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.

The Cairo Edition of the Qurʾān 1924

Texts, histories & challenges

Conference of the IDEO in Cairo

October 16ᵗʰ‒17ᵗʰ, 2021

Click here to download the conference programme…


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.


Proposals should be sent in the form of a one-page abstract, before May 15ᵗʰ, 2021, by email to (subject of the email: “Proposal for the Cairo Qurʾān conference”).

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).

Scientific committee

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).

For inquiries, please contact us at .

Reciting in the Early Islamic Empire (7ᵗʰ‒9ᵗʰ centuries)

Third IDEO Conference in Cairo (and on Zoom)

icon-calendar October 16ᵗʰ‒18ᵗʰ, 2020

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

Scientific coordination: Anne-Sylvie Boisliveau (IDEO, Strasbourg) & Asma Hilali (Lille)

The questions raised by the topic of recitation are many and sometimes difficult to define, as Devin Stewart summed up perfectly in his concluding remarks. The first difficulty is methodological: we are talking about a fundamentally oral phenomenon of which we are looking for traces in written texts. The different contributions showed the diversity of the existing material:  lapidary inscriptions, ostraca, papyri and manuscripts. The information concerning recitation is either contained in more or less codified marginal or interlinear notes, or to be deducted from the verbs used to describe the way in which the content of the text is transmitted.

More fundamentally, the topic of recitation forces us to reconsider the definition of what a text is. The case of the homily is paroxysmal: learned by heart from possibly written notes, then pronounced with more or less loyalty to the initial project, taken in notes by some listeners during or after the hearing, then written by a professional author according to established literary canons, then put into circulation in a version that may be reread by the person who delivered it. In this case, what is the “text” of this homily? The Coptic Eucharistic prayers, after having been required to be improvised for a long time, stabilized under the influence of linguistic changes and dogmatic quarrels. The text of the Qurʾān developed and stabilized at the same time as it was disseminated, both in written and oral forms.  In other later cases, the transmission of some texts maintained the illusion of an oral transmission, through reading or reciting, while the actual process happened entirely through in written form.

Unfortunately, the online format did not allow us to make place for recitation in Zoroastrianism, Judaism or in Byzantium. One issue that could not be discussed either was the power of the recited words. The recited proclamation of a text has a different impact from its reading, public or private. Can this impact be studied? More generally, what are the aims of recitation? Teaching, transmission, piety, aesthetics, acquisition of good deeds, reinforcement of the authority of the text by the dramatization of its recitation?

All these questions will be the topic of MIDEO 37 (2022). The deadline for sending your contributions is February 1st, 2021. Please click here for more details…

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

Click here to download the conference programme…

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

  • 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. The deadline to submit your paper to is May 31ˢᵗ, 2021.

For inquiries, please contact us at .


The Interaction Between Twelver Shiites and Christians: History, Theology, Literature

icon-calendar April 11‒13, 2018

The IDEO, in partnership with ISTR in Paris (Institute of Science and Theology of Religions) and GRIEM (Interdisciplinary Research Group on Missionary Writings), organized a conference sponsored by the associations “Friends of IDEO” and the “Œuvre d’Orient” from April 11-13th, 2018 on the interaction between Twelver Shiites and Christians. Several internationally renowned specialists participated, including Professors Rudi Mathee and Francis Richard. A delegation of researchers from Iraq and the al-Khoei Institute also participated.

Focusing on interactions, this conference aimed to explore travel accounts, missionary writings, theological texts, embassy reports, and manuscripts in order examine the nature of how one group viewed the other, the types of exchanges that were made, and the relations between these groups. The conference also sought to show the evolution of identity, as each group underwent transformations due to these interactions within the pluralistic political contexts of their times.

We demonstrated that the existence of these exchanges was made possible by a theological necessity on the part the Shiites, as well as a theological and spiritual proximity related to the theology of redemption and the Shiite fascination of the God of love.  Economic arguments were also put forth, as the absence of subsidies coming from Europe forced missionary communities into economic exchanges in the world in which they lived, sometimes at the expense of violating their own rules. Political issues were also discussed, such as the rivalry between the Ottomans, the Mughals, and the Safavids, which made alliances with Christians necessary. These alliances gave rise to expressions of friendship and esteem for the other. Curiosity and empathy were also noted, and we were able to speak of “Christianophilia” on the part of the Shiites.

However, far from wishing to idealize the past, history also records the partial and sometimes negative perceptions of the other. Historically, ulamas were able to demand that Christians be driven away or demand their conversion. Often mentioned are the tragic situation of the Armenians and the domination of controversies. Whether real or fictional, these controversies circulated beyond the empire, and has thus carried trans-historical argumentation against the other. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, controversies were couched in a more aggressive, political argumentation, as they were often created by the State, thus showing the politicization of Christian-Shiite relations in this time.

There was also a question of Christian missionary activities, the nature of which varies according to the order, such as the Capuchins, Carmelites, or Jesuits. Faced with the lack Muslim conversions, missionaries questioned their formation, the need to develop new argumentations, the possible impact of converts as the main agents in the mission, which populations were to be targeted as a priority, the possible support of Muslim spiritual circles, and the Persian poetic heritage…

Cultural, spiritual, or religious interactions are visible at the level of the invocation of saints, iconography, and the presentation of the gospels with a Christian basmala at the beginning of each gospel…

Finally, did these exchanges, interactions lead to a better understanding of the other? Certainly. However, the missionary reports, travel accounts, and theological works often reveal partial knowledge, notwithstanding the desire to make the other more well known.

