Postdoctoral researcher in the Canonization of the Quran Reading Traditions

Postdoctoral researcher in the Canonization of the Quran Reading Traditions

Published Deadline Location
24 Jan 7 Feb Leiden

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The Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) is looking for a postdoctoral researcher into the historical of the canonization of the Quranic reading traditions for the ERC Consolidator Grant project "QurCan - The Canonizat...

Job description

Project Description
The canonisation of the Quranic reading traditions ( qirāʾāt) goes back to the 10th c. scholar ibn Mujahid who established the canon. Up until recently, it was thought that his work functioned as our historical horizon- everything we can know about the pre-canonical situation is filtered through his choices and thinking. However, there are hundreds of Quranic manuscripts from the time preceding the canonisation stretching back at least to the beginning of the 8th c. that make use of diacritics to instruct the reader. These pre-canonical reading traditions provide a vista into the pre-history of Quranic recitation, yet they have so far gone almost entirely unstudied. The ERC Consolidator grant project QurCan aims to mine these rich historical sources to understand what Quran recitation was like before ibn Mujahid, how the reading traditions developed, and how this led to the crystallized canon that we know today.

Key Responsibilities
The postdoctoral researcher will conduct a historical study into the study of the canonisation of the Quranic reading traditions, integrating both the traditional Islamic sources on the project, as well as the primary manuscript data that will be collected over the course of the project. The QurCan project will, for the first time, provide direct insight into which reading traditions were popular in the pre-canonical period, and which ones have been lost altogether. With this increased access to primary source material, it will for the first time be possible to address directly the question when certain reading traditions rose to prominence, and where. Therefore, the process of canonisation can finally be studied with direct systematically described sources that predate the canonisation, which will also furnish further ability to contextualize the pre-canonical fragmentary accounts in the pre-canonical sources.

One of the impediments to understanding the establishment of the Canon of the Quranic text comes from the fact that the earliest systematic description of reading traditions is the same text that established the canon of those reading traditions. While there are surviving works that precede the canonisation that discuss different readings, no systematic descriptions of complete traditions survive. As a result, it is difficult to decide how anonymous mention of fragments of readings should be viewed, and how these early mentions of recitations of the Quran should be understood in the development of the canon.


Leiden University


Selection Criteria
  • PhD in a relevant field (Islamic Studies, Islamic History, Canon studies)
  • Demonstrable experience in conducting historical and philological research with Islamic literary sources.
  • Excellent command of both English and Classical Arabic.
  • Experience with integrating documentary primary source material into the historical study of literary islamic sources is a plus.
  • Knowledge of the Quranic manuscript tradition and the Quranic reading traditions is considered a plus.

Conditions of employment

Terms and Conditions
We offer a fixed term 1 fte position for a period of 4 years, starting as soon as possible.
The starting salary is € 3.974.- gross per month (pay scale 11, step 0), based on fulltime employment, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities and commensurate with qualifications and experience. Depending on qualifications, you may start at the appropriate step in scale 10 until you fully meet the requirements for scale 11 as specified by the Faculty of Humanities, particularly with regard to the number of years of relevant work experience.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses(8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at

Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.


Leiden University

Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) is one of seven Institutes that falls under the Faculty of Humanities. With over 120 linguists working at the Institute, it is a rich research environment that prides itself on fostering scientific excellence. At LUCL we offer extensive research support to our researchers. For example, our in-house grant officer will advise and help you apply for grants, a dedicated project officer will guide you with project finances and a communications advisor is on hand to assist you in publicising your research.
LUCL has a longstanding tradition in the study of the world's languages and features unique linguistic expertise. Current theoretical insights are combined with modern experimental methods in its research profile area 'Language Diversity in the World'. Researchers from our six umbrella research groups are experts in their respective fields but equally find innovative ways of collaborating with other fields and disciplines.

The Faculty of Humanities is rich in expertise in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, literature, linguistics and area studies covering nearly every region of the world. With its staff of 995, the faculty provides 27 master's and 25 bachelor's programmes for over 7,000 students based at locations in Leiden and in The Hague. For more information:


  • Research, development, innovation
  • Language and culture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €3974—€5439 per month
  • University graduate
  • 13356



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

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