Reciting in the early Islamic Empire

The history of reciting the Quran has been rarely studied. This volume comprises most of the papers presented at the Third IDEO Conference held in Cairo in October 2020 on reciting in the early Islamic empire. It offers a space for reflecting on the different types of reciting in the Middle East from the late sixth to the ninth century C.E., including ‘Islamic religious’ contexts (Quran, Hadith), ‘non-Islamic religious’ contexts (Zoroastrianism, Syriac Christianity), and ‘secular’ contexts (graffiti). These types of recitation serve as a starting point for a reflection on the literary genres of the texts recited, on the recitation techniques, as well as on the agents of recitation and the socio-political contexts linked to the act of reciting.

Click here to read it online (full text free edition)…

Introductory course in Arabic language and Islamic studies

Learn Arabic and Islamic Studies for a “culture of encounter”?

It is possible this summer 2023 in Cairo at the IDEO

For the summer of 2023, IDEO is offering Dominican friars in philosophical or theological training a one-month course in Cairo to learn about Arabic and Islamic Studies. This internship should open the brothers during their formation to the reality of the Islamic world in its beliefs and in its life, and contribute to the indispensable construction of a culture of encounter, “an intrinsic requirement for experiencing the joy of the Truth in community” and for “deepening its meaning and practical implications” (Veritatis Gaudium 4.b).

From a methodological point of view, we propose to start from an initiation to the Arabic language in order to show its own logic and its theological dimension. It is thus through linguistic means that the students are introduced to Islamic Studies.

The internship lasts four weeks: each week is composed of five days of classes (Monday to Friday); each day is broken down into five hours of classes: three hours in the classroom and two hours with an individual tutor. During the month, a weekend in Luxor will be organized as well as cultural visits in Cairo.

The session is preceded by a moodle of 14 lessons to learn the basics of reading and writing. Successful completion of the moodle is a prerequisite for participation in the Cairo course. The links to the moodle will be sent to the student upon receipt of his application.

The cost of the training (courses, full board, week-end in Luxor, visits to Cairo) is covered by an IDEO scholarship program. However, it is up to the provinces to pay for the airfare and the brothers’ daily expenses on site. For the provinces where the price of the ticket would be too expensive, it is possible to ask for an exceptional help from the IDEO (please contact us).

Dates: Arrival on July 15 or 16, 2023 in Cairo. Beginning of the courses on July 17th. End of the course on August 11th. Departure on August 12 or 13.

Application procedure: The application must be sent to the IDEO management before March 15ᵗʰ, 2023 (). It consists of a letter of motivation from the student, the results of his studies, and a letter of recommendation from the director of studies or the Regent. The student receives confirmation of his participation in early April 2023. It is up to the student to take the consular steps in case he needs a visa and to pass the moodle on the basics of Arabic reading and writing.

Manifestazioni spirituali nell’Islam

Giuseppe Scattolin & Riccardo ParediManifestazioni spirituali nell’Islam. Antologia di alcuni testi fondamentali del sufismo classico (secoli I/VII‒VII/XIII) tradotti e commentati, Ediz. Integrale, Officina di Studi Medievali, 2021.

In questa Antologia sono racchiusi i testi fondanti della più importante corrente spirituale in seno all’Islam, il Sufismo. Attraverso le parole dei Sufi stessi e la loro instancabile ricerca del Divino, il lettore potrà “gustare” in prima persona le esperienze e la saggezza di questi asceti e mistici vissuti tra il I/VII e il III/IX secolo. Alcune brevi introduzioni storiche permetteranno di immergersi nel contesto politico-religioso del tempo, mentre un ampio apparato di commenti, note e osservazioni semantico-filologiche offriranno diverse chiavi di lettura di questi testi, spesso spiritualmente e linguisticamente densi. Fondamento di questa Antologia è la volontà di mostrare quanto i valori costituitivi dell’esperienza Sufi siano condivisi dalle religioni abramitiche e non solo, e la loro attualità e vitalità. Un cammino nelle profondità interiori e nelle altezze divine della mistica del dialogo, sperando di aggiungere così un tassello a quella necessità di “ecumenismo mondiale” e di “fraternità universale” auspicata di recente da due riferimenti religiosi come Papa Francesco e l’Imam di al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyeb.

