The Periodical MIDEO


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All the articles published before 2015 are downloadable in PDF format from our catalogue.

You can also consult the detailed tables of content and publishing houses of MIDEO. Since issue 31 (2015), MIDEO is published by IFAO and is also freely available online. It is possible to buy the older issues at IFAO in Cairo.

Next thematic issues

Submitting an article or a review

If you wish to submit an article related to the topics of the next issues, a text edition or an article that fits in the general purpose of the Institute, if you wish to submit a book review on islamology, you can send your text directly to the director of MIDEO ().

Please pay attention to the journal guidelines and in particular to the Guidelines for MIDEO‘s authors.

Authors who would like MIDEO to publish a review of their book should send a copy to the following address:

Emmanuel PISANI
Director of MIDEO
222 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris – France

The History of MIDEO

MIDEOMiscellanies of the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies in Cairo—is a periodical set up in 1954 by IDEO’s first members. These Miscellanies are mostly academical contributions from the members of the Institute and from scholars collaborating with them. Its articles are in French, in English or in Arabic.

Meeting the objectives of the Institute, MIDEO publishes original works on Islam according to its sources; it focuses on theological and philosophical issues as well as on the history of doctrines. It aims at moving beyond the mutual misunderstandings that exist between our cultural and religious traditions, and this through in depth research. It pays a close attention to the contemporary evolutions of scholarly research on these topics.

The diversity of the topics covered, as well as the relevance of some contemporary issues, can be inferred by consulting the list of articles published since 1954. Since 2004, the monographs collection “Les Cahiers du Midéo” completes the periodical. Since issue 30 (2014), each issue of MIDEO gathers articles on a specific topic as well as text editions and varia. Beginning with issue 31 (2015), MIDEO is freely available online.

Call for Papers: Islamic Theologies of Disasters

Islamic Theologies of Disasters: Between Science, Religion and Messianism

Thematic issue edited by Abdessamad Belhaj (Catholic University of Louvain, CISMOC) and Haoues Seniguer (Sciences-Po Lyon, Triangle UMR 5206, Lyon)

Call for Papers for MIDEO 38 (2023)

Click here to download the PDF version…

The Covid-19 (kūfīd-19) pandemic broke out around October-November 2019 in China. In addition to having become a global public health problem, it quickly became “a total social fact” (Mauss, 2013). It has effectively set in motion a plurality of institutions and social fields (economic, political, cultural and religious), within both national and international milieus.

The epidemic (wabāʾ) has thus generated its share of comments and religious glosses by prominent religious figures. For example, the Moroccan theologian Aḥmad al-Raysūnī, president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), stated with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic (ǧāʾiḥat kūrūnā), that it belongs to “the tradition of trial/affliction” (sunnat al-ibtilāʾ),[1] so that both “believer and reasonable men” will further question how to “benefit” from this “trial” (yastafīdu min al-balāʾ), or “lessons” (al-ʿibar wa-l-durūs), from a spiritual and existential point of view so that, in the end, according to him, people can meditate on “their way of life and behaviour” (uslūb ḥayātihim wa-sulūkihim).[2]

However, far from being satisfied with this consensual discourse, al-Raysūnī also took the opportunity to underline how the pandemic had revealed the extent of “the health (salāma) and wisdom (ḥikma) of all the laws and rules contained in the Islamic religion and its legislative regime (manẓūmatihi al-tašrīʿiyya)”. From his point of view, the pandemic would constitute “the best proof of the celestial character of Islam, valid in any place and at any time (ṣāliḥan li-kull makān wa-zamān)”. He even claims that “many places in East Asia embraced Islam” after the outbreak of the virus, because their inhabitants would have realized that its “laws and rules ensure the health and protection of humanity against all harm and evil (ḍarar wa-šarr)”. As for the secretary general of the institution presided over by Aḥmad al-Raysūnī, the shaykh ʿAlī Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Qaradāġī, “these epidemics and viruses” (al-awbiʾa wa-l-fayrūsāt) stem from the “destiny of God” (qadar Allāh). They are “absolute and living proof (min al-adilla al-qaṭʿiyya al-mušāhada) of the power of God the Most High to decimate whom He wishes to decimate, and this, by the weakest of His soldiers (bi-aḍʿaf ǧunūdihi)”, referring in support of his demonstration to Sūrat al-Muddaṯṯir (74), verse 31: “None knows the soldiers of your Lord except He” (wa-mā yaʿlamu ǧunūd rabbika illā huwa). The pandemic is said to be an “affliction”, “diseases” (amrāḍ) by which God “disciplines Muslims and non-Muslims alike”, conferring “on the believer tried by them, but filled with patience, the reward of martyrdom” (aǧr al-šahīd).[3]

