THE CENTER FOR QURANIC STUDIES

 The Center for Quranic Studies and Practice located at  Istanbul 29 Mayıs University,  referred to in its abbreviated form as the Center for Quranic Studies (KURAMER), is a privately-funded research center that operates in compliance with private organisation regulations, administrative and workprinciples.

Born out of the premise,

For Muslims, the loss of productivity and dynamism over the last couple of centuries in the fields of science and technology, as well as other more basic issues underlying the former, have engendered not only economic decline, loss of international power and prestige, and disruption of social peace and order, but also, perhaps more importantly, fundamental problems such as a loss of confidence, a cynical perspective on historical legacy and subsequent profound shocks. The struggle for identity and existence in encounters with the West and relations with the outer world in general has rendered it difficult for Muslims to establish a healthy relationship with Islam and has even had a profound impact on their perception of their religion. As a consequence, we either experience isolation and taking refuge in history, or we have distanced ourselves from religion. We have been dragged into the conundrum of where Islam is. On the one hand, it has been converted into a mere historical subject matter in the fashion of archaic religions and faiths, while on the other hand it is being wielded as an efficient tool in a multiplicity of ideological and mundane conflicts. In this process, we witness the Qur’an, which is supposed to be the most fundamental source and reference point for the Muslim mind and religious practice, losing its decisive influence on the Muslim understanding of Islam to some extent, while responsibilities towards the Qur’an remain confined to formal and superficial ties.

We see that defensive and reactive reflexes, which became more popular due to the problems and difficulties within the last two centuries, have penetrated a great many scholarly works during this period and have considerably inhibited the message of the Qur’an from deservedly reaching both Muslims and the modern world in an appropriate manner.The Qur’an was originally presented as a book of prayer recited solely on sacred nights and in holy locations; or a book of argumentation used in daily conflicts and controversies; or a book of science and exploration providing solutions to quotidian problems; or an incomprehensible book full of esoteric information and codes. The particular perception of the Qur’an has been inefficient in bringing about an intellectual and social transformation in this period.  The impact of individual works and certain valuable collective studies conducted by several small groups has been limited as well.

However, it should be taken into consideration that just like the destruction caused in the Islamic world by the Moghul invasions and the Crusades, which engendered an awakening, the experience of the last two centuries has forced the Muslim mind to confront itself and has led to the formation of new understandings and avenues of inquiry in religious thought, and increased efforts among intellectuals to re-read history. An awareness and consciousness of lost values has started to gain strength, and our hopes regarding the possibility of constructing a new future based on the ageless foundations of this religion have started to grow. In this process, Muslims have started reading their Holy Book again and with greater will power, reorienting themselves towards the Qur’an. Studies focusing on understanding the message of the Qur’an in all ages have proliferated considerably. The perspective that regards perceiving and communicating the universal message of the Qur’an and rendering it a lifestyle as the essential responsibility of Muslims has always existed in the Islamic world. However, this perspective is in greater need of being expressed  and shared, given that today Muslims are in dire need of establishing a more sincere connection with the Qur’an and constructing a common platform of Quranic reflection and thought.

Pessimism aside, there are a good number of reasons to refresh our self-confidence and anticipate the future with hope, despite the formidable problems plaguing the Muslim world today. That is because scholarly advances, education, and research aimed at understanding the Qur’an have endured for fourteen hundred years and left a rich legacy, notwithstanding certain watersheds and breaking points in Islamic history. The rich material and the highly self-confident works written and transmitted by Muslim scholars in fields such as the Quranic sciences, the history of the Mushaf, Ḥadīth, Sīrah, and history, particularly in the earlier periods, are lying in wait today for the well-deserved attention and interest of researchers and scholars. On the other hand, these works have caught the attention of Western researchers: studies benefiting from these sources and incorporating comparisons with the West’s own sacred texts have been emphasized, research centers and teams operating in the field of Quranic Studies – albeit under a different set of motivations – have been formed, and various publications have been and are still being produced. A tremendous literature in Quranic Studies, to which contemporary researchers cannot remain indifferent, has emerged in Western languages today. It is time for the Islamic world to abandon the didactic, reactive and defensive stance and become aware of these publications, confront them, develop local projects on an international level, and actualize them accordingly.

