The International Institute of Qur’anic Studies

Assembling a Global Network of Muslim Leaders, to Lay the Foundation for a
Renaissance of Islamic Pluralism, Tolerance and Critical Thinking



“Among the various factors which have contributed to the long decline of Arab and Muslim civilizations in general, and greatly hindered their participation in the development of the modern world, was the triumph of normative religious constraints, which ultimately defeated the classical tradition of Islamic humanism. Absorption of ‘alien’ influences—particularly in the realm of speculative thought, and the creation of individual, rational and independent sciences not constrained by religious scholasticism—was defeated by internal control mechanisms exercised by religious and governmental authorities, thus paralyzing Muslim societies....”

The goal of the International Institute of Qur’anic Studies is to help stimulate a renaissance of Islamic pluralism, tolerance and critical thinking—enabling Muslims to embrace the universal and cosmopolitan principles that characterized Islamic civilization at its height, while adapting peacefully to the modern world.”

~ IIQS co-founder and patron H.E. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid (1940 – 2009)


The International Institute of Qur'anic Studies' mission is to:

  • Develop schools of modern Qur'anic interpretation that combine classical exegetical methods with modern scholarship—enabling Muslims to build a bridge between their traditions and the modern world

  • Ground this scholarship in a profoundly spiritual understanding of Islam, which is capable of deepening and broadening—rather than destroying—Muslims' faith

  • Propagate free thought and expand the bounds of debate within the Muslim world, while undermining extremists—who seek to limit the scope of acceptable speech/thought through the use of blasphemy and apostasy laws

  • Support and defend reformers and reform initiatives against organized radical opposition

  • Research, develop and articulate the theological grounds for constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion, and the separation of religion and state

  • Establish a lasting foundation for a renaissance of Islamic pluralism, tolerance and critical thinking

  • Foster the necessary conditions for the development of just societies and the protection of universal human rights throughout the Muslim world, so that Islam may truly function as rahmatan lil 'alamin, or "a blessing for all creation"

Rather than seek to impose Western values from the outside, the IIQS employs an "inside-out" approach deeply embedded within Muslim societies, in order to effectively promote freedom of expression, belief and association, as well as the rights of individuals and minorities.

The IIQS's world-class leadership team consists of a virtual "Who's Who" of top Muslim leaders and reformers from the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America, who have joined forces to accomplish this mission.

Empowering Women to Interpret the Qur'an

In his widely-acclaimed article, "Right Islam vs Wrong Islam," IIQS co-founder K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid identified 16 strengths that represent key assets in the struggle with religious extremism. Among these are: "the power of the feminine spirit, and the fact that half of humanity consists of women, who have an inherent stake in the outcome of this struggle."

To draw on this strength, it is critical to empower female scholars, teachers and activists, providing them with training to interpret the Qur’an, and support for propagating these modern interpretations to their respective constituencies.

By doing so, the IIQS is helping to establish a theological foundation and provide the practical means to promote women’s rights throughout the Muslim world.


IIQS Activities >


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