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This is the first book to examine how pre-Islamic/Late Antique goddesses shaped the Qur’an, including its basic theology and cosmology. Exploring the traces found in the text of cultic veneration to goddesses of Arabia and the Ancient Near East, this book analyses what these traces tell us about female power in late antique Arabia, and how this power changed on the advent of Islam. While recent studies on the Qur’anic God have typically considered the question of divinity separately from gender, this book bridges the gap between these two questions, and is therefore an essential constructive mission. This mission adduces literary and documentary evidence—including recent scholarly revolutions in Syriac literature and Arabian epigraphy—and builds upon the critical insights of preceding studies in conversation with post-biblical and Near Eastern traditions.


‘A genuinely paradigm-shifting work by one of the most exciting and innovative scholars in the field… compelling and powerful…’ Reza Aslan

Arab noblewomen of late antiquity were instrumental in shaping the history of the world. Between Rome’s intervention in the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab conquests, they ruled independently, conducting trade and making war. Their power was celebrated as queen, priestess and goddess. With time some even delegated authority to the most important holy men of their age, influencing Arabian paganism, Christianity and Islam.

Empress Zenobia and Queen Mavia supported bishops Paul of Samosata and Moses of Sinai. Paul was declared a heretic by the Roman church, while Moses began the process of mass Arab conversion. The teachings of these men survived under their queens, setting in motion seismic debates that fractured the early churches and laid the groundwork for the rise of Islam. In sixth-century Mecca, Lady Khadijah used her wealth and political influence to employ a younger man then marry him against the wishes of dissenting noblemen. Her husband, whose religious and political career she influenced, was the Prophet Muhammad.

A landmark exploration of the legacy of female power in late antique Arabia, Queens and Prophets is a corrective that is long overdue.

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What is the nature of the Qur'an? It might seem a straightforward question, but there is no consensus among modern communities of the Qur'an, both Muslim and non-Muslim, about the answer. And why should there be?


On numerous occasions throughout history, believers from different schools and denominations, and at different times and places, have agreed to disagree. The Qur'anic interpreters, jurists and theologians of medieval Baghdad, Cairo and Cordoba coexisted peacefully in spite of their diverging beliefs. Seeking to revive this ‘ethics of disagreement' of Classical Islam, this volume explores the different relationships societies around the world have with the Qur'an and how our understanding of the text can be shaped by studying the interpretations of others. From LGBT groups to urban African American communities, this book aims to represent the true diversity of communities of the Qur'an in the twenty-first century, and the dialogue and debate that can flow among them.

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This book is a study of related passages found in the Arabic Qur’ān and the Aramaic Gospels, i.e. the Gospels preserved in the Syriac and Christian Palestinian Aramaic dialects. It builds upon the work of traditional Muslim scholars, including al-Biqā‘ī (d. ca. 808/1460) and al-Suyūṭī (d. 911/1505), who wrote books examining connections between the Qur’ān on the one hand, and Biblical passages and Aramaic terminology on the other, as well as modern western scholars, including Sidney Griffith who argue that pre-Islamic Arabs accessed the Bible in Aramaic.


The Qur’ān and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions examines the history of religious movements in the Middle East from 180-632 CE, explaining Islam as a response to the disunity of the Aramaic speaking churches. It then compares the Arabic text of the Qur’ān and the Aramaic text of the Gospels under four main themes: the prophets; the clergy; the divine; and the apocalypse. Among the findings of this book are that the articulator as well as audience of the Qur’ān were monotheistic in origin, probably bilingual, culturally sophisticated and accustomed to the theological debates that raged between the Aramaic speaking churches.


Arguing that the Qur’ān’s teachings and ethics echo Jewish-Christian conservatism, this book will be of interest to students and scholars of Religion, History, and Literature.


Books and Research

Dr. Emran El-Badawi writes books and articles on the classical as well as modern Middle East. His academic research interests include Liberalism, Qur'an and Bible, late antique Arabia, and the classical heritage of Islamic tradition and its relationship with Christianity and Judaism. His research and opinions have also appeared in Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, German, French and Italian

His books include: 


The Qur'an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions (2014 honorable mention, British-Kuwait Friendship Society; translated into Arabic and Persian)

Communities of the Qur’an: Dialogue, Debate and Diversity in the 21st Century (2019)

Queens and Prophets: How Arabian Noblewomen and Holy Men Shaped Paganism, Christianity and Islam (2022)

Female Divinity in the Qur’an: In Conversation with the Bible and Ancient Near East (2024)

Female Power in Arabia (in progress)

Hate Speech: A Global Crisis Facing Policy Makers, Researchers and the Public (in progress)


He has also written dozens of articles, both English and Arabic, for peer reviewed journals and books, as well as editorials for newspapers, magazines on online publications. 

Selected Articles

What history and the classics have to say about Gaza,” Houston Chronicle, November 15, 2023

Will the U.S. go to war with Iran? Americans can’t afford to tune out,” Houston Chronicle, May 20, 2019.


Intellectual freedom and the study of the Qur’an,” Oasis: Christians and Muslims in the Global World 26 (2018): 42-50

“Conflict and Reconciliation: ‘Arab liberalism’ in Syria and Egypt,” Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy. Eds. Dalia Fahmy and Daanish Faruqi. London: OneWorld, 2017.

“When the largest oil exporter quits the game,” Forbes, October 10, 2016.

Religious violence in the Middle East: Military intervention, Salafi-Jihadism and the dream of a CaliphateJournal of Cultural and Religious Studies 4.6 (2016): 396-409.​

For a complete list of his publications please see Dr. El-Badawi's Curriculum Vitae.

Copyright © 2015 El-Badawi Consulting. All rights reserved.

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