Institute of Islamic Studies


Public Statement: January 30, 2017

The Institute of Islamic Studies deplores last night’s murderous attack on worshipers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, and sends its sympathies to the families of the victims. We stand in solidarity with Muslim Quebecers, and reaffirm our condemnation of Islamophobia in all its forms.

Déclaration publique: 30 janvier 2017

L’institut d’Études Islamiques déplore l’attaque meurtrière portée hier soir contre des fidèles au Centre culturel islamique de Québec et présente ses condoléances aux familles des victimes. Nous sommes solidaires des musulmans québécois et réaffirmons notre condamnation de l’islamophobie sous toutes ses formes. 

Welcome to the Institute of Islamic Studies

In its academic programmes, the Institute of Islamic Studies focuses on the religion of Islam, on the history and civilization of the Islamic world, and on the dynamics of contemporary Muslim societies.

Founded in 1952, the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill is a dynamic community devoted to research and teaching in a broad range of related fields and languages. Building on its origins as a place where Muslims and non-Muslims came together to study the multifaceted worlds of Islam and Muslim texts, peoples and cultures, the Institute has always maintained a mix of scholarly, community and other engagements in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and worldwide. Our diversity of perspectives and approaches to Islamic Studies, as well as our local commitments and global engagements, have made the IIS a unique institution in the world.

News and Events



by Director Caroline Rooney

England Times Palestine is a film that engages with Palestinian exiles living in England. Completed in 2017, the film marks the centenary of the 1917 UK Balfour Declaration, which granted permission for ‘the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people’, as led to the creation of the state of Israel and the consequent displacement of millions of Palestinians.


Camera: Ximena Alvarez Maschio, Bahriye Kemal and William Parry
Musical Director: Yara Salahiddeen
Associate Producer: Loubna Turjuman
Director: Caroline Rooney
Executive Producer: Global Uncertainties (RCUK)

Tuesday January 9, 2018
Arts  -  W215
853 Sherbrooke Street West

Lecture: Embodiment and the Representation of Time in Islamic Materials

A lecture by Shahzad Bashir

In narratives that report about past events, the human body is a crucial locus for thematizing time. This can occur through treating human life, bookended by the birth and death of the body, as a unit for constructing sequences of time such as genealogies. Similarly, reports on the past that invoke emotive aspects of human experience, such as pain and pleasure, contain appeals to presumed common understandings of bodily reactions and sensations to create discursive meaning. This talk will thematize such deployments of the body in Islamic materials for the purposes of understanding the conjunction between corporeality and temporality.

Shahzad Bashir is Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities at Brown University.  He specializes in Islamic Studies with interest in the intellectual and social histories of the societies of Iran and Central and South Asia circa fourteenth century CE to the present.

Tuesday January 16, 2018
Morrice Hall - Room 328
3485 McTavish Street

Laila Parsons wins 2017 Palestine Book Award

The Institute of Islamic Studies congratulates Professor Laila Parsons, whose book The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Liberation, 1914-1948, has won the 2017 Palestine Book Award (Academic category).

For more information on the award, please go to:


Lecture: Rabindranath Tagore in Iran and Iraq (1932):‘Dialogue among (Asian) Cultures’ on Modernity, Nationalism, Religion, and Tolerance

A lecture by Nahid Mozaffari

Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian poet and philosopher embarked on a trip to Iran and Iraq in April 1932 as a guest of the Iranian and Iraqi states. The Pahlavi regime in Iran attempted to use this trip to strengthen its new discourse of nationalism through situating Iran in the realm of an Indo-Iranian civilization rather than an Islamicate one. However, Tagore met with many members of the educated elite who were dissatisfied with the dominant political narratives.   What were the exchanges between Tagore and his Iranian interlocutors regarding the meaning(s) of modernity, and nationalism and the role of religion and tolerance in the construction of new Asian (national) identities?  What do these discussions tell us about the emerging discourses in early 20th century Asia regarding visions of modernities which sought to limit or remove colonial manipulations and hegemony?

Nahid Mozaffari is currently a Senior Research Fellow (Kolleg-Forschergruppe “Multiple Secularities”) at the Humanities Center for Advanced Studies at Leipzig University. She has taught at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, New York University Paris, and at the New School for Social Research. She received her PhD in history and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard.

