Center for Contemporary Islam

The Center for Contemporary Islam (CCI) is part of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town. CCI was founded in 1995 in response to the Department of Religious Studies’ mission to understand and study various aspects of religion in contemporary African society.  Many projects have been completed at CCI, whether independently or in collaboration with other scholars and institutes from all over the world. Projects  cover a wide range of topics related to Islam and Muslim society such as: Islamic Law in Africa; Religion, Culture and Identity in post-apartheid South Africa; Muslim Publics in Africa; Islam, Gender and Sexuality; Islam and Manuscript Cultures in sub-Saharan Africa; and Muslim Intellectuals in the Lake Chad Transnational Space.

One of the CCI’s objectives is to provide a platform from which researchers can share and reflect their ideas and thoughts about Islam and Muslims. This has led to the creation of two publications both with a focus on Islam in Africa:

  • The Journal for Islamic Studies (JIS) – a peer-reviewed publication accredited by the Department of Education (South Africa)
  • The Annual Review of Islam in Africa (ARIA) – a forum for young and established researchers to publish their findings in a shorter and accessible format.

JIS can be accessed through McGIll Library from here.

ARIA is also accessible online from 1998 to 2016 click here.

The Memory of Modern Egypt Project مشروع ذاكرة مصر المعاصرة

The Memory of Modern Egypt project is an attempt to create the largest digital library of materials of cultural and historical value related to the contemporary history of Egypt, beginning with the reign of Muhammad Ali in 1805 to the end of President Sadat in 1981.

The digitized collection is composed of materials drawn from collections of various libraries. Items include materials from senior politicians and Egyptian writers, as well as materials from many institutions and private collections related to the history of modern Egypt during the past 200 years, in addition to the historical archives of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The Digital Library aspires to be the main source of historical material related to the history of Egypt, and has thus been designed in a way that allows the addition of new materials as they become available.

Searching for materials is simply a matter of clicking on the desired topic (rulers, prime ministers, events, topics or public figures). From there, icons appear on the left half of the page indicating the number of available materials for the desired topic, which can be further searched by clicking on the icons.

The timeline at the bottom of each page follows the contemporary history of Egypt beginning in 1799 and ending in 1981. This timeline helps the researcher to determine the time-frame for research. For example, when moving from the right side using the mouse until 1860 and from the left until 1900.  It reduces the number of materials available to coincide with the selected 40 years. This is shown by changing the number of available materials indicated by the icons on the left side of the page, which match the chosen time-frame.

Here are some of the FAQ that may be of interest

What is the purpose of this website and who created it?

This site documents the history of modern Egypt from the rule of Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1805 until the end of the presidency of the late President Mohamed Anwar Sadat in 1981. There are numerous articles related to the history of Egypt during the past hundred and sixty-seven years. These materials include digital photographs of documents, photographs, coins, stamps, audio and video recordings, among others. The establishment of this site was a concerted effort between the International Institute for Information Studies (ISIS), a specialized research institute at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and the library’s project management, which was responsible for collecting the content of the site and passing it on to the International Institute for Information Studies On the past to be available to future generations in a digital format.   

Q-Will this site be available in other languages?

Thus far, there are no plans to translate the site into other languages and a large proportion of the original material is available in Arabic.

Q-Can I upload pictures, movies, documents, etc., from your site?

Copyright is held by the contributors to this project, who gave the Library of Alexandria the right to display these materials only for public benefit. The library does not have the right to make these materials available for printing, so one cannot download or print any of the materials available on the site.

Muslim Heritage: Discover the golden age of Muslim civilization

Muslim Heritage is a web portal launched by the “Foundation for Science and Technology and civilisation” (FSTC) in 2002. This is one of its major projects in the study of Muslim heritage with the purpose of advancing human civilization. It is an online education community of Muslims and non-Muslims, which aims to raise awareness on the relevance and importance of Muslim heritage. The portal contains thousands of peer reviewed articles, numerous reports and essays, as well as news on Muslim heritage related topics and events.

