Welcome to Bottled Petrichor, a podcast dedicated to discussing key topics in Islamic History and Thought. In addition to a short lecture at the start of most episodes, we ask our guest experts questions submitted by listeners and allow them to share their thoughts in a safe environment. Please visit our twitter page for feedback and question submission forms.twitter.com/BottldPetrichor
Join me as I discuss the New Testament with Dr. Thomas Schmidt, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Fairfield University. What is the New Testament and what is its anatomy? What is the history of its writing/canonization? What was the status of the NT among early Christians and how did they refer to it? How does the NT relate to the Hebrew scriptures and other writings? How was the NT preserved? What is the Qur'an's understanding of the NT? And more!
Link to Dr. Schmidt's Academia: https://fairfield.academia.edu/TCSchmidt
Link to Dr. Schmidt's forthcoming publication, "The Book of Revelation and its Eastern Commentators": https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/book-of-revelation-and-its-eastern-commentators/4BF51EA09DB063BC6872DE481D291A62
I'm very pleased to have on Kerwin Holmes Jr., PhD student at the University of Virginia's Department of Religious Studies, to discuss Christianity. What is Christology? What did the early Christians believe about Jesus? What were the different councils and what did they accomplish? What are some of the various interpretive methodologies employed when approaching the Gospels? What does a practising Christian scholar think of the Qur'an's conception of Christian belief? And more!
Link to Kerwin's bio: https://religiousstudies.as.virginia.edu/grad-students/profile/kh2ea
I'm pleased to welcome Dr. Tamara Gray, founder of Rabata (https://www.rabata.org/) to discuss the philosophy of Islamic education in America. What is the purpose of education in general and of Islamic education in particular? How has the curriculum been organized/structured? What are some of the advantages of an online medium for education? What is the role of Islamic scholarship today (original research, education, etc)? What is the broader vision for your students' career plans? And much more!
Link to Dr. Gray's biography: https://www.rabata.org/anse-tamara-gray/
Link to the institute: https://ribaat.rabata.org/
Link to A Compendium of the Sources on the Prophetic Narrative Volume 1 & Volume 2: https://daybreak-international-bookstore.myshopify.com/products/hard-cover-a-compendium-of-the-sources-on-the-prophetic-narrative
I'm pleased to welcome Shaykh Amin Kholwadia, founder of Darul Qasim (located in a suburb of Chicago, IL, USA) to discuss the philosophy of Islamic education in America. What is the purpose of education in general and of Islamic education in particular? What is the role of Islamic scholarship today (original research, education, etc)? How should Muslim academics from Darul Qasim engage with academics in Islamic Studies/NELC departments at universities? What can be learned from the educational methodologies of these departments? What is the broader vision for your students' career plans? How do graduates of Darul Qasim compete with graduates from similar institutes? And much more!
Link to the institute: https://darulqasim.org/
Link to Shaykh Amin's bio:https://darulqasim.org/about-us/leadership/
Join me as I discuss the translation of philosophical texts into Arabic with Dr. Elaine van Dalen, Assistant Professor of Classical Islamic Studies in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. When and where were texts first translated after the rise of Islam? What was the "translation movement" and what was the political and social context of the movement? What was the motivation behind translating texts of certain topics and how did the change in social/religious atmospheres engender the translation of other texts? What was the "Bayt al Ḥikmah" and how has this been popularly understood? Who was translating? How was medicine practiced during these times? What was the status of medical knowledge of the human body like during this time? And more!
Join me as I discuss the Qurʼān and its variant readings with Dr. Shady Nasser, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard. What do we mean when we talk about variant readings? How is the presence of such readings accounted for between Muslim and Western scholars? How and when were variant readings canonized? What methodology was applied to determine whether a variant reading was valid or not? How was "Qurʼān" defined between different people? What are the aḥruf? What do we mean when we talk about tawātur and how does it apply to the Qurʼān and the variant readings? What is the concept of the inimitability of the Qurʼān? How is the Qurʼān related to poetry? And more!
Link to his forthcoming publication: https://brill.com/view/title/55138
Join me as I discuss pre-Islamic Arabia, epigraphy, and Arabic with Dr. Ahmad Al-Jallad (twitter: @Safaitic). What is pre-Islamic Arabia and how can we know about it? How did pre-modern scholars approach the subject and what were their goals? How has the discovery of new inscriptions advanced our knowledge of pre-Islamic Arabia, the Qur'an, early-Islam, and the Arabic language? Why did people make inscriptions? How do we know an inscription is actually going back to a particular date? What methodology is applied to determine the pronunciation of certain words in bilingual inscriptions and how important have such inscriptions been for the study of Arabic and other N.E languages? And much more! The professor also discusses some of his findings and the exciting stories behind them.
