Oct 10th: Professor Casewit on the PhD program in Islamic Studies

Dear colleagues,

Welcome back to a new academic year! Please join us for our first event of the year – a discussion with Professor Yousef Casewit on the PhD program in Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago. We will meet next Thursday, October 10th from 2-3:30pm in Swift 400.

We are also looking forward to an exciting quarter of events. Please save the dates below, and we hope to see you soon!

Oct 24th: Adam Matvya (CMES)

Nov 7th: Samantha Pellegrino (Divinity)

Nov 21st: Alex Matthews (Divinity)

Best wishes,

Allison Kanner-Botan, ISW coordinator

Samantha Pellegrino, ISW assistant coordinator

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2019-2020 Call for Papers

Dear Colleagues,

The Islamic Studies Workshop welcomes paper proposals for the 2019-20 academic year. Presentations can include portions of dissertation chapters or proposals, job talks, master’s theses, conference presentations, or other research, and we especially welcome work-in-progress. In the past, we have hosted scholars from Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, History of Science, History of Christianity and Judaism, South Asian studies, Near Eastern studies and Political Science. We welcome scholars from these disciplines and others whose work engages with the study of Islam as a central object of inquiry.

Presenters circulate a piece of writing or resources for discussion a week in advance of the workshop. A respondent begins the discussion with a summary of the piece and a few opening questions. If you are interested in serving as a respondent this year, please email the coordinators.

We will meet on alternate Thursdays from 2:00-3:20pm (Swift 400), beginning in the Fall quarter. Please submit a brief proposal to Sam Pellegrino (spellegrino@uchicago.edu) and Allison Kanner (akanner@uchicago.edu) by Friday, September 20 if you would like to present.

We will also be placing papers for the upcoming winter and spring quarters, so please indicate when you submit in which quarter you would like to present.

Best,

Allison Kanner, Islamic Studies Workshop Coordinator
Sam Pellegrino, Islamic Studies Workshop Assistant Coordinator

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Spring 2019 Schedule

Dear Colleagues,
Please join us at Islamic Studies workshop for our remaining events of the quarter. All events will be held in Swift 106 from 2-3:30pm with (light) refreshments!

4/25
– Sam Lasman (CompLit): Demonic Pasts: (other)World History in Medieval Iran

5/9
– Ameena Yovan (NELC): The Khawārij in the Caliphate of ‘Alī: Developing Ideologies of Rule

5/23
– Alexandra Hoffman (NELC):On Emotions and Masculinities in al-Samarqandī’s Sindbād-Nāmeh.

6/6
– PhD Student Reflections (Divinity)

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Timothy Guttman: Islamic Thought Among Others The Confucian Ethics of Wang Daiyu

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us next Thursday, March 7th from 2:00-3:30pm in Swift 400 at Islamic Studies Workshop for a talk with Timothy Gutmann. Timothy will be presenting on his paper titled:

Islamic Thought Among Others The Confucian Ethics of Wang Daiyu

Abstract: In this paper, I will consider how the Muslim thinker Wang Daiyu 王岱輿 (1570-1660) conceived of human flourishing in a Chinese Confucian political and cosmic situation. Recently, scholars have taken interest in the extent to which Wang, and the tradition of Islamic thought in Chinese he represents, adapted Chinese frameworks to Islamic theology and anthropology and vice versa. Here I will argue that such scholarship presumes a binary opposition between Islam and Chinese traditions that does not fully obtain in the work of Wang and his successors. I compare Wang’s conception of the “human ultimate” (renji ⼈極) through the Confucian doctrine of the five constant (wuchang 五常) virtues. It is precisely these virtues that earlier neo-Confucian tradition used to define its ethical human ideal: the sage (shengren 聖⼈). Drawing on Alasdair MacIntyre, I argue that in the realm of human flourishing Wang sees Islam and Confucianism as commensurable. Finally, I address the present moment, in which Chinese authorities are policing Muslims and scrutinizing Islam to a historically unprecedented degree, and offer some preliminary thoughts on the issue on Islam and the question of the other.

