MuslimARC (Anti Racism Collaborative)

Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) is a human rights education organization attempting to raise awareness and provide training for Muslim communities about racial justice as well as Islamophobia and systemic racism. In an effort to address racism, MuslimARC provides and deliver education in the form of trainings or workshops on various forms of racism of internalized, interpersonal and institutional form.

“vision is Education for Liberation. We work to create spaces for learning and developing racial equity, connect people across multi-ethnic networks, and cultivate solutions for racial equity.”

MuslimARC objective is to give more voice to “four groups who are marginalized in the discourse on Islam in North America”

Black Muslims, recognizing the diverse experiences of the African Diaspora that includes descendants of victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the Americas, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinos, and African immigrants.

Latino Muslims, recognizing the diverse identities of people from Central and South America and Spanish-speaking former colonies.

Muslims who are Refugees, particularly from non-Arab countries such as Cham, Bosnian, Syrian, and Somali communities, who may not have access to the same resources as other groups.

Muslims from other underrepresented ethnic backgrounds in North American Muslim leadership, especially where those identities intersect with class identity

Providing critical resources to advance racial justice is part of their commitment, thus MuslimARC has provided a wide range of resources including articles, audiovisual recordings, toolkits, papers, research, khutbahs, reading lists, an anti-racism glossary, a directory of experts, etc.

Due to challenging and complex nature of Muslim anti-racism topic, a background knowledge is required to be able to make sense of the complex intersections of race, class, culture, language, religious identity, and gender. Therefore, MuslimARC presents a list of materials that will help to better understand “how race and racism is understood, the history of Muslim societies, in particular Muslim communities in the West, and common methods for anti-racism.”  

Moreover, the MuslimARC also has a weblog, reMARC, a platform for deeper reflection on the impact of race on shaping Muslim identities.

Primary Source Database Trials (Fall 2021)

During the month of October (September 27th to October 27th), the Islamic Studies Library will be trialing several primary source (mainly newspapers and periodicals) databases that are of interest to anyone whose research focuses on Afghanistan, the Arab World in general and Egypt in particular, or Turkey. Please check below for content and access details.

  1. Afghan Central Press Digital Archive

The ‘Afghan Central Press’ collection brings together four national, Kabul-based publications of Afghanistan whose long runs and prominence provide a concentrated vantage point for understanding developments in Afghanistan for much of the twentieth century. The English-language Kabul Times is presented alongside Pushto publications Anis, Hewad, and Islah.Together, the archives of these newspapers provide a chronicle of events from the fall of the Kingdom of Afghanistan, the establishment of the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the Soviet invasion, the rise of the Mujahedeen, the establishment of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, invasion by the United States and the ensuing period of reconstruction from the view of the capital.

https://gpa.eastview.com/acp/

2. Al-Ahram Digital Archive

Founded in 1875, Al-Ahram (الأهرام‎, “The Pyramids”) is one of the longest-running newspapers in the Middle East. It has long been regarded as Egypt’s most authoritative and influential newspaper, and one of the most important newspapers in the Arab world, with a circulation of over 1 million. Prior to 1960, the newspaper was an independent publication and was renowned for its objectivity and independence. After being nationalized by President Nasser in 1960, Al-Ahram became the de facto voice of the Egyptian government and today the newspaper is managed by the Supreme Council of Press. Al-Ahram has featured writings by some of the most important political and literary voices of the day, including Nobel Literature Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, nationalist leaders Mustafa Kamil and Saad Zaghlul, as well as Salama Moussa, Taha Hussein, Yusuf Idris, Edward Said, Hamid Dabashi, and Anis Mansour.