Before the contemporary period, the Islamic theology of disasters has its real or presumed origins in Qurʾānic passages and prophetic traditions (Sunna) that report calamities, whether proven, allegorical or eschatological: We think here of the battle of Uḥud, the apocalyptic narratives, the punishment of the unbelievers by destruction, drowning, etc. Sūrat al-Zalzala (99), for example, illustrates the Qurʾānic imaginary of catastrophe as an apocalyptic event controlled or suppressed by divine omnipotence and justice. Following the Qurʾān, Muslim clerics have historically produced several types of religious literature in response to natural or human disasters: wars, epidemics, famines, earthquakes, etc. Probably the most ancient literature in this respect is that of the corpus of prophetic (or Imāmī among the Šīʿa) traditions, sometimes messianic, sometimes pragmatic, tending to form a kind of theological norm in matters of disaster. Traces of this can be found in the chapters devoted to miḥan (ordeals), fitan (seditions), ṭāʿūn (plague) or ṭibb (medicine), in the prophetic compilations flourishing in the 3ʳᵈ/9ᵗʰ century, as for example in the compilation al-Ǧāmiʿ al-ṣaḥīḥ (“The Compendium of Authenticated Traditions”) of al-Buḫārī (d. 256/870). Al-Buḫārī considers that the epidemic is a destiny of God, a punishment and an ordeal; that contagion in itself does not exist (the plague being a divine creation in the traditionalist conception), furthermore raising the status of the dead by epidemic to that of martyrs, and, lastly, advising confinement.

Another, later and more sophisticated type of theological literature on disasters appears in theological-ethical treatises on epidemics (Aḥmad ʿIṣām ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Kātib counted 33 texts). Indeed, we know about thirty theological treatises composed by Muslim theologians and jurists on ṭāʿūn (plague) or wabāʾ (epidemic). The most influential treatise, which was authoritative in Sunni circles, is Baḏl al-māʿūn fī faḍl al-ṭāʿūn (“Offering benevolence to the virtue of plague”) composed by Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī, an Egyptian traditionist who died in 852/1449. Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī discusses the role of the jinn in the epidemic, the status of the plague-dead (which becomes equal to that of the martyr), the importance of confinement in a plague-affected country, of repentance, of performing invocations to Allāh to ask for the lifting of the plague, and of adopting medical precautions and practices such as phlebotomy. There is also a late tradition attributed to the Prophet, which says that: “The plague is a martyrdom and a compassion for my community, a torture for the unbelievers”, which raises the question of otherness and fear in the traditional view of disaster, danger or threat.

On the Šīʿa side, the cleric Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī (d. 1104/1693) dedicated a chapter of his summa of Šīʿī jurisprudence Wasāʾil al-Šīʿa (“The Instruments of the Šīʿa”) to the question of the authorization to flee the places of the epidemic and plague, except in case of necessity to reside there, as is the case for combatants and border guards. This work displays all the flexibility of the theological Šīʿī thinking in matter of (re)conciliation between the constraints of the emergency and the norms in force in the “Imāmī” tradition.

The research of Jacqueline Sublet, Josef van Ess, Boaz Shoshan, Lawrence I. Conrad and Justin K. Stearns, among others, show that beliefs about the epidemic were largely determined by theological discourses until the 19ᵗʰ century. Nevertheless, while this research is still scholarly relevant and useful, it lacks in part a closer analysis of the content of the traditions. Also, in view of the acuteness of this Islamic theology of catastrophes that has (re)deployed itself recently, especially in the predominantly Muslim world, some questions on continuities and discontinuities in the theological discourse remain to be questioned and further investigated. This includes questions relating to the norms and the ethical dilemmas that arise for practicing Muslims and their religious authorities: ethical dilemmas between destiny and human action, and in particular the responsibility before God and the whole of humanity; between the preservation of human life and the imperatives of observance of religious rites and rituals in the strict sense. Who caused the epidemic: God, the jinns or men (and which ones)? Should theologians interested in the question rely on science or revelation to explain epidemics and natural phenomena, but also to overcome, prevent or ward off disasters? What is the share of the sacred and of the secular or the profane in Islamic theologies? To what extent is the Islamic theology (or Islamic theologies) of disasters also and simultaneously a theology of fear, if not of responsibility/culpability of human beings towards themselves and towards humanity? What difference does classical and contemporary Islamic discourse make between Muslims and non-Muslims in the face of the epidemic? How can we understand the different religious normative arguments used by the theologians? In this regard, are there any differences between Sunni and Šīʿī literatures? Or between ancient and late literature on disasters or on human dramas? How do contemporary Muslim theologians seize upon classical religious literature to develop their view of the environment, the unleashing of natural elements, or even rebellion against the political order, etc.?