Link to Professor Ahmad Al-Jallad's Academia page: https://leidenuniv.academia.edu/AhmadAlJallad
Had a good conversation with Professor Jonathan Brown on the important questions. What defines being Muslim? How do we analyze the truth of Islam? What methodology do we use to conclude that the Qur'an is from God? To what extent can we, people of the modern world, take pre-modern figures as role models, especially if we feel we have to constantly contextualize their lives? How do we live in today's highly connected world in a moral and ethical way? And more!
Join me as I discuss the Bible, Qur’an, Midrash, and Tafsir with Dr. Michael Pregill. We discuss the state of Qur'anic studies today and how the field has changed over the past couple decades, as well as Dr. Pregill's new book, "The Golden Calf between Bible and Qur'an" (recently published by the Oxford University Press). We then move on to several discussions, including: who was the Qur'anic Sāmirī and how is he related to Aaron/Hārūn; Qur'anic "confusions"; how the fields of Late Antiquity, the Bible/Jewish and Christian tradition, and the tafsīr/Islamic tradition relate to the contemporary study of the Qur'ān; and more!
Link to Dr. Pregill's bio: https://hcommons.org/members/mpregill/
Link to his book: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-golden-calf-between-bible-and-quran-9780198852421?lang=en&cc=us
I'm pleased to have on Dr. Emran El-Badawi, Associate Professor at the University of Houston and the founding executive director of the International Qur'anic Studies Association (IQSA). We discuss various theories of the origins of the Qurʼān, the Qurʼān and the Aramaic gospel traditions (which is also the title of his book), Ephrem the Syrian's homilies, the Qurʼān in conversation with Late Antiquity, approaching the Qurʼān as believing historians, and more!
Join me as I discuss the sīra and maghāzī literature with Dr. Sean Anthony. Who were the main figures involved in collecting and compiling data about the life and times of the Prophet? How reliable are these works? How do they incorporate Biblical motifs, hagiography, etc? Were elements of his biography ever used polemically? How much did early Muslims, be they scholars or laymen, know about the life of their Prophet? What is the current status of Western scholarship on the sīra and maghāzī literature? How can scholars from different backgrounds collaborate to further the study of this literature? And more!
Join me as I discuss race and Islamic history with Dr. Rachel Schine, a graduate of the University of Chicago and current Postdoctoral Associate in Arabic Literature and Culture at the University of Colorado Boulder. Can we speak about race when we talk about the past? How are different peoples depicted in the Qurʼān, Ḥadīth, and other literature? How were differences between human explained? Were these differences ever used in polemically? How did ideals of beauty intersect with conceptions of race? And more!
I'm pleased to have on Maulana Arif Kamal, faculty member at Darul Qasim. We discuss the compilation of the Qurʾān, its transmission, variant recitations, the seven aḥruf, and more! Maulana Arif also recites in different qirāʾāt (modes of recitation) for us on this episode!
Join me as I discuss the study of Islam between madrasa and university with Dr. Yasir Qadhi. We discuss the professor's experiences as a student in both types of institutions, the advantages of each, the direction Islamic institutions in the West need to take and more!
Second part of my discussion with Dr. Marijn van Putten, with a focus this time on the Qurʼān. We discuss the study of manuscripts, some of the doctor's main findings, the ways in which contemporary research agrees/disagrees with claims made by earlier scholars of the Qurʼān, and more!
Join me as I discuss the history of Arabic with Dr. Marijn van Putten of Leiden University. Dr. van Putten describes to me the field of historical linguistics and discusses topics such as Proto-Semitic, loan words, how Arabic was spoken in pre-modern times, the difference between Qur'anic and Classical Arabic, pronunciation variations, and more! This is a link to Dr. van Putten's publications page, which includes his very important work on the Uthmanic archetype ("The Grace of God" as evidence for a written Uthmanic archetype: the importance of shared orthographic idiosyncrasies"): https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/marijn-van-putten/publications#tab-3. Follow him on twitter @PhDniX for insightful threads on a variety of subjects.
Join me as I discuss various topics in theology with Dr. Shadee Elmasry of safinasociety.org. How do we know God exists? How do we know that He communicates with people? Is creation just? How do we recognize the truth of a prophet? The Shaykh's opinion on human evolution and Islam is also discussed. And more!