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Nicholas Lorenz: Salafi Ruqya in England

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us this Friday, February 15th from 2-3:30pm at Islamic Studies Workshop for a discussion with Nick Lorenz (Divinity) on his paper titled:

Salafi Ruqya in England: The Role of Evidence in the Ethical Formation of the Pious Self

Abstract:

In this paper, I analyze a series of British Salafi preachers’ YouTube videos on jinn possession and sorcery, highlighting the way that these preachers orient their audience towards evidence of the reality of the jinn, in such a way that allows this audience to recognize and internalize a certitude of the dangerous presence of these figures– a recognition which in turn is thought to aid viewers in reforming their everyday religious practice. In elucidating the perspective of British Salafis towards the realm of the unseen I provide a perspective that conceptualizes jinn as localizable entities that incite reflexive discernment and can be used to demonstrate, clarify, and reinforce proper Islamic belief and practice. In an examination of this perspective, I reveal the ethical, affective, and embodied dimensions of the intellectual process of seeking knowledge within a Salafi framework, in the process highlighting the centrality of epistemological inquiry within the ethical formation of the pious self.

Magda El-Ghitany (Divinity) will be responding. Please e-mail the coordinators (akanner@uchicago.edu or zahramoeini@uchicago.edu) for a copy of the pre-circulated paper. Hope to see you there!

Best,
Zahra & Allison
Islamic Studies Workshop co-coordinators, 2018-19

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Amir Toft: Freeing the Kadi’s Justice: Max Weber and Methodology in Islamic Legal Studies

Dear colleagues,

Please join us on Thursday, January 31st for a presentation by Amir Toft (NELC PhD) on “Freeing the Kadi’s Justice: Max Weber and Methodology in Islamic Legal Studies”.

Description: In this paper, I rethink Weber’s Kadi-justice, ignoring its substantive merit as a statement about Islamic legal practice and returning it to its original context of his Sociology of Law. I show that, properly read, Kadi-justice was deployed primarily to attack Anglo-American law. I argue that, because the concept’s original purpose undermines its utility for examining Islamic law, the term muddies the waters of Islamic legal studies, and scholars in this field ought to summarily abandon it.

The paper will be sent out upon individual request. Please contact the coordinators and/or the presenter directly.

Time/location: 2-3:30 at Swift 400

Light refreshments will be served.

Looking forward to seeing you all!

Best,

Zahra Moeini & Allison Kanner

ISW coordinators 2018-19

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Rosabel Pauline Ansari – Jan 17th

Please join us at Islamic Studies Workshop next Thursday, January 17th from 2-3:30 in Swift 400 for discussion with Rosabel Pauline Ansari (Georgetown) on her paper titled:
Al-Farābī and the Ontology Within Language
Description: This workshop will focus on a draft section of one of my dissertation chapters. My dissertation is on the genesis of tashkīk al-wujūd (“the ambiguity of being”) in the philosophy of Al-Farābī. The section I am sharing is at the beginning of chapter two where I explore how Al-Farābī theorises the relationship between language and ontology. Al-Farābī believes that language must reflect its meanings and references, and if this is the case we can make certain metaphysical deductions from the structure of language.
Please e-mail the coordinators (akanner@uchicago.edu or zahramoeini@uchicago.edu) to receive a copy of the pre-circulated paper, which can be read with a focus on pages 15-30. Light refreshments will be available- we look forward to seeing you there!
Best,
Allison & Zahra
ISW co-coordinators 2018-19
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Islamic Studies Workshop – Winter Quarter schedule