It is to these major questions, among other possible ones, that this thematic issue of MIDEO is devoted: the Islamic theology of catastrophes at different periods of history, in ancient, modern and contemporary theological thought.

Primary sources

  •  al-ʿĀmilī (1104/1693) Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-Ḥurr, Wasāʾil al-šīʿa, Teheran, al-Maktaba al-Islāmiyya bi-Ṭihrān, 1975.
  • Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī (852/1449) Aḥman b. ʿAlī, Baḏl al-māʿūn fī faḍl al-ṭāʿun, ed. by Aḥmad ʿIṣām ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Kātib, Riyadh, Dār al-ʿĀṣima, 2016.
  • al-Suyūṭī (911/1505) Ǧalāl al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Abī Bakr, Mā rawāhu al-wāʿūn fī aḫbār al-ṭāʿūn, Damascus, Dār al-Qalam, 1997.

Secondary sources

  • Lawrence I. Conrad, “Ṭāʿūn and Wabāʾ: Conceptions of Plague and Pestilence in Early Islam”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 25/3, 1982, p. 268‒307.
  • Josef van Ess, « La peste d’Emmaüs. Théologie et ‘‘histoire du salut’’ aux prémices de l’Islam », Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Année 2000, 144-1, p. 325‒337.
  • Josef van Ess, Der Fehltritt des Gelehrten: die “Pest von Emmaus” und ihre theologischen Nachspiele, Heidelberg, C. Winter, 2001.
  • Marcel Mauss, Sociologie et anthropologie, Paris, P. U. F., 2013.
  • Boaz Shoshan, “Wabāʾ” in : EI II, Vol. 11, p. 3‒5.
  • Justin K. Stearns, Infectious Ideas: Contagion in Premodern Islamic and Christian Thought in the Western Mediterranean, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
  • Jacqueline Sublet, La peste prise aux rets de la jurisprudence : le traité d’Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī sur la peste, Paris, Éditions Larose, G. P. Maisonneuve, 1971.

[1]الشريعة-والحياة-في-رمضان (retrieved on June 20, 2020).

[2] (retrieved on June 20, 2020).

[3] (retrieved on June 21, 2020).

Call for papers: Reciting in the Early Islamic Empire

Reciting in the Early Islamic Empire

(7ᵗʰ‒9ᵗʰ centuries)

Texts, Modalities, Issues

A Conference Organised by the IDEO
Cairo, October 16ᵗʰ‒18ᵗʰ, 2020


Keynote Speaker: Prof. Devin J. Stewart, Emory University (Atlanta)

Call for Papers

  • Qurʾānic Recitation ‒ Psalmody ‒ Orality ‒ Transmission.
  • Islam ‒ Judaism ‒ Christianity ‒ Zoroastrianism ‒ Late Antiquity and Early Islam.
  • Torah ‒ Bible ‒ Psalms ‒ Qurʾān ‒ Qaṣaṣ ‒ Poetry ‒ Prayer ‒ Rites ‒ Saǧʿ ‒ reading ‒ memorisation.

Click here to download the PDF version of this Call for Papers…


This conference offers a space for reflection on the various types of recitation that took place in the central regions of the Arab-Islamic empire (from Egypt to Persia, including the Arabian Peninsula) during its first three centuries, including different contexts:

  • in “Islamic religious context”: the Qurʾān, Ḥadīṯ, stories (qaṣaṣ), mystical poetry, etc.
  • in a “non-Islamic religious context”: Jewish and Christian psalms and prayers (in Greek, Syriac, Coptic, Arabic); Zoroastrian and Manichean ceremonies; magical rites, etc.
  • or in a “secular context”: poetry and rhyming prose (saǧʿ) in Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, Coptic or other languages; political speeches and propaganda; memorizing techniques for learning medical, scientific, philosophical, legal, grammatical knowledge, etc.

NB: the religious vs. secular distinction will be questioned.

