We at the Duke Islamic Studies Center are pleased to announce that the work of the Carnegie Corporation of New York-supported Transcultural Islam Project (ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN) has been highlighted in a new report by the Social Science Research Council — “Religion, Media and the Digital Turn.” The report surveyed 160 digital projects and documents the effects that digital modes of research and publication have on the study of religion.

“While our primary goal is to chronicle emerging forms of intellectual production shaping the study of religion, we hope that a greater awareness of this new work will generate more recognition of the high quality and innovative work that already exists,” report authors Chris Cantwell (University of Missouri) and Hussein Rashid (New York University) write, explaining that “the most innovative digital projects are often those that creatively combine a number of these models or genres.”

ISLAMiCommentary was mentioned at the top of several subsections, for this reason, and a lengthy case study of ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN has been included in the report (in Appendix 1) because, as the report authors told us, they find the project “exemplary.” Other projects highlighted with lengthy case studies (in Appendix 1) include the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (MAVCOR) at Yale, the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project at the University of Loyola; and Mapping Ararat — a project of York University, the University of Toronto and Emerson College.

Appendix 2 lists the 160 projects surveyed.

The report can be downloaded HERE.

WATCH ABOVE: A poetry reading and contextualization of the Islamic Mystic Ibn Al-Arabi by Professor Michael Sells, John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature, University of Chicago Divinity School. (Introduction to Sells by Ellen McLarney, Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture)


An Interview with University of Chicago Islamic History & Literature Professor Michael Sells

by ABDUL LATIF for ISLAMiCommentary on NOVEMBER 3, 2015:

Michael Sells holds a workshop at Duke University on the Qu'ran and it's listeners.
Michael Sells holds a workshop at Duke University on the Qu’ran and it’s listeners.

In early October the University of Chicago’s John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature Michael Sells visited Duke University for two talks; “Translator of Desires” — a poetry reading of the Islamic mystic Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi; and a workshop on the Qur’an and its listeners.

Sells studies and teaches in the areas of Qur’anic studies, Sufism, Arabic and Islamic love poetry, mystical literature (Greek, Islamic, Christian, and Jewish), and religion and violence.

I had the opportunity to sit down with him on October 2 to talk about his research.

The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

QUESTION: What brought you to the study of Islam and Arabic poetry?

SELLS: In college, I was a student abroad in Italy and we had vacations. In one vacation I went to Tunis. I walked from the French part of the city into the old city and saw the different textures and intricacies of life, and I thought, “This is a culture and a world I want to be involved in.” I subsequently went back to Tunis, and later went to Cairo for a year. There I became fascinated with the pervasiveness of the Qur’an recitation. And Cairo of course was the center of the explosion of the use of radio and cassettes. The great Egyptian reciters played on television, radio. People were reciting in the streets on different occasions, and I became convinced that this was a central aspect of the Qur’an. 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