The interface of ‘Al-Ahram’ is available in both English and Arabic.

https://gpa.eastview.com/alahram/

3. Cumhuriyet Digital Archive

Established in May 1924, ‘Cumhuriyet’ (“The Republic”) is the oldest secular Turkish daily newspaper and is widely considered one of the last remaining opposition newspapers in Turkey. Founded by journalist Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu at the initiative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Cumhuriyet was the first newspaper of the Turkish Republic and promoted a belief in democracy, secularism and the rule of law. According to the newspaper’s editorial principles: Cumhuriyet is an independent newspaper; it is the defender of nothing but the Republic, of democracy in the scientific and broad sense. It will fight every force that tries to overthrow the Republic and the notion and principles of democracy. It will endeavor for the embracing by society of the principle of secularism along the path of “Enlightenment” ushered in by Atatürk’s revolution and principles. Over the last 95 years, Cumhuriyet has stood witness to the changing landscape of Turkey’s political, social and economic environment. Despite the challenges of these times, the institution of Cumhuriyet has sustained its coverage of domestic and international news, providing critical documentation of Turkey’s dynamic history and its relations with the global community. In the twenty-first century, Cumhuriyet continues its dedication to the principles of democracy and secularism as embodied by Atatürk. The newspaper has a daily circulation of over 30,000 and receives roughly 25 million visitors to its website each month. It is one of the most influential newspapers in Turkey and is regarded by domestic and foreign readers as a reliable source for impartial, intelligent news reporting.

The interface of ‘Cumhuriyet Digital Archive’ is available in both English and Turkish.

https://gpa.eastview.com/cumhuriyet/

4. Kotobarabia Arab Leaders, Historians and Philosophers Collection

‘Kotobarabia: Arab Leaders, Historians and Philosophers’ is “a compendium of early works of an astounding variety of disciplines from important Arab writers, spanning fields from feminism and social theory, to classics of literature, history, and the sciences. Includes works by the Four Imams of the Sunni Sect, the Al Azhar Modern Sheikhs, various authors of the Modern Arab Enlightenment, and rare works by the former Egyptian royal family. Consisting mostly of historic texts, the books in this collection are full-image, with searchable metadata only.

https://dlib.eastview.com/browse/books/1710#/

The online reading interface is very similar for preriodicals and monographs. It allows to navigate easily within documents from the -left or right-hand side depending on the language of the interface- side menu. In addition, users will be able to read in full screen mode, select and copy a section to paste elsewehre, print, download as a PDF, email and cite. It is also possible to search for occurrences within publications: a virtual keyboard is available for those who don’t have non-roman scripts keyboards.

The trials started on Monday, September 27th, and will run until Wednesday, October 27th. These databases can be accessed either using the links provided in this blog post, or going to the A-Z database list (as shown below):

Please note access is based on IP addresses, and therefore limited to members of the McGill community. Also, note that activating the VPN may be required when/if you are off-campus. Check these databases out and let us know what you think!

The Near Eastern collection at The Royal Danish Library

The Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen is the national library of Denmark and the university library of the University of Copenhagen. It is among the largest libraries in the world and the largest in the Nordic countries. The library’s collection of manuscripts date from the Middle Ages to the present. Some of these are available online and others can be viewed in the reading room.

Oriental Collection

The Oriental collection consists of manuscripts, printed works, and other material originating in non-western language areas and cultures, mostly Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. With a few exceptions, the works in the Oriental collection are written in non-western languages like Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, and Turkish.

Oriental digitized materials

Digital editions from the Oriental Collection are chosen for their beauty, rarity, calligraphy, bindings etc. The Near Eastern collection comprises 515 Arabic, 450 Iranian (43 are Avestan), and 100 Turkish manuscripts. The oldest items date from the 10th century C.E. (Qur’ân mss. in Kufi script). The numbers of printed books for lending in Near Eastern languages are: Arabic 5500,  Persian 1850, Turkish 5330, and Caucasian languages 600 (mainly Armenian and Georgian)

Digitized Arabic materials

Digitized Arabic materials fall under the following categories:

  • Qur’an and other religious texts
  • Shafi’i fiqh
  • Shi’a works
  • Linguistics 
  • Literature
  • History
  • Medicine and natural science
  • Magic
  • Printed books: literature

Digitized Persian materials

  • Manuscripts
  • Avesta and Pahlavi
  • Printed books 

The digital collection viewer provides full description of the manuscript and allows users to download, print, zoom in/out and share on Twitter and Facebook.

