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Resources for Islamic Studies
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SALT Research digital collections

Fri, 02/17/2017 - 12:34

SALT Research comprises a specialized library, and an archive of physical and digital sources and documents on visual practices, the built environment, social life and economic history.

Collections at SALT Research focus on the period from the late 19th century to the present day with an emphasis on Turkey -primarily Istanbul- and the geographies of the Southeast Mediterranean and Southeast Europe.

The collections include visual and textual sources and documents on the art history of Turkey post 1950, the development of architecture and design in Turkey since the beginning of the 20th century, and the transformations in society and the region from the last century of the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic up until the 1990s.

SALT Research collections can be browsed and/or accessed (for digitized items) on the website:

The website interface is bilingual Turkish/English.

Arabic Literature of Africa Online

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 15:01

From February 8th to March 10th, 2017, the McGill Library is trialing Arabic Literature of Africa Online, a bio-bibliography on the Arabic manuscript tradition in the African continent.

ALAO offers authoritative information about African authors, the texts they wrote in Arabic, the manuscripts in which these texts are found, and the locations of these manuscripts, together with bibliographical references to the literature.

Please, check it out and share you feedback with us!

E-Marefah database- Islamic studies, Arabic literature & Middle Eastern Studies

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 09:19

From January 30 to February 28, 2017, the McGill Library is trialing E-Marefah, an integrated database of Islamic studies, Arabic literature  & Middle Eastern Studies.

E-Marefah provides acces to full text and comprehensive metadata of over 700,000 journals, research papers, theses and dissertations, conference papers, statistical reports, and e-books in all disciplines, including most recently published titles.

E-Marefah includes five databases for each specialty:

  • Islamic Studies and Arabic Language
  • Middle East Studies
  • Human science (Humanities)
  • Social sciences
  • Legal and Islamic Fiqh resources.

All databases can be searched simultaneously or separately, either in Arabic or in English, through a single search box. Search results display in a table including extensive metadata and a link to the PDF document when full-text is available:

We’re looking forward to receive your feedback!

Islamicate Texts Initiative

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 10:43

The Islamicate Texts Initiative (ITI) is a collaborative effort to construct the first machine-actionable corpus of premodern Islamicate texts.Led by researchers at the Aga Khan University (AKU), Universität Leipzig (UL), and the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland (College Park) and an interdisciplinary advisory board of leading digital humanists and Islamic, Persian, and Arabic studies scholars, ITI aims to provide the essential textual infrastructure in Persian and Arabic for new forms of macro textual analysis and digital scholarship. ITI is composed of three different projects:

  1. Open Arabic Project is curated by Maxim Romanov, research fellow at Alexander von Humboldt-Lehrstul für Digital Humanities, Institut für Informatik, Universität Leipzig who has been exploring for years how modern computational techniques of text analysis can be applied to the study of premodern Arabic historical sources2. The Persian Digital Library is managed by Samar Ali Ata, Program administrative specialist and Assistant to the Director at Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland3. KITAB is led by Sarah Bowen Savant, Associate Professor at the Agha Khan University-ISMC who specializes on the cultural history of the Middle East and Iran ca. 600-1100. provides a digital tool-box and a forum for discussions about Arabic texts. Although KITAB is currently a closed community, the corpus and search tools can be used upon request.

New Exhibition: A Tradition in Transition: Lithography in Islamic cultural History

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 09:47

During the last decade, the field of Arabic and Islamic studies focused on the revaluation and rediscovery of an extensive amount of sources, mainly in manuscript form, that bear witness to hereto neglected aspects of Arabo-Islamicate cultural history. More specifically, the re-appreciation and the unprecedented analyses of these manuscript documents has fostered the reassessment of outdated narratives surrounding the evolution of various Islamic disciplines, such as linguistic sciences (al-ʿulūm al-lughawiyah), logic (manṭiq) and rational and philosophical theology (ʿilm al-kalām and ḥikmah), mathematical and astronomical sciences (al-riyāḍiyāt, ʿilm al-hayʾah), and Quranic exegesis (tafsīr) and legal methodology (uṣūl al-fiqh). Accordingly, scholars in these fields of the Islamic intellectual tradition are paying increasing attention to unveiling this manuscript tradition. However, the majority of these sources are not available in modern editions, and access to a considerable part of these manuscript forms can often be hindered by various kinds of obstacles. Scholars and researchers are therefore often forced to limit the range and scope of their research according to the accessibility of that manuscript heritage.

