PhD Candidate in Quranic Studies: Qirāʾāt in Early Tafsirs

PhD Candidate in Quranic Studies: Qirāʾāt in Early Tafsirs

Published Deadline Location
23 May 19 Jun Leiden

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The Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) is looking for a PhD candidate to research the treatment and variation of Quranic readings in early Quran exegeses as part of the ERC Consolidator Grant project "QurCan - The Ca...

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 PhD candidate will approach the canonisation of the Quranic reading traditions from the perspective of the exegetical sources. The candidate will focus on the reception of the reading traditions in the exegetical works in early tafsirs that predate the canonization of the reading traditions such as al-Farrāʾ, al-Akhfash, Muqātil b. Sulaymān, and Mujāhid b. Jabr. Ibn Mujāhid’s canonisation quickly took hold and became dominant, but earlier exegetical works preserve precious data concerning the readings prior to their canonisation, often commenting on and approving of readings that are no longer accepted in the canon, while expressing criticism of those that are now considered unassailable. By embedding research into the larger QurCan project which will collect qirāʾāt data from manuscripts, studying these works will give unprecedented insight into the variation that circulated in the region and at the time of these early exegetes, and allows the possibility to deduce which readings the exegetes comment on, even where they do not explicitly mention which one they have in mind.


Leiden University


Selection Criteria
  • MA in a relevant field (e.g. islamic studies, religious studies, Arabic language & linguistics) or a letter of proof that you will acquire it soon.
  • Demonstrable affinity with research into the Quran.
  • Good command of English
  • Good command of Classical Arabic
  • Knowledge of the Quranic reading traditions is not required but appreciated.

Conditions of employment

Terms and Conditions
Appointment will be according to the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten). The employment will be for a period of four years (first a contract of 18 months with an extension of 30 months after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility), starting 1 January 2024. You are expected to work in Leiden. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis.

The salary range for a PhD candidate is from €2,541.- to €3,247.- gross per month (pay-scale PhD candidates in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities), with substantial additional holiday and end-of-year bonuses. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

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.


Universiteit Leiden

Our Organization
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:


  • PhD
  • Language and culture
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 13718



Rapenburg 70, 2311EZ, Leiden

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