New Ebook in Honour of Dr. Donald P. Little now available

Professor Emeritus Donald P. Little (1932-2017) spent his career at McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies as Professor of Islamic History and Arabic Language. During these years, he not only published and taught, but also advised and guided numerous students in their research. In honour of his influence, Sami Massoud (editor) along with nine other scholars combined their efforts to produce a work in Islamic Historiography, divided into three sections.

The first, Classical Historiography, deals with … “the production of historical works in Arabic that narrate events that took place in the past, from the hands of recognized authors belonging to identifiable traditions of writing who lived in the Arab heartland of the medieval Islamic world.” The second section, Sacred History, features three essays that deal … “with histories that differ in style and purpose from those that fall within the realm of classical historiography.” This category addresses the voices of distinct sectarian and group identities of people who were either on the fringes of the Muslim heartland or minorities in their Islamic milieus. The final section, Perspectives, “offers two essays with fresh approaches to historiography” ranging from an examination of documentary sources to methodological approaches to the field.

These works reflect the intellectual presence of the man they seek to honour. A Professor, who not only shaped my understanding of Islamic History, but who also, rose to be a friend.

Sami Massoud, Editor. Studies in Islamic Historiography: Essays in Honour of Professor Donald P. Little. Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2020. 278 pages. https://mcgill.on.worldcat.org/oclc/1122685937

Islamic Medical Manuscripts at the National Library of Medicine

Islamic Medical Manuscripts is a project of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest library of the health sciences.

“The National Library of Medicine has one of the three greatest collections of Islamic medical manuscripts in the world and some of them are the only ones in existence,” says Dr. Emilie Savage-Smith.

The text for this website was written by Dr. Savage-Smith, Senior Research Associate, The Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, Pusey Lane, Oxford OX1 2LE, England. As one of the leading historians of medieval Islamic medicine, Dr. Savage-Smith has written extensively about the history of anatomy, surgery, dissection, pharmacy and ophthalmology. an American scholar from Oxford University and one of the world’s foremost authorities on Islamic medicine.

This site, with its biographies, colorful images, and extensive historical accounts of medieval medicine and science, provides students and advanced scholars an opportunity to learn about Islamic medicine and science during the Middle Ages and the important role it played in the history of Europe.

Over 300 or so Persian and Arabic manuscripts are available in the National Library of Medicine. Most of these manuscripts deal with medieval medicine and science and were written for learned physicians and scientists. Some of the manuscripts are richly illuminated and illustrated.

Where to start?

  • Medieval Islam: A brief introduction to the history of Islamic medicine and and its role in European history choose
  • Catalogue: To browse entries for individual manuscripts and their illustrations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Bio-Bibliographies: To find biographies of important Islamic physicians, surgeons, and scholars, as well as suggestions for further research

  • GlossaryTo find out the meaning of historical terms relating to medieval medicine and book making

  • Abbreviations.: To find complete bibliographical information about books and articles referred to in the entries

The Islamic achievements in this area, as well as in anatomy and surgery, led European teachers and practitioners to translate the hundreds of Arabic and Persian medical tracts into Latin and then into French, Italian, and English. In a very real sense, the European tradition of medical science and practice, which has now spread world-wide, owes a great debt to Avicenna, al-Nafis, Rhazis, Abulcasis and other Islamic practitioners and scholars.

EurekAlert! Science News Releases

 

 

Oriental Manuscripts @ SLUB

The Saxon State and University Library Dresden (SLUB) is a research library in Germany and its Oriental Manuscript collection houses a great collection of 448 Islamic manuscripts. The collection of Ottoman manuscripts was acquired by the library in the 18th and 19th century. This collection also consists of Tibetan and Mongolian as well as Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Sanskrit, Hebraic and Ethiopian manuscripts.

Some of the manuscripts in this collection are unique in terms of integrity of the item or rarity of its content for example. Below is the list of few items that was introduced as “Extraordinary Volumes” by the SLUB along with a description of the manuscript and a link to its digitized version.

 

Kitab-i Dede Korkut (Mscr.Dresd.Ea.86): The only fully preserved manuscript narrating national epic of the Oguzes, a nomadic Turkish tribe.

Mulana Fuzûli, Benk u Bâde (Mscr.Dresd.Eb.362): An Ottoman poem, written on rose paper, narrating a dispute about rank between wine and hash (cannabis).

Kemāl Paša-Zāde: Tevârîh-i Âl-i Osmân (Mscr.Dresd.Eb.391): The story of the Ottomans in a two-volume manuscript with 25 depictions of cities, fortifications and harbor facilities.

Seyyid Loqmān, Qiyā-fet al-insānīyeh fī shemā’il othmanīyeh (Mscr.Dresd.Eb.373): Book of the Ottoman Characteristics, containing 12 portraits of Turkish sultans.

Machsor mecholl haschana (Mscr.Dresd.A.46.a): Jewish prayer book for the High Holidays, in Southern German handwriting from the end of the 13th century.