Click here to buy the book online…

A little yesterday

Ilyass Amharar & Jean Druel, “‘A little yesterday’: The canonical text of Sībawayhi’s teaching confronted to two unedited manuscripts of the Kitāb”, in: Manuel Sartori & Francesco Binaghi (éd.), The Foundations of Arab Linguistics V, Brill, 2022, p. 37‒51.

Canonical degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies

Subject: five scholarships for Arabic and Islamic Studies (2023‒2026)

The Dominican Institute of Oriental Studies was founded in 1953 in Cairo in order to study Islam and the Arab Muslim civilization scientifically. Our mission is to study Islam theologically and to engage in theological dialogue with Muslims.

In the current context characterized by the omnipresence of Islam, it seems necessary to us to offer to the provinces who would be interested the opportunity to train a brother in Islamic Studies in order to give him skills on the Islamic heritage in link with contemporary questions. This will enable him to answer to the challenges of our time, whatever the continents.

We are offering a three-year study program to prepare a new generation of Dominicans.

At the end of their training, the brothers who will be entrusted to us will have a canonical degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies of 120 ECTS.

They will be fluent in Arabic and empowered to either teach in our theological faculties or continue their studies for a PhD degree.

Scholarships for the program can be offered. They cover international travel, the tuition fees and full board at our priory of Our Lady of the Rosary in Cairo. For all scholarship applications, each province or vice-province contributes by a minimum of €700 to €1,700 per year to the brother’s health insurance plan, depending on the level of protection desired.

The academic year starts on September 1ˢᵗ, 2023.

Spem Miram Internationalis scholarship applications must be sent before March 1ˢᵗ, 2023 to and to the IDEO’s director on . We are at your disposal to help you with the administrative procedures.

Year 1 and year 2

The first year gives the student the basics of the Arabic language so that he can read and write in Arabic, define the morphology of words, identify the grammatical structure of an Arabic sentence, and begin to deal with Islamic texts.

The texts in their graduation make it possible to save in the memory both the vocabulary and the turns of phrase in Arabic. The brother acquires an understanding of written texts, but also the basic vocabulary of the press, radio and television.

He is accompanied in his learning by a personalized tutor in order to help him assimilate Arabic words according to their roots, to stimulate and check his memory.

At the end of the first year, he should be able to read literary and classical texts and to understand their general meaning. He is able to express himself in Arabic.

The aim of the second year in Cairo is to allow students to immerse themselves in classical Arabic and to acquire the basics of the main Islamic sciences through the study of source texts. We carry out a systematic work on the lexicon, in order to distinguish the different Islamic movements and the particularity of their approaches.

In addition to classical Arabic classes, students receive formation in Christian liturgy and are tutored in reading in order to go through the history of Islamic thought. During this year, students are expected to identify an author or a question raised or addressed by an author that they would like to develop in a MA thesis.

Finally, students receive formation in interreligious dialogue in form of courses or seminars.

Year 3

Year 3 focuses on more systematic work in Islamic theology and philosophy. The number of courses is reduced in order to allow students to define a text, to translate it, to place it in time and in the history of Islamic doctrines, to identify a problematic, in order to write a thesis of 80 pages. The student is accompanied in this exercise by a supervisor. He is invited to participate in the weekly seminars of the IDEO’s research team.

Acquisition of skills

At the end of the three years, the following skills are acquired:

– knowledge of the structure of the written literary Arabic language that allow the student to read and understand, without undue difficulty, complex ancient and contemporary literary and religious texts;

– basic scientific knowledge in the most important Islamic sciences;

– acquisition of a scientific method of comparative study of the Scriptures and the theological thought of Christians and Muslims;

– ability to perform a proper analysis of the complexity of the classical and contemporary Islamic world;

– ability to critically elaborate his own thinking on the Islamic religion and on Muslim-Christian relations;

– ability to act competently in the field of Muslim-Christian dialogue;

– know how to write and discuss in an organized and methodological way a theological thought from an Arabic text;

– be able to do a PhD in Islamic Studies or theology of religions.