These types of recitations will be discussed as a starting point for a reflection on the literary genres of the texts recited, on the recitation techniques, as well as on the actors of recitation, and the socio-political contexts and issues linked to the act of reciting. This conference welcomes papers on one (or more) of the following themes:

1) The modalities of the recitation

The details of the practices that precede and constitute the act of recitation (both religious and secular): such as listening, learning by heart, reading, reciting or declaiming in front of an audience, chanting, performing, etc. will be considered, as well as the rules and modalities of pronunciation, the vocal interpretation of the text, the artistic and emotional aspects, and finally, the precise contexts in which one recites such or such a text (rites, celebrations, feasts, calendars, circumstances, material conditions, clothes, etc.).

2) Recitation and transmission of knowledge

Reciting is a form of knowledge transmission. In return, some “recitation professionals” transmit the specific knowledge (and know-how) of recitation. This session will address the articulation between recitation and teaching/learning, addressing the materiality of recitation —either linked to manuscripts or epigraphy—, learning practices such as “recitation before the scholar” and validation by the scholar (iǧāza, etc.), as well as the actors of recitation (often professionals, religious, or artists, etc.) and how they transmit their vocal art and ethics (e.g. adab al-qurrāʾ).

3) The stakes of recitation

The religious/spiritual horizons of recitation practices will be explored (edification, justification, prayer for healing, mysticism, etc.), as well as secular aims (political, social, academic, artistic, etc.): mastery of the content, timing or form of recitation can be linked to power, community identity or creation.


Although being open to the public, this conference mainly intends to be a place for work and scientific debate. Consequently, we will ask the speakers who have been selected to send a 3 to 4-page summary of their paper by May 15, 2020. These summaries will be distributed to the other participants. Each speaker will then enrol as a discussant for at least one paper presented by a peer. It is expected that all the speakers attend all the panels.

Languages of the conference: English and French.

Scientific organization
Logistics and financial organization

International transportation, airport transfer, and half-board accommodation will be covered by the IDEO, thanks to a grant of the European Union through the project “Adawāt” (2018‒2022).


The issue 37 (2022) of MIDEO will be devoted to the same topic and will welcome papers, presented in this conference or not, under the condition that they undergo the usual evaluation principles.

For inquiries, please contact us at .


The Ḥadīṯ as authority of knowledge

The canonization of Ḥadīṯ has not been without theological conflicts: between the Qurʾānic scholars, the traditionalists, and the rationalists, the question raised is always that of the authority of knowledge. How has the authority of Ḥadīṯ been built and how has the science of Ḥadīṯ been transmitted and gave birth, within the schools of Fiqh and the various currents of Islam (kalām, philosophy, etc.), not only to a plurality of interpretations but also to the elaboration of an epistemological framework? The theme of this issue of MIDEO seeks to understand the source of the authority of Ḥadīṯ understood as an intellectual sovereignty, to grasp the reality of its authority as « text » (matn), and to question the extent of the fields of knowledge in which Ḥadīṯ is authoritative.

Click here to access the articles.

Iǧtihād and taqlīd in Sunnī and Šīʿī Islam

Call for papers for MIDEO 36 (2021)

In the context of the Islamic reformism that emerged as early as the 18th century, some Muslim voices were raised against the practice of taqlīd (‘legal conformity’), and which has been accused of being responsible for the decline of the Islamic world. Following the thought of Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) and the example of Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (d. 1792), the Yemeni Salafists al-Ṣanʿānī (d. 1768) and al-Šawkānī (d. 1834), the Mughal revivalist Šāh Walī Allāh (d. 1762?), and even the Egyptian thinkers Muḥammad ʿAbduh (d. 1905) and Rašīd Riḍā (d. 1935), all called for the renewal of the practice of ‘reasoned reflection’ (iǧtihād) in Islam, and for overcoming the practice of taqlīd in legal schools, which were considered as ossifying.

There was a sharp criticism of taqlīd and a strong emphasis on iǧtihād, both of which were seen, in the paradigm of reformism, as mutually exclusive.1

This debate and way of conceiving taqlīd and iǧtihād were largely taken up by Western scholars. Yet, Norman Calder and Sherman Jackson showed that this perspective is reductive, as it does not sufficiently reflect the emergence and development of each concept, nor does it address their articulation, both in the field of uṣūl al-fiqh and uṣūl al-dīn. Moreover, it ignores their political contexts.2 Thus, the negative connotation given to taqlīd in Islamic studies can partly be seen as a projection by the Moderns (Ahmed Fekry).3

Nevertheless, although the doors of iǧtihād were never ‘closed’ (Hallaq),4 the majority of scholars from the 5th/11th centuries onwards, like al-Ǧuwaynī (d. 478/1085), supported the idea that Islam, as a religious system, is complete.5 Consequently, a concept of history, which is marked by the climax of legal and theological development (both qualitatively and quantitatively), has come to the fore so that any evolution is then seen as an alteration or even a failure of Islam. However, iǧtihād was never abolished and remained an integral part of religious reflection. Rather, it was the predominance of taqlīd that the reformers challenged.