Moreoverو “Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum orientalium Bibliothecae Regiae Dresdensis”, is the inventory of most of Islamic manuscripts except the new acquisitions. This index was published in Leipzig in 1831 by Heinrich Leberecht Fleischer (1801-1888) and is available from here diglib.hab.de/wdb.php

Ibadi Studies: ibadi history & manuscript culture / دراسات إباضية

Ibadi Studies is a research blog launched in 2013 and maintained by Dr. Paul Love, a Historian teaching North African, Middle Eastern, and Islamic History at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (AUI), Morocco. Interested in  the Ibadi communities as well as in manuscript studies, libraries, and intellectual history, Dr. Love is the author of a monograph entitled Ibadi Muslims of North Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2018). According to his profile on the blog, he is currently working on a new publication on the history of the Ibadi community in the post-formative period in Cairo.

Although focused exclusively on one scholar’s research, Ibadi Studies remains an interesting resource for anyone interested in the topic. The main thread displays numerous call for papers, conferences and workshops announcements, and articles about manuscripts or lithographs housed all over the world (including the McGill Library, see image below).

The Library Catalogs & Inventories section dedicated to listing existing catalogues of Ibadi manuscripts and rare books, thus far includes lists for libraries in Djerba (Tunisia), Lviv (Ukraine), and Naples (Italy).

The blog is in English, but some posts have abstracts in Arabic.

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For those of you curious about the McGill Library Ibadi holdings, here’s a detailed list with links to full bibliographic records:

Al Jazeera Arabic Learning

Al Jazeera Arabic Learning is a free open educational site, launched in 2013, affiliated with the Al Jazeera Media Institute.  The site represents Al Jazeera Network’s vision in promoting communication between people and cultures. This educational site aims to teach and spread the Arabic language as a bridge for human communication and cultural understanding.

The site contains various educational materials divided into two main themes Language of the Media and General Language. These materials are available in three language levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced) to develop the basic language skills of learners (speaking, listening, reading, writing).

Users can choose their preferred language interface as it is available in English, French and Turkish.

To maximize the learning experience from this site, first time users should take the  Arabic Level Test (available on the site). The test result will guide the user in choosing the appropriate educational materials that matches his/her language level.

The site provides distinguished interactive electronic services to its visitors, including:

  • A dictionary service to search for the meanings of words and phrases

  • An Arabic vocalization service

  • Question and answer service that allows the user to send questions and receive answers.

  • Blogging service that allows teachers to spread their thoughts and opinions related to the Arabic language

  • Morphological analysis service to know the origins of words and their morphological structures.
  • Formation service for text formation and tuning.

What do Arabic Learners think of Al Jazeera Arabic Learning site?

Watch this video .

 

A manuscript from Morocco, Al-Zahrāwīsur’s 30th manuscript volume: ‘Surgery’

In the Umayyad era, during the 11th century, Al-Zahrāwī, H̱alaf ibn ‘Abbās Abū al-Qāsim, known in the west as Abulcasis (936-1013?), was a distinguished Andalusian Arabic physician. One of his most well known contribution in the field of medicine is an encyclopaedia called “Al-Taṣrīf liman ‘aǧiza ‘an al-Ta’līf”.  This masterpiece comprises of thirty books covering various medical topics, starting with general medical information, continues with theories, pharmacology, diagnosis, therapeutics and ends with surgery and instruments.

This manuscript is housed at the Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc (BNRM) (National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco).  Volume 30th  of this work, the manuscript about surgery, is the most important and the highlight of this document and the reason to its world significance.

What is particularly interesting about this last part of Al-Zahrāwīsur’s work is that, it is a unique heritage to humanity because of its script, antiquity, colored drawings, Andalusian calligraphy and its historical values “as it is to the best of our knowledge, the oldest in the world: AH 610/1213”.

Moreover, what makes this manuscript so exceptional and irreplaceable, is because it is considered to be the first work in the history of surgery to provide surgical explanations and instruments all illustrated in colour. All these values made this document to be a good candidate to be listed as a World Documentary Heritage on UNESCO’ Memory of the World Programme registry, in 2016 it was nominated by Morocco and was inscribed in 2017.

The values of this manuscript:

– It is devoted entirely to the subject of surgery.

– It has influenced the work of surgeons in both the East and West for several centuries.

– It is an important reference to the surgical profession.

– It is the first work in surgical history to provide illustrations and explanations of surgical instruments, many of which were invented by al-Zahrāwīsur himself.

– It has been translated into several languages.

 

“Due to its great importance, this book has, for five centuries, remained part of the surgery programmes at the Universities of Salerne and Montpellier.”

Moreover, besides its World Significance, some historical values add up to the importance of this manuscripts:

The author of the manuscript is a perfect reflection of his time. The period in which al- Zahrāwī studied medicine in Cordoba coincides with the rise of Arabic Medicine as represented by these great physicians: Ibn Sina in Isfahan, Al Baghdadi in Damascus, Ibn an Nafis and Ibn Abi Usaybia in Cairo, Ishaq Ibn Imran and Ibn Al Jazza in Kairouan and the renowned Averroes and Abulcasis (al-Zahrāwī) in Cordoba, of Tolido, Seville and Zaragoza, the last of whom rapidly distinguished himself in the field of surgery.