It is however less known that in between the 19th and the 20th centuries, a good amount of that manuscript heritage has been produced and circulated in the form of lithographed copies, mainly within madrasa networks in the Arab world. Lithography in the Arabo-Islamicate intellectual panorama was more welcomed than typography because of several religio-cultural and socio-economic reasons, and filled an important gap between the manuscript and printing tradition that would follow. Lithography was still tightly bound to traditional handwritten manuscript production while offering the advantages the printing technology. Many among the most relevant works on linguistic sciences, rational and philosophical theology, mathematical and astronomical sciences, Sufism and Quranic exegesis and juridical methodology, executed by professional scribes and supervised by trained scholars, have become the tools of the madrasa tradition. The tradition and the production of lithographed books has received little attention despite their number and  relevance to the Islamic intellectual tradition Scholars and researches in the Arabo-Islamicate tradition are thus often unaware of not only the existence of lithography but also of their relative accessibility. Accordingly, a rigorous and thorough investigation into the tradition of the Arabic lithographed books will undoubtedly benefit many scholars in various fields of research.

This exhibition is an attempt to highlight the richness and complexity of the lithographed book tradition and suggest the importance it can have in modern scholarship. It was curated by Giovanni Carrera, doctoral student at the Institute of Islamic Studies and Anaïs Salamon, Head of the Islamic Studies Library. The selection of titles has been possible thanks to the efforts of Dr. Adam Gacek, who first provided a description of the Islamic Studies Library’s collection of lithographed books at McGill University in his Arabic Lithographed Books in the Islamic Studies Library in 1996.

A Tradition in Transition: Lithography in Islamic Cultural History is accessible on the 1st floor of the Islamic Studies Library during opening hours.

New acquisition: al-Manhal, a database of Arabic books & journals

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 12:30

McGill Library has now subscribed to the Islamic Studies Collection of AlManhal database which gives access to thousands of electronic scholarly books and journals in Arabic. The collection is full-text searchable in English and in Arabic, and browsable by subject, by title or by publisher. Documents can be read online, listened to, downloaded in PDF, or printed. And the reader offers interesting features such as sharing, annotating, citing or highlighting the text. Check it out, and let us know what you think!

Archnet

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 08:25
Launched in 2002, Archnet is the world’s largest open access architectural library focusing on Muslim societies. A shared initiative of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Archnet aims at providing easy access to scholarly articles, data and original research that can be used for teaching, scholarship, and professional work in the fields of architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design in the Muslim worlds. Archnet is a continually growing resource, thanks to numerous donations of historic archives and documentation. In sum, “Archnet provides a bridge for interested persons to learn how to enhance the quality of the built environment, to compensate for lack of resources for students and faculty in academic institutions, and to highlight the culture and traditions of Islam.”

Archnet is a fully searchable database offering different search options:

  • the Research page allows visitors to do a text search (basic or advanced) applying geographical and time filters
  • the Timeline allows to visualize “a linear outline of the history of art, architecture and urbanism in Muslim societies”
  • materials grouped in collections such as Women in Architecture, Tangier Then and Now, or Hassan Fathy can be accessed directly via the Collections page
  • additional resources and pedagogical tools are also made available through the Resources and Pedagogy pages.

The website is in English.

