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Lecture | Framing Late Antique Religion

Framing Late Antique Religion: Religion & Ethnicity in the Quran

Tuesday 28 January 2020
Limited seats, free tickets available
Framing Late Antique Religion Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Introductory remarks by Ab de Jong
Lecture Ilkka Lindstedt, Religion & Ethnicity in the Quran
Drinks at Pakhuis

This talk discusses the ethnoreligious discourse and notions of the Quran. In the study of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity, there has been ample work on the question of the ethnic and religious identities of the people commonly called as “Jews,” “Christians,” “Gentiles,” and so on. At first look, the conceptual conundrums do not seem to apply to the study of the Quran or early Islam. There is, after all, much of a consensus that Quran articulates, and later Islam formed, a religious affiliation. I argue, however, that we need to take also into account the ethnic discourse of the Quranic communication. Like the Apostle Paul argued in his letters that the Christ-believers are the actual heirs of Abraham, the Quran contends that the followers of Muhammad are the true descendants of the patriarch. What the Quran is doing, then, is continuing, expanding, and rearticulating this ethnoreligious communication prevalent in the ancient and late ancient worlds. Muhammad’s Believers are an ethnos constituting of Abraham’s descendants, dhurriyya. The ethnic legitimization in the Quran invokes Gentile Abrahamic ethnicity as an identity that the Believers participate in.

About Ilka Lindstedt

Dr. Ilkka Lindstedt is University Lecturer in Islamic Theology at the University of Helsinki. He has worked on pre-Islamic Arabia, early Islam, as well as Arabic historiography and epigraphy.

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