It was the first time that the Institute has collaborated on such a programme with a working group from the AAR, which is the major international organisation for scholars of religion. The workshop was co-sponsored by the AAR’s Qur’an group. This event highlighted the increasing scholarly interest in Qur’an commentaries, and the critical importance of the work being undertaken by the IIS in the area of Qur’anic studies.

The workshop’s participants included pre-eminent scholars of Qur’an commentaries, such as Jane Dammen McAuliffe  (president of Bryn Mawr College) and Andrew Rippin (Dean, University of Victoria). The event was well attended, with an audience of 60 scholars from institutions around the United States and Canada. It was organised by Karen Bauer, who is a Research Associate at the IIS.

The discussions highlighted questions central to the study of Qur’an commentaries, such as classifications within the genre of tafsir, and the meanings of the words “esoteric” and “exoteric” when used in the context of these works. In the future, it is hoped that the same group of experts will meet again to discuss the fine details of their papers, which will then be included in an edited volume.

The workshop was followed by a formal dinner attended by nearly 100 guests, including most of the speakers and audience from the workshop as well as experts in Islamic Studies, and members of the local Ismaili community. Azim Nanji, former Director of the IIS, delivered remarks, as did Omar Ali-de-Unzaga, Coordinator of Qur’anic Studies at the IIS.