"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)


IIQS Strategic Plan, Executive Summary
Publication pending, in
Arabic, English and Indonesian editions.

IIQS: Birth of a Movement (film),
opening credits and Scene One, "The Vision".

The International Institute of Qur’anic Studies seeks to facilitate an intellectual, cultural, social, political, legal and spiritual transformation of the Muslim world, by meticulously researching—and systematically disseminating—the pre-dogmatic original message of Islam as a true blessing for all creation, in which reason and faith in Holy Scriptures (‘aql and naql) peacefully coexist in a state of Divine Illumination (‘irfan and/or ishraq). Its Arabic name (Al-Ma‘had al-Dawali lil-Dirasaat al-Qur’aniyya) means “The International Center for Mutual Support and Faithful Commitment to Qur’anic Studies.” Its Arabic acronym, MDQ, is pronounced “medaq” and signifies a trail through the desert.

The IIQS endeavors to provide a secure path for humanity to traverse the desert of spiritual ignorance (jahiliyya) and attain a self-transcendent state of awareness in which the individual ego poses no barrier to apprehension of, and surrender to, God’s will. This state of divine illumination (tanwir), characterized by the abandonment of selfish calculation (isqat al-tadbir), is more commonly known as islam.

The mission of the IIQS is to:

  • Help restore Islam to the pristine beauty and truth of its original message, as revealed by the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace
  • Develop schools of Qur’anic interpretation that combine the best of classical exegetical methodologies with those of modern scholarship
  • 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 conscience and the separation of religion and state, in order to prevent the political instrumentalization of religion, and its subordination to a falsely divinized human understanding of God’s will (ghurur)
  • 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”

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.


Prof. Dr. Hans Küng, President, Foundation for a Global Ethic, Tübingen, Germany


“The Classical Roots of Abu-Zayd’s Thought,”
by Dr. Ali Mabrook

“Rather than acknowledge and respond to Nasr’s argument, his opponents have incorrectly treated his work as a call for Muslims to reject the Qur’an itself – a false and scurrilous claim, which could not be further from the truth.

“Nasr did not reject the Qur’an, but merely a specific kind of human relationship with the text, which subjugates and enslaves the human mind. If we present two alternative visions of the Qur’an – the first, as an arena for humans to interact with the Divine text, derive new interpretations, and innovate; and the second, in which a highly politicized understanding of the text is posited as an unquestionable authority, to which not only the human mind, but every aspect of life on earth, must be subject – Nasr clearly adopted and embraced the first.

"Further, he sought to establish an institutional framework to revive a profoundly humane and spiritual, as opposed to authoritarian, approach to Islam’s sacred texts: i.e., the International Institute of Quranic Studies, or IIQS. This institute has attracted the enthusiastic support of many – such as its co-founder and patron, the former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid – who recognize the severe crisis that afflicts Muslim communities throughout the earth, and yet, because of their profoundly spiritual and tolerant understanding of Islam, are certain of its capacity to illuminate and enrich our world.”

The New York Times:
"Islam, Virgins and Grapes,"
by Nicholas D. Kristof

"Muslim fundamentalists damage Islam far more than any number of Danish cartoonists ever could, for it’s inevitably the extremists who capture the world’s attention. But there is the beginning of an intellectual reform movement in the Islamic world, and one window into this awakening was an international conference this week at the University of Notre Dame on the latest scholarship about the Koran...

"One of the scholars at the Notre Dame conference whom I particularly admire is Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, an Egyptian Muslim who argues eloquently that if the Koran is interpreted sensibly in context then it carries a strong message of social justice and women’s rights.

"Dr. Abu Zayd’s own career underscores the challenges that scholars face in the Muslim world. When he declared that keeping slave girls and taxing non-Muslims were contrary to Islam, he infuriated conservative judges. An Egyptian court declared that he couldn’t be a real Muslim and thus divorced him from his wife (who, as a Muslim woman, was not eligible to be married to a non-Muslim). The couple fled to Europe, and Dr. Abu Zayd is helping the LibForAll Foundation, which promotes moderate interpretations throughout the Islamic world...

