ArabLit: Arabic Literature and Translation

ArabLit: Arabic Literature in Translation is a blog launched in 2009 by Marcia Lynx Qualey, a freelance journalist living in Cairo who holds a Master Degree in creative writing from the University of Minnesota. In addition to maintaining ArabLit M. Lynx Qualey writes about Arabic literature for a number of newspapers and journals:  The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Your Middle East, and AGNI  Online, a literary journal published by Boston University.

Over time, ArabLit became a good source of daily news and views on Arab and Arabic literature and translation. As described in an interview by Claire Jacobson (for Asymptot): “her [Qualey’s] coverage leaves no stone unturned, spanning a wide range of genres (from poetry to nonfiction, magical realism to science fiction) and countries (from Morocco to Iraq, Sudan to Syria).”

In 2017, ArabLit won the prestigious Literary Translation Initiative Award at the London Book Fair, and M. Lynx Qualey launched the BULAQ Podcast in collaboration with Ursula Lindsey, from The Arabist. BULAQ focuses on contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa, and on literature (what does it do? Why does it matter? How does it relates to society, history and politics?). BULAQ is co-produced by Sowt, a podcasting platform producing and distributing high-quality audio programs in Arabic based in Amman (Jordan) and launched in 2016.

In 2018, with support from fans and readers (53,208 followers in July 2020), Qualey was able to develop ArabLit by launching new initiatives:

  • the ArabLit Story Prize is awarded every year to the best short stories recently translated from Arabic to English by non-previously published translators
  • ArabKidLitNow! provides a “fresh view on contemporary Arabic children’s literature, in Arabic and in translation” is addressed to  publishers, translators, readers of Arabic, Arabic language learners, readers of English, teachers, librarians, booksellers, etc.
  • ArabLit Quarterly is a theme-based “magazine that brings together Arabic literature, essays, wordplay, art, music, and food in translation”
  • ArabLit Store offers items and publications for purchase.

In 2020, despite de COVID-19 crisis, M. Lynx Qualey was able to:

  • Launch the 5th and 6th issues of ArabLit Quarterly covering “The road” and “The crime” themes, and start working on the 7th and 8th issues that will focus on “Cats” and “Dreams”
  • Start a “lock-in literature” series for readers with limited access to books during the COVID-19 shutdowns
  • Run the #ArabicTranslationChallenge with Kevin Blankinship, assistant Professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University.

Interested people can follow Marcia Lynx Qualey on Facebook, Instragam, Twitter, Youtube, SoundCloud, or by subscribing to the Tiny Newsletter. Last, in order to support further development, ArabLit is welcoming donations.

Anwar El-Sadat Digital Archive

Anwar El-Sadat Digital Archive is a collaborative effort between The International School of Information Science (ISIS) and the Special Projects Department at Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

The project compiles all the material pertaining to the late President Anwar El-Sadat in a digital archive documenting an important epoch in the discourse of Egyptian history.

The Archive provides information on the life of late President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat to historians, politicians, and researchers who are interested in analyzing and studying one of the most important transitional periods in Egyptian history.

The Archive is divided into three main areas and each area is further subdivided

  • El-Sadat’s Life
  • El-Sadat’s Archive
  • Journalistic Perspective

El-SADAT’S LIFE

In this section, one can explore facts and archival materials related to the early life of El-Sadat, his political life, after 23 July Revolution, his presidency, donated collections and his famous quotes. An internal link is made available to El-Sadat’s Museum that is housed in Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

In addition to the above, El-Sadat’s life includes books and articles that he wrote during the revolution and after he became a president.

El-SADAT’S ARCHIVE

This section is divided into six collections:

The speech collection contains 1116 letters, words and text statements by President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat.

The photo collection and for the first time, this number of rare El-Sadat related are displayed on the Internet, close to 20,000 photos

The video collection contains more than 317 videos, in which President El-Sadat appears, ranging from talk shows, news reports and documentaries.

The documents collection includes more than 970 Egyptian and American documents, some of which are rare documents in addition to documents in the President’s handwriting.

The audio collection is compilation of audios by President El-Sadat. This collection contains 44 audio tracks.

