The Department of History is co-sponsoring an international group of scholars concerned with a vigorous debate about questions of writing and religion. The period and place in question, the late antique in the Arabian Penninsula, provide the background to the appearance and coalescence of the Qurʼān. “Writing and Religion in Arabia, 500–700 C. E.” will run for two days, May 18–19, 2017, in the Swift Hall Common Room, 1025-35 East 58th Street, on the University of Chicago campus. The conference is free, but space is limited and registration is required.


This growing group of scholars seeks to know more about such basic things as the locations of the various religious communities and their relations vis-à-vis one another; the production, availability, and possible contact of sacred texts; the nature and development of local theological systems; the evolution and  influence of the very languages and scripts in which religious practices and ideas were spoken, written, and transmitted; and the manner and degree to which all these Arabian phenomena were affected by external factors, particularly the imperial traditions of Byzantium/Rome and Persia and the powerful religious traditions (Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism) of the Fertile Crescent.

If you need assistance to attend the conference, please contact Thomas Maguire, at (773) 702-8296 or 

Image: A Hijazi Qurʼān (detail), probably mid-seventh century, University of Birmingham, 1572a