Highlighting a recently published article by Dr. Eliza Tasbihi, Specialised Cataloguing Editor of Islamic Manuscripts at McGill Library

This blog post highlights a recently published article by our colleague, Dr. Eliza Tasbihi: “Visionary Perceptions through Cosmographical Diagrams”, in the Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ʿArabi Society, 2021.

Eliza Tasbihi is a Specialised Cataloguing Editor of Islamic Manuscripts at McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections. She completed her M.A. in Islamic Studies from McGill University and her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Concordia University. Her main areas of research are classical Islam, classical Persian literature, Ottoman studies and Ottoman Sufi literature, and Sufism and Sufi literature.

In her recent article, Tasbihi studies the Mystical knowledge of Heydar Amuli in his work the Text of the Text (Nass al-nusus) by highlighting his cosmographical diagrams, which she believes is the most important part of his work. She also explores the influence of Ibn Arabi’s thought upon Amuli, as well as areas where their doctrine differed.

The paper is divided into several sections with the first providing a brief biography of Amuli, who was a Shi’ite mystic and a Sufi philosopher from 14th century, followed by Ibn Arabi’s influence on Amuli’s thought and work.

The main section discusses the overall importance of circle shapes (dawai’r) in Islamic cosmology, with the application in cosmographical diagrams in Amuli’s work of Nass al-nusus. Here Tasbihi discusses the implication of circle shapes (dawai’r) in Amuli’s diagram as an indication of the “science of balance and its correspondence between the spiritual and corporeal worlds” and that dawair brings balance to the world. Tasbihi goes on to discuss how Amuli used circular forms not only to explain difficult esoteric concepts, but also to refer to specific theological topics in his work, such as prophethood, Imamhood, “spiritual friends of God” (awliya) and Prophet’s ascension.” She notes that, “the diagrams are employed as clear and efficient methods of presenting cosmological ideas”, in addition to the inter-relations that connect these diagrams.

diagram 9, the central small circles represent 7 prophets who are identified as ‘spiritual poles’ (aqṭāb, sing. quṭb), whose central figure is Muḥammad, the source of spiritual knowledge for the 6 other surrounding prophets..
Tasbihi, Eliza. (2021). Visionary Perceptions through Cosmographical Diagrams : Mystical Knowledge from Ḥaydar Āmulī’s (d.787/1385) Naṣṣ al-nuṣūṣ fī sharḥ Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam. 69. 31-83.

Tasbihi consulted four manuscripts to study and clarify Amuli’s argument and details of the diagrams. Diagrams numbered 1, 7-11 are drawn from Amuli’s commentary on Ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-hikam. She also highlights Amuli’s interpretation of the presence of the number 19 represented by its sacredness and by its relation to the awliya. The number 19 is said to resemble the 19 letters of the basmala, which opens all but one Quranic Sura. Further, the number 19 is present within the awliya (the chain of prophets and their spiritual representatives/spiritual friends of God) consisting of 7 prophets and the 12 Imams who spiritually received divine knowledge. Amuli’s dedicates one diagram to the 12 Imams, which emphasizes how Amuli’s Shi’a doctrine influenced his understanding of Ibn Arabi’s Sunni text of the Fusus.

diagram 10 reflects Āmulī’s Shīʿa theology by demonstrating that only the heirs of the Prophet Muḥammad are the qualified awliyāʾ and through them alone is the line of mystical knowledge carried. Diagrams 10 ( Figure 4) and 11 ( Figure 5) demonstrate the correspondences that are affected between the 19 levels of cosmology and 19 levels of Imāmology and prophetology, each indicated by one of the 19 letters of the Basmala. In other words, the diagrams show the correspondences between the corporeal world…..
Tasbihi, Eliza. (2021). Visionary Perceptions through Cosmographical Diagrams : Mystical Knowledge from Ḥaydar Āmulī’s (d.787/1385) Naṣṣ al-nuṣūṣ fī sharḥ Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam. 69. 31-83

