By Daniel A. Brubaker
The 7th Annual meeting of the International Qurʾanic Studies Association (IQSA) in Denver (November 16-19, 2018) marked the passage of one year since Qur’an Gateway was first introduced at IQSA’s annual meeting in Boston.
Andy Bannister and myself were both in attendance. At the opening session, I presented a paper highlighting challenges and opportunities presented by the status of Arabic digital typography and digital encoding, as well as the need for clear thinking and development of tools that can take Qur’an manuscript studies to the next level. Several other papers (e.g. by Alba Fedeli, Marijn Van Putten, Eléonore Cellard, and Mohsen Goudarzi) at this meeting dealt with manuscripts and scribal practices. Several others (e.g. by Adam Flowers, David Powers, Shari Lowin, Holger Zellentin, Sara Tlili, Gabriel Said Reynolds, and Shawkat Toorawa) dealt with the Qur’an’s literary and textual qualities.
IQSA members have been among the best and most active beta users for Qur’an Gateway so far, and we want to thank them for using Qur’an Gateway and for their valuable feedback. Our primary purpose in this project is to serve our academic friends by making available a first-rate tool for searching and analyzing the text and manuscripts of the Qur’an.
One sign that we’ve begun to truly serve our colleagues in this way emerged this weekend:
David Powers, while presenting his paper, “Zayd, Zaynab, and Muhammad: Revisited,” made the bold claim that he believes the pericope beginning at Q33:37 could be a non-original addition to the Qur’an, possibly from the time of ‘Abd al-Malik’s caliphate. Of course, a way to test such a claim would be to see if these verses are missing from any 7th century (e.g. probably hijazi-style) manuscript. But how could one easily check this without visiting and cataloguing thousands of manuscript folios?
Andy Bannister was sitting in the back of the room while David Powers was giving his paper, and observed that 5 different attendees (out of 30 or so present) were logged into Qurʾan Gateway at that moment. Some (I admit I was one of them!) were searching its manuscript side that contains the ability to sort by script style and also has our rough identifications of the contents of each that myself and Michael McCoy have carefully catalogued.
Never before the creation of Qur’an Gateway would this have been possible.
One year out, the Qur’an Gateway team takes satisfaction in the ground we’ve covered, and we could not have done it without our many friends including IQSA leadership and members. Thank you!