Dr. Karen Bauer
Senior Research Associate
Area of focus:
  1. The Qur'an and its interpretive tradition (tafsir)
  2. Gender in Islamic history and thought
  3. The transition from medieval to modern in Islamic thought
  4. Emotions and emotional rhetoric in Islamic history


Dr. Karen Bauer (PhD, Princeton) is a Senior Research Associate in the Qur’anic Studies Unit of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London. She specialises in Islamic social and intellectual history; her specific interests include the Qur’an and Qur’anic exegesis, the history of emotions in early Islam, and gender in Islamic history and thought. Although she is mostly known as a medievalist, she occasionally ventures into modern territory, such as when she interviewed religious scholars (ʿulamaʾ) in Iran and Syria for her book Gender Hierarchy in the Qur’aninfo-icon: Medieval Interpretations, Modern Responses (Cambridge University Press, 2015), which detailed the history of tafsīr through interpretations of verses on women, and was runner up for the BKFS Book Prize 2016. She has published on subjects such as emotional rhetoric in the Qur'an, women’s right to be judges in medieval Islamic law, the potential and actual audiences for medieval tafsīr, and a phrase pertaining to kindness in marriage that is present in documentary evidence of contracts of marriage and in works of tafsīr. In addition to her monograph, she edited a volume entitled Aims, Methods, and Contexts of Qur'anic Exegesis, 2nd/8th - 9th/15th centuries) (OUP/IIS, 2013). She is active in the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA).

Dr Bauer is currently working on An anthology of Qur’anic Commentaries, Volume 2: Women, which is an anthology of translations of Qur’anic verses and commentaries on the subject of women.



Gender Hierarchy in the Qur’an: Medieval Interpretations, Modern Responses, Cambridge University Press, 2015.

(ed.) Aims, Methods, and Contexts of Qur’anic Exegesis, 2nd/8th – 9th/15th Centuries. Edited and introduced by Karen Bauer. Oxford: Oxford University Press in Association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2013.


Journal Articles and Book Chapters

'Emotion in the Qur’an: an Overview’. Journal of Qur’anic Studies 19.2 (2017), pp. 1-31.

‘The Current State of Qur’ānic Studies: Commentary on a Roundtable discussion’. Journal of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (JIQSA) 1.1 (2016), pp. 29-45.

‘In Defense of Historical-Critical Analysis of the Qur’an’, part of a roundtable entitled ‘Feminism in Islam: Exploring the Boundaries of Critique’. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 32.2 (2016), pp. 126-130.

‘Contemporary Iranian Interpretations of the Qur’an and Tradition on Women’s Testimony’. In Reclaiming Islamic Tradition: Modern Interpretations of the Classical Heritage. E. Kendall and A. Khan, eds. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016, pp. 160-176.

‘A Note on the Relationship Between Tafsir and Common Understanding, with Reference to Contracts of Marriage’, in Islamic Cultures, Islamic Contexts: Essays in Honor of Professor Patricia Crone, ed. Asad Ahmed, Robert Hoyland, Behnam Sadeghi, and Adam Silverstein, Leiden: Brill, 2014, pp. 97-111.

Introduction’. In Aims, Methods, and Contexts of Qur’anic Exegesis, 2nd/8th – 9th/15th centuries. K. Bauer, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2013, pp. 1-16.

‘Justifying the Genre: A Study of Introductions to Classical Works of Tafsır,’ Aims, Methods, and Contexts of Qur’anic Exegesis, 2nd/8th – 9th/15th centuries, ed. Karen Bauer. Oxford: Oxford University Press in Association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, 2013.

‘Spiritual Hierarchy and Gender Hierarchy in Fāṭimid Ismā‘īlī interpretations of the Qur’ān,’ Journal of Qur’anic Studies 14.2 (2012), 29-46.

‘I have seen the people’s antipathy to this knowledge:” The Muslim exegete and his audience, 5th/11th-7th/13th centuries’. In The Islamic Scholarly Tradition: Studies in History, Law and Thought in Honor of Professor Michael Allan Cook. A. Ahmed, B. Sadeghi, and M. Bonner, eds. Leiden: Brill, 2011, pp. 293-315. Reprinted in Tafsīr: Interpreting the Qur’an. Critical Concepts in Islamic Studies, ed. Mustafa Shah. London: Routledge, 2013, v. 4, pp. 356-376.

‘Debates on Women’s Status as Judges and Witnesses in Post-Formative Islamic law,’ Journal of the American Oriental Society 130.1 (2010) pp. 1-21.

‘The male is not like the female (Q 3:36): The Question of Gender Egalitarianism in the Qur’ān,’ Religion Compass 3/4 (2009), pp. 637–654.

‘“Traditional” Exegesis of Q 4:34,’ Comparative Islamic Studies, 2.2 (2006), pp. 129 – 142.


Book Reviews

The Study Qur’an by Seyyed Hossayn Nasr, et. al., eds. Review forthcoming in the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences.

Women in Classical Islamic Law: A Survey of the Sources by Susan Spectorsky, review in Islamic Law and Society 23.1-2 (2016), pp. 147-150.

Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition: Ethics, Law, and the Muslim Discourse on Gender, by Ayesha S. Chaudhry, review in Journal of Qur’anic Studies 17.2 (2015), pp. 132-6.

Across the Religious Divide: Women, Property and Law in the Wider Mediterranean (ca. 1300-1800) to appear in Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam (2011).

The Blackwell Companion to the Qur’an ed. Andrew Rippin, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 129.2 (2009) pp. 307-311.

Woman’s identity in the Qur’an, by Nimat Hafez Barazangi, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 4:3 (Fall, 2008), pp. 131-34.

A Traditional Mu‘tazilite Qur’an Commentary, by Andrew Lane, Journal of the American Oriental Society, v. 126, no. 3 (July – Sept., 2006).

The Formation of the Classical Tafsir Tradition, by Walid Saleh, Journal of the American Oriental Society, v. 125, no. 3 (July-Sept., 2005), pp. 470-73.


Non-Academic Work

Reminiscences on being a student of Patricia Crone’s, entitled ‘With all Good Wishes’, al-Usur al-Wusta, November 2015.

Veiled Voices (2009), a documentary film: writer and co-producer; the film is directed and produced by Brigid Maher. Veiled Voices follows Muslim women religious leaders in the Middle East, exploring their relationship to tradition and modernity.