Research, Awareness and Collaboration Focused on the Diverse Religious Communities of the Middle East

Research. Supporting and disseminating original scholarly work.

Awareness. Encouraging understanding of the diversity of Middle Eastern religious life.

Collaboration. Creating opportunities for scholarly discussion and exchange across borders, traditions and disciplines.

The work of the ISRME is located at the intersection of three broad areas of interest. Our geographic focus is the Middle East, with which we include regions such as Pakistan, North Africa and Turkey that have historically been linked with the same cultural and civilizational zone. Within this zone the Institute’s focus is on multi-disciplinary study of religious phenomena, including religious texts, ideas and belief systems, and also the rituals, histories and social structures of religious communities. Finally, in the study of Middle Eastern religious communities, we are especially concerned with religious diversity, and this means we are especially interested in research on small, emergent, or threatened religious communities and the interaction of such communities with majority traditions.

We are working to build a network of scholars and friends of the Institute throughout the Middle East and beyond, and we welcome your partnership. If you would like to participate at any level in the work of the ISRME, please consider signing on as a member.

See our new Maps page for an interactive visualization of the religious demography of the Middle East. Population estimates are updated to 2015. Here’s a preview:

Note these disclaimers: In order to highlight minority religions, the visualization risks exaggerating the size of minority populations relative to total population. In reality minority populations in most parts of the middle east are tiny in relation to total population, and they are shrinking. The map also does not reflect religious diversity among Muslims. We’ll be working on additional visualizations that will help to balance both of these concerns.  Data source: Todd M. Johnson and Brian J. Grim, eds. , World Religion Database. Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed January 2018.

ISRME Studies in Religion and Theology 1

ISRME Studies in Religion and Theology 1

We are pleased to announce the publication of Sharing Abraham? Narrative Worldview, Biblical and Qur’anic Interpretation, & Comparative Theology in Turkey by George Bristow.

Abraham has long been viewed as a source of common ground for monotheistic faith communities, yet the relationship between the various Abraham narratives is complex. In this book George Bristow rigorously analyzes biblical and qur’anic Abraham narratives and builds on the tight connection between narrative and worldview to lay the foundation for a careful and illuminating theological comparison between varying portraits of Abraham and the faith traditions in which they are embedded. In the course of building his argument, Bristow introduces an original model for analyzing the relationship of narrative to worldview and sheds important light on the function of Abraham for contemporary Turkish Muslims. Sharing Abraham is an essential resource for anyone interested in narrative and worldview studies, comparative theology, biblical and qur’anic hermeneutics, Abrahamic dialogue, or Islam in Turkey.

ISRME Studies in Religion and Theology was established to publish books about religious communities, religious texts, theologies and belief systems in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan. The series solicits research studies from a range of disciplines and historical contexts, placing special emphasis on research about small, emergent or threatened religious communities and the interaction of these communities with majority traditions.