Call for Papers – Islamic Perspectives on God and (Other) Monotheism(s)

The Al-Mahdi Institute is pleased to announce that the first of its planned annual workshops on Islamic philosophy and theology will take place on 20–21 February 2023. The theme of this inaugural workshop will be “Islamic Perspectives on God and (Other) Monotheism(s). The deadline for the call for papers is 3 October 2022. For more information, see below.

About the workshop

While many world religions share the belief in one God, the Quran and Islamic tradition both seem to argue strongly that the Islamic conception of God and monotheism is one that is epistemically more coherent and ontologically more pristine than other forms of monotheism found in other faith systems. Since the advent of the Quran’s revelation and the formation of Islam as a new religion, the doctrine of tawḥīd has been fashioned through a polemical encounter with native Arab religion on the one hand, and other monotheistic religious communities of the Near East—such as Judaism and Christianity—on the other. The Quran therefore fashions its own theology by grappling with two theological extremes: the shirk of the Arab Meccans and the corrupt tawḥīd of the ahl al-kitāb. The expansion of Islam further impacted the development of the Islamic theological tradition as Muslims began to encounter, interact, and engage with peoples and societies of different faith backgrounds, which as a result led Muslims to formulate their own theological positions and doctrines in view of other conceptions of the divine. Over the course of time, Muslims also began to debate the nature of divine reality amongst themselves, which in turn has given rise to a variety of Islamic perspectives on God and tawḥīd across a range of disciplines such as kalām, falsafa and Sufism. Furthermore, assumptions about the nature of God and divinity, religion, monotheism, and other religions are often found, explicitly or implicitly, in the ḥadīth collections of Sunni and Shia Muslims, as well as within the different schools of Islamic law where discussions about war, marriage, family ties, and trading with non-Muslims are discussed in the context of interactions and dealings with ahl al-kitāb, the mushrikūn, Zoroastrians, and protected minorities with dhimmī status, etc.

This workshop is organised by the Al-Mahdi Institute in collaboration with AMI Press.

Call for papers

This two-day workshop invites papers on the notion of tawḥīd as a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary phenomenon that not only shaped the Quranic discourse about divine nature, the historical formation of the religion of Islam and its subsequent theological traditions, but also as a polemical hermeneutic with which to debate and engage other Islamic and non-Islamic versions of monotheism.

We encourage abstracts that explore the meaning and significance of tawḥīd and its connected themes from a wide range of disciplines that include, but are not limited to, theology, philosophy, philosophy of religion, comparative religion, ethics, jurisprudence and legal theory, anthropology, social history, cultural studies, art, and literature.

Questions to consider when submitting your paper

Applicants are invited to consider the following questions when submitting their respective papers:

  • How have Muslims understood the nature of God’s essence and attributes and, more generally speaking, the doctrine of tawḥīd based on the verses of the Quran?
  • How have Jewish and Christian scriptures influenced/affected the Islamic doctrine of tawḥīd?
  • What do the ḥadīth compilations tell us about the belief in one God and the nature of tawḥīd, and in what ways do Sunni and Shia Muslims agree and/or disagree on their respective interpretations of the meaning of tawḥīd?
  • How has the anthropomorphic language of the Quran’s description of God affected Muslim interpretations of tawḥīd and divine nature?
  • How have different groups within the Islamic tradition (mutakallimūn, falāsifa/ḥukamāʾ, fuqahāʾ, Sufis/ʿurafāʾ) interpreted tawḥīd and the nature of God’s unicity?
  • Does the Islamic tradition acknowledge the existence of non-Muslims who are muwaḥḥidūn and what, if any, are the implications of this?
  • What is shirk, and how does it relate to tawḥīd in the context of non-Islamic monotheisms?
  • How have Muslims discussed tawḥīd and shirk in the context of non-Abrahamic religions (e.g. Hinduism)?
  • How has the notion of tawḥīd been used as both a tool for inter-faith dialogue and a point of contention among Muslims and non-Muslims in the contemporary period?
  • How have/should modern Muslims respond to criticisms of the doctrine of divine simplicity in contemporary philosophy of religion?

Shortlisted abstracts are expected to be developed into a full academic paper. Upon successful completion of all publication requirements, contributors will be awarded an honorarium. The Al-Mahdi Institute will cover all reasonable travel and accommodation costs. The proceedings of the workshop will be published in the form of an edited book in 2024. The language of the workshop (and published papers) will be English only. The workshop will run over two days, each having 6–8 papers, and includes lunch, refreshments, and dinner. Each paper should last no more than 20 minutes. All presenters are required to stay for the full two days.

Schedule for Submissions

  • Abstracts: The deadline for abstracts is Monday, 3 October 2022 at 17:00 UK time Abstracts should be:
    • 300– 500 words;
    • submitted along with a CV (maximum 2 pages, with a listing of the applicant’s publications and recent work experience) in either MS Word or PDF format;
    • emailed to [email protected] 
  • Shortlisting Abstracts: Abstracts shortlisted for the workshop will be notified by Friday, 15 October 2022.
  • Workshop: Selected abstracts will be invited for a two-day workshop on Monday 20– Tuesday 21 February 2023 at the Al-Mahdi Institute, 60 Weoley Park Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 6RB. The workshop coordinator will arrange travel and accommodation for you.
  • Full papers: Final papers must be:
    • submitted by Thursday 1 June 2023, 17:00 UK time;
    • be presented in line with the house style of AMI Press;
    • have a word count between 6,000–10,000 words maximum, excluding the bibliography;
    • emailed to [email protected] 
  • Review: Authors should review the editor’s comments and recommendations and resubmit articles with appropriate changes. The outcome of the editor’s review will be communicated to the authors by Sunday, 30 July 2023.
  • Copyediting: The copyeditor will edit your paper and standardise it to match the AMI Press house style. Your copyedited paper will be sent to you by Thursday, 31 August 2023.
  • Final paper: Any final amendments to papers should be submitted by Saturday, 30 September 2023.
  • Publication: The edited volume is scheduled for publication in January 2024.

Submission of Abstracts

An abstract of no more than 500 words should be submitted in the form of a MS Word document or PDF attached to [email protected] by 17:00 UK time, Monday 3 October 2022. Applicants should submit a CV with a listing of publications and recent employment history.

Submissions Process (Full papers)

Full papers should be submitted in the form of an MS Word document attached to an email to [email protected] no later than 17:00 UK time, Thursday 1 June 2023. The first page of the manuscript should contain the following:

  • The title
  • The name(s) and institutional affiliation of the author(s)
  • The address, telephone, and email address of the corresponding author(s)
  • An abstract of 300 words maximum
  • A bibliography
  • 6 keywords.
Final submissions should be 6,000–10,000 words, excluding the bibliography, and written in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style. Any specific conventions adopted by AMI Press will be communicated to authors in due course.