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Classical Islamic World Book Prize

CIW Prize Banner


Gorgias Press is delighted to host the annual international Classical Islamic World Book Prize (CIW). Based on the decision of an internationally renowned panel of scholars, the CIW recognises three exceptional early-career contributions to the academic study of the classical Islamic world. In particular, the CIW invites scholars from across the world to submit unpublished monographs that are either revised PhD theses or first Postdoctoral monographs. 

Now entering its third year, CIW book prize announces its winners each year in September. Authors of winning submissions are awarded an inscribed plaque, a contract to publish their monograph under Gorgias Press’ Islamic History and Thought Series (optional), and $500 worth of Gorgias Press publications. Prizes are also awarded to second and third place submissions. The panel of judges is as follows:

Dr Maher Jarrar - American University of Beirut

Dr Harry Munt - University of York

Dr Ahmed El Shamsy - University of Chicago

Dr Adam Talib - University of Durham

Dr. George Kiraz, Editor-in-Chief of Gorgias Press, said:

‘‘The Classical Islamic World prize is an important part of Gorgias’ longstanding commitment to supporting unique and valuable research on both the Islamic world and the wider Near East across Late Antiquity. Most importantly, the prize will highlight and support the important work being carried out by young academics at a point in their careers when such support is most needed.’’

To enter a submission, please send the following information, in pdf format, to

Covering Letter: This should include your name, contact details/affiliation(s), and the names/affiliations of your supervisors, if applicable.

- Letter of Support: In a maximum of 700 words, provide an abstract of your thesis/monograph and describe what unique contribution your book makes to the field.

- References (optional): Provide up to two letters of support from supervisors, or established specialists in the field who are familiar with your book, on the originality and value of the work. 

- CV

- The manuscript

The deadline for submissions will be Sunday 31st MARCH 2019 (midnight). For more information about the CIW, the submission guidelines and criteria, and the judging process, please contact Gorgias Press’ Islamic Studies editor:


The 2018 Classical Islamic World Book Prize Winners 


1st Place: Laura Hassan

Ash‘arism encounters Avicennism: Sayf al-Dīn al-Āmidī on Creation

Hassan's book treats the encounter of the traditions of Ash'arī kalām and Avicennan philosophy in the thought of Sayf al-Dīn al-Āmidī (d. 631/1233), a post-Avicennan Ash‘arī versed in both traditions. The study takes the issue of the world’s creation – traditionally a site of contention between Muslim philosophers and theologians – and considers how al-Āmidī’s thought reflects the confluence of his influences. It is argued that the philosophers’ and theologians’ respective doctrines of creations are embedded in contrasting frameworks rooted in distinctive worldviews. On the one hand, Ibn Sīnā’s metaphysical distinction between the possible and necessary of existence is the basis of his conception of the world’s pre-eternal emanation. On the other, for the mutakallimūn, the physical theoretical framework of atomism bolsters their view that God created the world from nothing, since by that framework, the temporal finitude of existents aside from God is proven. It emerges that al-Āmidī begins a committed Avicennist, before developing, by stages, a strong reaction to Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s (d. 606/1210) integration of falsafa with kalām. The intellectual challenges he faces in incorporating Avicennism’s most compelling theories without compromising core Ash‘arī beliefs indicate some of the key issues facing theologians of his era.

Laura Hassan is currently Faculty Associate of the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, where she teaches Islamic philosophy and theology. Her research interest is in post-classical developments in Ash'arī kalām, with a specific focus on the approach taken by later theologians in questions of natural philosophy in the aftermath of Ibn Sīnā's groundbreaking philosophy. She is interested more broadly in the history of the interface of science and theology in the Islamic context. She has studied Arabic in Oxford, Fes and Alexandria, and received her PhD from SOAS, University of London.


2nd Place: I-Wen Su

The Shīʿī Past in the Great Book of the Songs: a New Perspective on the Kitāb al-Aghānī by Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī and Shīʿī Islam in the Tenth Century

This book begins by searching for Shīʿism in the Kitāb al-Aghānī (“the Book of the Songs”) and finishes with a re-evaluation of tenth-century Shīʿī Islam on the basis of evidence from the same text. It investigates two questions related to the Kitāb al- Aghānī (hereafter, the Aghānī) and its compiler. First, does al-Iṣfahānī assert a Shīʿī perspective in his Aghānī? Second, what are the implications, if the Aghānī, or at least part of it, can be demonstrated to reveal the Shīʿī sympathy or conviction of the compiler? This book addresses the first question by applying redaction criticism (Redaktionsgeschichte) in order to show that there is in fact a Shīʿī agenda at work in the Aghānī. By integrating the findings derived from redaction criticism, this work argues that the Aghānī can be construed in the light of the articulation of a Shīʿī ideology characterised by a “moderate” take on the early Muslim community’s conflicts and in the light of the career of al-Iṣfahānī’s patron, al-Muhallabī. In doing so, this study explores the complexity of tenth-century Shīʿism by engaging with the question of al-Iṣfahānī’s sectarian affiliation.

I-Wen Su is assistant professor at Department of Arabic Language and Culture, National Chengchi University (Taiwan, or, according to her patron, Republic of China). Her research focuses on the formation of the sectarian identities, the early Islamic history and historiography.


3rd Place: Avraham Elmakias

The Naval Commanders of Early Islam: a Prosopographical Approach 

Translated from Hebrew, this groundbreaking study sets out to answer one simple question: who were the commanders of the early Islamic navy? Using the prosopographical method, Elmakias unearths fresh information about early Islam's pioneering naval commanders. Through their fascinating biographies, we learn about the people who led the Islamic navy during the first conquests of the Islamic empire and realised the spread and expansion of Islamic influence. Extracting information from a wide range of classical Arabic sources, prosopography enables this study to follow these commanders, from their backgrounds, tribal and cultural affiliation, to their military and administrative careers.

Avraham Elmakias received a Ph.D. in Islamic history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2015. He teaches Arabic at Bar Ilan University and in secondary schools in Israel.


The 2017 Classical Islamic World Book Prize Winners 

1st Place: Manolis Ulbricht

Coranus Graecus: Die älteste überlieferte Koranübersetzung in der «Ἀνατροπὴ τοῦ Κορανίου » des Niketas von Byzanz


2nd Place: Mehmetcan Akpinar

Narrative Representations of Abū Bakr (d. 13/634) in the Second/Eighth Century


3rd Place: Ahmad Sukkar

Structures of Light: The Body and Architecture in Premodern Islam