We can then ask ourselves how and through the intellectual activity of which social actors does each paradigm base its legitimacy and predominance?

At the theological level, and in a context characterized by the influence of Sufism, the supporters of taqlīd have shown that scholars can actually be illuminated by the Prophetic light, so that their teachings on the knowledge and will of God can be certain. From this point of view, the hagiographic discourse on the four founders of the schools of fiqh can be considered as a marker of this proximity to the Prophetic light. As for the supporters of iǧtihād, they stressed that the duty of each believer is to search the sources, and not accept any input without having first extracted the evidence themselves (Ibn Qayyim, d. 751/1350).6 However, this approach, defended in particular by the ahl al-ḥadīṯ, begs a fundamental question regarding the authority of the Prophet’s teachings and that of the Companions: isn’t following the Companions a form of taqlīd? Couldn’t what is alleged against the four legal schools founders be applied to the Prophet’s imitators?

Beyond these theological debates, the use of taqlīd or iǧtihād has also been part of political disputes. In the history of fiqh and maḏāhib, iǧtihād was used as a political instrument to reject the teaching of particular schools, while taqlīd made it possible to justify conservative positions. It could also have been a vector of stability and governability.7 On the other hand, if taqlīd of different schools seems to disfavor the unity of umma as a human expression of divine oneness, the plurality of opinions which comes with taqlīd has also guaranteed a form of pluralism in Islam that resists against the temptation towards uniformity or homogenization, a movement which has been promoted in postmodern thinking.8 All this has elicited heated debates. In the classical era, within the very heart of ašʿarism, al-Ġazālī (d. 505/1111) accepted the notion that even if the schools have contradictory rulings, they can nevertheless all be correct. At the same time, Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606/1209?) and Šihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī (d. 684/1285) rejected this possibility. The Ḥanbalī theologian Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) also opposed al-Ġazālī in his criticism of taqlīd on this point.

The relationship between taqlīd and iǧtihād is therefore complex. The purpose of this issue of MIDEO is to study the two approaches in greater depth, in the light of the Islamic heritage. The history of Islamic thought shows that distinctions have been made between the fundamental principles (uṣūl) and the branches of fiqh (furūʿ), that relationships with related concepts have been developed (iḫtilāfittibāʿiǧmāʿtarǧīḥ), that taqlīd has been evaluated in different terms (ḥarāmmaḏmūmmubāḥ), and that distinctions have been made in terms of degrees of iǧtihād. This issue of MIDEO will therefore explore these various, yet related concepts. We will highlight theological discourses arguing for their legitimacy, refutation, as well as those that explore their articulation (which can sometimes be paradoxical, as is the case for al-Ġazālī’s criticism of the philosophers).9 Beyond the rivalry between these two approaches, it will be necessary to see if there exists a continuum between them, and that although their perspectives are competing and partisan, they are in fact not incompatible.10

1 Peters, Rudolph, “Idjtihâd and Taqlîd in 18th and 19th Century Islam”, Die Welt des Islams 20, 1980, p. 131‒146.

2 Calder, Norman, “Taḳlid”, The encyclopedia of Islam, new edition, p. 137‒138.

3 Fekry, Ahmed, “Rethinking the TaqlīdIjtihād Dichotomy: A Conceptual-Historical Approach”, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 136, No. 2, 2016, p. 285‒303.

4 Hallaq, Wael B., “Was the Gate of Ijtihad Closed?”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1984, p. 3‒41.

5 Nagel, Tilman, Die Festung des Glaubens. Triumph und Scheitern des islamischen Rationalismus im 11. Jahrhundert, Munich, C. H. Beck, 1988. See: Gilliot, Claude, « Quand la théologie s’allie à l’histoire : triomphe et échec du rationalisme musulman à travers l’œuvre d’al- Ǧuwaynī », Arabica, T. 39, Fasc. 2, 1992, p. 241‒260.

