The fourth Annual Ibn Rushd lecture was held at the illustrious Art Workers' Guild Hall in London on the evening of 1 June 2016.
Introduced by Ehsan Masood, Chair of the Muslim Institute, Dr Alba Fedeli talked about her rediscovery last year of some of the world's earliest surviving verses of the Qur'an: two leaves of parchment, which have been dated to the seventh century and could have been written down in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad.
A response by Professor Emilie Savage-Smith, Professor of the History of Islamic Science at the University of Oxford, followed Dr Fedeli's lecture, before the audience was invited to partake in a Q&A, convened by Ehsan. Finally, Merryl Wyn Davies of the Muslim Institute ended the evening with a vote of thanks, after which attendees retired to a sumptuous Turkish supper.
Listen to the lecture:
Dr Fedeli recently completed her PhD in early Qur'anic manuscripts at the University of Birmingham, which is where, remarkably, her rediscovery was made. She is now a research fellow at the Central European University in Budapest.
These lectures, in honour of Ibn Rushd, are intended to explore the contemporary relevance of Islam's intellectual history. They are delivered annually in June by notable academics and thinkers. Previous lecturers have been Dr Amira Bennison, Professor Oliver Leaman and Professor Ibrahim Moosa.
Ibn Rushd was a master of philosophy, theology, law and jurisprudence, astronomy, geography, mathematics, medicine, physics and psychology. He is seen as one of the founders of secular thought in Western Europe, where his school of philosophy is known as Averroism.
In the Muslim world, he is known largely for his defence of philosophy from theological attacks, particularly by scholastic theologian al-Ghazali (1058-1111). Today, all over the world, streets, statues and postage-stamps commemorate the life and works of one of the most important philosophers of all time.