Research topics

  • Pre-modern Islamic intellectual history
  • Muslim societies and cultures 10th - 16th century
  • Muslim modernity
  • Classical, post-classical and modern Koran exegesis
  • Comparative and interreligious scriptural interpretation
  • Language and philosophy of language
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Language theories in pre-modern Islamic intellectual history
  • Language and linguistic theory in the post-formative legal compendia
  • Legal methodology using the example of ar-Rāzī's approaches
  • Correlation and intersections of legal methodology and Qur'anic exegesis
  • Šarḥ- and Ḥāšiya-literature of the Quranic commentaries in particular of al-Kaššāf and Anwār at-tanzīl


In his dissertation, Kamil Öktem analysed the interdisciplinary dynamics in pre-modern Muslim scriptural interpretation with a theological-scriptural focus, concentrating on the language and philosophy of language as presented in the writings of the theologian Faḫr ad-Dīn ar-Rāzī (d. 1210) in the post-Formative period. Mr Öktem attempted to fulfil a total of four research desiderata with his dissertation:

  1. The presentation of the interdisciplinarity and interaction of the individual Islamic sciences in pre-modern Qur'anic exegesis.
  2. The question of the dynamics of authentic textual criticism in the Islamic sciences, based on the demands that ar-Rāzī placed on the language and the ways of cognition of the linguistic tradition.
  3. The analysis of epistemological certainty (yaqīn) and apodictic knowledge (ʿilm al-qaṭʿī) in the history of mentality.
  4. A detailed German-language study on the theologian ar-Rāzī and his hitherto rarely recognised textual interpretation using the example of his Qur'an commentary at-Tafsīr al-kabīr.

Postdoctoral project

The šarḥ- and ḥāšiya-Literature of Quran Commentaries as Neglected Heritage of Quranic Exegesis with Special Consideration of al-Kaššāf by Abū l-Qāsim az-Zamaḫšarī (d. 1144)

In his postdoctoral project, Kamil Öktem undertakes an in-depth analysis of the šarḥ- and ḥāšiya- literature of Quran commentaries. The ḥāšiya-literature reaches its peak with al-Kaššāf by az-Zamašarī and Anwār at-tanzīl wa-asrār at-taʾwīl by Qāḍī al-Bayḍāwī (d. 1286). Even historical works on this literature mostly focus on these two Quran commentaries. The commentaries initiated in the 8th century have the characteristic of extensively explaining, analyzing, criticizing, editing, considering, and comparing foundational texts of Quranic exegesis.

During this period, systematic commentaries (šarḥ, pl. šurūḥ) on al-Kaššāf emerged. Authors who commented on az-Zamaḫšarī's Quran commentary from beginning to end include Šaraf ad-Dīn aṭ-Ṭībī (d. 1342), Faḫr ad-Dīn Çāpardī (d. 1346), ʿAbd ar-Raḥmān al-Qazwinī (d. 1345), and al-Fāḍil al-Yamanī (d. 1349). Other authors such as Quṭb ad-Dīn ar-Rāzī (d. 1365), Akmal ad-Dīn al-Bābartī (d. 1384), Saʿd ad-Dīn at-Taftāzānī (d. 1390), and Sayyid Šarīf al-Ǧurǧānī (d. 1413) conceived fundamental partial commentaries. The influence of al-Kaššāf was so significant that the work on this Quran commentary extended beyond šarḥ-works.

After the initial maturation phase of šarḥ-works on al-Kaššāf, glosses (ḥāšiya, pl. ḥawāšī) on these works were now written. During this time, šarḥ-works on Anwār at-tanzīl by al-Bayḍāwī were also published. Particularly noteworthy was the activity of ḥāšiya-literature regarding the comments of at-Taftāzānī and al-Ǧurǧānī, whose šarḥ-works were regarded as foundational by subsequent authors. The works of Ali Kuşçu (d. 1474), ʿAlāʾ ad-Dīn aṭ-Ṭūsī (d. 1482), Mawlānāzāda al-Ḫiṭāʾī (d. 1495), Hatibzade (d. 1495), Kemalpaşazade (d. 1534), and Taşköprüzade (d. 1516) are the most valuable in this literature. Because both al-Kaššāf and Anwār at-tanzīl were the most read Quran commentaries in universities, they became the subject of a commentary culture. This šarḥ literature also includes comments on Madārik at-tanzīl wa-ḥaqāʾiq at-taʾwīl by an-Nasafī. The šarḥ- and ḥāšiya- works published during the Ottoman period were composed using a synthesizing method. The Quran commentaries of az-Zamaḫšarī, al-Bayḍāwī, and an-Nasafī were henceforth read comparatively.

A particular characteristic of this literature is that previous šarḥ and ḥāšiya works became sources for later ones. The summarized project aims to address the šarḥ- and ḥāšiya-literature with special consideration of al-Kaššāf in three areas and prepare for a long-term endeavor:

  1. General historical development of commentaries and glosses with a special focus on al-Kaššāf
    1. Elaboration of the Kaššāf-literature
    2. Division and structuring of developmental phases
  2. Content analysis of glosses focusing on the development of Quranic exegesis. Additionally, the question of the influence of this literary genre on the understanding of Quran commentaries will be addressed here.
  3. Cataloging of the manuscripts of glosses.

The long-term endeavor aims to achieve a significant milestone in Quranic exegesis and šarḥ- and ḥāšiya-literature:

  • Editing one or more significant commentaries and glosses.