A selection of electronic resources for Islamic, Middle East and South Asia studies

AMIR (Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources) “began as a consequence of a series of conversations in 2010 between Charles Jones and Peter Magierski at New York University about the need for a tool to assemble and distribute information on open access material relating to the Middle East.” As of March 2020, it includes over 1,300 posts describing Open Access resources relevant for Islamic and Middle East studies.

Arabic Collections Online (ACO) “is a publicly available digital library of public domain Arabic language content. ACO currently provides digital access to 12,810 volumes across 7,469 subjects drawn from rich Arabic collections of distinguished research libraries.”

Bibliothèques d’Orient is a collaborative digital library (15 partners) making accessible more than 10,000 historical and scholarly documents.

Hathi Trust “is a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries preserving 17+ million digitized items. HathiTrust offers reading access to the fullest extent allowable by U.S. copyright law, computational access to the entire corpus for scholarly research, and other emerging services based on the combined collection.”

Internet Archives is a not-for-profit digital library of Internet sites, books and texts, audio recordings, videos and images, and software programs. It provide free access to billions of resources.

The Library of Congress digitized a large part of their collections making them available for free on their website that includes archival and historical materials, manuscripts and rare books, music, videos and much more.

BIBLIOTECA NACIONAL DE ESPAÑA – BIBLIOTECA DIGITAL HISPÁNICA

The Hispanic Digital Library is the digital library of the Biblioteca Nacional de España. It provides access free of charge to thousands of digitized documents, including books printed from the 15th to the 20th century, manuscripts, drawings, engravings, pamphlets, posters, photographs, maps, atlases, music scores, historic newspapers and magazines and audio recordings.

When it was launched in January 2008, the HDL had around 10,000 works. Today it comprises more than 222,000 titles (as of January of 2020) works on all topics in all documentary forms, freely accessible from anywhere in the world.

The Hispanic Digital Library has 212 digitized Arabic documents that are worthwhile exploring, divided into the following material type:

  • 134 manuscripts
  • 75 books
  • 2 cartographic material
  • 1 hand-written music

Corán [Manuscrito], Date: entre 1101 y 1200? Subject: Manuscritos iluminados

There are 9 drawings on lacquered hard cardboard dated between [1800-1899] classified by language: Irani, in addition to 4 documents in Persa Antiguo and Persa Moderno.

 

 

 

 

 

Documents are organized according to three basic access methods, in addition to the traditional simple and advanced searches:

  • Access by topic, in keeping with the Universal Decimal Classification structure
  • By type of material
  • Featured collections, due to their relevance, interest, attraction or importance

The website is available in Spanish, English and French, in addition to other languages spoken in Spain.

 

Persian Heritage magazine

Persian Heritage Magazine is an independent, non-political, non-governmental publication first published in 1996 by Shahrokh Ahkami, the Editor.

Persian heritage is a quarterly publishing magazine about culture and history of Iran. It is trying to respond to its readers’ need -Iranian outside of Iran- by keeping them informed with update information on the richness and diversity of Iranian culture and heritage, as well as to facilitate inter-cultural interaction by reaching to those non-Persians yet interested in Persian heritage.

 

 

Therefore every issue of the magazine is being published in Farsi and English and covers various topics from Arts and culture (miniature, poetry,etc.) to prehistoric findings in Iran as well as reviewing recent exhibition in or about Iran’s history and culture.

 

 

This magazine is published by Persian Heritage, INC. The online version is freely accessible.

King George III’s Collection of military Maps

King George III’s collection of military maps includes 3,000 maps, drawings and prints, collected by him but also by other individuals. The two main collections he acquired are that of his uncle, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721–65), and that of the Italian art patron Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588–1657). In addition to these, George III acquired hundreds of maps of contemporary conflicts.

The Royal Collection Trust whose mandate is to look after the British Royal Collection, recently digitized this military maps and created a digital collection. Although focusing primarily on European conflicts, the collection includes a significant number of maps of the Ottoman Empire, North Africa and South Asia. The main navigation map (below) allows visitors to navigate the collection by geographical area.

But the collection is also discoverable by time period or conflict:

Collections of particular interest to Islamic, Middle East, and South Asian studies scholars are the following:

The materials can be opened directly in the web browser or in the detailed object viewer shared. They can also be shared (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email) and downloaded in very high definition.

Tripoli [Libya] Città di Barbaria, cosi detta … [there follows a description of its geographical position and summary of its history:]… è fatta una fortezza per guardia del porto qual fortezza del anno 1630… Nouamente il Duca… 1630 or later

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.

Review by Charles Fletcher, PhD


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.