The portal is well organized and materials are classified based on main subjects (i.e. Science, environment, culture and people, etc.) and then sub-classified (i.e. Astronomy, chemistry, Medicine, Architecture, Art, Agriculture, Geography, etc.). Moreover the searching features helps to retrieve information in different formats faster and easier.

The idea for the founding of the FSTC was initiated by a professor of Mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester, with the hope to establish an organization to research inventions and the cultural roots of early discoveries that originated in non-western world and which still affect our world. This organization is a non-political, non-sectarian and non-religious in approach and its mission is stated as:

  • To foster an accurate understanding of the thousand years of exceptional advances in science, technology, medicine and the arts made by men and women within the Muslim World from the 7th century onwards.
  • To generate social cohesion, cultural awareness and respect through the exploration of Muslim and World heritage and how it is woven into our global society and civilization so that we all share and benefit from this heritage.
  • To promote science and learning as an alternative to negative or extremist behavior.

This academic channel aims to discover and shed light on Muslim civilizations and heritage and therefore is designed to study most Muslim countries and cultures. The diversity in their approach is reflected by the various gathered resources all made accessible through this portal. For example, the Architecture and Art section covers geographical locations from China to Syria, Turkey and Iran.

  

Muslim Heritage can be find on social media via : Twitter Facebook Email

Egyptian Caricatures Archive / أرشيف الكاريكاتير المصري

In May 2018, the French Centre for Economic, Legal, and Social Study and Documentation (CEDEJ) based in Cairo, Egypt, launched in association with Bibliotheca Alexandrina a new portal to host its rich collection of Egyptian caricatures.

Egyptian Caricatures Archive/أرشيف الكاريكاتير المصري makes available 12,000 humorous drawings published in Egyptian newspapers between 1970 and 2010. This invaluable collection of primary source materials now available in Open Access to researchers and the general public.

The caricatures have been catalogued by the CEDEJ Library allowing for the database to be searched by different fields:

  • title of caricature
  • date of publication
  • title of newspaper where it was published
  • topic (drop-down menu)
  • author
  • keyword.

Images are provided in JPEG, and can easily be downloaded and saved.

 

At the time of our visit the interface was only accessible in Arabic, but according to the official announcement made by CEDEJ, the implemention of the English and French interfaces is scheduled for Octobre 2018.

Iran’s Cultural Heritage sites (Virtual tour)

Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism organization of Iran (ICHTO) was founded in 1985 and is administered by the government of Iran. The institution ICHTO is responsible in co-operation with UNESCO in safeguarding, preserving and promoting the cultural, natural, tangible and intangible heritage of Iran.

ICHTO provides information (mostly in Persian) on different heritage sites within Iran and they have recently added a virtual guided tour (in English and Persian) of different sites.  UNESCO’s website also provides full descriptions of these protected sites.

Each country’s heritage showcases part of its identity, history, culture and values as well reflecting a source of inspiration and life. The world of today was received from previous generations and cultural heritage and artifacts are gifts of their knowledge and life. These not only carry a fascination to observe, but are also valuable sources from which to learn about how civilization, culture and humanity has changed and developed throughout history. However much of this heritage is irreplaceable, unique and fragile.

For example, the Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

“The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, in the north-west of the country, consists of three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith: St Thaddeus and St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor. These edifices – the oldest of

Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran @UNESCO © Sorush Angabini

which, St Thaddeus, dates back to the 7th century – are examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions. They bear testimony to very important interchanges with the other regional cultures, in particular the Byzantine, Orthodox and Persian.”

UNESCO with the collaboration of state parties all around the world aims to protect the cultural heritage that bears such Values, which are important to be protected for future generations. For that reason the state parties are responsible to identify, promote and take necessary measures to safeguard their heritage as well as to present them to UNESCO along with a complete nomination file containing their Outstanding Universal Values, history and complete introduction to the respected cultural heritage. If all the required criteria are met than that site may be inscribed on the World Heritage list of UNESCO.