Tasbihi summaries by arguing that, on the one hand Amuli’s thoughts were influenced by Ibn Arabi, as in his definition of the perfect man (Insan Kamil) and divine knowledge, and on the other hand Amuli borrowed Ibn Arabi’s cosmological concepts in order to develop his “esoteric-allegorical aspects of Shi’a theology”. Therefore, she concludes that Amuli’s Text of the Text (Nass al-nusus) is a Shi’a interpretation of Ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-hikam.

Access the Tasbihi’s article at McGill library here: https://mcgill.on.worldcat.org/v2/oclc/607401882

To know more about Dr. Eliza Tasbihi and her works please click here: https://independent.academia.edu/ElizaTasbihi

Ibn Arabi’s فصوص الحكم /‏ Fuṣūṣ al-ḥikam can be found here: https://mcgill.on.worldcat.org/v2/oclc/122782398

A highlight of the Islamic Studies Library research guides

Seizing the opportunity of the start of this new academic year, I decided to highlight the Islamic Studies Library (ISL) research guides that library staff conscientiously developed over the past ten years, and keep updating regularly. But before diving into the details, let me start by defining what a research guide is: a research guide -also called ‘subject guide’- is a curated list of resources focusing on a specific topic, discipline, or field of study. The research guides include both resources owned by the McGill library available only to the McGill community, and Open Access resources that are freely accessible to anyone on the internet. Our guides were developed by library staff with the help of graduate students, course lecturers and faculty of the Institute of Islamic Studies.

  1. How to access the ISL research guides?
    There are two ways you can access our research guides. Either you go to the Islamic Studies Library main page and look for the ‘Key resources’ menu:

Or you go to the main library webpage and look for the ‘Humanities’ tab in the ‘Subject guides’ column:

2. Which disciplines or fields are covered?
Originally, we had only two guides, but over the years we added ten more in the aim to cover the broad range of topics and disciplines taught at the Institute of Islamic Studies. Currently, you will find the following guides:

3. How can research guides help me?
Research guides list and link to selected resources such as reference materials (encyclopedias, dictionaries), periodicals, monographs, primary sources (archives, government documents, photographs, maps, etc.), websites, databases, etc. In addition, our guides include a number of tools that will be useful to Islamic and Middle East studies scholars like date converters, virtual keyboards for Arabic Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Urdu, as well as romanization and transliteration tables for these languages in non-roman scripts. As such, these guides are excellent starting points to dive into a topic, and familiarize yourself with the McGill library collections.

4. Where to go beyond research guides?
Within each research guide, you can access the library online catalogue (Sofia) to search for more resources on your topic(s) of interest at McGill, in Québec, and worldwide. If you need help doing so, you are invited to contact your liaison librarian (me) either by email or phone (+1-514-449-1952), or to make an appointment for a consult using the scheduling tool accessible from the guides:

University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriot Library: Middle East Digitized Collections

University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriot Digital Library offers over 350 digital collections, containing over 1 million digital photographs, maps, books, videos, audio recordings, and other items. Among these collections are the Middle East Digitized Collections.

I. ARABIC PAPYRUS, PARCHMENT, AND PAPER
The Arabic Papyrus, Parchment & Paper Collection is the largest of its kind in the United States, The collection was acquired by Prof. Aziz Suriyal Atiya, founder of the Middle East Center and the Middle East Library.

Time Period: A large number of pieces date to the period between 700 and 850 CE. The collection includes a significant number of documents from the pre-Ottoman period.

Collection size: It contains 770 Arabic papyrus documents, 1300 Arabic paper documents, and several pieces on parchment.