Bülent Ecevit articles online

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 10:38

The Bülent Ecevit articles database includes 1,500 Turkish- and English-language articles written by Bülent Ecevit between 1950 and 1961, most of them published in the prominent daily paper Ulus. While much is known of Ecevit’s long career as a statesman–beginning with his service as Minister of Labor 1961 and lasting well into the 2000s–this early chapter in his life remains largely unknown. Yet the cultural commentary, art criticism, political analyses and travel writings that he produced in the 1950s constitute an extraordinarily prolific and consistent body of work on the importance of civic culture and democracy. The columns reveal the seeds of his later political thought, as well as giving a new perspective on the importance of the arts to his intellectual life.

All original research has been carried out by Sarah-Neel Smith, research director for the Ecevit digitization project, with the collaboration of SALT Research and the Rahşan Ecevit-Bülent Ecevit Foundation of Science and Art & Culture (Ankara). Over a four year period, SALT Research scanned all of Ecevit’s publicly available writings and converted them to fully searchable texts which match the originals. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Foundation founding member Emrehan Halıcı, Rahşan Ecevit, and her sister Asude Aral, who facilitated this project by supplying all the missing documents, the database encompasses Ecevit’s entire corpus of writing from the 1950s. All data has been compiled with permission of Rahşan Ecevit-Bülent Ecevit Foundation of Science and Art & Culture.

Sarah-Neel Smith, research director of the Ecevit digitization project, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where she teaches modernism in a global and comparative perspective. The Ecevit online archive is the direct result of Smith’s ongoing research, begun in 2012, into Bülent Ecevit’s involvement in international debates about democracy and art after WWII. Her current book project How to Build An Art World: Art & Politics in 1950s Turkey investigates Ecevit’s place in the context of an emergent modern art world in the post-war period.

 

Records of the Kurds: territory, revolt and nationalism, 1831-1979

Thu, 12/08/2016 - 15:23

The Islamic Studies Library is currently trialing the Records of the Kurds: territory, revolt and nationalism, 2831-1979. British documentary sources collection. This set of 13 volumes includes documents tracing “early insurgencies of the Kurdish people directed against regional and metropolitan powers, their inter-relations with neighbouring tribes and other ethnic groups, while also depicting the extent of territories pertaining to the Kurdish homeland. The period witnessed the origins of Kurdish nationalist sentiments through a series of disparate revolts in the 19th century, through to a larger, more cohesive and discernible movement launched in the aftermath of World War One.”

Documents are in Arabic, English and Kurdish (Sorani). The trial will be open until January 9th, 2017: try it out and let us know what you think!

Naval Kishore Press Bibliographie

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 09:01

Naval Kishore Press was founded in Lucknow, Northern India, in 1858 by Munshi Newal Kishore (3 January 1836-19 February 1885), and is considered the oldest printing and publishing house in the area. Naval Kishore Press published more than 5000 books in numerous languages including Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, English, Marathi, Punjabi, Pashto, Persian, Sanskrit, and Urdu.

The Naval Kishore Press Bibliographie is a joint effort of Heidelberg University Library, and Heidelberg University South Asia Institute (SAI). It serves as a bibliographic database recording books and journals published by Naval Kishore Press, accessible in libraries around the world. Although the bibliography is still under construction, it includes 1.300 entries. And visitors are encouraged to suggest additional titles via email.

Bibliographic records can be searched by title, author, subject, ISBN/ISSN, series, year of publication, or browsed by language, format or provenance.

Titles that have been digitized and are available online can be accessed on Heidelberg University Library’s website Literature on South Asia – digitized / Subject / Collection.

Latest publications by Institute of Islamic Studies’ faculty members

Fri, 11/18/2016 - 11:01

Congratulations to Prof. Michelle Hartman, Prof. Laila Parsons and Prof. Robert Wisnowsky on their latest publications:

  • Ḥumaydān, Īmān, and Michelle Hartman (translation). The Weight of Paradise. Northampton, MA: Interlink Books, 2016.

