Professor, High Institute of Languages of Nabeul, University of Carthage, Tunisia
Research topic at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften:»The Qur’an as a Historical Source in Modern Scholarschip«
Studying early Islam in a historical perspective has been always faced with methodological challenges not only in terms of available traditions that may provide an authentic understanding of »what really happened«, but also in the frame of analyzing the nature of early Islamic »historical« writing itself in context.
For a long time, the study of early Islam remained linked to the Sira (the Prophet's biography) and similar traditions in a way, for a reason or another, that made the Qur'an, a fundamental religious text, outside the historical debate about Islam. Paradoxically, the idea that led to this exclusion was based on considering that the Qur’an does not contain accurate historical data about the life of the Prophet, and accepting, at the same time, that the Qur’an belongs chronologically to the Muhammadan period.
Encountered by the paucity of documentary sources and the late nature of Islamic traditions, the issue of authenticity was subject of long-standing and sometimes controversial debates between scholars. Accordingly, the Qur’an gradually took its place in historical research on Islam, not only in the perspective of being a possible historical source, but also in the context of discussing the hypothesis that the Qur’an itself was a later product.
The fact that the text of the Qur'an can be a subject of historical research into its genesis, development, formation, collection, and canonization has been, during two centuries of academic research, at the heart of debates between different scholars of Qur'anic studies, and has always been a subject of disagreement and uncertainty that raise many questions the most important of is: can a text whose history is uncertain be considered a historical document?
On another level, the consideration of the Qur'anic text as a historical source has forced scholars to adopt, in one way or another, a chronology of the Qur'an. Knowing that this chronology is also multiple, uncertain, and based on several criteria far from being accepted by all scholars, another difficulty is added for those who consider the Qur'an to be a historical source.
Within this general framework, we try to revisit the problem of considering the Qur'an a historical source, focusing on the debates conducted by scholars of early Islam, the Sira, and Qur'anic Studies.
Research partner:Nader Hammami follows the invitation of Ömer Özsoy, Professor of Qur’an Exegis at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main and Goethe Fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften. His stay is supported by the program »Linked Open Tafsīr« of the Academy for Islam in Research and Society (AIWG) of Frankfurt University and the Goethe Fellow program of Goethe University Frankfurt am Main.
Scholarly profile of Nader Hammami Dr Nader Hammami is professor at the High Institute of Languages of Nabeul, University of Carthague. Since 2002, he is a member of the Tunisian research groups on »The Quranic Codex and its Readings« (headed by Professor Charfi) and »Reading of Religious Discourse« (headed by Professor Saafi). He taught at the University of Sfax (Tunisia) (2004–2008). 2009–2010 he was a fellow of the EUME »Europe in the Middle East/the Middle East in Europe« program of the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin. Since 2021 he is director of the journal IBLA (revue de l’Institut des Belles Lettres Arabes).
Main areas of research:Quranic studies, classical and medieval Islamic historical imagination
- The Islamic Historical Imaginaire (in Arabic), Tunis: Nirvana editions 2020.
- The Image of the Companions of Muhammad (Sahaba) in the Hadith Collections (in Arabic), Al-Markaz Al-Thaqafi AlArabi, Casablanca 2014.