The student must hold a canonical bachelor’s degree and have obtained at least the Magna Cum Laude grade.

In the case that he finishes the last year of bachelor study and doesn’t yet hold his certificate, he will present the results of the last year of his schooling when submitting his file.

He must have sufficient knowledge of English or French to follow the courses in Islamic Studies and those on dialogue.

He will write a cover letter.

It is up to the Regent of Studies to include a recommendation letter in his file.

Application file for the Spem Miram Internationalis scholarship

The training program can benefit from a scholarship application to Spem Miram Internationalis. In this case, it should be sent to and before March 1ˢᵗ, 2023.

Application form for the Spem Miram Internationalis scholarship pre-filled in French

Three-month field scholarships for master’s and PhD students

Students of the Dominican Study Centers

→ Purpose of the scholarship: to support the research of students in theology, history-geography, sociology, philosophy, political science or linguistics and whose study, dealing with Islam or the Islamic world, requires research work in Cairo (bibliographic sources, field survey, etc.).

→ Subject of the scholarship: The scholarship covers the accommodation costs at the Scholars’ House of the IDEO for three months, covers the round trip air ticket up to €500, and provides fund for the research on site (€300 per month). It does not cover the administrative costs of the Visa application and nor the costs of civil and health insurance.

→ Eligibility: be a master or PhD student enrolled in a Dominican University, Faculty or Study Centre.

For further information: contact

Becas de tres meses para estudiantes de máster y doctorado

estudiantes de los Centros de Estudios Dominicanos

→ Finalidad de la beca: apoyar la investigación de estudiantes de teología, historia-geografía, sociología, filosofía, ciencias políticas o lingüística y cuyo estudio, que trate sobre el Islam o el mundo islámico, requiera un trabajo de investigación en El Cairo (fuentes bibliográficas, estudio de campo, etc.).

→ Finalidad de la beca: La beca cubre los gastos de alojamiento en la Villa des chercheurs de l’Idéo durante un periodo de tres meses, cubre el billete de avión de ida y vuelta hasta 500 euros, y proporciona apoyo a la investigación in situ (300 euros al mes). No cubre los gastos administrativos de la solicitud de visado, ni los gastos del seguro civil y sanitario.

→ Requisitos: ser estudiante de maestría o doctorado inscrito en una universidad, facultad o centro de estudios dominicano.

Para más información: contacte con

There is Matter for Thought

Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen, “There is Matter for Thought. The Episode of the Night Journey and the Heavenly Ascension in the Sīra ḥalabiyya, at the Beginning of the Seventeenth Century”, in Denis Gril, Stefan Reichmuth and Dilek Sarmis (dir.), The Presence of the Prophet in Early Modern and Contemporary Islam, vol. I: The Prophet Between Doctrine, Literature and Arts: Historical Legacies and Their Unfolding, Leyde, Brill, 2021 [dated 2022], p. 115‒150.

The Cairo Edition of the Qurʾān 1924: Texts, history & challenges

Fourth IDEO Conference in Cairo, October 16ᵗʰ‒17ᵗʰ, 2021

Scientific committee: Omar Alí-de-Unzaga (IIS, London), Aziz Hilal (IDEO, Cairo), Davidson McLaren (Thesaurus Islamicus, Istanbul), Ahmad Wagih (IDEO, Cairo).

Coordination: Asma Hilali (Lille University).

Watch the contributions of Saturday, October 16th

Under the auspices of the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, and as part of the Adawāt project, an international conference was held at the American University in Cairo on “The Cairo Edition of the Qurʾān 1924”, more accurately referred to as “King Fuʾād’s Qurʾān” in order to distinguish it from “King Fahd’s Qurʾān”, which is also known as the “Medina Qurʾān” (1985). Under the scientific supervision of Asma Hilali (University of Lille) and a scientific board including Omar Alí-de-Unzaga (IIS London), Aziz Hilal (IDEO), Davidson McLaren (Thesaurus Islamicus, Istanbul) and Ahmad Wagih (IDEO), the conference aimed to make a first scientific historical and contextual evaluation and study of the 1924 Cairo Edition of the Qurʾān, which until then had never benefited from such an event.