The press collection contains 7814 press items, ranging from news, reportage and articles that goes back to the period of the late President El-Sadat

JOURNALISTIC PERSPECTIVE

Televised interviews, this section is devoted to all television interviews and letters available of President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat in an attempt to highlight how he dealt with the Arab and Western media and how he approached and handled its challenges.

The project team has collected most of the book covers that talked about the era of President Anwar El-Sadat as an assistant to the researcher to reach a better understanding of El- Sadat’s story in both its human and political aspects.

Anwar El-Sadat Digital Archive materials were compiled from different sources, such as news agencies, museums, various other institutions, and a collection graciously granted by the late President’s family. The database was published on the Internet with tools and features that facilitate easy navigation through the website. It is important to note that the archive is available only in Arabic.

The digital archive also enables users and researchers to perform comprehensive searches among the different sections and categories of data.

Resources @ MEI

The Middle East Institute (MEI) located in Washington, D.C. was founded in 1946 as a non-profit organization by George Camp Keiser a Middle East scholar. Aiming to promote and transmit knowledge of Middle East, MEI has been active in leading research as well as cultural, academic and educational activities, which all together led to the formation of various centres of Policy, Education and Art and Culture. In addition to its effort in producing and expanding knowledge about Middle East, MEI became an intellectual hub and gave platform to regional experts whose works provide a balance outlook and understanding of the region. Besides organizing conferences and educational programs such as training languages spoken in Middle East like Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew; it also provides access to many useful online resources and publications about Middle East, some of which will be mentioned briefly below.

Middle East Journal:

MEI publishes The Middle East Journal since 1947, this journal as one of the oldest peer-reviewed publication in studying Middle East provides original researches and source materials covering wide area from Morocco to Pakistan and Central Asia.

“The Journal provides the background necessary for an understanding and appreciation of the region’s political and economic development, cultural heritage, ethnic and religious diversity.”

Access this to journal from McGill library here.

 Digital collection:

MEI via its Oman Library digital collection provides access to hundreds of digitized rare books and manuscripts about/of Middle Eastern studies for researchers and scholars from around the world. This online collection holds materials covering wide range of topics from history, culture and literature available in various languages like English, French, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Farsi, Ottoman Turkish and Turkish. This collection includes rare material from 1700 to 1920 as well as its own publications published by MEI from 1960 to 2004.

Arts & Culture Center:

Middle East Institute, besides organizing cultural events and exhibition through its Art and Culture Center, uses this platform to provide access to a hundreds of different types of online material from media release to podcast, journal article and news. This platform aims to create an environment that facilitates conversation, cross cultural understanding as well as to promote Middle Eastern artist works.

The Arabist

Launched in Cairo (Egypt) in 2003 by Issandr El Amrani, a Moroccan-American writer and analyst, The Arabist is an independent blog covering “the domestic politics of Arab countries”. If the primary focus lies on Egypt, the blog also aims at exploring “broader issues in the Arab world, US policy in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and cultural developments throughout the region”. The blog is maintained in collaboration with Ursula Lindsey, a journalist interested in “culture, education and politics in the Arab world”, and welcomes contributions from multiple contributors, journalists and/or academics specializing in the region. After a very prolific decade, The Arabist is now less frequently updated, but remains nevertheless a valuable and reliable source of information for scholars interested in contemporary Arab politics.

Screenshot of ‘The Arabist’ main page, June 30, 2020.

The main page is used for posting links relevant to the themes of the blog, and is updated every couple of months. The Podcast & Projects tab in the top-left menu leads to additional resources: podcasts, press articles in translation, a guide to Egyptian political, economic and social issues, and an Egyptian magazine’s archive.

Bulaq: The Arab World in Books is a podcast started in November 2017. Co-hosted by Ursula Lindsey and Marcia Lynx Qualey, book critic, editor, ghostwriter, and literary consultant and editor-in-chief of ArabLit, Bulaq looks at the Middle East and North Africa “through the lens of literature and at literature through the lens of current events”.

From 2009 to 2014, The Arabist Podcast focusing on Egyptian politics during the revolution and its aftermath was co-hosted by Issandr El Amrani and Ursula Lindsey.

The 80+ episodes of both podcasts can be listened to and/or downloaded from their respective pages.

