Held in March 2016, The Communities of the Qur’an conference brought together eminent scholars and practitioners of various Islamic traditions to discuss and deliberate each traditions’ respective interpretations of Qur’anic verses. The conference — the first of its kind — placed rich, diverse, and, at times, opposing interpretations of the Qur’an, in direct conversation with one another. But more than just religious dialogue, it was also dedicated to intellectual inquiry.
At its heart the project asks the questions: What is the dialectical relationship between the Qur’an and its “communities of interpretation?” How is the relationship between community and scripture mediated? Can a better understanding of each community’s reception, hermeneutics and cultural assumptions bring about a better understanding of the Qur’an for the 21st century?
Professor Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures and the Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University, presented Ismaili Engagements with the Qur’an — a presentation about the relationship between the Imam and the Qur’anic text, with a focus on how Khoja Ismailis engage with the Qur’an through ginans. Asani first explained how the Imams in Ismaili doctrine are divinely-inspired from the transcendent source of the Qur’an and are essentially, therefore, a “living” revelation and a speaking Qur’an, parallel to the Qur’anic Text. He then contextualised the ginans, and some of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s recent discourses, in light of this concept.
The presentation, though only 30 minutes long, is classic Professor Asani: easy to understand, fascinating, and a pleasure to listen to.
About the Prsenter
Ali Asani is Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures and the Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University. He has taught at Harvard since 1983, offering instruction in a variety of South Asian and African languages and literatures as well as courses on various aspects of the Islamic tradition including Understanding Islam and Contemporary Muslim Societies; Religion, Literature and the Arts in Muslim Cultures; Muslim Voices in Contemporary World Literatures; Introduction to Islamic Mysticism (Sufism); Ismaili History and Thought; and Muslim Societies in South Asia: Religion, Culture and Identity.
Image: Background, Qu’ran, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Permitted use)
Image: Portrait, The Communities of the Qur’an conference video (Fair use/dealing)