A first inventory of the maāif

Mohammed Hassan, researcher at the Center for Calligraphy and Scriptures Studies at the Library of Alexandria, presented an inventory of the maāif (singular muṣḥaf) that existed before 1924. Most of these maāif remain fragmented and neither their calligraphers nor their copyists are known. Of all these maāif, which mark the decline of the manuscript Qurʾān, that of Riḍwān ibn Muḥammad al-Muḫallalātī (1834‒1893) is the best written and the best designed. However, it does not escape the shortcomings of other printed maāif: poor quality of printing papers which guarantee good long-term preservation; various and several mistakes; absence of punctuation as well as markers essential for good quality reading (taǧwīd); markers involving a sāǧida (prostration); etc. It may be noted that despite the imperfections of these maāif, they contributed to the standardization of the printed muṣḥaf of which the King Fuʾād’s muṣḥaf will only be the continuation.

Ahmed Mansour, researcher at the same center, suggested to analyze a muṣḥaf published by the Būlāq Publishing House in 1881. This was an opportunity for the participants to browse the history of European and Western editions of the Qurʾān (Venice, Flügel, Kazan… etc.) and the first activities of the Būlāq Publishing House, founded by Mohammed Ali in 1820. The muṣḥaf analyzed by the lecturer seems to have benefited from all the previous maṣāḥif, but it adopts the orthographic writing (al-rasm al-imlāʾī) and not the Ottoman spelling (al-rasm al-ʿumānī, relating to the Caliph Othman), while this was the case for all maṣāḥif from the 7ᵗʰ century onwards. We finally note that this muṣḥaf is incomplete and does not mention the names of the sūras.

Who are the audience of this edition in the Muslim world?

In his contribution, Ali Akbar, researcher at Bayt al Qurʾān in Jakarta (Indonesia), mentioned the place of King Fuʾād’s muṣḥaf among the maāif printed in Indonesia at the end of the 19ᵗʰ and 20ᵗʰ centuries. The researcher indicated that the oldest lithographic edition dates back to 1848 and originates in Palembang in south Sumatra. Other editions of the Qurʾān reached Indonesia after this date, including an Indian edition. Ali Akbar underlined that the Cairo muṣḥaf was indeed used in Indonesia and was brought by Indonesians who studied in Cairo. However, this use is very rare.

The second panel, moderated by Michael Marx (head of the Corpus Coranicum at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften), took place on Sunday morning October 17ᵗʰ. The first contribution to this panel was made by Necmettin Gökkır, from Istanbul University, and focused on the reception and perception of the Cairo Qurʾān in post-Ottoman Turkey. Reception of the Egyptian Qurʾān was somewhat mixed, according to Gökkır, considering that the first edition of the Ottoman Qurʾān took place in 1874 and had already been widely distributed in the Ottoman-controlled world, including Egypt. Therefore, the Turkish religious authorities found it difficult to accept this new muṣḥaf, although they recognized in it their own style and their own method of editing the Qurʾān. But they saw Fuʾād’s endeavor only as an attempt to oppose the Turkish religious authority over the Muslim world.

Where does the success of the King Fuʾād edition come from in the Arab world?

Michael Marx shed light on the historical context of the King Fuʾād’s edition. He showed that, since 1950, this Qurʾān had became the essential reference for European researchers and academics, before it was relegated to a second place by King Fahd’s muṣḥaf. Such “national” maṣāḥif have been added to the two “standard” ones, either to serve educational or ritual aims, or to glorify states or religious institutions through impressive editions.