Tuesday November 7, 2017
Morrice Hall - Room 328
3485 McTavish Street




The Institute of Islamic Studies congratulates Laila Parsons

The Institute of Islamic Studies congratulates Professor Laila Parsons, whose book The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Liberation, 1914-1948, has been shortlisted for the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction, sponsored by the Quebec Writers Federation.

For more information, please go to


McGill Medievalists and the Institute of Islamic Studies present:

Lecture: Arabic Praises for the Norman Kings: Between Chaos and Seduction

On Wednesday 1 November at 5:30 p.m. in Arts 160, McGill Medievalists and the Institute of Islamic Studies will host a guest lecture by Prof. William Granara of the Dept. of Near eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University, entitled “Arabic Praises for the Norman Kings: Between Chaos and Seduction”. All are invited to attend, and as is the “custom of the castle”, refreshments will follow!


Lecture: Embodied Forbearance:  Mercy and Mediation in Iranian Criminal Law

A lecture by Arzoo Osanloo

Iran's criminal justice system affords families of victims a right of retribution, but the laws also encourage them to forgo that right and to reconcile with perpetrators. However, the state does not provide guidance on how parties should arrive at reconciliation. Focusing on murder cases, this talk will explore the work of mediators, individuals and groups, that work towards cultivating “a feeling of forgiveness” in victims’ families by touching upon the aesthetic and emotional sources of their faith.

Arzoo Osanloo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Law, Societies, and Justice and the Director of the University of Washington's Middle East Center

Tuesday October 24,  2017
Morrice Hall - Room 017
3485 McTavish Street


Laila Parsons winner of the Principal's Prize for Excellence in Teaching

The Institute of Islamic Studies congratulates Prof. Laila Parsons, who is this year’s winner of the Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching (Associate Professor category). The prize will be formally presented at the Fall Convocation on 31 October in Place des Arts.  Laila was also the 2014 winner of the H. Noel Fieldhouse Award for Teaching in the Faculty of Arts.


Laila Parsons: The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Liberation, 1914-1948

The Institute of Islamic Studies congratulates Professor Laila Parsons whose book The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Liberation, 1914-1948, has been shortlisted for the Palestine Book Award.

For more information, please go to


F. Jamil Ragep's: Before Copernicus: The Cultures and Contexts of Scientific Learning in the Fifteenth Century

The Institute of Islamic Studies congratulates Professors F. Jamil Ragep and Rivka Feldhay on their publication of Before Copernicus: The Cultures and Contexts of Scientific Learning in the Fifteenth Century.  Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017.

In this edited volume comprising an introductory essay and 8 papers, contributors explore the multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multi-lingual context of learning on the eve of the Copernican revolution, shedding light on the relationship between Copernicus and his predecessors. Highlighting the often-neglected intercultural exchange between Islam and early modern Europe, Before Copernicus reimagines the scientific revolution in a global context.

For more information, please go to


Celebration in honour of Emeritus Professor Issa Boullata

A beautiful reception was held on April 11, 2017 with guest of honour Issa Boullata and guest lecturer Roger Allen.  Please enjoy some photos of the event with Professors Michelle Hartman, Jamil Ragep and Institute of Islamic Studies Alumna student Nadia Wardeh who was the last student of Prof. Boullata.



Pasha Khan winner of AUS Teaching Award 2017

The Institute of Islamic Studies congratulates Prof. Pasha M. Khan for winning the AUS (Arts Undergraduate Society of McGill) Teaching Award for 2017. Prof. Khan is an Assistant Professor and Chair in Urdu Language and Culture. He thanks the AUS and his students for this humbling recognition.


The Institute of Islamic Studies warmly congratulates Dr. Michelle Hartman on her promotion to Full Professor


The Happy Traitor: Tales of Translation

Please join us in celebrating the career of Professor Emeritus Issa Boullata with guest lecturer Roger M.A. Allen.

Roger M.A. Allen  Sascha Jane Patterson Harvie Professor Emeritus of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics, School of Arts & Sciences;
Professor Emeritus of Arabic & Comparative Literature. University of Pennsylvania.
Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Lecture followed by reception on:

Tuesday April 11, 2017
Morrice Hall - Room 017
3485 McTavish Street



Lecture: The Possible State: Charisma and Civility Within Islamicate Proto-Modernity

lecture by: Armando Salvatore

 This talk employs methodologies of historical sociology, while it also aims to critique and reconstruct categories of Western social theory. It explores developments spanning the Later Middle Periods and early modernity, particularly through the formation and transformations of Timurid and Ottoman rule and court cultures. In the process, combinations of saintly charisma and codes of civility were appropriated by religious scholars and state administrators for supporting the political legitimacy of ever more centralizing states. Such endogenous patterns of precolonial modernity, along with their shifting religio-political balances, can be contrasted with the model of the European Leviathan.

