Sharia Source

SHARIAsource is a flagship research venture of the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School.

The mission of this programme is organizing information available from all over the world about Islamic law in an accessible and useful manner. SHARIAsource is not a religious organization nor does it advocate any particular group or institution. It concentrates on academic principles and involvement by including diversity of various perspectives, peer-reviewed analysis and free and open exchange of ideas.

SHARIAsource creates a platform of storing Islamic law’s primary sources and it cooperates with various team of editors from all over the globe; moreover it provides the opportunity for people to analyze critically the mentioned sources and it also promotes research in order to shed light on academic as well as public discourse about Islamic law.

Their well-organized and classified portal provides access to cutting-edge content and context regarding Islamic law. Through this portal numerous resources can be browsed by Topics & Themes; Geographic Regions, Empires & Eras; Editors and Contributors and Document Types (ex.: Historical/Contemporary primary sources, Expert Analysis, legal documents, etc.). In addition to providing access to full text documents, the number of available resources associated to each category is presented as well which can be very useful to academics, journalist and policy makers.

Additionally readers who are interested to know about special events and news, their blog provides them with useful information in that regards.

“SHARIAsource was developed with support from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and from the Luce and MacArthur Foundations.”

 

Science Teaching in Pre-Modern Societies, May 24-26, 2018

The McGill Centre of Islamic and Science and Institute of Islamic Studies co-organize a workshop entitled Science Teaching in Pre-Modern Societies from May 24 to 26 2018. This two-days event will bring together scholars from all over the World, including Canada, the United States, Turkey, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, etc.

The four panels will focus on Science Teaching in cross-cultural perspective, Science Teaching and the religious context, Science Textbooks and the “Science of the Stars”, and Epistemological Foundations of Science teaching. The full program, abstracts, and speakers biographies can be found here.

“This workshop is part of an international collaborative project entitled “Science Teaching in Pre‐Modern and Modern Islamic Societies: Pedagogical Approaches in Religious, Institutional, and Geographical Contexts,” with funding from a SSHRC partnership development grant, plus additional support from 3 partner institutions: the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (MPIWG); Medeniyet University, Istanbul; and the University of California, Berkeley.”

Syrian Print Archive

Syrian Prints Archive  is an independent documentary initiative “without any political, partisan or religious affiliations”, that provides archiving and storing services for Syrian print media issued since the outbreak of the March 2011 Revolution, regardless of content or orientations. Between March 2011 and the end of 2014, Syrian media witnessed a significance rise in the number of print publications.

These publications showcase the development of Syrian media and represent the new attempts at pluralism in Syria. Furthermore, the intellectual, social, political, economic and literary content of Syrian print publications is an important part of Syria’s recent memory, which documents a significant stage of the country’s history.

However, approximately 70% of these publications are no longer published due to various factors such as printing, technical or marketing problems, as well as a lack of reliable and stable host platforms. The value of these publications and their preservation were among the initial incentives to preserve and provide access to this huge collection. In November 2014, the website Syrian Prints Archive was officially launched during the first conference of Syrian Journalist Association in Gaziantep, sponsored by NPA.

This archive provides various interesting and helpful browsing and searching features. Aside from being fully text searchable, the site offers other useful search criteria. Searches can be conducted using titles and personal names along with complete references to associated articles and a number of related publications. Moreover this archives presents a variety of informatics info-graphs containing useful statistics on Syrian print publications.

أرشيف المجلات الادبية والثقافية العربية

 أرشيف المجلات الدبية والثقافية العربية This is an open access archive of various Arabic resources, containing digitized journals, books and articles from all over the Arab world.

This archive aims to preserve Arabic literature and cultural heritage as well as serving research and educational purposes. For that reason, a great number of journals (201), books (20,996) and articles (268,065) have been digitized. The collection covers a long period of time, ranging from journals dated in 1876 up to the present from different countries such as, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, and Algeria.

أرشيف المجلات الادبية والثقافية العربية is a searchable archive. Journals can be browsed by title and books are listed based on the author’s name.