Coverage: A unique source on the political, economic, religious and intellectual life of Egypt during the first two centuries of Islamic rule and the period up to Ottoman domination.

II. AZIZ SURYAL ATIYA PAPERS
Dr. Aziz S. Atiya was the founding director of the Middle East Center at the University of Utah. He was the author of many books and articles and editor of the Coptic Encyclopedia.

Time period: Papers document the life and work of Aziz Atiya (1927-1993)

Coverage: Papers include curriculum vitae, memorabilia, and personal correspondence and financial records. Also include materials relating to his career as a teacher, scholar and author, including lecture notes, student papers, publication contracts, royalty information, materials relating to the publication of the Coptic Encyclopedia, articles, newsletters, offprints, clippings, research files and maps.

III. MIDDLE EAST COLLECTION
Highlighted in this collection is an eighteenth century Quran produced in Bukhara and a Persian manuscript of poetry by a Mughal princess.

Time period: dating from as early as 800CE/183AH

Collection size: 3,000 printed books from and about the Middle East.

Coverage: It includes manuscripts in Arabic, Coptic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish.

Items in these collections can be downloaded, shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, reference URL is also included.

The Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia (A Center for Islamic and Iranian Studies)

The Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia started in 1981 as a scientific research institution aiming to publish general and specialized encyclopedia.

To achieve their goal a group of scholars and researchers from different fields were called and after carefully studying best practices in the world of encyclopedias, Great Islamic Encyclopaedia- دائرة‌المعارف بزرگ اسلامی was compiled as their first project. Later the center expanded to a research institution with a broader mandate in research and publishing and developed a digital library as well as published various other encyclopedias in different topics such as culture, Iran’s folk culture, Islam, Iran’s Geography, etc.

Some of their encyclopedias are open access and available via The center’s website, Encyclopedias such as:

Image credit : https://wikinoor.ir

Encyclopedia of Iran which is a resource about Iran’s folklore culture and provides information about values, customs, beliefs, superstitions in Iran’s society as well as documenting the oral culture for historical and sociological research. So far 6 volumes are published, this encyclopedia is published in Persian language however each entry has a roman phonetics as well as a label with the corresponding topic of the entry or name of the Author of that entry.

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Image credit: https://fa.wikipedia.org

Great Islamic Encyclopaedia- دائرة‌المعارف بزرگ اسلامی which is known to be a comprehensive encyclopedia on Islamic topics is also available online. This encyclopedia has been translated to English, Arabic as well but only the one in Persian is accessible online. Each entry besides providing access to the entry article, also provides corresponding volume number in the print version for that article. Islamic Studies Library of McGill has the print version of the book and can be accessed here   .

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دانشنامۀ فرهنگ مردم ایران  is another open access resource from this center, encyclopedia of Iranian people culture, which explores various aspects of Iranian culture from past to contemporary era and is a useful resource for sociological, historical and anthropological research.

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دانشنامه تهران بزرگ  The Greater Tehran Encyclopedia is a detailed and specialized encyclopedia designed to compile a comprehensive, credible information about  all aspects of the material and spiritual life of Greater Tehran. It is estimated that the Great Encyclopedia of Tehran will contain about 12,000 articles, which will cover various topics from the aspects of political, social and cultural life of Greater Tehran, especially in the last 200 years.

The Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia website also lists the most recent added articles from each of the mentioned encyclopedias as well as the most viewed articles, access here.

Islamic Studies as Sacrificial Listening

Islamic Studies as Sacrificial Listening is the research blog of Dr. David Vishanoff, Associate Professor in Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests lie in how individuals “understand religious others, and how they understand sacred texts—both their own and those of other religions.” Launched in 1997, when Dr Vishanoff was still a student, the blog is still active in 2021.

The blog is used as a platform for publishing some of his presentations , and publications. For presentations, Dr. Vishanoff generally gives access to his notes, PowerPoint Slides, and YouTube video link (when available). For publications, he provides -when copyright allows- access to PDF files. When copyright does not allow, he just links to the publisher’s website.

