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Medieval Islamic studies scholar honoured with prestigious German award

Walid Ahmad Saleh holding a book in the Thomas Fisher rare book library

Walid Saleh is a specialist on the Qur’an, Tafsir and Islamic intellectual history. He has been a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, a New Directions Mellon Foundation recipient, and a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at LMU in Munich.

Medieval Islamic studies scholar Walid Ahmad Saleh has received the Konrad Adenauer Research Award, one of Germany’s most prestigious honours.

Saleh is an associate professor at the University of Toronto in the department for the study of religion and the department of Near and Middle Eastern civilizations. He is also the founding director of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the university. His general research interests include the Qur’an, the history of Quranic exegesis and theological literature of medieval Islam.

According to the Humboldt Foundation, which confers the award annually: “Walid Saleh is considered to be one of the most important scholars in the area of the Islamic Quranic exegesis in the Middle Ages.

“For his studies, he usually works with unexplored sources, which are often available only as manuscripts, and gains insights that provide impetus – beyond the respective context – for our understanding of Muslim intellectual history as a whole.”

Recipients of the Konrad Adenauer Research Award are chosen based on their entire academic record to date and receive 60,000 Euro (currently approximately 90,000 CAD). The prize is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and aims to promote academic and cultural interchange between the Federal Republic of Germany and Canada. Recipients are invited to conduct a research project of their own choice in Germany in close collaboration with a colleague specializing in the same field. Researchers of any discipline may be nominated.

Saleh will be working together with colleagues at the University of Freiburg and the University of Munich, and others, on projects such as Indonesian Quran translations and a medieval Arabic translation of the history of Judaism.