"If the great intellectual fires are reawakening withifter cenn Islam, aturies of torpor, then that will be the best weapon yet against extremism."

"Renewing Qur'anic Studies
in the Contemporary World,"
by Nasr Hamid Abu-Zayd

Published by Oxford University Press

"[C]harges of apostasy and blasphemy are key weapons in the fundamentalists’ arsenal, strategically employed to prevent reform of Muslim societies, and instead confine the world’s Muslim population to a bleak, colorless prison of socio-cultural and political conformity. There is little hope of escape from this imprisonment, as long as fundamentalists – and the opportunistic and/or authoritarian regimes that compete with them in a chase to the lowest common denominator of Islam – continue to serve as prison guards and wardens.

"Laws penalizing blasphemy and apostasy exist in most Muslim-majority countries throughout the world, and act as a severe constraint upon the use of reason to explore and understand the contemporary significance of the Qur’an’s profound message. By forcefully silencing critical inquiry, such laws play directly into the hands of Islamic radicals, who seek to unify and politicize Muslim societies not only against the West, but against the very concept and principles of modern life, such as freedom, justice, human rights and the dignity of man, which are themselves inseparable from the right to freedom of conscience and expression. Perhaps the greatest irony is that these core principles – which lie at the heart of any just and humane society – are deeply embedded in the message of the Qur’an itself, and yet ignored by Islam’s most fervent, and violent, 'defenders.'”

"God Needs No Defense,"
by Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid

Published by Oxford University Press (Silenced)
and Yale University Press (Abraham's Children)

"Nothing can restrict the Absolute Truth. Sufism – whose purpose is to bring Muslims to the third stage of knowledge, i.e., the truth and reality of certainty (haqq al-yaqin) – emphasizes the value of freedom and diversity, both as reflections of God’s will and purpose, and to prevent the inadvertent or deliberate conflation of human understanding (which is inherently limited and subject to error) with the Divine. Faith (iman) and surrender to God (islam) on a purely intellectual level are not enough. Rather, a Muslim should continuously strive (mujahadah) to experience the actual Presence of God (ihsan). For without experiencing God’s Presence, a Muslim’s religious practice remains on a purely theoretical level; islam has not yet become an experiential reality.

"Sanctions against freedom of religious inquiry and expression act to halt the developmental process of religious understanding dead in its tracks – conflating the sanctioning authority’s current, limited grasp of the truth with ultimate Truth itself, and thereby transforming religion from a path to the Divine into a 'divinized' goal, whose features and confines are generally dictated by those with an all-too-human agenda of earthly power and control."

Indonesia’s ‘big idea’: Resolving the bitter global debate on Islam

by A. Mustofa Bisri and C. Holland Taylor

"Steeped in spiritual and aesthetic refinement, traditional Islam breathes forth the fragrant scent of love and compassion, which arises spontaneously from the state of inner peace. This profoundly experiential view of Islam as rahmatan lil ‘alamin is capable of preserving and deepening Muslims’ faith, while disarming those (non-Muslim and Muslim alike) who prefer to characterize Islam as a religion of hatred, supremacism and violence.

"Prior to his death in December 2009, our friend Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, who fully recognized these facts, set in motion a pair of interrelated endeavors to help realize Indonesia’s strategic potential as an engine of spiritual progress for humanity. The first of these [is] the International Institute of Quranic Studies (IIQS)...

"The second endeavor consists of a systematic effort to help educate and mobilize Western governments, civil society and public opinion at large, to address the complex array of threats posed by Islamist ideology, terrorism and a rising tide of Islamophobia in the West. This strategic endeavor, jointly undertaken by the Nadhlatul Ulama and LibForAll Foundation, seeks to develop a broad center-left to center-right coalition in North America and Europe that will unite the 'humanitarian left' and 'national security-oriented right' in forging the societal consensus required to marginalize and discredit both Islamist extremism and its mirror phenomenon in the West..."