Related materials/sources available at McGill Library can be found here.

Consult resource: Manuscript’s Nomination Form on Memory of the World Programme.

Lekh: an online review of books on South Asia

Launched in 2017, Lekh is a blog publishing reviews of books focusing on contemporary South Asia co-edited by Karthik Nachiappan (PhD in South Asian Studies, King’s College London) and Hassan Javid (PhD in Sociology, London School of Economics & Political Science).

Editors felt the need for such a platform because of the “intellectual insularity” resulting from the dispersion of the scholarship on South Asia “across several fields and disciplines – history, law, political science, international relations, public policy, sociology, anthropology, and economics.” Lekh aimed at becoming a place where scholars and litterateurs working in the field of South Asian Studies could share  scholarship and exchange with peers.

Unfortunately, Lekh published very few book reviews in two years, never started the announced podcast, and seems to be struggling to generate interest and engagement from other scholars. That said, published book reviews are lengthy, well written and documented by recognized South Asian Studies scholars. For this reason, this blog remains an valuable initiative deserving South Asian Studies’ specialists’ attention.

If you are interested in submitting book reviews, you can refer to the guidelines, and if you would like to be advised of Lekh‘s developments, you can follow them on twitter , subscribe to their RSS feed, or register to receive email notifications.

 

Arabian Gulf Digital Archive

The Arabian Gulf Digital Archive (“AGDA”) is an online archive that showcases historical and cultural materials from the Arabian Gulf. The contents span two centuries and offer an insight into the past with some material previously unseen by the general public.

The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates (“NA”) collects documents of special historical value to the UAE, Gulf Cooperation Council states and the Arabian Peninsula, both from within the UAE and from abroad. The original documents often exist in archives not located within the Gulf region, making access difficult for those who don’t know where to look. AGDA presents electronic copies of these records along with tools to search, tag and download them.

AGDA contains, among other things, letters, memos, transcripts, photos and official correspondence from leaders and governments that shaped the events of their time.

AGDA is open and free to view and use by anyone. It makes primary source material, with descriptions in both Arabic and English, available to students, scholars, researchers and any interested members of the public.

  • It holds easy-to–use search filters, each with its own extensive list of additional search terms
  • It enables additional search functionality based on a selected date range
  • All search results can be downloaded, shared, bookmarked with any comments saved.

 

 

  • Results pages can be viewed as a single or multiple images, or as text and in various viewing formats
  • It is designed to aid accessibility for all users with tools to manipulate size, color and positioning of images and text
  • It is simple and intuitive functionality. It is also optimized using external search engines

 

 

Tips for Searching

  •     Use the keywords most relevant to your search, e.g. United Arab Emirates
  •     Use quotation marks to search for exact phrases, e.g. “United Arab Emirates”
  •     You can perform wildcard searches by using an asterisk ‘*’ (e.g. tele* will match documents containing telegram, telephone and telegraphic).
  •     Boolean operators: “united OR union AND arab emirates”
  •     Searches in English or Arabic will deliver identical results regardless of the language of the interface.

The Arabian Gulf Digital Archive website, “The Site” is wholly protected by copyright and is the property of the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates. To learn more, click here.

 

Digital collection @ National Library and Archive of Iran

National library and Archive of Iran (NLAI) is located in Tehran and was launched officially in 1937 but its collection dates back 150 years.

The present National Library of Iran houses many different collections from older libraries, including many rare and valuable manuscripts such as large numbers of manuscripts, old printed books, old itineraries from European tourists, documents, rare periodicals and materials in non-print forms.

The library is an educational, research, and service institution, aiming to acquire, organize and disseminate information published or produced in Iran or in the fields of Iranology and Islamic study in other countries. NLAI provides access to part of its massive collection through the Digital Collection, which consists of various collections of Manuscripts, lithograph, dissertations, newspapers, photographs, maps, documents and printed books.

Jadaliyya

Jadaliyya is an independent electronic magazine published by the Arab Studies Institute, a not-for-profit organization based in Beirut that produces knowledge on the Arab World .

English Interface

Far from the main-stream media and common perspectives, Jadaliyya offers original insight and critical analysis rooted in local knowledge, scholarship, and advocacy. Jadaliyya is supported by a dedicated team of volunteer contributors among whom a number of well-known academics, journalists, and intellectuals like Sinan Antoon and Bassam Haddad. With a bilingual interface (EnglishArabic), and articles in Arabic, French, English, and Turkish, Jadaliyya aims to reach out to a broad audience located in Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

Arabic interface

Jadaliyya contents can be browsed from the main page by country (Egypt, Palestine, Arabian Peninsula, Syria, Turkey, Maghreb) or by category (Refugees and Migrants, Cities, Culture, Law and Conflict, Political Economy, Pedagogy, Reviews, NEWTON, Reports, Media).

Articles can also be searched using the search window next to the categories (top menu), or discovered via the Jad Navigation page featuring “Recent stories”, “Jadaliyya recommends”, and “Arab Uprisings selections”.

“Pages” menu

The Pages menu at the top left corner of pages offers a wealth of information about the journal and its contributors. For questions or further information, you may visit the Contact Us page.