The proceedings of this conference will be published in the MIDEO 35 (2020).

The emergence of Ḥadīṯ as the authority of knowledge between the 4ᵗʰ/10ᵗʰ and the 8ᵗʰ/14ᵗʰ centuries

icon-calendar January 11‒13, 2018

On January 11, 12 and 13, the Dominican Institute has organised in partnership with the French Institute an international conference dedicated to Ḥadīṯ. Our two guest speakers were Dr. Aisha Geissinger (Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada) and Prof. Walid Saleh (Toronto University, Canada). We hosted 7 lectures in Arabic the first day, 5 lectures in English the second day, and two workshops the third day, one in Arabic and one in English. Here are the main issues discussed during the workshops and the concluding session:

1- Questions of methodology: how to study Ḥadīṯ today? As a literary corpus, as a source of law, as an object of piety binding its reader to the person of the Prophet, as a witness to a given historical context…

2- The question of the relevance of the use of contemporary human sciences, and thus of dealing with a sacred corpus in a profane manner (Quran, Ḥadīṯ).

3- The question of historical criticism: legitimate or not, relying on canonical corpus or composing new ones, with which tools… for what purpose? Evaluation of the isnād and/or the matn?

4- The question of blind spots in the history of Ḥadīṯ: voices that are not expressed, women, minorities,… How can we write a history that takes into account what is not documented, the point of view of those who are dominated or silenced?

5- The question of “reason” (ʿaql), which lacks, in Arabic, a working definition, allowing everyone to claim it for themselves, or to refuse it to others. It seems that researchers in reality often confuse “reason” (ʿaql) as capacity and “rationalities” (ʿaqlāniyyyāt) as its implementations.

6- The presence of several persons from Muslim minorities during the colloquium (one Omani Ibadi, two Saudis Ismailis, two Iraqi Shiites) also opened the debate on the different readings of Ḥadīṯ.

7- The question of the “scientific miracle” (cf. Bucaille), which always finds followers, including in the field of Ḥadīṯ.

The concluding session

During the concluding session, Walid and Aisha emphasized one or another of these points. However, the issue of the emergence of Ḥadīt as a source of authority was not addressed as such. If Ruggero Sanseverino has dealt with the epistemological question of its authority, to link it spiritually (and not mechanically) to the person of the Prophet, the other interventions have approached the question of the authority of Ḥadīṯ in a given context, in a given science, in a given author. But none of them studied the issue over a long period of time, and neither the workshops nor the concluding session tried to do so. One of most exciting aspects of the conference was probably the fact that it connected scholars from the West with scholars from Egypt, which is probably why the methodological issues took such an importance during the workshops.

The proceedings of this conference will be published in MIDEO 34 (2019).

Islam sciences, between repetition and innovation: What is the role of the commentary in Islam?

icon-calendar January 14‒16, 2016

From the 8th14th century, the commentary was the form par excellence of intellectual production in Islam, as result of the professionalization of teaching which culminated in the Ottoman network of madrasas. “Commentary” here is understood in the broad sense: tafsīr, šarḥ, ḥāšiya, taʿlīq, but also taḥqīq, taqrīr, taḥqīq

On January 14, 15 and 16, 2016, IDEO organized a conference on the topic ” The sciences of Islam, between repetition and innovation: What is the role of the commentary in Islam?” This conference concluded the 200 Project financed by the Delegation of the European Union in Egypt, where for three years a team of IDEO researchers worked on the historical contextualisation of two hundred authors of the Arab-Muslim heritage.

Omar Ḥamdān shows that commentaries allow for a better understanding of the authors of the Arab-Muslim heritage, some of whom were unknown or whose writings have been lost. For the sake of completeness, they thus complete the scope of the first biographical and bibliographical works.

If Nadjet Zouggar demonstrates that the diversity of commentaries of Avicenna’s Poem on the Soul supports the thesis of the authenticity of a text whose integration into the Avicenna corpus has sometimes been doubted, his research confirms, above all, the unsuitability of the epistemological distinction between philosophy and theology in the Muslim world, and thus tends to corroborate Winovsky’s thesis.

Moreover, far from being purely repetitive and sterile works, the contributions showed that the commentaries not only make it possible to maintain a living tradition, but they also testify, as Kamran Karimullah shows about Avicenna, to the persistent influence of his thinking in Arab medicine. The terminological study undertaken by Nicola Carpentieri also makes it possible to show that while certain terms in the commentaries on Arab medicine could have been considered interchangeable, a close study shows that, on the contrary, they have a specific definition, and that it is possible to identify changes in meaning over time. Philipp Bruckmayr’s study, based on commentaries from the Umm al-barāhīn in South-East Asia on the profession of faith by Abū ʿAbd Allah al-Sanūsī, shows that commentaries can give birth, depending on where they originated, to a new literary genre. This ability of the commentary to revive a tradition is also discussed and supported by Éric Chaumont’s research regarding treatises on fiqh. Finally, Jan Thiele reports on the links between two major works of kalām from the first half of the 6th /12th century, and shows that al-Makkī’s Nihāya must first be considered as a work of re-compilation and not as an independent work.

The discussions during the conference showed that there were two opposing ways of looking at the texts of the Arab-Muslim heritage: from the point of view of their unity (a more theological vision that emphasizes the internal coherence of Islamic sciences), or from the point of view of their evolution (a more historical vision that makes it possible to measure the contribution of each author according to the context in which he lived).

The proceedings of this conference were published in the MIDEO 32 (2017).