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Seminars Fall 2023

Approaches to Muslim & Christian Studies

  • Oct 17th - Dr Ida Glaser (CMCS Houston); 'Empires, prophets, and interfaith relationships: reading Daniel 1-6 in Islamic context.' 

​​This paper reports and reflects on some of the findings from CMCS Houston's 'Daniel, Islam, Apocalyptic' project, which is part of the 'Reading the Bible in the Context of Islam' project of CMCS Oxford. We will briefly consider what is meant by reading the Bible in Islamic context, and the implications of inscribing an Islamic context into a hermeneutical circle.  We will then consider the effects of reading Daniel 1-6 (1) in the context of cultures which have living traditions about the place of Daniel in their own histories; (2) in the context of selected Qur'anic intertexts and (3) in the context of Danielic themes of common interest to readers of different faiths in today's world.

  • Oct 24th - Dr David Cook (Rice University); 'Glimpses of Christian-Muslim relations from Ibn Asakir's (1105-c.1176 CE) History of Damascus'

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​​Dr Cook writes about the importance of Ibn `Asākir (d.1176):  'He was a traditionalist and a historian who collected a massive amount of material on the region of Syria. This material is presented and published in the Tā’rīkh madīnat Dimashq in 78 volumes. There are approximately 11,000 biographical entries in the work, all of them covering a figure which Ibn `Asākir considered to have had some type of connection with Syria or Damascus.'   The Tā’rīkh is of particular interest with respect to Christian-Muslim relations because Ibn 'Asākir wrote during the Crusade period, and Damascus was strongly affected by Crusader presence during his lifetime.

  • Nov 2nd - Dr Sam Ross (Texas Christian University); ''Those Who Believe in What Was Revealed Before” (Q2:4): A History of Muslim Exegetical Engagement with the Biblical Text'


The Qur’an and the Bible have been called “intertwined scriptures” due to the Qur’an’s frequent invocation of biblical narratives and figures. But what is the history of Muslims’ exegetical engagement with the Bible? This presentation offers a millennium-long history of how Muslims have sought to understand the Qur’an with the help of the biblical text. Along the way, we will examine detailed case studies from both the medieval and modern Muslim worlds. The story culminates in the remarkable late nineteenth and early twentieth century “biblical turn,” when due to colonialism, missionary pressure, and the mass printing of the Bible, Muslim exegetical interest in the Bible exploded. This development has not only generated new Muslim views of the Bible but even new interpretations of the Qur’an itself.

  • Nov 7th - Dr Philip Jenkins (Baylor University); 'Climate disasters and the shapingof early Christianity and Islam'

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Repeatedly through history, sudden climate shifts have had far reaching effects on societies around the world, and such climate-driven disasters have commonly been understood in religious or even apocalyptic terms. Any understanding of the religious and cultural world of Late Antiquity must take account of a series of quite radical changes that occurred in the sixth and seventh centuries, and which created the essential circumstances for the rise of early Islam. In this era in particular, climate history provides an inescapable foundation for the historic transformations that overwhelmed the old religious and political order.

  • Nov 14th - Dr Motaz Al-Thaher (CMCS Houston); 'Law and ethics:   the relevance of the reformation of maqasid (higher objectives of jurisprudence) for Muslim-Christian relations'  

This paper explores the evolution of the Maqasid concept from medieval times (Islamic Golden Ages) to its contemporary relevance. It examines the shifting focus of Maqasid from strictly jurisprudential objectives to broader areas including creed, intellectual thought, and Quranic exegesis in modern Islamic thought. The paper also discusses the reformatting of Maqasid from a legal-centric framework to an ethical and moral-centric one, and the impact of this reformatting in the context of Muslim-Christian relations.

Seminars will be held from 7pm-8:30pm, and refreshments will be served from 6:30pm. 

Venue:  Rice University Bioscience Research Collaborative, 6500 Main Street, Houston, TX 77030

Room 106

(Parking available below the building, $8)

*Seminars will also be livestreamed.

Zoom Meeting ID: 848 6628 5772

Please Register for the Seminar Series

Thank you for registering. We are looking forward to seeing you!

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