Some of the important titles available on this database are as follows (some are available at McGill, Islamic Studies Library):

المقتطف from 1876 to 1952;  At Islamic studies library

الهلال from 1892 to 2007;  At Islamic studies library

المشرق from 1989 to 1914;  At Islamic studies library

لغة العرب from 1911 to 1931;  At Islamic studies library

الكرمل from 1981 to 2009;  At Islamic studies library

New arrivals April 2018

David Mason. Investigating Turkey: detective fiction and Turkish nationalism, 1928-1945

Brighton, MA: Academic Studies Press, 2017. 180 pages

This unique interpretive study seeks to examine aspects of the building of the modern Turkish Nation. In particular the transmission of Kemalist Turkish Nationalism at the level of popular detective fiction. (Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1939) – Military/Political leader; First President of Turkey). Mason argues that nationalist concepts and ideas were disseminated through the medium of this literature. After introducing the genre of detective fiction, the works of five Turkish authors are analysed and found to promote such Kemalist concepts as: 1) Hardwork or Industrious; 2) Physically fit; 3) Feminist in perspective (All Turks are to participate in the nation); 4) Rationalist; and 5) Patriotic. The book represents an approach to cultural historical studies in which publications are viewed as ‘events.’ These ‘events’ provide access to a cross section of Turkish society including values, mores and the worldview of regular citizens, or at least, attempts to shape and direct popular beliefs about what it means to be a Turk under Ataturk’s vision of the Turkish Republic.

David Mason 1971-2017 completed his PhD (2011) at the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University. He was a friend and colleague.

 


Peter Schadler. John of Damascus and Islam: Christian heresiology and the intellectual background to earliest Christian-Muslim relations

Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2018. 264 pages

John of Damascus and Islam is the 34th volume in Brill’s series on the History of Christian-Muslim relations. A summary from the back cover: How did Islam come to be considered a Christian heresy? In this book, Peter Schadler outlines the intellectual background of the Christian Near East that led John, a Christian serving in the Damascus court of the caliph Abd al-Malik (685-705), to categorize Islam as a heresy. Schadler shows that different uses of the term heresy persisted among Christians, and then demonstrates that John’s assessment of the beliefs and practices of Muslims has been mistakenly dismissed on assumptions he was highly biased. By analyzing John of Damascus’ small work entitled ‘On Heresies 100’, Schadler proposes that the practices and beliefs John ascribes to Islam have analogues in the Islamic tradition, proving that John may well represent an accurate picture of Islam as he knew it in the seventh and eighth centuries in Syria and Palestine.

Schadler also includes the Greek text and English translation of ‘On Heresies 100’, which was part of John of Damascus’ larger work on heresies and offers an insightful tabulation of potential Qur’anic references in ‘On Heresies 100’. Schadler’s work is an important offering on the nascent relations between Christians and Muslims.

 

Memories of the Suez Canal / ذاكرة قناة السويس

Memories of the Suez Canal is an open archive co-curated by Bibliotheca Alexandrina and its International School of Information, the French “Archives Nationales du monde , and the “Association du Souvenir de Ferdinand de Lesseps et du Canal de Suez“.This digital collection makes available archival materials, published books, photographs ,maps, and videos documenting the architectural and technical challenges, as the political implications, and the social and human impact of building the canal between 1869 and 1956.

Documents in French and Arabic can be browsed using the top menu or searched via the search box available on each page. The definition of images is not exceptional but good enough to read.

The website in only in Arabic.

Al-Tafhim li Awa’il Sana’at al-Tanjim (The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology)

Al-Tafhim li Awa’il Sana’at al-Tanjim (التفهيم لاوائل صناعة التنجيم) is a Persian book of instruction in the elements of the Art of Astrology written by a celebrated Iranian scientist Abu- Rayhan al-Biruni, in 440-362HD/ 973-1048 AD.  It is one of the oldest texts in Mathematics and Astrology and has had a deep scientific influence on the world since most Iranian and non-Iranian scientists have made use of this text in their scientific works and papers.

