The Cairo Edition of the Qurʾān 1924
Texts, histories & challenges
Conference of the IDEO in Cairo
October 16ᵗʰ‒17ᵗʰ, 2021
This conference offers an historical reflection on the Cairo edition of the Qurʾān made under the authority of al-Azhar committee in 1924 and also known as the “King Fuʾād’s edition”. This edition, which will celebrate its hundred’s anniversary in three years’ time, was preceded by several other editions, in Egypt and other places. It is of utmost importance in modern and contemporary Islamic societies, and in Qurʾānic studies since the second half of the twentieth century, especially in manuscript studies. The Cairo edition provides both Muslims and scholars of Islam with a version of the Qurʾānic text that will gradually become the most popular religious, liturgical, and academic reference in the Islamic world. Despite the proliferation of scholarly editions of old Qurʾānic manuscripts over the last twenty years, the popularity of the Cairo edition of the Qurʾān has never been challenged. On the contrary, many studies on the Qurʾān use the Cairo edition as an academic reference and as a point of comparison to underline the particularities of old manuscripts.
More than a religious phenomenon for Muslims alone, the Cairo edition is rooted in the particular political and civilisational context of the early 20ᵗʰ century. Thus, the advent of the Cairo edition bears a significance that goes beyond the sphere of belief and takes an important place in the history of Islamic civilisation, including: the history of institutions, material history, history of religious thought and history of Islamic studies
Topics of the conference
This conference will be in preparation of a second conference in three years’ time on the occasion of the centenary of the Cairo edition, welcomes papers in Arabic, French, or English that propose a reflection on the following topics:
1) Printing in the Muslim world at the turn of the 20ᵗʰ century
This topic of the conference focuses on the technological advances that preceded and accompanied the emergence of the Cairo edition. This topic also discusses the editions of the Qurʾān that preceded the 1924 Cairo edition and the reasons why those editions have been superseded or are less well known than the Cairo edition. Editions produced in other countries such as India, Iran, Turkey, Russia, or Germany will be studied, as well as the political and religious contexts, and what was at stake in their emergence.
2) The history of institutions
The history of institutions and especially the history of al-Azhar and of the Ministry of Education; the process of editing the Qurʾān and the methodology of this endeavour. This topic consists of archival work that retraces the work of the al-Azhar committee responsible for setting up the Cairo edition of 1924. This topic also focuses on the educational dimension of the Cairo edition and the link between printing and the educational institutions in this post-Ottoman institutional context.
3) The history of Qurʾānic studies
The history of Qurʾānic studies and, in particular, the research on Qurʾānic manuscripts and the status of the Cairo edition. This topic also discusses the question of the canonisation of the Qurʾān, as well as its translations and the status of the Cairo edition within these issues.
4) The production of muṣḥafs
The impact of the Cairo edition on the production of muṣḥafs in the Islamic world. The materiality of the book will be discussed in this topic, particularly issues related to calligraphy, typography and type design.
5) Devotional practices
The impact of the Cairo edition on devotional practices, liturgy, recitation and especially Qurʾānic variants.
While being open to the public, this conference is conceived as a place for work and scientific debate. Accordingly, those selected will be asked to send 3 to 4-page summary of their contributions to the other members of their workshop (by September 15ᵗʰ), to follow the entire conference, and to participate as a “discussant” in another workshop than the one of their contribution (and therefore to read in advance the documents that will be sent to them for this purpose).
Asma Hilali (Lille University).
- Omar Alí-de-Unzaga (IIS, London).
- Aziz Hilal (IDEO, Cairo).
- Davidson McLaren (Thesaurus Islamicus, Istanbul).
- Ahmad Wagih (IDEO, Cairo).
Logistics and financial organization
Thanks to a grant of the European Delegation in Cairo, through the project Adawāt (2018‒2022), the IDEO will cover the expense for 10 plane tickets and 40 nights’ hotel accommodation.
Date of the conference: October 16ᵗʰ‒17ᵗʰ October, 2021.
Languages: French, English and Arabic.
Place of the conference: Cairo (Egypt).