6 Abdul Rahman Mustafa, On Taqlīd. Ibn al-Qayyim’s Critique of Authority, Oxford University Press, 2013.

7 Rapoport, Yossef, “Legal Diversity in the Age of Taqlīd: The Four Chief Qāḍīs under the Mamluks”, Islamic Law and Society, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2003, p. 210‒228.

8 Shahab, Ahmed, What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic, Princeton University Press, 2016.

9 Al-Ġazālī, The Incoherence of the Philosophers (tahāfut al-falāsifa), A parallel English-Arabic text, translated, introduced, and annotated by Michael E. Marmura, Provo, Utah, Brigham Young University Press, 2000, p. 2‒3. See: Griffel, Frank, “Taqlīd of the Philosophers: al-Ġazālī’s Initial Accusation in his Tahāfut”, in: Sebastian Günther (ed.), Ideas, Images, and Methods of Portrayal. Insights into Classical Arabic Literature and Islam, Leiden-Boston, Brill, 2005, p. 273‒296.

10 Jackson, Sherman, Islamic Law and the State: The Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī, Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1996.

Muslim theology of religions

In the contemporary context of the emergence of a Muslim theology of religions, this edition of MIDEO approaches this theme from a historical point of view which allows us to evaluate the place given to religions from the Islamic perspective. Along with the refutations (rudūd) against Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, or heterodox Muslim factions, a with the classical view that all religions are perceived as distorted religious expressions or manifestations of the true religion, which is Islam, history also has its trends and thinkers who consider other religions in their authenticity. It is therefore a question of appreciating each religion’s original and necessary contribution in a history that is considered as willed by God. As some contributions show, the renewal of this perspective has an impact on the perception and normative status accorded to non-Muslims.

Click here to access the articles.

Interactions between Twelver Shiites and Christians: history, theology, literature

International conference with the participation of Rudi Matthee (University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware) and Francis Richard (CNRS, Paris), in Paris, France, Wednesday, April 11, through Friday, April 13, 2018

Click here to download the final programme…


The interactions and exchanges between Twelver Shiites and Christians, Catholics as well as Protestants, have rarely been studied in detail.However, there were intensive mutual contacts, as indicated by numerous travelogues, missionary reports, theological and polemical works, diplomatic correspondence, etc. Many of these texts that are preserved in libraries and archives in Europe, as well as Iran and Iraq, still remain to be studied.

The conference aims to identify the nature of the intercultural relations according to time, milieu, and geographical zone. We are particularly interested in manuscripts and little-studied texts by missionaries, envoys, travelers (Europeans as well as Arabs and Persians), converts (Muslims and Christians), theologians and scholars, who were engaged in debates with the ‘other’, in the Middle East as well as Europe. The purpose of the conference is to study the different representations of the ‘other’ and to identify mutual influences, possible ruptures, and the cultural dynamics that appeared during these encounters between ‘East’ and ‘West’.

Among other issues, we will discuss the cultural, religious, political and theological perceptions of the ‘other’. What was the role of missionaries? What about diplomatic and political exchanges? What was the relation between the Vatican and local authorities? How did literature contribute to an understanding of the ‘other’, to the reciprocity of perspectives? What about the proximity of theological works and religious practices between Christians and Shiites? The conference will, through its scientific expertise, attempt to address some of these questions.

The languages of the studied texts include Arabic, Persian, Latin, and the vernacular languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, Polish).

Organizing institutions: Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies (IDEO) / Institut de Science et de Théologie des Religions (ISTR) / Groupe de recherches interdisciplinaires sur les écritures missionnaires (GRIEM)

Location: Institut Catholique de Paris

Languages of the conference: English, French

Conference fee: There is a conference fee of 25 Euros per participant and presenter. This fee will entitle these persons to participate in the entire conference and attend the reception dinner. Travel or accommodation expenses will not be covered by the organizers, but they would be happy to assist in finding low priced accommodation in religious communities near the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Deadline for the call for papers: November 1, 2017. Successful applicants will be notified by December 1.

If you wish to submit a proposal (the presentation of each paper should be no longer than 20 min), please send an abstract of 300 to 500 words in English or French as well as your CV to the following address:

Publication: The deadline for submitting an article for review is March 1, 2019. The Mélanges de l’Institut dominicain d’études orientales 35 (2020) dedicates its dossier to the topic of the conference. An article can be published following its positive evaluation by the scientific committee.

Workshop “Arabic and Persian manuscripts in Najaf”

From September 28 through October 1, 2018, we will offer to conference participants a workshop on manuscripts linked to the history of Shiite-Christian relations. The workshop will take place in Najaf, Irak (limited registration). Language of the workshop: Arabic.