The Sabry Guide was developed in 2012 by Bassem Sabry, an Egyptian political analyst who passed away prematurely in 2014, to provide an overview of the political, economic and social challenges facing post-Mubarak Egypt, with a a focus on the everyday problems encountered by the Egyptian population. Re-arranged for clarity, this guide will be of interest to scholars working on contemporary Egypt.

From 2011 to 2018, in partnership with the firm Industry Arabic, ‘The Arabist’ regularly published materials selected from the Arabic press In (English) Translation.

Last but not least, The Cairo magazine archive makes available the 30 issues of this “magazine for News, Business and Culture” published between March and November 2005.

The Palestinian Poster Project Archive

The Palestinian Poster Project Archive (PPPA) was created by Dan Walsh for a master thesis project at Georgetown University, stating that: “It is a work-in-progress.”

The Palestine poster genre dates back to around 1900 and, incredibly, more Palestine posters are designed, printed and distributed today than ever before. Unlike most of the political art genres of the twentieth century such as those of revolutionary Cuba and the former Soviet Union, which have either died off, been abandoned, or become mere artifacts, the Palestine poster genre continues to evolve. Moreover, the emergence of the Internet has exponentially expanded the genre’s network of creative contributors and amplified the public conversation about contemporary Palestine.

Dan Walsh – Silver Spring, MD April 2009

A unique historical repository of primary data on modern Palestine. Audiences who are interested in this rich, yet under-valued module of Palestinian cultural heritage, can have a better understanding of people who were engaged in the contemporary history of Palestine and recorded it in their graphic art.

According to PPPA a “Palestine poster” is defined in five-part definition:

1) With the word “Palestine” in it, in any language, from any source or time period.

2) Created or published by any artist or agency claiming Palestinian nationality or Palestinian participation

3) Published in the geographical territory of historic Palestine, at any point in history, including

4) Published by any source which relates directly to the social, cultural, political, military, economic or iconographic history of Palestine or Palestinian nationalism contemporary Israel

5) Related to Zionism or anti-Zionism in any language, from any source, published after August 31, 1897

Site visitors can browse the poster collection by: Artists (2,640), Posters (13,774), Wellsprings, Special Collections (920), Iconography, Original Copies, Portfolios, Duplicates/Exchanges, Year of Publication, Country of publication, and Nationality/Artists

The Liberation Graphics Collection of Palestine Posters, which was Nominated to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program 2016-2017, is a subset of the more than 11,500 posters featured at the Palestine Poster Project Archives web site.

The PPPA is an educational site and does not engage in any commercial or merchandising activities. Posters’ duplicates are frequently traded with private individuals as well as other archives and libraries. Furthermore, The PPPA has a strict policy concerning poster’s removal, as it will never remove a poster from its site. There is a dedicated link on the website for poster submission. Last but not least, the FAQ provides a deep insight into the core objectives of the archive, as it comprehensively answers a wide range of questions, it is worthwhile checking.

Allama Iqbal Poetry (کلام علامہ محمد اقبال)

Allama Iqbal Poetry کلام علامہ محمد اقبال  is a website established by a team of freelancer gathering all Iqbal’s Poetry works in one place.

This page provides free access to a complete collection of Urdu and Persian Poetry of Allama Iqbal, as well as English translation, transliteration and Urdu explanation of the poetries.

Muhammad Iqbal (9 November 1877 – 21 April 1938) known as Allama Iqbal was a leading and prominent Persian and Urdu poet of India in the first half of the 20th century. He was also a distinguished philosopher, theorist, and barrister in British India, and he was known to be the “Spiritual Father of Pakistan” because of his contribution to the nation.

His poetry works are cherished internationally among literature scholars’ community as well as among Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, Afghans and Bangladeshis. Along with his fame as a poet, he is also known as one of the Muslim philosophical thinkers in the modern era therefor his Urdu and English lectures and letters, believed to have been important in political, social, religious and cultural discourses.

To read more about Allama Iqbal and his work, Encyclopedia Iranica has an article about him, access here.

Allama Iqbal Poetry is a searchable website with the possibility of searching for words, couplet, verse and shair in Iqbal’s poetry. Moreover, these 11 complete Urdu and Persian books of him are accessible to be browsed too.