Twenty-two cultural sites of Iran are inscribed on the UNESCO’s list. These sites can be browsed on ICHTO’s website based on their geographical location. By clicking on the name of the site the virtual tour and map of the site will be accessible.

Golestan Palace (Iran (Islamic Republic of)) @UNESCO © Sorush Angabini

 

Discover Islamic Art

Discover Islamic Art is an initiative of the Museum With No Frontiers in collaboration with 14 countries from around the Mediterranean. Islamic objects, monuments and historical sites from the northern, southern and eastern shores are brought together in a virtual museum; to complete the collection, relevant Islamic items from museums in Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom are included as well.

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

“The exploration of the history and art of Islam in the Mediterranean aims to create a more complete knowledge of the historical relationship between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and to make this information accessible to the general public in the countries represented in the consortium and beyond. The consortium’s aim is to promote deeper understanding between the peoples of Europe and their Muslim communities and the Islamic world on their doorsteps, and ultimately to celebrate the contribution of Islamic civilisation to world culture and art.”

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

Objects and monuments in the Permanent Collection can be sorted by country, period/dynasty, partner or date. Sorting by country provides related content such as timeline that ranges from 400 A.D.to 2000 A.D.

 

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

In the Database, different categories like location, provenance, architect/artist/Master, Materials/Technique can be selected while entering the search criteria. Date range and language will narrow down the search. Glossary and spelling feature facilitate getting the correct spelling of the transliterated Arabic terms used in the database.

 

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean exhibition is set up with the support of the European Union. The virtual exhibition groups objects, monuments and historical sites under dynasties or themes. A download option is available once you start exploring the topic.

 

© Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF) 2004 – 2018

Artistic Introduction: Islamic Art in the Mediterranean provides guidelines that “will help readers to begin to visually identify the various traditions of Islamic architecture in the Mediterranean region”.

Partners, Timeline, Learn with MWNF, and My Collection are additional links that are worthwhile exploring.

“Historiography of Early Modern Ottoman Europe” (HOE) Database

Bibliographical Database Historiography in Ottoman Europe (15th until 18th centuries)

The modern historiography practices in Western Europe is different from historiographical traditions in ancient world. These practices does not necessarily reflect nor acknowledge the existence of rich historiographical traditions. On the other hand Sources that formed the cultural frameworks of Ottoman Europe were mostly religious writings, however the polyglot historiography of that region sheds light to the secular part of writings, which are considered as important primary sources for social and cultural researches. Therefore the Bibliographical Database Historiography in Ottoman Europe (15th until 18th centuries)  HOE was launched by the Department of the History of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey and the University Library of the Ruhr-University in Bochum to fill the gap and to provide a comprehensive bibliography on the historiographic texts written in all languages of Ottoman Europe for the period of 1500 to 1800.

HOE database provides meta-data on various published and unpublished primary and secondary historiographical sources of Ottoman Europe (ex. chronicles, histories, hagiographies, inscriptions, maps…) which can be found under the “Main section” of the database. Information about particular collections and references, can be found under the “Tool section”. This database also offers information about content, manuscripts as well as author, title and edition of the materials. When available this information is linked to online resources too.

Egyptian Press Archive of CEDEJ

The Egyptian Press Archive of CEDEJ is an initiative of the Centre d’Études et de Documentation Économiques, Juridiques et Sociales (CEDEJ) based in Cairo and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) consisting of scanning and publishing online press articles collected and curated by CEDEJ over the past 40 years.

This online archive includes more than 500,000 press clips authored by more than 17,000 journalists and reporters and published by more than 170 publishers. This incredibly rich and vast collection is discoverable by author, publisher, subject or date of publication (via the timeline). The list of subjects is based on the themes and subjects used by CEDEJ when initially constituting the collection. Results display in the form of a list, highlighting search terms, and articles open in the BA online reader in a new tab. In the right-hand-side column, related articles to those displayed in the results’ list are suggested.

The website is available in Arabic, English, and French.

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.”

 

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.