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Classical Islamic World Book Prize

Gorgias Press is delighted to announce that the international Classical Islamic World Book Prize (CIW) is available again for 2018. Based on the decision of an internationally renowned panel of scholars, the CIW will recognise three exceptional early career contributions to the academic study of the classical Islamic world. In particular, the CIW will invite scholars from across the world to submit unpublished monographs that are either revised PhD theses or first Postdoctoral monographs. 

The winners of the CIW will be announced in September 2018. The winning submission will be awarded an inscribed plaque, a contract to publish their monograph under Gorgias Press’ Islamic History and Thought Series, and $500 worth of Gorgias Press publications. Prizes will also be awarded to the second and third place submissions. The panel of judges is as follows:

Professor Dr. Maher Jarrar - American University of Beirut

Dr. Harry Munt - University of York

Associate Professor Dr. Ahmed El Shamsy - University of Chicago

Assistant Professor Dr. Adam Talib - University of Durham


Dr. George Kiraz, Editor-in-Chief of Gorgias Press, said:

‘‘The Classical Islamic World prize is an important part of Gorgias’ longstanding commitment to supporting unique and valuable research on both the Islamic world and the wider Near East across Late Antiquity. Most importantly, the prize will highlight and support the important work being carried out by young academics at a point in their careers when such support is most needed.’’


To enter a submission, please send the following information, in pdf format, to

- Covering Letter: This should include your name, contact details/affiliation(s), and the names/affiliations of your supervisors, if applicable.

- Letter of Support: In a maximum of 700 words, provide an abstract of your thesis/monograph and describe what unique contribution your book makes to the field.

- References (optional): Provide up to two letters of support from supervisors, or established specialists in the field who are familiar with your book, on the originality and value of the work. 

- CV

- The manuscript

The deadline for submissions will be Wednesday 12th MARCH 2018 (midnight). For more information about the CIW, the submission guidelines and criteria, and the judging process, please contact Gorgias Press’ Islamic Studies editor:



The 2017 Classical Islamic World Book Prize Winners


1st Place: Manolis Ulbricht

Coranus Graecus: Die älteste überlieferte Koranübersetzung in der «Ἀνατροπὴ τοῦ Κορανίου » des Niketas von Byzanz

Manolis Ulbricht's thesis sheds light on the oldest transmitted translation of the Qurʾān, located within the «Ἀνατροπὴ τοῦ Κορανίου» of Nicetas of Byzantium. Manolis' study, which comprises an introduction, the text, a translation, and commentary, studies a highly important early text, showcasing a unique understanding of the Holy Qur’an during the Early Islamic period of the 2nd/ 3rd century hijri.

Manolis Ulbricht is Research and Teaching Assistant to the Chair of Berlin Byzantine Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. His research focuses on the religious interactions between Early Islam and Orthodox Byzantium in the 7th–12th/ 1st–6th century. Manolis is interested in Christian translations of the Qurʾān and their reception in the Orthodox and Latin world and in establishing an interdisciplinary project on the Corpus Coranicum Christianum. He obtained is Ph.D. from the Freie Universität Berlin at the Chair of Byzantine Studies.


2nd Place: Mehmetcan Akpinar

Narrative Representations of Abū Bakr (d. 13/634) in the Second/Eighth Century

Akpinar's book studies the emergence of Abū Bakr’s (d. 634) image as the best Muslim after the Prophet. It provides detailed analyses of the narratives expounding his outstanding qualities in sources from the 3rd/9th century and later. Through rigorous textual criticism it achieves to reconstruct the narratives’ earliest forms, which often began to circulate in the first half of the 2nd/8th century. The study then traces their subsequent evolution, and identifies various redactorial efforts that gave them their new shapes over the course of the 2nd/8th century.  In order to fully exhaust the narrative material, a new approach was taken, which consisted in combining different methods of textual analysis: (a) isnād-cum-matn analysis; (b) the reconstruction of accounts from earlier sources; and (c) narrative analysis and historical contextualization.  In applying this methodology, three prominent episodes from Abū Bakr’s life were chosen as case studies. They encompass (1) Abū Bakr’s conversion to Islam; (2) the explanations offered for the origin of Abū Bakr’s title al-ṣiddīq; and (3) the narratives about Abū Bakr’s emancipation of slaves. Through the analyses, the local character of the individual early narratives became apparent, as different religio-political circles with their varying agendas were interested in different episodes from Abū Bakr’s life. Thus, the spatial distribution of the narrations, combined with the chronology of their redaction, allowed for a complex picture to emerge: Abū Bakr’s early image was indeed far from uniform. Only with the foundation of Baghdad in 762, which attracted scholars from all over the Muslim world, the local narratives began to merge and slowly attained their canonical form.

Mehmetcan Akpinar is a research and teaching associate at the Department of Oriental and Islamic Studies at the University of Tubingen. He researches and teaches on different topics of Islamic Intellectual History, with a specialization in Early Islamic Historiography, Political Thought in Classical Islam, Hadith, and Early Islamic History. He obtained his PhD from the University of Chicago, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, with a dissertation entitled "Narrative Representations of Abu Bakr in the 2nd / 8th century."


3rd Place: Ahmad Sukkar

Structures of Light: The Body and Architecture in Premodern Islam

The work searches non-architectural sources for insights into premodern Islamic architecture. It traces ideas about space, order, and the human body that are relevant to architecture in certain premodern and early modern philosophical texts. It focuses on a significant but unpublished seventeenth-century Arabic manuscript written by an eminent Sufi Damascene scholar. It explores how the human reality — consisting of the body, the soul, and the spirit — provided a fertile ground for complex philosophical and mystical conceptions concerning space, light, structure, and order, all being key elements that are at the core of the understanding of the broader theoretical context of architectural thinking in pre and early modern Islam. Etymological analysis, which includes comparisons between key terms for the body and space in the Arabic and Greek languages, has conceptual merits as an approach for this research. The work contributes to the understanding of spatial themes within Islamic culture that are of growing interest in academia. It combines a critical edition of the Arabic treatise and an architectural commentary on it.

Ahmad Sukkar is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Arts and Humanities at the American University of Beirut. His work examines the interaction between culture and architecture in connection with design, heritage and identity in Middle Eastern cities. Conducting research on the humanities and Islamic architecture, he previously held the Imam Bukhari Visiting Research Fellowship at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, which was supported by awards from both the Oxford centre and the Barakat Trust, Oxford. He completed a PhD in Humanities and Cultural Studies at the London Consortium, which was an academic programme within Birkbeck College (University of London) and a collaboration between the Architectural Association, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Science Museum, and the Tate.