 

  1. Armaghan-e-Hijaz (ارمغان حجاز) – The Gift of Hijaz 
  2. Bal-e-Jibril (با ل جبر یل) – Wings of Gabriel
  3. Bang-e-Dra (با نگ درا) – The Call of the Marching Bell
  4. Zarb-e-Kaleem (ضر ب کلیم) – The Rod of Moses
  5. Asrar-e-Khudi (اسرارٍ خودی) – Secrets of the Self
  6. Rumuz-e-Bekhudi (رموز بیخودی) – Mysteries of the Selflessness
  7. Payam-e-Mashriq(پیامِ مشرق) – A Message From The East
  8. Zabur-e-Ajam (زبورعجم) – Persian Psalms
  9. Javed Nama (جاوید نامہ) – Book of Javed
  10. Pas Che Bayad Kard & Musafir Masnavi (پس چہ باید کرد اے اقوام شرق بمعہ مسافر مثنوی) – What Should Then Be Done O People of East & The Traveller
  11. Armaghan-e-Hijaz Farsi (ارمغان حجاز فارسی) – The Gift of Hijaz Persian

Palestinian Journeys

Palestinian Journeys is a collaborative project of the Palestinian Museum and the Institute for Palestine Studies. The Palestinian Museum is an independent institution founded in 1997 by the Taawon Welfare Association with the goal of promoting a dynamic vision of Palestinian culture engaged with new perspectives on history, society and culture. The Institute for Palestine Studies is an independent not-for-profit research institution founded in 1963 to document Palestine and and publish ground-breaking scholarship on historical and contemporary Palestine.

Powered by by Visualizing Palestine, whose productions we already highlighted on this blog (here), the Palestinian Journeys platform is continuously populated with valuable content.

Palestinian Journeys main page

The platform is discoverable via two main entries accessible from the left-hand side of the screen: the “Timeline,” and the “Stories.

The Timeline, “an ever-growing encyclopedic collection of historical events, biographies, themed chronologies”. Originally  created by he Institute for Palestine Studies, it aims at highlighting historical, socioeconomic and cultural themes, relying on historical documents, and multimedia content. From within the timeline, various categories are available:

  1. Ottoman Rule
  2. Early Mandate Period
  3. Second Mandate Period
  4. The Palestine War and the Nakba
  5. Reverberation of 1948 Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  6. The Rise of the Palestinian Movement in the Wake of the 1967 Arab Defeat
  7. From a Sense of Victory to separate Peace and civil War
  8. Palestinian Defeat, Division and Survival
  9. The first Intifada and the beginning of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations
  10. The Oslo process and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority
  11. The Aqsa Intifada and the end of an Era in Palestinian Politics
  12. A Palestinian Authority divided, Israeli Assaults on Gaza and Peace process Setbacks.

Stories

In addition, an “Inspire me” category allows visitors to discover the Palestinian Journeys through a selection of marking moments, events, and characters, and a search feature allows visitors to focus on a specific event or theme they are interested in.

Inspire me

A short description including source is available for each document, and sometimes related content is suggested:

The interface is bilingual English-Arabic.

The Calligrapher الخطاط

The Calligrapher platform is the first online platform to teach Arabic calligraphy and decoration online, by a handful of professional calligraphers who have been carefully selected to share their experiences through training courses. It is one of the winning initiatives for the year of Arabic Calligraphy 2020, as the platform has become open to all with free courses and lessons.

The Calligrapher Platform will provide those interested in learning Arabic calligraphy and Islamic decoration an opportunity to learn the basics of Arabic calligraphy, its arts and methods via training courses, projects and professional workshops.

There are many different calligraphic styles used for writing the Arabic script. The platform will give the trainees the option to choose the calligraphic style, Thuluth, Naskh, Reqa,  Diwani, Kufic and Maghrebi, they wish to learn and the calligrapher they prefer to be the instructor. During the training period, the trainees will be provided with applications and exercises through which they will gain the artistic skills they seek.

Arabic Calligraphy Courses

Arabic Calligraphy Styles

Calligraphy Instructors

 

The platform offers various training courses, including professional courses in

the types of Arabic calligraphy, explanation of the alphabets and how to combine them, writing the words and expressions, improving handwriting, training in making calligraphic paintings and artwork in Arabic   calligraphy, letter formations, gilding, Islamic decoration, drawing and coloring, the art of paper marbling and Ebru (needle art). The platform will also give the trainee the opportunity to develop Arabic computer fonts by learning designs and programming fonts.

