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Call for papers “Recited Ink: Written Representations of the Oral Aspects of the Qur’ān”

Place: Naples, Università l’Orientale di Napoli
Dates: 21-22 May 2024


The word Qur’ān primarily indicates recitation. Despite this, when we think about the Sacred Book of Islam, we picture a manuscript or a printed copy. In the last century, recordings and “study Qur’āns” have in a certain way standardized the process of learning and the performance of qirā’a. Orthoepic signs, often colorized, are a common presence in muṣḥafs printed for recitation schools. What we know less about is how these signs developed and how they were used before the 20th century.

Scholarly inquiry has been focused primarily on Qur’ānic script, its forms across time and vagaries. Another approach, more anthropological, has privileged the oral dimension of the Qur’ān, mainly based on recordings and fieldwork. The latter can provide information about the last century, leaving outside the largest part of qirā’āt tradition. We certainly have books such as al-Muqaddima al-Jazariyya or the works of al-Dānī (444/1053) that offer a formalized vision on how the sacred book should be recited. This normative dimension is only partially telling of how the Qur’ān was actually recited. Lacking any form of recording prior to late 19th century we must turn to manuscripts to have an idea of which were the modalities of recitation of the Qur’ān before the Industrial Revolution. Muṣḥafs provide plenty of information about this aspect, both embedded in the text or in the peri-text (margins, but also before and after the text itself). How this form of notation developed and if it was in a certain way regulated (regionally or globally) is something that still awaits to be explored.


Language: English, French, Arabic

  • Roberto Tottoli (Università di Napoli “l’Orientale”)
  • Michele Petrone (Università di Napoli “l’Orientale”)
  • Oliver Salem (Università di Napoli “l’Orientale”)

    Those willing to participate should submit an abstract (title, 300 words abstract and a short bio) to michele.petrone[a] by Friday 10th November 2023.