Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Reading the Rasm - Quranic Text, Reading Traditions and The ʿArabiyya

Friday 7 December 2018 - Saturday 8 December 2018
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 1
2311 BZ Leiden

The conference "Reading the Rasm - Quranic Text, Reading Traditions and The ʿArabiyya is organized by Marijn van Putten (Leiden University) and Michael Marx (Corpus Coranicum, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences).

The last decades have seen incredible advances in our knowledge of 6th century Arabia and the varieties of Pre-islamic Arabic as well as the modern dialects. These advances have radically changed our view of the history of the Arabic language. Yet, an integration of these findings into the study of the language of the Quran is still lacking.

The Quran calls itself an ‘Arabic Quran’ (qurʾānan ʿarabiyyan, Q42:7), revealed in a clear Arabic tongue (lisānun ʿarabiyyun mubīnun, Q16:103). These comments have usually been taken as the Quran proclaiming that it was revealed in the ʿArabiyya, the language of the Pre-Islamic poetry, and the basis for Classical Arabic. But it is now abundantly clear that Pre-Islamic Arabic was much more diverse than previously thought. As such it is no longer a priori likely that by ‘Arabic’, the ʿArabiyya was meant.

The reading traditions often deviate considerably from the linguistic norm of the ʿArabiyya. This is surprising as the canonical reading traditions are generally considered to agree with the consonantal skeleton of the text, the rasm, a constraint that would sooner restrain the linguistic variation than expand it.

The symposium “Reading the Rasm” brings together an international group of scholars of different backgrounds and disciplines to explore essential questions such as


  • What language is the Quran trying to represent? How do we know?
  • How did the reading traditions develop, and did they change over time?
  • What is the relationship of the reading traditions to the rasm? Is the rasm primary or the oral tradition?
  • How “fixed” was the Uthmanic rasm, and when was it fixed? How should we understand variation in early Quranic manuscripts?
  • What is the ʿArabiyya and where does it come from?
  • To what extent has the ideal of the ʿArabiyya changed the reading traditions?
  • How does the language of the Quranic text relate to Pre-Islamic Arabic?

Through a series of lectures and discussion, we hope to come closer to answer these pressing questions on the early history of Arabic in the Islamic period.


Program and registration

To view the program click here

To register send an email to lucl-conferences@hum.leidenuniv.nl

For questions contact Marijn van Putten

This website uses cookies.  More information.