Inquiring into the reasons behind the gradual impoverishment of works exploring the semantic world of the Qur’an; analysing in depth the intellectual, cultural, historical, and modern obstacles standing in the way of understanding the message of the Qur’an correctly; making the Qur’an the foundation on which a new understanding may be established, which addresses the intellectual and spiritual realms of today’s individuals; and rendering the message of the Qur’an a reference point for the people of our age, have remained heavy responsibilities that Muslims have to shoulder. To this end, a quest has been initiated by like minded individuals who felt this responsibility deeply and desired to build upon existing scholarly studies by meticulous planning, professional execution, and adherence to a scholarly discipline. As a result, “the Center for Quranic Studies and Practice at Istanbul 29 Mayıs University,” shortly referred to as “Center for Quranic Studies (KURAMER)”, was established in December 2012, whose bylaws and regulations were published in the Official Newspaper on 22nd December 2012 (No. 28505).

KURAMER is a pioneering institution in Turkey thanks to its identity as a privately-funded research center affiliated to a university, the examples of which are wide-spread in the West.

OBJECTIVES

The Center mainly aims to run, organize, and/or fund academic research to be performed for understanding the Qur’an based on scholarly studies and to share the resulting intellectual production with diverse audiences in various ways.

To this end, the Center has the following short- and long-term goals:

  1. To designate research subjects and researchers in fields such as the History of the Qur’an and Mushaf, History, Philology, the History of Religions, ḤadīthSīrah (Prophetic Biography), Aqāid (creed), Qur’anic Translation, Tafseer (exegesis), Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Philosophy of Kalām/Islam; preparing and conducting projects on these subjects.
  2. To support domestic and international studies for researchers and research candidates.
  3. To establish a research library, an electronic database of scholarly articles, and an archive in the field of Quranic Studies.
  4. To publish research conducted at KURAMER and also outside of KURAMER
  5. To form an intellectual basis on which diverse perspectives and opinions in the field of Quranic Studies can be discussed and assessed freely, as long as their academic responsibility lies with the researcher/academic in question and not with KURAMER.
  6. To organize conferences, seminars, workshops and symposiums in which academic and current subjects relating to the Qur’an in particular and to Islamic sciences in general may be discussed; to publish the discussions and the papers presented on these platforms and share them with the general public.
  7. To collaborate with various academic and research institutes that are active in Quranic Studies in Turkey and abroad.
  8. To create a Museum of the History of the Qur’an and the Mushaf.

PRINCIPLES

  1. To avoid the arrogant and problematic claim of being the sole representative of truth and act with the consciousness that the search for truth is a most valuable element in and of itself.
  2. To handle subjects of research and scholarly works with scientific independence and originality while adhering to scholarly principles and methods in research and publication.
  3. To present locally- and internationally renowned Qur’an scholars with the opportunity to express their views and thoughts freely – provided that they do not represent KURAMER institutionally – and to regard this process as inevitable for the development of ideas.
  4. To examine each research subject from an inquisitive perspective and with an understanding that pays attention to the rich repertoire of tradition, bearing today’s needs in mind and which does not exclude and ignore contemporary scholarly studies. Moreover, to not avoid confronting our historical and intellectual heritage when required.
  5. To view the rich literature that focuses on understanding and interpreting the Qur’an and that treats various schools of Islamic thought throughout Islamic history and its subject matter as an integral part of our cultural heritage, which should be utilized and opened to discussion and evaluation.
  6. To ensure that the research and studies that are to be conducted in various fields at the Center be prepared according to a content and methodology related to the main purpose of understanding the Qur’an.

ACTIVITIES

ARCHIVING AND DOCUMENTATION STUDIES

In order for sound research to be conducted, the Center has started to determine and provide the fundamental sources for the fields of the History of the Qur’an and Mushaf, History, Philology, the History of Religions, Ḥadīth,Sirah (Prophetic Biography), Aqāid (creed), Translation of the Qur’an, Tafseer (exegetics), Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Philosophy of Kalām/Islam. For this reason, an extensive digital database and a library specializing in the Qur’an have been established. To this end, İSAM Library, Index Islamicus, Shamila and other digital libraries have been scanned, prioritizing sources for Quranic Studies in all languages. These sources have begun to be provided in hard copy or electronically.

One of the objectives of the Center is to form a comprehensive database by means of scanning books, thesis, articles and journals published within the field of activity of the Center in other Islamic and Western countries. Containing all scholarly studies on the Qur’an, this library and documentation repertoire will constitute the ground for studies and projects at the Center and be at the disposal of those desiring to conduct research within this field.

RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

KURAMER plans to conduct multi-staged research in Quranic Studies in various sub-fields in light of the objectives and principles stated above. Within this framework, it has initiated a research project in six disciplines, the details of which are presented below, with the purpose of establishing a firm scholarly basis primarily for Quranic Studies.

  1. The Revelation
  2. The Qur’an/ The History of Religions
  3. The Context of the Revelation
  4. The Qur’an/The Prophetic Biography
  5. The History of the Qur’an and the Mushaf
  6. Qur’an-Sunnah

Following a series of workshops, project planning was completed in October 2013, and scholars and project supervisors for each field were determined. The goal is to have a completed manuscript by the end of the year 2014 and present it to the scientific world as a ten-volume publication in the year 2015.  

The second-and third-stage studies will be simultaneously designed in light of the scientific data provided by the first-stage study.

 The Center will also support new projects in the field of Quranic Studies.

SCIENTIFIC MEETINGS AND WORKSHOPS

Within the framework of its objectives and principles, the Center for Quranic Studies has included, in its programme, topic-specific and debate-based scholarly meetings with the participation of local and international experts and scholars, as well as conferences, national and international symposiums, workshops and seminars open to the scholarly community and anyone who is interested. Activities in this field will intensify in parallel with the reinforcement of the database and progress in the projects.

  1. Discipline Workshops are meetings in which experts discuss and formalise subjects pertaining to the six disciplines that the Center has included in its Quranic Studies project. Coordination regarding sources, methods and problems will be established and findings evaluated.
  2. Subject Workshops are meetings which aim to handle problematic subjects of close interest to Quranic Studies which are discussed from different perspectives, and information found in primary sources and which historically – formed a rich knowledge repertoire and literature.
  3. Conferences and Seminars are meetings that allow scholars to propound and discuss their ideas on subjects that fall within KURAMER’s field of interest.

KURAMER intends to share its scholarly research, meeting and workshop activities as a bulletin with the public at regular intervals.

PUBLICATION AND TRANSLATION ACTIVITIES

The Center for Quranic Studies aims to publish original copyrighted works, theses, translations of important books and articles from the classical and modern period relevant to the field of Quranic Studies; to start the publication of a scholarly journal centered on Quranic Studies; and to share its activities with the public on its website and on an electronic platform.

FUNDING AND SCHOLARSHIPS

KURAMER aims to provide support for national and international projects of researchers and research candidates in relevant fields of interest.

COLLABORATION WITH NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS

Connections with national and international institutions and organizations conducting research in Quranic Studies have been established. Three of these are: “Müessesetu’l-Buhûs ve “Dirâsâti’Ilmiyye” in Morocco, the “Corpus Coranicum” Project at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, which aims to develop a better contextual understanding of the Qur’an by running historical research based on manuscripts, the Institute for the Study of the Culture and Religion of Islam at Goethe University in Frankfurt. Collective studies through information exchange are being planned.

ONLINE PRESENCE

It is possible to follow certain publications and activities of our Center from the Internet. You can access our website at www.kuramer.com or www.kuramer.org and share your suggestions with us or direct any criticism toinfo@kuramer.com.  

KURAMER LIBRARY PROGRAMME

“The Kuramer Library” program is being developed to gather classical and modern Islamic literature from the classical and modern periods in text, pdf, manuscript, image, sound, and video formats under a single roof and to share the content with individuals and institutions. It is considered to be a contribution to the effort of establishing a common cultural memory for the Islamic world. You can find more details about the programme on our website.

PROJECTS IN QURANIC STUDIES

The basic principle for our Center is to work towards a correct understanding of the Qur’an by relying on authentic information from the sources and reliable scholarly procedures, and for all obstacles on the road to this purpose to be removed. In light of this principle, the following stages of study have been determined:

  • The first stage, focusing on forming an intellectual and scholarly backdrop for the purpose of understanding the Qur’an;
  • The second stage, focusing on the content of the Qur’an;
  • The third stage, focusing on the Quranic Sciences, the existing problems in the field and their solutions.