The blog also gives access to a number of courses syllabi that may be of interest to scholars looking for readings on particular topics:

If the Islamic Studies as Sacrificial Listening blog is very focused in terms of resources, it is a nice example of a dynamic, and user-friendly research blog, that could serve as a template for scholars interested in using blogging to promote their work.

Khazaaen

Khazaaen archive is a voluntary independent association, centered in Jerusalem, where it first started as an initiative in October of 2016. Khazaaen considers itself as a societal project where people’s efforts contribute in building the archive.

“Each paper has a story”

The archive is interested in gathering ephemera materials; which is basically any material that was produced for a short-term and specific objectives. Khazaaen has managed to gather up to 60 thousand documents, where most of the materials are either daily publications, advertisements, brochures, pamphlets, posters, business cards, postal cards, wedding invitations, commercial, political, or artistic. Khazaaen believes it’s important to gather such materials as they serve as basic information in understanding local and social histories and a collective memory of the society’s day-to-day interactions. Moreover, these materials contain honest and real information about certain events in certain points in history and they enable us to understand the social experience and the alterations that occurred across different eras.

Individual Contributors/ People’s cabinet (khazaneh)

Khazaaen has several collection centers located in Amman, Beirut, Doha, and Algeria. The Technical Team will sort out received materials and make a second copy to send it to another archive in order to have back-up copies. Then scan the original and create a digital surrogate. Hard copies are kept in antioxidant files to preserve them.

Ottoman Archive
77 Materials
British Mandate Archive
1201 Materials
Palestinian Publications Archive
3785 Materials
The memory in 5304 Materials

Khazaaen hopes that it would be able to protect and preserve as many of the daily publications as possible and make these materials available to researchers and the public. In addition, Khazaaen aspires that its digital archive will contribute in starting a social and cultural discussion around critical political and societal issues in the hope of creating a better tomorrow.

All the material made available on Khazaaen’s website have been uploaded with special permissions and agreements with different institutions and individuals with the aim of making it available to the public. To read more, check Terms of use.

AlKindi : a union catalogue of written religious and cultural heritage of the Middle East

AlKindi: is a union catalogue of written religious and cultural heritage of the Middle East, that combines in one catalogue the collections available in Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies, Institute of Arabic Manuscripts and Fscire Research Institute and Library on the History and Doctrines of Islam (Palermo).

Each of the three library holds rich collections of resources on Islamic topics, culture, heritage, authorities, and the intellectual work of prominent Islamic scholars.

            The library of the Dominican Institute of Oriental Studies (IDEO, Cairo) focuses on the Arabic Islamic sources of the first millennium Hiǧrī. IDEO’s library houses 150,000 monographs and about 1,800 journals and periodicals covering various disciplines such as Arabic language, Quranic exegesis, theology, law and jurisprudence, history, philosophy, sufism, history of sciences.

            The Institute of Arabic Manuscripts focuses on manuscripts in microfilm or in digital format and presents manuscripts in the field of classical Arab manuscript heritage.

            The Fscire Research Institute and Library on the History and Doctrines of Islam (Palermo) focus is on exhibiting the linguistic, doctrinal, and cultural diversity of Islam.

Alkindi created a searchable index for accessing bibliographic information on various valuable resources available at the above-mentioned libraries. Thus, scholars and researchers can map various primary and secondary resources. Alkindi also “aims to describe the genealogy or literary descent of a medieval work through the links that the works foster between them.”

Alkindi has launched a new version that complies with the conceptual model proposed by the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) called FRBR. This new version provides 4 level of information for items and creates connection between different levels of information for items which provides users with a better search result.

On the search result page, bibliographic information is presented in the language of the source which can range from Arabic, English, French to Spanish and other languages. Moreover, the type of the material is specified whether it is series, early work or a monograph.