Sargut, a Sufi teacher.


Details on the Symposium: 

Cemal Reşit Rey Konser Salonu / Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall


Oturum Başkanı / Chairperson
Bruce Lawrence, Prof. Dr.

Omid Safi, Prof. Dr.
Kenan Rifâî: Hz. Mevlânâ’yı 20. Yüzyıla Taşımak
Kenan Rifai: Bringing Mawlana Rumi to the 20th Century

Cangüzel Güner Zülfikar, Yrd. Doç. Dr. / Asst. Prof.
Kenan er-Rifâî Hz.’nin Mürşitliği ve Mürebbiliği
Kenan Rifai’s Teaching and Training Methods

Juliane Hammer, Doç. Dr. / Assoc. Prof.
Kadın Bedeni: Toplumsal Cinsiyet, İslamofobi ve Amerika’daki Direnç
On Women’s Bodies: Gender, Islamophobia, and Resistance in America