Join me as I discuss Quranic exegisis (Tafsīr) with Dr. Sohaib Saeed, a graduate of Azhar University and SOAS and award-winning translator of Fakhr al-Dīn Rāzī's monumental Tafsīr (name of translation is "The Great Exegesis: al-Tafsir al-Kabir: The Fatiha"). What's the status of the field of Tafsīr? Who are its major figures and what are their major works? What are common misconceptions when it comes to this field? Does every verse need an interpretation? How binding are the interpretations of the exegetes? We also briefly touch upon "abrogation" (naskh) and "circumstances of revelation" (asbāb an-nuzūl).
Follow Dr.Saeed on twitter @tafsirdoctor
Link to his translation: https://www.amazon.com/Great-Exegesis-al-Tafsir-al-Kabir-Fatiha/dp/191114121X
Join me as I conclude my discussion with Dr.Mutter. Arabization and the fall of languages. Hybrid religions in rural areas. When does conversion become religiously motivated? When does the apocalyptic fervor die down? Abdul Malik and the Apocalypse. Were Muslims ever seen as a sign of the Apocalypse by non-Muslims? What was the relationship between the rulers and the ruled? How did Muslims view non-Muslims? Arab superiority and the Abassid Revolution. Where did the designation "Muslim" come from? How accurately do the Muslim histories portray historical events? What is relied upon when writing the history of this period? What is a documentary source and what is a narrative source? What evidence do we have from the early time period of Islam's history? What types of histories do we have and how were they transmitted? Why can't we find enough historical texts from this time period? Revisionism. How do early non-Muslim sources depict Muslims and how do their depictions differ from the way Muslims depict themselves in later narrative sources? Where does the skepticism of Sirah and Hadith emerge from? Is the Sirah a valid way of knowing the life of the Prophet? What histories do historians rely on when they write textbooks on Islamic history? Advice for aspiring historians in the field of early-Islam.
We start off with a brief lecture on the Riddah Wars (Wars of Apostasy), Islamic Conquests/Expansion, and the Umayyad and Abbassid Caliphates. We then move on to some important questions: Why did the Muslims expand? Why were the Muslims successful against the larger Byzantine and Sassanian Empires? How did religious minorities respond to the Muslim expansion? What was conversion like in that early period? Was it forced? Were there any incentives to convert? What was the rate of conversion?
Dr. Jessica Mutter is Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Bowdoin College. She earned her PhD at the University of Chicago (NELC) under the supervision of Dr. Fred Donner.
How did people practice religion before law was codified? How did courts throughout history go about dealing with various crimes? Ḥudūd vs Ta'zir. What is ḥarām? What is makruh? Practically speaking, are these approximations of what we think God feels about our actions? How do we know what God likes or dislikes? Does a change in society necessitate a change in law: the case of inheritance. Were early Imams consistent thinkers? Islamic Law and Science. How does the Muslim jurist interact with a complex world? Was Ijmāʿ ever logistically possible? Do we need to invest in scholarship? Should scholars be held at a higher standard than others? Do scholars speak for God? What makes the ideal scholar in today's world?
Are methodologies man-made? Can you create your own? Are we too focused on the form of Islam and do we lose sight of its spirit? How involved is Islamic Law in a person's personal life? Has Islamic Law offered civilization anything new or beneficial? Role of custom in Islamic Law. Is there a scholarly class in Islam? How many of the primary sources can be accessed by the lay person and how many require the guidance of a scholar? Do scholars abuse their power? What's the difference between studying Islam in West and studying it in the East? What is Tradition and what is its role in achieving Truth?
An introduction the development of Islamic Law. What is Ijmāʿ? What are the schools of Islamic Law and what are their methodologies? How well were these methodologies preserved? How critical were different schools of each other? How did methodologies in Islamic Law develop as other sciences developed? al-Shāfiʿī, Ḥadīth, and validating opinions to the outsider. The geographic distribution of the various schools of thought. The impact of the Salafi Movement on the Muslim world and the idea of following a Madhhab. Maqāṣid ash-Sharīʿa (purposes of the Shariah). The Law vs. Letter of the Law.
Bio of Shaykh Aamir: https://nelc.uchicago.edu/aamir-bashir
We continue in this episode with a series of questions further investigating Hadith. Are there any underlying presuppositions when it comes to accepting the Hadith as reliable sources of what the Prophet said and did? Who critiqued Hadith and why? And much more.
Map of Hadith scholars: https://ilmfeed.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/4madhabs6hadithbooks1.png
Please join me as I discuss the history of Hadith (generally speaking, these are the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) with Mufti Muntasir Zaman of Qalam Institute. In this first episode, the good Mufti gives us a brief introductory lesson on the compilation of these sayings.
Mufti Muntasir's Website: https://ahadithnotes.com/
Mufti Muntasir's Biography: https://www.qalam.institute/muntasir-zaman