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Jon Hoover

Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Arts

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Expertise Summary

My expertise is in Islamic Studies, and my areas of special interest include Islamic intellectual history, medieval Islamic theology and philosophy, the thought of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, and Christian-Muslim relations.

Before coming to Nottingham in 2010, I taught Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, and earlier on I studied Arabic in Cairo for several years. My qualifications include a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Birmingham, an MA in Theological Studies from the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Indiana, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech.

Teaching Summary

Please note that I will be on research leave from January 2018 through July 2019. The teaching of Islamic Studies will be carried by other members of the department during this time.

My teaching spans the Islamic tradition from its origins to the present day, and I especially enjoy working with students to explore the diverse ways that Muslims have interpreted their texts and lived out their faith through history. The undergraduate modules that I typically teach are described below; exact offerings may vary from year to year due to research leaves, curriculum changes, or unforeseen circumstances. At the bottom of the page are links to Islamic Studies videos produced by the department. For PhD and Masters level research supervision, click on the 'Research Supervision' tab above.

Undergraduate Modules

Islamic Theology and Philosophy (typically alternate years for Levels 2 and 3). This module examines how Muslims have addressed fundamental theological and philosophical questions relating to their faith. These questions concern the foundations of religious knowledge and authority, God's unity and attributes, God's relationship to the world, divine determinism and human freedom, prophecy, and eschatology. Key figures will include the rationalist Mu'tazili and Ash'ari theologians, the philosophers Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and the influential medieval intellectuals al-Ghazali, Ibn al-'Arabi, and Ibn Taymiyya. Selections from primary sources will be read in translation, and special attention will be given to the integration of late antique philosophical traditions into Islamic theology.

Islamic Ethics of War and Peace (new Level 2 and 3 module to run in 2019-2020): This module examines Islamic ethical, legal, and political thought on war and peace in historical perspective. Careful attention will be given to the interpretation of jihad, rules for the conduct of war, and the ethics of living at peace in both Muslim majority and Muslim minority contexts. The module will also focus on modern use of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyya to justify both Salafi-jihadism and constructive engagement in western societies.

Undergraduate dissertation supervision in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim relations.

Our department also usually offers the modules Introduction to Islam and Islam and Gender for Year 1 students.

Departmental Islamic Studies Videos (playlist)

With Jon Hoover: Why Study...Ibn Taymiyya Why Study...Islamic Studies Universial Salvation and Consensus in Medieval Islam What is Fitra in Islam?

With Holger Zellentin: The Qur'an's Legal Tradition in Historical Context Qur'anic Studies Today

With Harith Bin Ramli: Why Study the Sunni and the Shi'a Why Study Sufism The Prophet's Birthday

With Shujahat Aslam: Islam: Final Things Ramadan Eid-ul-Fitr Eid-ul-Adha The Hajj

With Musharraf Hussain:

Basic Beliefs of Islam series: Introduction God Angels Books Prophets Last Day 1 Last Day 2 Predestination

Celebrations and practices: The Islamic Year: An Overview Ramadan Muharram Lailat ul bara'ah The Mi'raj Milad (The Prophet's Birthday)

Research Summary

My research focuses on medieval Islamic intellectual history with an eye to its uses in the present. I am especially interested in the discourses of theology (kalam), philosophy (falsafa), legal… read more

Selected Publications

  • HOOVER, J., 2016. Ḥanbalī Theology. In: SCHMIDTKE, S., ed., The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology Oxford University Press. 625-646
  • HOOVER, J., 2012. Christian-Muslim relations: a bibliographical history. Volume 4 (1200-1350) At: Published book
  • HOOVER, J., 2012. Ibn Taymiyya. Oxford Bibliographies Online.
  • HOOVER, J., 2010. God’s wise purposes in creating Iblīs: Ibn Qayyim al-Ğawziyyah’s theodicy of God’s names and attributes. In: BORI, C. and HOLTZMAN, L., eds., A scholar in the shadow: essays in the legal and theological thought of Ibn Qayyim al-Ğawziyyah Istituto per l’Oriente C.A. Nallino. 113-134

PhD, MRes, and MA by research supervision

I welcome research proposals for the PhD, the MRes, and the MA by research in the fields of Islamic theology and intellectual history, the thought and later reception of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Salafism, Christian-Muslim relations, and related textual, historical and theological studies. However, I am no longer taking on new postgraduate research students for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Currently, I am supervising PhD research projects on the theology of the early 20th century scholar Mustafa Sabri, modernist Arab interpretations of the Sunna, the thought of the late 18th century Sufi Ibn 'Ajiba, Taqi al-Din al-Subki's legal thought, Ibn Taymiyya's interpretation of the Bible, and Ibn Taymiyya's views on divorce. Students have completed PhDs under my supervision on Ibn Taymiyya and jihad, Christian-Muslim relations in Ghana, and Ibn al-'Arabi and Ibn Taymiyya on sources of knowledge.