The global significance and values of this book made it to be recognized as an outstanding World Documented Heritage by UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme and in 2011 its oldest existing manuscript in Persian was inscribed on UNESCO’s list of documented heritage. (More information and Nomination file about this manuscripts is accessible here)

The main purpose of Al-Tafhim li Awa’il Sana’at al- Tanjim is to introduce the principles of astrology. The book begins with geometry and arithmetic and continues with astronomy and chronology, moreover Biruni explains the use of the astrolabe for astronomical and astrological purposes. This book consists of 530 questions and answers in an understandable manner for new learners of science. Each new topic starts with a question posed by an imaginary student and ends in an answer by an invented professor. Biruni wrote this book responding to Reyhanah’s request – the daughter of Hussein/Hassan Khwarizmi in 420 HD/ 1029 AD.

What makes this book particularly precious and adds to its rarity is its scientific and linguistic significance, its physical specification and the time of its transcription – less than hundred years after author’s death.

From the linguistic point of view this self-study on Astrology is considered an important work in Persian language since Biruni used the most original and oldest terms and expressions of the Persian language regarding history, traditions and chronology of the Iranians in this book. Moreover Abu- Rayhan al- Biruni used some figures and drawings in order to explain difficult mathematical and astrological concepts in a simplified manner; both the figures and the script were written in bright red and black color.

This manuscript has been digitized by National Library and Archives of Iran and is available on DVD and can be accessed at Islamic Studies Library at McGill.

 

New Arrivals at the Islamic Studies Library – March 2018

Throughout the year the Islamic Studies Library acquires numerous resources, books and journals (print and electronic formats),  all of which contribute to the depth of the collection.

Here we highlight just two works recently received.


Nicolai Sinai. The Qur’an: a historical-critical introduction
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017.

Originally published in German (Der Koran: Eine Einführung Stuttgart: Reclam, 2017), Nicolai Sinai’s 2017 English translation now grants access to a wider audience interested in a critical academic introduction to the Qur’an. At 242 pages, the work offers a concise introduction to the “basic methods and current state of historical-critical Qur’anic scholarship”. The author surveys the historical background by briefly introducing basic features of the Qur’an along with Muhammad and the milieu of the time, before moving to Part Two to discuss critical methodology. While Part Two deals with literary coherence, inner Qur’anic chronology and the broader intertextuality of Jewish and Christian contributions, Sinai completes his analysis in application to selected themes found in the Meccan and Medina Surahs. The absence of a concluding chapter to summarise his work does not negate the value of his contributions. If you are interested in academic Qur’anic studies, then Sinai’s book is a must read.

The Islamic Studies Library holds a wide range of works related to Qur’anic studies in a number of languages. The collection is accessible to the public.

 


Francisco del Río Sánchez. Arabic manuscripts in the Maronite Library of Aleppo (Syria) Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona Edicions, 2017

 

Offered as the third of three volumes, all of which detail the manuscript holdings in the Maronite Library of Aleppo, this last volume completes the catalogue inventory (more than 1640 items). The first two volumes respectively catalogued manuscripts in Syriac and Karshuni (Arabic using the Syriac alphabet) with the final volume devoted to Arabic manuscripts. This latest volumes covers 1596 Arabic manuscripts, along with 50 images and includes an index for all three volumes (manuscripts in Arabic, Latin Script, Greek, Syriac and Karshuni). Aside from ecclesiastical works such as Biblical texts, theology, history and philosophy, the collection also contains works from Muslim authors which reflect the needs and interests of the local community between the 16th and 18th centuries and beyond.

The Islamic Studies Library houses numerous catalogues of manuscripts in a variety of Islamic languages. Manuscripts that are held at McGill can be found at Rare Books and Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences library.

 

New Exhibition: If Walls Could Speak: the History of Morrice Hall

If Morrice Hall’s walls could speak, you would hear the story of faculty and students of the Presbyterian College of Montreal, of wounded soldiers returning from war overseas, and of members of the International Labour Organization seeking a safe space to work during war-time.

