Department of Theology and Religious Studies

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Jon Hoover

Professor of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Arts


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 theological interaction.

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

Below are the undergraduate modules that I typically teach; exact offerings vary from year to year. Further below is a listing of Islamic Studies videos produced by our Department.

Undergraduate Modules

Interpreting Islam (yearly Level 1). This module explores interpretations of Muslim religious practice, theological doctrine, spirituality, and social relations from the beginning of the Islamic tradition to the present.

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.

Muslims and Others: Ethics, Theology, and History (typically alternate years for Levels 2 and 3): This course examines ethical, theological, and historical aspects of Muslim interaction with non-Muslims. After assessing Qur'anic attitudes to religious others, the course will survey a spectrum of Muslim ethical approaches to social relations with non-Muslims, analyse theological exchanges with Christians and Jews, explore Muslim theologies of other religions and the eternal destiny of non-Muslims, and examine shifts in Muslim relations with Christians and Jews in response to modernity and the rise of western power. Students will also read the novel The Qadi and the Fortune Teller set in nineteenth century Lebanon as a case study in legal, political, and religious relations between Sunnis, Shi'is, Druze, Christians, and Jews.

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

Departmental Islamic Studies Videos

Ibn Taymiyya and Benefit (maslaha) series with Jon Hoover in English: 1) Religious Practices, 2) The Aims of the Law, 3) The Caliphate and the Law, 4) Violence and Patience, 5) Wise Purpose in God's Acts and in Arabic: ابن تيمية والمصلحة: ١) العبادات ٢) مقاصد الشريعة ٣) الخلافة والشريعة ٤) العنف والصبر ٥) الحكمة في أفعال الله

Other videos 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

The Qur'an between Judaism and Christianity lecture series videos (2016)

With Ali-reza Bhojani: Why Study Sharia and Islamic Law Why Do Muslims Believe in Moral Rationalism Why Study Moral Rationalism in Islamic Law

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

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)

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

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

PhD and MRes research supervision

I welcome research proposals for the PhD, the MRes Religious Studies and the MRes Theology 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. There is also a distance learning PhD option (Theology or Religious Studies).

To begin conversation about undertaking a research degree, please send me a full 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 indicate whether you intend to study full-time or part-time and when you plan to start. If none of your prior degrees were in English, 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 the MRes may be less extensive.

Formal application: to submit a formal application for a research degree, go to the page relevant to your desired degree programme (links above), 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), Sufism, and Christian-Muslim theological interaction.

My current project examines how Ibn Taymiyya' formulates his unique views of God's attributes in dialogue with his theological, philosophical, and socio-political 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. Five publications arising from this strand of research are 'God Spatially Above and Spatially Extended: The Rationality of Ibn Taymiyya's Refutation of Faḫr al-Dīn al-Rāzī's Ašʿarī Incorporealism' (2022 open access), 'Ibn Taymiyya's Use of Ibn Rushd to Refute the Incorporealism of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi' (2018), 'Theology as Translation' (2018 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), 'Reason and the Proof Value of Revelation in Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī's late kalām works' (2019), and 'Early Mamlūk Ashʿarism against Ibn Taymiyya on the Nonliteral Reinterpretation (taʾwīl) of God's Attributes' (2020, Brill link).

I held a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for the calendar year 2018. Among other things, this included writing the volume on the Damascene scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) for Oneworld Press's Makers of the Muslim World series published in 2019 [Blackwell's]. I elaborate and defend the theoretical perspective of the book in "Foundations of Ibn Taymiyya's Religious Utilitarianism" (2019). Of related interest is "Ibn Taymiyya between Moderation and Radicalism" (2016, green open access version).

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 studies (2004 open access and 2010), Chapter Two of Ibn Taymiyya's Theodicy, and a recent book chapter (2022) 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 green open access), 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 Iblis (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), an analysis of Ibn Taymiyya's view on the Gospel's relation to the Torah (2022 open access), a survey of scholarship on Ibn Taymiyya (2012), and a history of Hanbali theology that includes an overview of Ibn Taymiyya's theology (2016, green open access).

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, please 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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