Iman Humaydan’s Weight of Paradise narrates the story of two women set against the post-war backdrop of 1990s Beirut. While making a documentary film about the reconstruction of downtown Beirut, Maya Amer stumbles upon a battered leather suitcase that will change her life forever. Inside it she finds letters, photographs, a diary, and an envelope labeled: Letters from Istanbul. The Weight of Paradise is both the story of Maya and her discovery, and also the story of the owner of these papers, Noura Abu Sawwan. A journalist, Noura fled Syria just before the Lebanese civil war to find greater freedom of expression. But as we learn from her diaries, her flight was also precipitated by her family’s denial of her sister’s suicide after she fell pregnant by a mukhabarat officer. The diaries lead us through the turmoil of Noura’s life first in Syria and then in Beirut: her family’s resistance to political repression in her childhood and adolescence, the passionate love story she lived with Kemal Firat, her Turkish soul mate and the author of the Letters from Istanbul and her commitment to writing against injustice, including publishing her sister’s tragic story. A multi-voiced, multi-genre narration, The Weight of Paradise interweaves the stories of these two women and the people who surround them within the fabric of Beirut in the civil war and its immediate aftermath. A love story as well as a story of women’s liberation and political freedom, the novel is also the tale of a city and country torn apart by repression, occupation, and war. Beirut, Damascus, and Istanbul are shown as vibrant locations where people resist state violence trying to live and thrive together across linguistic, ethnic, religious, and communitarian differences.

The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence, 1914-1948 (New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux/Hill & Wang, 2016) focuses on the life of Fawzi al-Qawuqji, the Arab nationalist and soldier who served as an officer in the Ottoman army during World War I; fought against the French in Syria during the rebellion of 1925-1927; fought against the British in Palestine during the Palestinian Revolt of 1936-39, and again in Iraq during the Rashid ‘Ali Coup of 1941; lived in exile in Nazi Germany during World War II; and led the Arab Salvation Army (Jaysh al-inqâdh) against the Haganah/IDF during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Using Qawuqji’s own archive to construct a detailed and carefully contextualized narrative of the journey that he made through certain moments, Parsons offers a glimpse of the complexity and contingency of the historical worlds he inhabited. The book has already been reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly (starred review), Kirkus, Booklist, and the New Yorker. It will also come out in the UK in January with Saqi Books.

Understanding how medieval textual cultures engaged with the heritage of antiquity (transmission and translation) depends on recognizing that reception is a creative cultural act (transformation). The essays in this volume focus on the people, societies and institutions who were doing the transmitting, translating, and transforming — the “agents”. The subject matter ranges from medicine to astronomy, literature to magic, while the cultural context encompasses Islamic and Jewish societies, as well as Byzantium and the Latin West. What unites these studies is their attention to the methodological and conceptual challenges of thinking about agency. Not every agent acted with an agenda, and agenda were sometimes driven by immediate needs or religious considerations that while compelling to the actors, are more opaque to us. What does it mean to say that a text becomes “available” for transmission or translation? And why do some texts, once transmitted, fail to thrive in their new milieu? This collection thus points toward a more sophisticated “ecology” of transmission, where not only individuals and teams of individuals, but also social spaces and local cultures, act as the agents of cultural creativity.

Call for papers: an international Conference on “Religion and the State”

Tue, 11/08/2016 - 13:01

The Arab Association of Constitutional Law and the Tunisian Association of Constitutional Law, with the support of the “Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change” at Harvard Law School, will be holding an international conference in Tunisia during 24-25 March 2017.  The conference title will be: “Religion and the State”.  In order to inform the discussions that will be taking place at the conference, the organisers are commissioning a number of papers, covering the following issues:

1.   Islam and the State

1.1 Post-2011 constitutional negotiations: Since 2011, the debates that took place over the role of Islam in Arab constitutions have frequently been controversial.  This paper should investigate the different methods that were used in the constitution-drafting processes. What are the constitutional options available to Muslim-majority countries in successfully negotiating this issue?

