The Anthropological Turn in Islamic Theologies of Revelation

Many thanks to Amir Dziri and Hansjörg Schmid, both of the Swiss Center for Islam and Society at the University of Fribourg, for inviting me to join a conference celebrating the dissertations of seven graduates of their doctoral program in “Islam and Society: Islamic-theological Studies.” I will respond to an innovative and sophisticated dissertation by Esma Isis-Arnautović titled “Vom Menschenbild zum Paradigma: Zur Begründbarkeit einer theologischen Anthropologie im Islam.” My presentation will be:

“The Anthropological Turn in Islamic Theologies of Revelation.” On the Future of a Young Discipline: Islamic-theological Studies between Systematic and Practical Research, Swiss Center for Islam and Society, University of Fribourg / Paulus Akademie, Zurich, May 31, 2022.

Here is a pdf of the slides for my presentation.

Classical Islamic Legal Theory and Modern European Philosophy in Conversation: Language, Ethics, History, Politics, and Phenomenology

Many thanks to Serdar Kurnaz, his Working Group for Islamic Philosophy of Law, and his team from the Berlin Institute for Islamic Theology, for calling together what turned out to be a creative, imaginative, and wide-ranging conference on “Constructing Islamic Philosophy of Law: Obstacles, Challenges and Solutions.” It was held in the old Veterinary Anatomy Theater (pictured) at Humboldt University in Berlin on May 27-28, 2022. My paper was:

“Classical Islamic Legal Theory and Modern European Philosophy in Conversation: Language, Ethics, History, Politics, and Phenomenology.” Constructing Islamic Philosophy of Law: Obstacles, Challenges and Solutions, Berlin Institute for Islamic Theology, Humboldt University, Berlin, May 27, 2022.

Here is a pdf of the slides for the presentation.

The inside of the Veterinary Anatomy Theater:

Islamic Legal Theory: A Critical Introduction Based on al-Juwayni’s Waraqat fi usul al‑fiqh

My Critical Introduction to Islamic Legal Theory, which was published online in 2017, has now been updated and published by Hackett, making it an affordable option for classroom use ($18 paper, $15.50 ebook):

Islamic Legal Theory: A Critical Introduction Based on al-Juwayni’s Waraqat fi usul al‑fiqh. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2022.

Print copies will be available in June, but ebooks (on several platforms) are already available through the links on Hackett’s web site, where you can also find some very generous reviews from colleagues. Instructors may also request examination copies.

But the book isn’t just for students. Along with a critical edition and English translation of al-Juwayni’s widely used Kitab al-Waraqat fi usul al-fiqh, it offers a novel commentary that highlights the significance of classical debates for contemporary concerns in a way that I hope will prove illuminating for specialists.

Islamic Psalms of David – translated selections in The Bloomsbury Reader in Christian-Muslim Relations, 600-1500

Several translated selections from the Islamic Zabur that are of special interest for Christian-Muslim relations are now available in an affordable sourcebook suitable for use in teaching: The Bloomsbury Reader in Christian-Muslim Relations, 600-1500, edited by David Thomas and available from Bloomsbury. My contribution is:

David R. Vishanoff. “Islamic Psalms of David.” In The Bloomsbury Reader in Christian-Muslim Relations, 600-1500, ed. David Thomas, 30–33. London: Bloomsbury, 2022.

It includes the following excerpts:

  • A rewriting of the Biblical Psalm 2 that alludes to a Qur’anic verse and seeks to preempt the Christian view that Psalm 2 asserts Jesus’s divine sonship.
  • A prediction of Muhammad and of the corruption of the Bible.
  • Another psalm that predicts Muhammad, alludes to the Qur’an’s echo of Psalm 37:29, criticizes Christian worship, and tells a story involving a dragon.
  • An assertion that Muslims do better than Christians at fulfilling Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.