Armando Salvatore is a sociologist who has taught and held professorial positions at Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Naples “L’Orientale,” McGill University, and Australian National University. He is the author of The Sociology of Islam: Knowledge, Power and Civility (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016) and the chief editor of The Wiley-Blackwell History of Islam (forthcoming). He is presently working on a manuscript tentatively titled The Impossible Leviathan, the Possible State: Narrativity, Normativity and Sovereignty Within Islamicate Modernity.

Wednesday April 12, 2017
Morrice Hall - Room 017
3485 McTavish Street


Fadia Bahgat's PhD Oral Defense (March 2017)

The Institute of Islamic Studies would like to congratulate Ms. Fadia Bahgat on her successful PhD oral defense on March 28, 2017, entitled Gender, labour, and the modem nation-state in Egypt: lower-class working women and the law from 1919-1952.


Screening of Shahrzaad's Tale (March 2017)

Followed by discussion with film-maker Shahin Parhami,
In conversation with Diana Allan (McGill, Anthropology), Farbod Honarpisheh (Columbia U. Film Studies) and Setrag Manoukian (McGill, Islamic Studies and Anthropology)

Shahrzaad’s Tale is a story of a lost era and a forgotten star of pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema, a tale of a working class woman who against all the odds struggled and succeeded to become an icon in the mainstream popular culture of the 1960s-70s Iran. Trailer

Shahin Parhami
Born in Shiraz, Iran, accomplished author Shahin Parhami has directed award-winning short and feature films which have been screened in major international festivals and won numerous awards. Besides the trilogy: Nasoot (1997), Lahoot (1998), and Jabaroot (2003), his 2007 film Faces, an experimental documentary premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival and won the best feature film award at the flEXiff 2007 (Sydney, Australia). The creative documentary, Amin, won awards at Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival(Japan), Taiwan International Documentary Festival and Dubai International Film Festival and was also nominated for best feature documentary at Asian Pacific Screen Awards 2011. His latest film Shahrzaad’s Tale, premiered at Montreal’s World Film Festival in 2016, and was officially selected at Busan, Freiburg, Jihlava, and Eurasia Film Festivals and for the Asian Pacific Screen Awards in 2016.

Tuesday March 28, 2017
Arts Building  W-215
16h00- 19h30

Screening of Tell Your Tale, Little Bird (March 2017)

Film screening and discussion with filmmaker Arab Lutfy.

Seven women who took part in the military fight of the Palestine people back in the sixties and seventies. Through their tales, we understand what made these women the symbols of their people’s fight.

Wednesday March 22, 2017
Otto Maass 10
801 Sherbrooke Street West

Screening of IN THIS LAND LAY GRAVES OF MINE (March 2017)

Film screening and discussion with filmmaker Reine Mitri

Reine Mitri (born Lebanon) worked as a cine-club programmer and the organizer of the Docudays film festival in Beirut for over five years. Since 2001, she has written and directed five films, including VULNERABLE (2009), which was broadcast in the "Lucarne" slot on ARTE. She has also worked as projects coordinator at the Fondation Liban Cinéma.

THURSDAY March 16, 2017
855 Sherbrooke Street

Dr. Sally P. Ragep's Jaghmīnī’s Mulakhkhaṣ: An Islamic Introduction to Ptolemaic Astronomy
(New York: Springer-Verlag, 2016).

The Institute of Islamic Studies congratulates Dr. Sally P. Ragep on the publication of her book Jaghmīnī’s Mulakhkhaṣ: An Islamic Introduction to Ptolemaic Astronomy (New York: Springer-Verlag, 2016).

This book provides the only critical edition and English translation of Maḥmūd al-Jaghmīnī’s al-Mulakhkhaṣ fī al-hayʾa al-basīṭa, the most widely circulated Arabic treatise on Ptolemaic astronomy ever written. Composed in the early 13th century, this introductory textbook played a crucial role in the teaching, dissemination, and institutional instruction of Islamic astronomy well into the 19th century (and beyond). Establishing the base text is a fundamental prerequisite for gaining insights into what was considered an elementary astronomical textbook in Islam and also for understanding the extensive commentary tradition that built upon it. 