The pioneer of studies on this topic is Dr Francis Richard whose most influential article is “Catholicisme et Islam chiite au ‘grand siècle’. Autour de quelques documents concernant les Missions catholiques au XVIIème siècle », Euntes docete 33 (1980), 339-403.

The emergence of Ḥadīṯ as the authority of knowledge

International conference with Walid Saleh (University of Toronto), Aisha Geissinger (University of Carleton) in Cairo, 11–13 January 2018

In collaboration with the French Institute of Egypt

Click here to download the programme…

One of the questions raised today by some Egyptian religious authorities is on the lawfulness and relevance of using intellectual tools foreign to the Islamic tradition to read and interpret the Qurʾān and texts of the classic Islamic heritage. Is it permissible and appropriate to use contemporary human sciences to study the texts of the Arab-Islamic patrimony or should it be limited to Ḥadīṯ? IDEO would like to contribute to this debate by studying the emergence of Ḥadīṯ as the authority of knowledge in the Islamic sciences between the 4ᵗʰ/10ᵗʰ and the 8ᵗʰ/14ᵗʰ century.

As demonstrated by Jonathan Brown (2007), the process of canonization of the body of Ḥadīṯ in the 4th/10th century primarily answered the new needs of the Islamic community. And as noted by Aisha Musa (2008: 17–29), this canonization did not occur without the protest of those who saw Ḥadīṯ as a rival to the Qurʾānic text. In its two constitutive parts, matn and isnādḤadīṯ enables scholars to transmit juridical, theological and spiritual knowledge as well as to connect this knowledge to the authority of the Prophet (Brown 2010: 166‒168). Since the 2nd/8th century, Muslim scholars have been confronted with the following paradox: how does one interpret a source that is certain (the Qurʾān) through the lens of texts whose historical reliability is doubtful and subject to criticism (Ḥadīṯ)? Isn’t human reason more reliable than Ḥadīṯ? The middle way of Ašʿarism (between a strict theological literalism and Muʿtazilī rationalism) enabled a kind of fusion between the science of Ḥadīṯ and the rational Muʿtazilī tools (Brown 2010: 178). However, Ašʿarism never silenced more traditionalist voices for whom Ḥadīṯ was the ultimate source of knowledge.

Many scholars have studied the mutual influence of Ḥadīṯ on Fiqh, exegesis, theology and Sufism. We would like to further this research by studying other fields of knowledge in which the recourse to Ḥadīṯ has also been increasing since the 4th/10th century, such as grammar, philosophy, medicine… Are all sciences influenced by this movement? And even in the religious sciences (Fiqh, exegesis, Kalām, Sufism, etc.), do authors turn to the Ḥadīṯ in the same way? Practically, do they treat the ḥadīts, which go back to the Prophet, differently from those which go back to God, as is the case with the aḥādīṯ qudsiyya, and from the āṯār, which trace back to the Companions? Are both matn and isnād used in the discussions? Are ḥadīṯs merely used as an identity marker? As an illustration? As a means to confer Prophetic authority to knowledge? Why would weak ḥadīṯs still be used? Is there resistance to this movement? How would Shia authors deal with Ḥadīṯ? How and to what extent did the Ḥadīṯ also become a source of authority in fields where one would least expect?

In a more fundamental way, and beyond the functions of Ḥadīṯ in Islamic sciences, what is the epistemology that justifies or necessitates recourse to Ḥadīṯ? Is the same ‘radical hermeneutics’ described by Walid Saleh (2010) to be found in all authors? Why must the origin of human knowledge be based in the Prophet’s sayings? Can human reason have access to certain truths without the help of a prophetic revelation?

The proceedings of this conference will be published in MIDEO, the journal of the Institute, issue 34 (May 2019) – contingent on the approval of the reading committee.

Practical information:

The conferences of IDEO aim at supporting young scholars (PhD students and post-PhDs) by providing a space for encounter and debate. To attend the conference, please register by email at the following address: . Registration and attendance is free of charge. The deadline to register for attendance is December 31, 2017.

If you wish to submit a proposal, please send an abstract of 300 to 500 words in English, French or Arabic, as well as your CV to the same address, . The deadline for submitting a proposal is September 30, 2017. We will select between six and ten proposals.

References and bibliography

Brown, Jonathan A. C. 2007. The Canonization of al-Bukhārī and Muslim. Leiden‒Boston: Brill.