FIRST-STAGE RESEARCH IN QURANIC STUDIES

THE DISCIPLINE OF REVELATION

As an intellectual preparation for understanding the Qur’an, it is aimed, in this section, to construct a metaphysical background about God, man, the universe, knowledge, religion, revelation, prophethood, divine speech and the Book. First and foremost, as an intellectual preparation, information provided by the Qur’an, as well as other religious traditions and philosophical systems on divinity, existence, the creation of the universe and the human-being, knowledge, and the unseen world (ghayb) will be evaluated comparatively.

Religion is the common reality of humanity. One of the common elements of divine religions is revelation and prophethood as subjects of metaphysical knowledge and belief. Serious discussions have taken place in relation to the communication of the divine word (kalām) to humans through revelation and prophets in religious thought and traditions, as well as other thought systems, and an extensive literature has formed thereof. Dealing with different views and perspectives on the conception of revelation and prophethood in ancient belief systems and cultures, pre-Islamic religions, philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Sufism andKalām; the possibility and impossibilities of understanding revelation; the relationship between Kalām, revelation, and the Qur’an; and the role played by the Prophet Muhammad, undoubtedly has the utmost importance for the field of Quranic Studies.

Since the conception of prophethood and revelation constitutes the axis of Quranic Studies and the ground on which views pertaining to the essence of the Qur’an are situated, the perception of prophethood and revelation among members of other religions and belief systems is not of interest to their own religious and belief spheres exclusively, but they have considerable impact on their views-except for other motives- on Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, and the Qur’an. Although differences of opinion among Islamic scholars on revelation and the Qur’an, as recorded within the Islamic scholarly heritage, are not very great, these divergent points facilitate our understanding of the intellectual debates in the contemporary Islamic world. For this reason, the studies performed as part of this discipline aim to form an intellectual background for subjects that will be handled from different perspectives by the other five disciplines mentioned above.

Project Supervisor:  Prof. Yusuf Şevki Yavuz

Scholars:  

Prof. Yusuf Şevki Yavuz (KURAMER)

Prof. Ahmet İnam (ODTÜ, Department of Philosophy)

Prof. Ömer Faruk Harman (Marmara University, Faculty of Theology)

Prof. İlhami Güler (Ankara University, Faculty of Theology)

Prof. Sait Reçber (Ankara University, Faculty of Theology)

Prof. Hadi Adanalı (Ankara University, Faculty of Theology)

Prof. Burhanettin Tatar (Ondokuz Mayıs University, Faculty of Theology)

Prof.İlyas Çelebi (Marmara University, Faculty of Theology)

Prof. CağferKaradaş (Bolu İ. Baysal University, Faculty of Theology)

Prof. Abdülhamit Birışık (Uludağ University, Faculty of Theology)

Prof. Mahmut Kaya (İstanbul University)

Prof. Recep Kılıç (Ankara University, Faculty of Theology)

Prof. Mustafa Sinanoğlu (İstanbul 29 Mayıs University, Faculty of International Islamic and Religious Studies)

Prof. Bilal Gökkır (Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology)

Asst. Prof. Muhammet Tarakçı (Uludağ University, Faculty of Theology)

Asst. Prof. Caner Taslaman (Yıldız Teknik University, Department of Philosophy)

Asst. Prof. Cüneyt Kaya (Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology)

Asst. Prof. Ömer Türker (Marmara University, Faculty of Theology)

Asst. Prof. Asiye Tığlı (Dumlupınar University, Faculty of Theology)

Asst. Prof. Mehmet Sait Toprak (Mardin Artuklu University, Institute for Living Languages)

Dr. Mehmet Bulgen (Marmara University, Faculty of Theology)

  • Sections and Research Plan:

    Introduction:

  1. The Conception of Existence and Knowledge
  1. The Conception of Existence
  2. The Conception of Existence in the Qur’an
  3. The Conception of Existence in Philosophy
  1. Allah
  1. The Existence of God (Evidence for His Existence)
  2. The Conception of the Divine
  3. The Conception of Knowledge
  1. Knowledge in the Qur’an and Islamic Thought
  2. Knowledge in Modern Philosophy
  3. The Realm of the Unseen (Ghayb)

  4. Religion, Prophethood, and the Conception of Revelation

  1. Religion from a Philosophical Perspective
  2. The Relationship of God with the World (the Idea of Grace) and Religion
  1. Religion from the Perspective of Kalām
  2. Religion from the Perspective of Comparative Religions
  3. Prophethood and Revelation