1.2 Secularism, Islam and constitutional law: This paper should survey whether constitutions in Muslim-majority countries currently feature or should feature counter-majoritarian safeguards designed to counteract the potential for theocratic encroachment.  It should also examine what the purpose of such safeguards should be, and in particular whether they can serve the purpose of transitioning towards state secularism within these countries’ constitutions or separating religion and politics.  The paper should also discuss how the relationship between religion and state is worded in comparative practice, particularly to protect state institutions and citizens’ rights from encroachment by religion.

1.3  Islam, democracy and human rights: Most muslim-majority states officially recognise Islam as the state religion and also enshrine liberal democratic principles within their constitutions, even as the larger debate over their compatibility continues. This paper should assess a) the empirical relation between Islamist governance and human rights and/or b) interpretive approaches that have been invoked at times by various state actors in order to reconcile the two.

2.    Islamic Constitutionalism

2.1 Islamic lawmaking: Many Islamic constitutions include a clause establishing “shari’a” or “principles of shari’a” as a/the primary source of legislation. This paper should discuss how legislatures and other lawmaking bodies have interpreted this mandate and how they have translated shari’a and the various schools of shari’a thought (madhahib) into unified, civic codes of law.

2.2 Judicial review: Just as it is empowered to review legislation generally for constitutional compliance, the judicial branch is tasked with holding the legislature accountable to shari’a supremacy clauses. In several states, however, the executive reserves the right to restrain or override this power. This paper should explore the methodology, independence, and activism of the judiciary in its exercise of this privilege along with the complementary checks wielded by the political branches. If appropriate, it might compare Islamic judicial review to more conventional forms of constitutional review or comment upon its impact on society.

2.3 The role of religious institutions: Some scholars have argued that Islamic jurists (ulama’) comprise a “fourth branch” of government in states founded upon Islamic principles. Depending on the state, clerics have alternately been granted sweeping executive authority, limited autonomy over certain religious matters adjudicated in specialized courts, or merely an advisory role to lay judges and lawmakers. In what circumstances is it appropriate to either reserve legal issues to the exclusive jurisdiction of the ulama’ or to seek their input?

3.   Islam and Social Cohesion

3.1 Religious freedom: This paper should discuss whether full religious freedom and equality is possible under Islamic rule, focusing on the condition of religious minorities and/or secularists. It should confront issues such as communitarian notions of citizenship, vestiges of the Ottoman millet system, blasphemy and apostasy laws, equality before the law, and conflict of religious law.

3.2 Women’s rights: This paper should examine the current status of and prospects for women’s rights under Islamic-influenced constitutional systems, engaging in debates surrounding areas such as family and inheritance law, modesty requirements, and political inclusion. It might also explore the avenues Muslim women have taken to advocate for their rights.

Application instructions

Individuals who are interested in participating in the conference must submit an abstract in accordance with the following instructions:

  1. If you are interested in carrying out any of the above studies, please send an abstract to conferences@dustour.org no later than 17:00 Tunis time on 18 November 2016.  Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words, which includes the research methodology and the main research question that will be addressed in the study.  Applicants should also send their CVs, including a list of publications, with their abstracts.
  2. Abstracts may be submitted by individuals, co-authors or institutions.  Membership in the Arab Association of Constitutional Law is not a requirement.
  3. Abstracts and papers are strongly encouraged to adopt a comparative approach.  Abstracts and papers that focus on individual countries will still be considered.
  4. Individuals from outside the Arab region who wish to submit an abstract that focuses on developments that are taking place outside the Arab region are encouraged to do so, while ensuring that all discussions are aimed towards furthering and enriching the discussion in the Arab region on the topics set out above.
  5. Abstracts may be submitted in Arabic or English.

The individuals who will be selected to carry out the above studies will be required to prepare oral presentations summarizing their findings at the conference.

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