Within this volume, the Mulakhkhaṣ is situated within the broader context of the genre of literature termed ʿilm al-hayʾa, which has become the subject of intensive research over the past 25 years. In so doing, it provides a survey of summary accounts of theoretical astronomy of Jaghmīnī’s predecessors, both Ancient and Islamic, which could have served as potential sources for the Mulakhkhaṣ. Jaghmīnī’s dates (which until now remained unsettled) are established, and it is definitively shown that he composed not only the Mulakhkhaṣ but also other scientific treatises, including the popular medical treatise al-Qānūnča, during a period that has been deemed one of scientific decline and stagnation in Islamic lands. The book will be of particular interest to scholars engaged in the study of Islamic theoretical astronomy, but is accessible to a general readership interested in learning what constituted an introduction to Ptolemaic astronomy in Islamic lands. 

For more information, it can be accessed at SpringerLink or

Lecture: The Worldview of the Astrologer Abu Ma‘shar of Balkh (Albumasar) (March 2017)

lecture by Charles Burnett, Warburg Institute, University of London

Abu Ma‘shar Ja‘far ibn Muhammad al-Balkhi (787-886 AD), known as Albumasar in the West, was the eminent Arabic astrologer of the Middle Ages. Throughout his Great Introduction to Astrology, which was translated twice into Latin in the twelfth century, is an integrated worldview, embracing not only prognostication, but also cosmology, astronomy, physics, geography, medicine and ethics. This lecture addresses Abu Ma‘shar’s ideas of the position of man within his world and how they were subtly changed in the process of transmission from Arabic into Latin. 

Charles Burnett, MA, PhD, LGSM is Professor of the History of Arabic/Islamic Influences in Europe at the Warburg Institute, University of London, and Co-Director of the Centre for the History of Arabic Studies in Europe.

Tuesday March 7, 2017
Morrice Hall – Room 017
3485 McTavish Street

Professor Michelle Hartman's translation: The Ninety-Ninth floor

The Institute of Islamic Studies congratulates Professor Michelle Hartman on the publication of her translation: The Ninety-Ninth Floor.

At times as cold and hard-edged as the skyscrapers in its backdrop, The Ninety-Ninth Floor follows the struggles and triumphs of Majed as he manages to make it in Manhattan at the turn of the century, after surviving the devastating 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp. A Palestinian born and raised in Lebanon, Majed has never seen Palestine but is told by his father that his mother and never-born baby, both slaughtered in the massacre, are waiting for him there. Injured and scarred by the war, he makes a new life for himself in the glittery world of New York City’s computer games industry. He never feels more satisfied with himself than when he is staring out of the window of his sleek, modern office on the ninety-ninth floor

For more information and to purchase the book, please click here

The Institute of Islamic Studies co-sponsors McGill African Students’ Society: Africa in the 4th Dimension :

Professor Khalid Medani along with the McGill African Students' Society members (left to right) Selome Gizaw,Michelle Rugamba, Trixie Birikundavyi, Shona Musimbe and Keynote speaker, Nnedi Okorafor.


The Institute of Islamic Studies hosts a Conversation about Islamophobia and Racism, in the aftermath of the murders in the mosque in Quebec City (February 2017):



Lecture:"Between Literature and History: Arabic Thought beyond the Liberal Age" (January 2017)

A lecture by Jens Hanssen, Associate Professor of Arab Civilization, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean History at the University of Toronto.

The Nahda has served as the bedrock of discourses of Arab modernity ever since it first acquired programmatic status in the 1890s. If the study of this 19th- and early 20th century reform-and-revival movement has traditionally been the domain of historians in search for the roots of Arab nationalism, recently new literary approaches have widened the scope of inquiry and challenged the way the Nahda has been celebrated and criticized in the Arab world and beyond. Drawing on Jens Hanssen and Max Weiss’s recently published book Arabic Thought Beyond the Liberal Age: Towards an Intellectual History of the Nahda (Cambridge University Press, 2016), this talk will explore the temporal structures of the movement, its many beginnings, ends and ruptures.

Jens Hanssen is Associate Professor of Arab Civilization, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean History at the University of Toronto. His past book publications include Fin de Siècle Beirut (2005) and a co-edited volume on Arab Provincial Capitals in the Late Ottoman Empire (2002).