  1. Prophethood and Revelation in the Pre-Islamic Period
  1. Conception of Prophethood and Revelation in Ancient Cultures and Oriental Religions
  2. Conception of Prophethood and Revelation in Judaism
  3. Conception of Prophethood and Revelation in Christianity
  4. Conception of Prophethood and Revelation in the Arabian Peninsula Before the Qur’an
  5. The Conception of Prophethood and Revelation in Islamic Thought

  1. Quranic Metaphysics: The Possibility of Revelation
  2. Revelation in the Qur’an and the Sunnah
  3. The End of Prophethood with Prophet Muhammad and Claims of Prophethood After Him
  4. The Conception of Prophethood and Revelation in Kalam
  1. The Sunnī and the Muʿtazilī Approach
  2. The Shiʿī Approach
  3. The Conception of Prophethood and Revelation in Islamic Philosophy

  4. The Conception of Prophethood and Revelation in Sufism

  5. In Western Philosophy

  1. The Conception of Prophethood and Revelation
  2. Orientalist Views on the Qur’an as Revelation and on the Prophethood of Muhammad
  3. The Embodiment of Divine Speech in Language (The Qur’an as a Divine Book)

  4. The Message of the Qur’an for Humankind

    THE DISCIPLINE OF THE QUR’AN AND THE COMPARATIVE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS

    History and historical knowledge in the Qur’an have always been handled in two unrelated branches, and historical aspects of the Qur’an are perceived as events and parables whose miraculous/legendary nature is emphasized at the expense of their connection to reality. This perception can be said to date back to the events of the Sīrah period. This section aims to assess historical knowledge provided by extra-Quranic sources, including archaeological findings, in addition to the historical information and references found in the Qur’an.

    References and allusions to prophets in general, and to the history of Judaism and Christianity, to other faiths and religious communities (especially the Jews and Christians of that time period) and to the relations with these groups in particular, occupy considerable space in the Qur’an.These references are directed towards a myriad of purposes, such as: constructing Tawheed (the tenet of the oneness of Allah) based on the history of the prophets; establishing a sound description of the two monotheistic traditions by demonstrating their principal identity, their common origin with Islam, the outlines of their history, and subsequent deviations that took place; presenting an opportunity for fruitful comparison; warning Muslims through the mistakes of the members of other religions; establishing an Islamic identity by determining the relations and strategy between various religious communities; and finally, strengthening self-confidence.

    References to the members of other religions in the Qur’an in the West are treated mostly without referring to context and purpose and are frequently made into subjects of speculation. On the other hand, similarities and differences between foundations of faith and principles of worship and ethics between the three divine religions are seen as opportunities for directing accusations against Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an, especially in the West.  However, Muslims consider the similarities and differences between these three religions easy to understand and explain. The Qur’an itself makes this comparison quite frequently. However, because Muslims choose to be largely absent from this field and adopt an overall hesitant stance, misunderstandings easily occur.

    Moreover, it is necessary to evaluate relations with the other two monotheistic communities within the dimensions of the Sīrah and subsequent events by paying attention to historical context, rather than drawing generalizations from verses about the Qur’an. For all of these reasons, information on monotheistic and other religions will be provided with regard to their history and situation during the revelation period in a Qur’an-centered and comparative way. A cross-check with the proceedings in the discipline of Sīrah will also be maintained.

    Project Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ömer Faruk Harman

    Scholars:

    Prof. Ömer Faruk Harman (KURAMER)

    Prof. Fuat Aydın (Sakarya University, Faculty of Theology)

    Prof. Mustafa Öztürk (Çukurova University, Faculty of Theology)

    Prof. Baki Adam (Ankara University, Faculty of Theology)

    Prof. Ali İhsan Yitik (Dokuz Eylül University, Faculty of Theology)

    Prof. Mahmut Aydın (Ondokuz MayısUniversity, Faculty of Theology)

    Prof. Mehmet Katar (Ankara University, Faculty of Theology)

    Prof. Şinasi Gündüz (Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology)

    Prof. Ömer Özsoy (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany)

    Prof. Kürşat Demirci (Marmara University, Faculty of Theology)

    Asst. Prof. Hakan Olgun (Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology)

    Asst. Prof. Salime Leyla Gürkan (İSAM)

    Asst. Prof. Mehmet Alıcı (Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology)

    Asst. Prof. Mehmet Sait Toprak (Mardin Artuklu University, Institute for Living Languages)

    Sections and Research Plan:

    Introduction: The Relationship between the Qur’an and History