Research Seminar: ‘Beyond Sectarianism: The Relationship Between the Qur’an, Shi’ism, and Religious Identity.’

On Wednesday, 3rd July 2024, AMI’s Department for Studies in Comparative Religions will be hosting a research seminar on ‘Beyond Sectarianism: The Relationship Between the Qur’an, Shi’ism, and Religious Identity’ by Dr Tehseen Thaver (Princeton University).


In her new book ‘Beyond Sectarianism,’ Tehseen Thaver offers a fundamental reevaluation of how one should think about the relationship between the Qur’an, Shi‘ism, and religious identity. This book focuses on the literary Arabic Qur’an exegesis of the highly influential yet less studied poet, historian, and exegete al-Sharif al-Radi (d. 1015). Al-Radi’s fascinating interpretations sought to resolve Qur’anic ambiguities or mutashabihat. Through a philologically layered and historically attuned analysis, Thaver argues that al-Radi’s efforts at resolving Qur’anic ambiguities were interlocked with the project of the canonization of the Arabic language. Thaver shows that although he was marked as a Shi‘i scholar, the interpretive and political horizons that informed al-Radi’s scholarly endeavours could not be reduced to predetermined templates of sectarian identity.

Speaker bio:

Tehseen Thaver is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Princeton University. Her research focuses on multiple forms of Muslims’ engagement with scripture – pre-modern and modern, oral and textual, interpretive and performative. She is the author of the book Beyond Sectarianism: Ambiguity, Hermeneutics, and the Formations of Religious Identity in Islam, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2024. She has also published various articles in journals such as the Journal of Qur’anic Studies, the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Studies, and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.


The seminar will be held in-house at Al-Mahdi Institute on Wednesday, 3rd July 2024, from 3:00pm – 4:30pm (BST). All are welcome to attend and there is no fee for attendance. For those unable to join in person, please register to join online here.

We look forward to your participation in the seminar.