 

 

The Calligrapher الخطاط platform aims

  • to be the first electronic platform to teach Arabic calligraphy.
  • to provide specialized and professional training courses.
  • to teach Arabic calligraphy in an easy and more effective way.
  • to follow up and communicate with professional calligraphers.
  • to improve the level of those wishing to learn Arabic calligraphy.
  • to preserve the heritage of Arabic calligraphy and disseminating it internationally.

All what is required is a name, a password and an email account to start your journey with the Calligrapher platform, create an account. There is no specific time for membership to expire and you can follow and watch the sessions with unlimited number. While beginner level courses that provide the basics are completely free, advanced level courses are offered for a fee. It is important to note that the platform is uni lingual, Arabic only.

The platform also welcomes professional calligraphers from around the world to join as instructors, for more details click here.

Digital Persian Archive (Asnad.org)

Marriage contract between Mirza ‘Ali Aqa Haqiqi and Bibi Rukhsarah.

Digital Persian Archives project is an online archival image database containing thousands of public and private historical documents from Iran and Central Asia up to the 20th century. It includes royal decrees and orders, official correspondence, and shari’a court documents, such as contracts of sale and lease, vaqf deeds, marriage contracts, and court orders.

This project initially was launched in 2003 and by Department of Islamic Studies at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and it was called Asnad.org. however, after years of progress and improvement by various departments, in 2019 it was moved to the University of Bamberg where it is under the supervision of the Chair of Iranian Studies.

The main goal of Digital Persian Archives project is to facilitate locating and accessing primary resources and archival material. Therefore, to do so virtual archive of Persian documents has been created as a searchable database. Materials can be searched by particular period or region, specific person, topic or location.

Marriage contract between Hajji Muhammad Zaman ‘Allaf and Sakinah Sultan. 18 Sha’ban 1317 / 22.12.1899 – 22.12.1899

 

A wide range of documents have been included in this project from medieval and early modern periods up to 20th century of Iranian and Central Asian history, factoring in “the older, the more precious” and the quality and readability of the documents in selection criteria. However, as for the language and geographical scope of this project, Persian is rather representing a cultural characteristic than a rigid linguistic specification. The same way Persia was understood in its historical and geographical sense, therefore documents in other languages like Arabic were included, when the connection to Persian cultural influence was clear. Their geographical selection criteria were outlined as below:

“The same is true for the geographical range we seek to cover. The core areas are defined by the shifting historical boundaries of Iran, thus including at times regions such as Anatolia, the Caucasus and Middle Asia. Another criterion is the use of Persian as administrative language as in Central Asia or India, although the systematic integration of Indian documents is beyond the project’s scope.” (Selection criteria)

Sultanmuhammad b. Janmuhammad Bayg sold two pieces of land to Imamvirdi Khan Qiriqlu [Afshar] which are located in Abivard near Mashhad for the amount of 70 Tuman; contract includes a musalahah; Imamvirdi Khan was among the generals of Nadir Shah and for some time held the office of Nazir-i buyutat-i khassah. Date: 25 Jumada II 1156 / 16.8.1743 – 16.8.1743

Marriage contract (‘aqd-i munakihah) between Aqa ‘Abd al-Rahim b. Aqa ‘Ali Baba und Jahan Sultan bt. Aqa Muhammad … ‘Assar (oil-presser) Date: 18 Rajab 1295 / 18.7.1878 – 18.7.1878

La fabrique du Caire moderne

La fabrique du Caire moderne is a “pilot project about urban development, architecture, Euro-Mediterranean entanglements and global investment in Cairo in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

The project is is co-directed by Professors Mercedes Volait (CNRS) and Adam Mestyan (Duke) and conducted in collaboration with researchers from:

Hosted by Duke University, the blog includes news items and announcements relating to the project as well as lengthy thematic articles and descriptions of relevant archival documents (photographs, plans, maps, etc.).

The Sources page references the main photo albums used to conduct the research.

Last, the website is trilingual: Arabic, French and English.