Dear colleagues,
Welcome back! The Islamic Studies Workshop is happy to announce our schedule for the Winter quarter:
January 17 Al-Farābī and the Ontology Within Language | Rosabel Pauline Ansari (Georgetown, PhD)
January 31 Freeing the Kadi’s Justice: Max Weber and Methodology in Islamic Legal Historiography | Amir Toft (NELC, PhD)
February 15* Salafi Ruqya in England: The Role of Evidence in the Ethical Formation of the Pious Self | Nick Lorenz (Divinity MA):
March 7* Islamic Thought Among Others: The Confucian Ethics of Wang Daiyu | Timothy Gutmann (Divinity PhD)
March 14 Prophetic Eloquence as Legal Precedent: Linguistic Attitudes and Ideologies in Hadith | Tynan Kelly (NELC PhD)
Please note that we have changed the date and location of our bi-weekly meetings for the Winter and Spring quarters. We will be meeting on Thursdays 2-3:30 in room S400 at the Divinity School (exceptions being dates marked *).
Looking forward to seeing you all!
Best,
Zahra Moeini & Allison Kanner
ISW co-coordinators 2018-19
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Rachel Schine on Breast-Feeding & Hero-Making in Popular Arabic Literature

Dear colleagues,
 –
Please join us next Wednesday for our last Fall session at 12:30-1:20 (Swift 201). We are excited to have with us Rachel Schine (NELC) who will discuss:

Nourishing the Noble: Breastfeeding and Hero-Making in Arabic Popular Literature

Abstract

This essay examines the role of nursing experiences in the formation of popular heroes in Arabic literature of the medieval period, with a focus primarily on the siyar sha‘biyya and qiṣaṣ al-anbiyā’. I find that the miraculous nursing of heroes—many of whom are foundlings—in popular texts tends to take the shape either of a providential meeting with an animal or with a woman who is capable of nursinginspired by such tales as that of Moses or of Muḥammad’s wet nurse, Ḥalīma; prophetic literature maintains nursing as a solely human-human relationship, while heroic literature incorporates significant human-animal encounters. Using an exemplary anecdote found in manuscript and early print editions of Sīrat Dhāt al-Himma, I sketch how one such instance can travel and shift across an epic tradition, reading the experience of the hero’s foster-mother through the lens both of traditional Islamic institutions of milk kinship and a reading practice that attends closely to women’s presences and agencies in the early lives of (mostly) male literary figures of note.

The paper has been attached.

Rachel Schine is a doctoral candidate in Arabic language and literature, with a focus on medieval Arabic and Judeo-Arabic works. Her research interests include orality and storytelling practices, gender/sexuality, and race/race-making in the context of popular narrative, popular exegesis, and prophetology. 

Lunch will be provided – please RSVP with the coordinators before 12/5.

Best,

Zahra Moeini & Allison Kanner

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Zahra Moeini Meybodi: The Shi’i Imams on the Nature of the Qur’an

Please join us today at Islamic Studies workshop for a presentation and discussion with our Zahra Moeini Meybodi on her paper entitled:

“The Qur’an is as the Qur’an Says: The Shī’ī Imams on the Nature of the Qur’an.”

We will meet from 12:30-1:30pm in Swift 201 – do note this meeting is pushed up a week because of the Thanksgiving break.

Abstract:
The nature of the Qur’an as God’s verbatim revelation has served as a site of long-standing debate in Islamic theology. Broadly speaking, the positions established in early Sunni theology are represented by the Muʿtazilī belief in the createdness of the Qur’an versus the ʾAshʿarī view of its (co-)eternality. This paper in specific investigates a much less noted position – that of several of the Imams in the Twelver Shīʿī tradition who represent some of the earliest as well as systematic views on the matter. The Shīʿī Imams’ methodology in characterizing the Qur’an is the main subject of analysis. One sees a persistent disengagement and even resistance to the discourses of ‘eternality’ or ‘createdness’. It is argued that a theology of the Qur’an must necessarily employ the conceptual paradigms and vocabulary provided by the Qur’an itself. Possible grounds for the Imams’ disengagement is also explored, in turn touching on issue of the debate’s origin. Far from being objectified by reason alone, Revelation itself acts as a determining agent in the reasoning process.

Note: this paper will be provided upon individual request to the coordinators
(akanner@uchicago.edu, zahramoeini@uchicago.edu). Light refreshments will be
served- hope to see you there!

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