To begin conversation about undertaking a research degree, please send me a research proposal, a sample of previous academic work (published or unpublished, in English or Arabic), grade transcripts for degree courses taken at the university level (e.g. BA and MA), and indication how you plan to finance your studies. Also, please provide proof of proficiency in English (e.g. 7.0 or more on the IELTS exam) or details of your plans to attain the required English proficiency. Guidance on writing a PhD research proposal is here; Research proposals for MRes and MA by research may be more modest.

Formal application: to submit a formal application for a research degree, go to the page relevant to your desired degree programme (PhD, MRes, or MA by research), read through the page, and click on 'Apply for this course' at the upper right side.

In the 'Personal Statement' section of the application, please note that we are looking for a substantial research proposal, not a long list of your personal interests and accomplishments.

Our department offers both a PhD in 'Theology' and a PhD in 'Religious Studies'. In the PhD application, choose the one that best suits your purposes; it does not have a bearing on your research supervision arrangements.

Further general guidance on the formal application is given here.

Tuition fees: The normal PhD programme consists of three years of full-time study at full tuition fees or six years of part-time study at half tuition fees. The MRes and MA by research consist of one year full-time at full fees or two years part-time at half fees. The full-time fees are given here. Follow through to the fees for Postgraduate Research Courses, the School of Humanities, and Theology and Religious Studies. For part-time fees, divide the full-time fees in half.

International students should consult our International Office website and staff for further logistical and practical information on coming to Nottingham. Information concerning short-term accomodation in Nottingham is available here.

Current Research

My research focuses on medieval Islamic intellectual history with an eye to its uses in the present. I am especially interested in the discourses of theology (kalam), philosophy (falsafa), legal theory (usul al-fiqh), Qur'an commentary (tafsir), political thought, and Sufism.

I am currently a British Academy mid-career fellow working on a project entitled 'Ibn Taymiyya: Medieval Muslim Utilitarian'. Among other things, this includes writing the volume on the Damascene scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) for Oneworld Press's Makers of the Muslim World series.

My wider current project examines how Ibn Taymiyya' formulates his unique views of God's attributes in dialogue with his theological and philosophical context. This builds on preliminary work carried out under a 2013-14 Leverhulme Research Fellowship entitled 'God and space in the theology of Ibn Taymiyya', which brought to light, among other things, his argumentation against the incorporealist view of God prevalent in his day; I outline this in a May 2014 lecture available online. The first major publication arising from this strand of research is 'Theology as Translation' (2008 open access), which analyzes and translates Ibn Taymiyya's legitimization of theology in his famous Averting the Conflict between Reason and Revealed Tradition (Dar' ta'arud al-'aql wa al'naql). More publications are on the way.

My earlier work on Ibn Taymiyya focused on his best-of-all-possible-worlds theodicy and related matters. The monograph Ibn Taymiyya's Theodicy of Perpetual Optimism (2007 open access) examines Ibn Taymiyya's approach to God's justice and wise purpose in creating evil and situates this within his wider theological project. Two articles (2004 open access and 2010) and Chapter Two of Ibn Taymiyya's Theodicy investigate Ibn Taymiyya's vision of God's dynamic essence and perpetual activity that was unusual if not unique in classical Islamic theology. Another four articles analyze Ibn Taymiyya's arguments for the final salvation of everyone, unbelievers included, and their extensive elaboration by his foremost student Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 1350) (2009 open access, 2013 and 2015), along with their reception by the Yemeni theologian Ibn al-Wazir (d. 1436) (2016 open access). I also have an article on Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya's theodicy that provides a translation of his text explaining why God created Ibils (Satan) (2010).

Other publications on Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya include studies and surveys of their writings on Christianity (2010 open access, 2012a and 2012b), a survey of scholarship on Ibn Taymiyya (2012), and a history of Hanbali theology that includes an overview of Ibn Taymiyya's theology (2014).

I also write on Christian-Muslim relations. Among other things, this includes a survey of Muslim attitudes towards Christian doctrines for The Routledge Handbook of Christian-Muslim Relations (2018), a festschrift for Professor David Thomas (2015), an analysis of the Muslim letter A Common Word (2009 open access), and a comparison of the Christian and Muslim doctrines of God (2009 corrected version open access).

A full list of my publications and research resources in Taymiyyan studies may be found on my personal website. For PhD and MA research supervision, click on the 'Research Supervision' tab above.

Department of Theology and Religious Studies

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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