The contribution of Philipp Bruckmayar, from the University of Vienna, demonstrated that the 1924 Cairo edition had an impact on the whole of the Arabic-speaking Muslim sphere due to King Fahd’s muṣḥaf, also called the “Medina Qurʾān”, which was initiated by Saudi King Fahd Ben Abdelaziz in 1985. Contrary to the popular belief, even if the Cairo edition had little echo in the Muslim Arab World, it actually spread throughout this world through this Medina edition, which is a plagiarism of the 1924 Cairo edition, except for two letters. This Medina muṣḥaf is part of a larger project: to assert the central position of Saudi Arabia within the Islamic world by translating the Qurʾān into about eighty languages and by spreading the impact of the Islamic University of Medina (IUM) at the detriment of al-Azhar.

The lawāiq

In a second contribution, Mohammed Hassan discussed the issue of the lawāiq (the annexes) to the various printed maāif and the role of King Fuʾād’s muṣḥaf in standardizing these lawāiq. The first one who gave a substantial annex to his muṣḥaf was Riḍwān al-Muḫallalātī. His annex, which focused on “the completion of the reading of the Qurʾān” (atm al-Qurʾān), specified the place and the date of the edition, the name of the copyist, the chosen orthography (al-ram al-ʿutmānī in this case), and the number of verses for each sūra, etc. this tradition will be confirmed and enriched by King Fuʾād’s muṣḥaf, that adds details about the abrogating and the abrogated (al-nāsi wa-l-mansū),  the way in which the Qurʾān was revealed, the seven readings (al-qirāʾāt al-sabʿ). At the end of this very interesting contribution, a question remains without answer: where do these lawāiq derive their legitimacy from?

An official Azhari edition?

In his contribution, Aziz Hilal asked the crucial question: why wait till 1924 to print the official edition of the Qurʾān from al-Azhar? Printing began in Egypt in 1823. This product of European origin raised only suspicion of the Muslim clerics, who initially refused that the “Word of God” be soiled by the typographic technique. Mohammed Ali, who did not want another confrontation with al-Azhar, did nothing against the Ottoman fatwa-s forbidding any printing of the Qurʾān. As for King Fuʾād’s Qurʾān, its importance should not hide al-Azhar’s desire to make this king “a caliph in place of the caliph”. The abolition of the caliphate left a gape that the religious authorities could not bear. It is in this context that a strong and symbolic action had to be taken by Muslims: editing the Qurʾān under the auspices of a scientific committee and printing it was the first step in making Cairo the new capital of the caliphate and al-Azhar the undisputed godfather of this edition. Aziz Hilal also mentioned that the date given in the colophon of this edition is 1919. The choice of the date of 1924 retained by the tradition symbolically represents the date of the abolition of the caliphate.

Which edition? The question of rasm

In the last panel of the conference, the contribution of Omar Hamdan, from the University of Tübingen, focused on the reasons for choosing al-rasm al-ʿumānī as the orthography of the Qurʾān. He started from a quote by al-Bāqillānī (d. 403/1013) who states in his Iʿǧāz al-qurʾān that “the book was written in the shortest manner (ʿalā al-tarīq al-aḫṣar)”, and it is the rasm al-ʿumānī that makes this short manner possible. Indeed, this rasm prefers deletion (af) whenever necessary. Thus, for example:

  • When two wāw-s meet, it is necessary to delete one of them: we should write لا تلون instead of لا تلوون.
  • The suffix pronoun must always be attached to its “mother” letter: فأحيهم instead of فأحياهم. The ʾ is the mother letter (al-arf al-umm) for the pronoun suffix and not the alif.
  • Any obstacle must be deleted (izālat al-āʾil) if it prevents the word from being a single unit: we must write نضّختن instead of نضّاختان.

We could cite many other examples to show that for the Qurʾān, priority is given, not to reading (al-qirāʾa), but to recitation (al-tilāwa). For Muslims, in order for the Qurʾān to always live “in the hearts of people”, reading or writing should be always oriented and controlled by recitation and by memorization (­if).

Omar Hamdan has further shown that King Fuʾād’s muṣḥaf did not always follow the rules of this rasm al-ʿumānī.

What research perspectives?

In the final talk, Asma Hilali suggested an agenda for future researches. In particular, she suggested to integrate the question of editions within an archaeology of knowledge.