—. 2010. Hadith. Oxford: Oneworld.

—. 2011. “The canonization of Ibn Mâjah: Authenticity vs. Utility in the formation of the Sunni Ḥadîth canon,” in Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée 129: 169–181.

Ḥanafī, Ḥasan 2013. Min al-naql ilā al-ʿaql. Al-ǧuzʾ al-ṯānī: ʿulūm al-ḥadīṯ, min naqd al-sanad ilā naqd al-matn. Al-Qāhira: Madbūlī.

Musa, Aisha Y. 2008. Ḥadīth As Scripture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Saleh, Walid A. 2010. “Ibn Taymiyya and the rise of radical hermeneutics,” in Ibn Taymiyya and His Time, edited by Yossef Rapoport & Shahab Ahmed. Karachi: Oxford University Press. 123‒162.

What does it mean to comment in Islam?

The articles gathered in the MIDEO 32 incorporate most of the contributions presented at the symposium organized by IDEO in Cairo on the 14th, 15th and 16th of January, 2016, on the theme of “Science of Islam, between repetition and innovation: What does it mean to comment in Islam?” that was concluding the 200 Project.

Commenting has in fact become essential to the point of being considered the mode par excellence of intellectual activity (Saleh).
The articles here allow a confrontation with the sources in order to verify the functional level relevance of the commentaries identified by Wisnovsky, and they contribute to a better knowledge of authors of Arab Muslim patrimony.  The volume also incorporates an important article on the theology of religions by Father Rémi Chéno and an article on the theological epistemology of Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456/1064) of Cordoba.  The volume presents as well issues of the Marrakesh Declaration of 27 January 2016.

Click here to access the articles.

Muslim theology of religions

Call for papers: MIDEO 33 (2018)

Islam and religions. The topic is not new. At the time of early Islam, it referred to the relations and interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims. In the first centuries of Islam, it was discussed in the context of treaties on dogmas and practices of different “sects” and religions. It classifies the numerous Refutations (rudūd) towards Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians or heterodox Muslim factions and deals with the legal question (fiqh) of the rights and duties of the non-Muslims on the one hand and the Muslims’ on the other hand.1

Since the eighties, the question has been subject to a renewed interest, especially because of the influence of the Christian theology. The aim is to question the view of the Koran, the Sunna or some Muslim thinkers towards non-Muslims and their religions. In this perspective, some have tried to assess whether the paradigms of exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism brought forward within a Christian theology of religions could be used to explain the Islam’s views about non-Muslim religions.2 Thus, thinkers or philosophers question the Koran and already highlight the existence of “pluralist” verses.3
A Muslim theology of non-Muslims and religions is emerging. Many questions, otherwise classical, are linked to this theology. What role does God give to or expect from non-Muslims? How does he judge the actions of a non-Muslim in order to serve him or to serve humanity4 and what value should be given to the non-Muslim religion in passing on spiritual virtues? What is the theological and legal status of the books other religions?5 Can salvation be considered for a non-Muslim?6

The MIDEO 33 (2018) dedicates a file to this topic and welcomes the publication of articles and various texts which can contribute to put into perspective a Muslim theology of religions.


Articles must be submitted to MIDEO’s direction in .doc and .PDF file before April, 1st 2017 to following the style guide. After an “anonymous” reading by two rapporteurs, writers will be informed within three months whether their article is accepted or not. The texts will be corrected in the fall of 2017 and the publication is planned for the first quarter of 2018.

(1) Yohann Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion in Islam Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
(2) Mahmoud Ayoub, ‘‘Islam and the Challenge of Religious Pluralism” in Global Dialogue 2, 1, Winter 2000, p. 53‒64.
(3) Adnane Mokrani, « Le pluralisme religieux dans le Coran », MIDEO 28, 2010, p. 279‒293.
(4) Mortaza Motahari, Divine Fair, Tehran, Sadra Publication, 2000.
(5) Camilla Adang, Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible: From Ibn Rabban to Ibn Hazm, Leiden, 1996 ; Éric Chaumont, « Nous et la loi des autres : La question du statut des lois antérieurement révélées (sharʿ man kāna qablanā) en théorie légale sunnite » dans Droits et culture, Mélanges en l’honneur du Doyen Yadh Ben Achour, Tunis, Centre de publication universitaire, 2008, p. 83-105.
(6) Emmanuel Pisani, « Hors de l’islam point de salut ? Eschatologie d’al-Ġazālī », MIDEO 30, 2014, p.139-184.