The Longterm Research Group “Linked Open Tafsīr – Reconstruction of the development dynamics of the Quran using network modeling of early Islamic traditions” is a project of the Akademie für Islam in Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft (AIWG) of the Goethe University Frankfurt, which is carried out jointly by the Goethe University Frankfurt, Humboldt University Berlin and Justus Liebig University Giessen. Read more

Presentation video of the project1

Presentation video of the project2


The beginnings of Islam have been researched very intensively in orientalist Islamic studies, particularly in connection with local traditions and intertexts. Valuable contributions have already been made in this context through the evaluation of sources that cannot be attributed entirely to Islamic literature. On the other hand, a systematic and comprehensive processing of the early Islamic traditions is still lacking. The results of modern research on the origins of Islam to date allow conclusions to be drawn about the religious practice of the original Muslim community and early developments in theologically relevant areas, among other things, through observations on the history of origins and development, but do not relate these to Islamic tradition material. The provenance of the Islamic traditions and the late date of their writing often form the starting point for a skeptical attitude towards this source material. Although in the recent past several historians researching the formative period of Islam have shown themselves to be confident that they can still date isolated traditions to the end of the seventh century, their optimism is by no means shared by all experts.

In order to examine the relationship between the preserved traditions and the reality presented in them, it is necessary to record the relevant sources in their entirety. However, there is no complete recording and processing of these sources. The soon to be completed AIWG-funded project “Linked Open Tafsīr” sees itself as a first step in closing this gap by creating a relational, ontologically indexed database of the early exegetical traditions about the historical events and specific precedents of the time of revelation as well as the cultural, religious, social and linguistic framework of the emergence of the Quran and Islam. All information about the micro, macro and linguistic environment of the Quran contained in the traditions was recorded as such, marked, networked with each other and made traceable. It is planned to enter further works of tradition into the database within the framework of follow-up projects in order to enable the researchers to relate the recorded traditional materials to the previous results of Quranic and Islamic research in order to use them for a more precise reconstruction of the dynamics of the emergence and formation of the to make Islam fruitful.

A critical reflection of the early transmission material in this breadth represents a novelty and gives hope to (i) develop approaches to explanation and strategies to overcome the mentioned gap between the preserved written sources and the information handed down in them about the time of the emergence of Islam, ( ii) identify recognizable or conceivable retrospective projections of the later developments in the formative period onto Paleoislam and thus (iii) work out possible directions in the development of religious Muslim thought in the first two centuries.


Against this background, an international congress entitled “Reconstructing the dynamics of the emergence of Islam – possibilities and limits” was planned at the end of the long-term research project “Linked-Open-Tafsīr”. We want to present our database at the congress and, in view of the new findings and competing research approaches, discuss the possibilities and limits of reconstructing the dynamics of the emergence and formation of Islam with a relevant international research community. The congress language is therefore English, but there are some panels in Arabic, German and Turkish. The focus is not only on the presentation of the database and its discussion. Rather, the research team sees the congress as an opportunity, in addition to the international publication of the research project, to discuss questions that have arisen in the course of the project work in a multidisciplinary manner with internationally renowned researchers. The aim is to discuss questions about the time when Islam came into being as the focus of the project and thereby to locate the observations from the project within the framework of the existing projects on the Quran and early Islam.

Focus and Key Questions

In accordance with the research focus of the project, the focus of the congress is on the time of the emergence of Islam. The key questions are: Under what conditions and circumstances have opinions, positions, teachings, schools, scientific disciplines and concepts developed that have had a lasting influence on the Muslim tradition? What role do the canonization and interpretation of religious texts and the emergence of theologically relevant writings play? What was the interrelationship between historical events and the differentiation and consolidation of Islamic science and knowledge? To what extent are thoughts, concepts and ideas from neighboring (religious) cultures taken up, received and further developed? How did the Islamic tradition influence other cultures?


These key questions and the above-mentioned objective of the congress are reflected in the programme. In addition to the presentation of the database and observations by the project team, the program consists of content-related panels on questions relating to the reconstruction of the emergence of Islam and panels presenting existing projects on the Quran, early Islam and Muslim sources.

Prof Dr Ömer Özsoy, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Prof Dr Serdar Kurnaz, Humboldt University Berlin
Dr Misbahur Rehman, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Sercan Üstündag, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
Tugrul Kurt, Humboldt University Berlin