Morrice Hall interior during International Labour Organization occupation (1940)

Today home to McGill’s Islamic Studies Library, the Institute of Islamic Studies, and the English department’s Tuesday Night Cafe Theatre, Morrice Hall was built in 1882, as a home for the Presbyterian College. Named in honour of David Morrice, then-Chairman of the College’s Board of Management and generous donator of $80,000, Morrice Hall was an extension to the original College building, itself built in 1873.

Drawing of Morrice Hall – Presbyterian College Journal, vol. 5, no. 3 (1885), p. 86

Presenting a mixture of photos, publications, plans, and maps spanning 135 years, If Walls Could Speak will take you through the major moments in the history of Morrice Hall: from its foundation, to expansion, to the interruptions of war, to the demolition of the original building and the renovations that created the space we know in 2018.

Curated by Islamic Studies Library’ staff -Ghazaleh Ghanavizchian, Jillian Mills, Anaïs Salamon-, this exhibit offers a unique experience making materials discoverable simultaneously in a physical display and on a touch table.

Touch Table Exhibit capture (2018) – credit: Greg Houston


Title: If walls could speak: the History of Morrice Hall
Dates: February 19, 2018-July 15, 2018, during opening hours
Location: Islamic Studies Library, 1st floor of Morrice Hall

Sanduq el-Dunia

Sanduq el- Dunia [literally “the box of the world”, meaning “the box of life”] ** is an interactive website that acts as a gateway to Cairo where its historical and future developments are debated, discussed and dreamed about, and where the art technology revives different layers of the city’s history and memory. Sanduq el-Dunia offers an exceptional experience of Cairo’s history by digitally navigating its past also this digital platform allows public to build a dynamic connection to their heritage.
Sanduq el-Dunia enables users to preview and explore the existing database of images, as well as the opportunity to contribute to the database by uploading their own images. It contains images reflecting both ancient and modern Cairo.

The idea of creating Sanduq El-Dunia dates back to Egypt’s 25 January revolution in 2011. The images and stories from Tahrir Square formed the inspiration for this project with the idea that “culture is for all” and the objective to “democratize the production of a collective memory, history and knowledge”.

This project is presented on two platforms:

  • The first is the website that acts as an interactive platform with a mini cityscape
  • The second platform –mini Sanduq el-Dunia– presents an interactive preview wall on a 75” touchscreen.

Two main collaborative partners in this project with Sanduq el-Dunia are the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI) and the Commercial International Bank (CIB). DEDI is located in Cairo and is an intergovernmental body with the goal of promoting political and cultural understanding between Denmark and Egypt and between Europe and the Arab World; The Commercial International Bank (CIB) one of the leading private banks in Egypt.

Sanduq el-Dunia’s mission is to:

  • “Create an interactive, innovative and multidimensional public platform that reflects the cultural and natural diversity of Cairo, its inhabitants, and their living memory
  • Celebrate and highlight the immense and diverse riches in archaeology, architecture, arts, culture and social-political movements, amongst others present in Cairo.
  • Build strong networks among all stakeholders (governmental, cultural institutions, civil society organizations, businesses, educational institutions, artists, Galleries) and democratize the production of and access to collective memory, history, and knowledge.”

The way that Sanduq el Dunia chose to approach the history and culture of the city is influenced by an award-winning project called the “Wall/ Næggen” produced by the Museum of Copenhagen with Gibson Group.

Below one can watch the Sanduq el- Dunia project in Copenhagen:

**Sanduq el-Dunia refers to a well-known form of play (story telling) in the Arab world-which was presented in days past yet continues until today- this form of play works with “schematized, visually abstracted figures, and partly improvised dialogues.” It is linked to an older theatrical performance called shadow play, which is usually being played during occasions, such as private celebrations or religious holidays in cafes. More information in this regard can be found in the following resources:

Shafik, Viola 1998. Arab Cinema History and Cultural I. American University of Cairo, Egypt. link

Haghani, Fakhri, “The “New Woman” on the Stage: The Making of a Gendered Public Sphere in Interwar Iran and Egypt.” Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2008. Link