New Frontiers in Qurʾanic Studies: Qurʾan Gateway’s Simple Yet Sophisticated Approach to the Field

Posted by Michael McCoy  |  

As a newly matriculated student at Oxford in 2011, the idea of learning Arabic seemed daunting. Despite the fact that I had acquired other research languages before beginning my master’s programme, Arabic still presented a particularly difficult problem.

In Biblical Studies, for example, there were (and still are!) numerous computer software tools available, from Logos and BibleWorks to Accordance and many others in between. Anyone working in a field that uses Biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, or even Syriac) is aware of such “helps.” However, there were no programmes for the Qurʾan that could break apart grammatical structures, parse verbs or even, at the simplest level, provide a running side-by-side Arabic and English text. I knew that within the field of Qurʾanic Studies similar tools were not available; no “training shoes” to help me walk before I could run in this formidable Arabic arena.

Even within the libraries at Oxford and among the faculty, there was no sense of anything “out there” that could be used to aid in learning the Arabic language as I had found in other disciplines. 

This was my source of trepidation with Arabic and studying the Qurʾan. Thankfully, Qurʾan Gateway has arrived. Not only does it provide you with multiple “helps” in studying Qurʾanic Arabic, it takes giant leaps forward in the areas of formulaic structure analysis and manuscript studies. It also meets you, the student, where you are on the most basic levels. 

Qurʾan Gateway is designed for both students stepping into the arena for the very first time and scholars who have run the race time and again. As an early career scholar of the Qurʾan myself, I find that the tools within Qurʾan Gateway continue to provide the best functionality available. Whether I am performing a simple search query for a key term or delving into text-critical questions about manuscripts, the powerful engine built into Qurʾan Gateway can handle it all.

The creators of Qurʾan Gateway have spent well over a decade immersed in the field of Qurʾanic Studies and have published in the areas of oral formulaic structures in the Qurʾan and textual criticism. Their expertise has been recognized by some of the most notable researchers and professors from around the world and from various faith traditions.

Several of these scholars comprise Qurʾan Gateway’s Council of Reference. This includes Profs François Déroche, Asma Hilali, Nicolai Sinai, and Alba Fedeli, to name a few. After using Qurʾan Gateway for his own research, Prof Sinai commented that it is “a powerful and sophisticated digital concordance whose advanced search functionalities […] tie in with debates that are […] at the forefront of Qurʾanic Studies.” You can think of the Council as a kind of external “peer-review.” They are a trusted body of researchers and teacher-scholars that have tested Qurʾan Gateway and found it extremely beneficial for their own work and that of their students. The Council supports the efforts being made by Qurʾan Gateway and advocates for this academic tool on our behalf.

We understand the growing demands of academic research on the Qurʾan at all levels of study. For that reason, we invite you to explore Qurʾan Gateway and join the global community of Qurʾan scholarship.