The Institute of Ismaili Studies is delighted to welcome Nuha Al-Sha‘ar and Stephen Burge as Research Associates in the Qur’anic Studies Unit. Both new starters joined in June 2009. They are in the final year of their doctorate research, which they undertook at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh, respectively.

Nuha Al-Sha‘ar is an IIS Alumna, having joined the IIS’ Graduate Programmes in. Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH) in 2002. She went on to study for an MPhil in Education Research from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, which she received in 2004. Ms Al-Sha‘ar stayed at Fitzwilliam College to study for a PhD on Islamic ethics and political thought. Her dissertation is entitled “Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi and Ethical Thought in the Fourth Century of Islam”.

Ms Al-Sha‘ar’s current research interests include the social and intellectual history of Muslim political thought, particularly in the 9th – 10th centuries CE. She is interested in how udaba’ or litterateurs used the Holy Qur’an to develop certain cultural concepts, which were later to dominate Arabic linguistic and literary-theoretical thinking. Her forthcoming publications include Love as Social Aspiration: The Influence of Sufi and Greek Concepts of Love on the Socio-Political Thought of the Ikhwan al-Safa’, Miskawayh and al-Tawhidi, in Klemm, Verena and Nuha al-Shaar, et al. (eds.). Proceedings of the 24th Congress of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants (UAEI), Peeters, Leuven (forthcoming 2010).

Stephen Burge is completing his PhD in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His doctoral thesis is a translation and commentary of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti’s Al-Haba’ik fi akhbar al-mala’ik (The Arrangement of the Traditions about Angels). Stephen Burge specialises in the study of angels in Islam, looking at the angelology of the Holy Qur’an and more widely in the Muslim tradition. His wide-ranging research interests encompass angelology, Islamic exegesis, Hadith Studies, popular religion, and the works of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti. He is also interested in comparative Semitic philology and lexicography, Islamic codicology and relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam – especially in popular religion. Mr Burge’s publications include ‘The Angels in Surat al-Mala’ika: Exegeses of Q. 35:1’ Journal of Qur’anic Studies 10 (2009) pp. 50 – 70.

The Qur’anic Studies Unit aims to advance the general understanding of the plurality of interpretations that have been produced by Muslims throughout history and of the various contexts, methodologies and intellectual tools that have shaped those interpretations.