Flesh-eating and Backbiting: Adventures of an Idiom from Akkadian to the Qur’an

When and Where

Friday, September 30, 2022 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Online & NMC Conference Room (2nd floor of Bancroft Hall)
Bancroft Building
4 Bancroft Avenue


Suleyman Dost


Suleyman Dost 

"Flesh-eating and Backbiting: Adventures of an Idiom from Akkadian to the Qur’an" 

Friday, Sept. 30, 3-5 pm 

Hybrid event – In person in the NMC Conference Room (2nd floor of Bancroft Hall) 


The Qur’an warns Muslims against spying on one another and backbiting with a strong corporeal metaphor: “Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” (Q 49:12) For classical commentators this metaphor was just a gross, graphic image to deter Muslims from speaking behind one another. This talk will explore the long history behind the idiomatic association of slander and flesh-eating in ancient and late antique texts, particularly those written in Aramaic and Greek, to shed some light on the Qur’an’s use of the metaphor.   


Suleyman Dost is Assistant Professor of Late Antiquity and Early Islam at the University of Toronto’s Department for the Study of Religion and at the UTSC. He works primarily on inscriptions and other documentary sources from late antique Arabia and Ethiopia. His research also covers the historical and linguistic context in which the Qur’an emerged as well as the history of its textual transmission. Before joining the University of Toronto, Dr. Dost was an Assistant Professor at Brandeis University and held a year-long fellowship at ANAMED Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations.   

For Zoom participation, register here.  


Contact Information

Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations


Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations


4 Bancroft Avenue