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Ilma Bogdan

Ilma Bogdan

Areas of interest:


Scriptural hermeneutics

Comparative religion

Religious fundamentalism

Protestantism and Sunni Islam

Religion and politics


BA in International Journalism, International Relations and French (MGIMO); MA in International Relations (King's College London); MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies (SOAS); PhD in Theology and Religious Studies (Cambridge, ongoing).

My current work questions the widespread claim that Protestant Christian and Sunni Muslim ‘fundamentalists’ share a similar approach towards the interpretation of their sacred texts, the Bible and the Qur’an. They are particularly singled out for their preference for hermeneutic ‘literalism’. For that matter, in my comparative study, I explore the concept of ‘literalism’, its meaning and methodological applications through surveying scriptural commentaries of four influential 20th-century figures, prominent in the academic literature on religious ‘fundamentalism’: Jerry Falwell, Rousas Rushdoony, Sayyid Qutb, and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi. I examine what stands for ‘scriptural literalism’ for each of those authors and the way their ‘literalisms’ correlate and contrast with each other. On that basis, my study offers a typological systematisation of biblical and Qur’anic ‘literalisms’ in order to rectify terminological confusion and conflation which currently exist with regards to Protestant and Sunni ‘fundamentalist hermeneutics’.

My comparative project unveils the problematics behind applying the term ‘literalism’ as a workable description of Protestant and Sunni ‘fundamentalist hermeneutics’. It shows that although all four chosen authors are ‘literalists’ in the sense of believing that their sacred scriptures are the ‘literal truth’ of God’s revelation to humanity from which all contemporary epistemology must be strictly derived, they employ contrasting hermeneutic methodologies in order to articulate that scripture-based epistemology. My research also demonstrates the heterogeneity of Christian and Muslim hermeneutic contexts and trajectories and the necessity of articulation of ‘Qur’anic literalism’ independent of ‘biblical literalism’. As a result, through my analysis of texts, we encounter various multiple dimensions of ‘scriptural literalisms’, which vary both between the representatives of the same religious groups and even more so between Protestant and Sunni hermeneutical traditions at large.

Subject area and speciality

Religious Studies specialists:

Comparative 'literalisms': an assessment of Christian and Muslim 'fundamentalist' scriptural hermeneutics through the writings of Falwell, Rushdoony, Qutb and Al-Maqdisi

Research Interests

  • Epistemology: sources and methods of derivation;
  • Scriptural interpretation and epistemological normativity;
  • Comparative religion: approaches and paradigms;
  • Religion in the contemporary socio-political context;
  • Modernity, secularisation and the role of faith;

Other Professional Activities

Launched a round of discussions (hosted by The Woolf Institute): "Faith and Brexit: Potential implications of Brexit for the UK faith communities"

Key Publications

"Language of Jihadism" The Journal of Terrorism & Cyber Insurance 2/5: 10-17, 2018 


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