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.

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

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

Call for contribution in the form of translation@ Museum With No Frontier

If in the face this pandemic you are staying home and have more time on your hands, If despite all this you are still passionate about culture, art and history, If you too believe that art, culture and cultural heritage should be accessible to everyone as much as possible, If you were looking for an opportunity to contribute for a good cause, But more importantly, If you can translate from English to Arabic, then this post is probably for you.

 

Mueseum With No Frontier (MWNF) has launched a campaign to have more of their museum and exhibitions related content translated into Arabic, in order to give greater access to art and culture to more people from around the world.

 

“We are in need of support to translate more of our database to Arabic so those in Arab countries and beyond can access our online Explore Islamic Art Collections and other exhibitions.”

If interested, contact them at: office@museumwnf.net

Brief background about Museum With No Frontier:

MWNF was founded as an independent non-profit organization in 1995 on the initiative of Eva Schubert. MWNF program is a collaboration between public and private partners from all over the world and its main activities consist of “MWNF Virtual Museum and related MWNF Galleries and the MWNF Exhibition Trails and related books and travel program.”

MuseumWNF is determined to link cultures via a diversified knowledge of history, heritage and culture encourage practicing peaceful coexistence. Moreover, part of their mandate is cooperation with the Arab world and promoting Islamic art.

“Contributing to better knowledge of Arab countries and cooperating with Arab partners on educational and cultural tourism projects has been an MWNF priority since its foundation. Since 2010 MWNF has had a partnership with the League of Arab States to promote awareness of the Arab world’s history and cultural legacy through joint projects.”

More information about MWNF can be found here.

There is also volunteer opportunities for native-language translators to help with translations:
English to Arabic
English to Spanish
German to English
Spanish to English

For more information click here and here

MWNF on Facebook, Twitter, Instgram.

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.

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

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.

Digital collection @ National Library and Archive of Iran

National library and Archive of Iran (NLAI) is located in Tehran and was launched officially in 1937 but its collection dates back 150 years.

The present National Library of Iran houses many different collections from older libraries, including many rare and valuable manuscripts such as large numbers of manuscripts, old printed books, old itineraries from European tourists, documents, rare periodicals and materials in non-print forms.

The library is an educational, research, and service institution, aiming to acquire, organize and disseminate information published or produced in Iran or in the fields of Iranology and Islamic study in other countries. NLAI provides access to part of its massive collection through the Digital Collection, which consists of various collections of Manuscripts, lithograph, dissertations, newspapers, photographs, maps, documents and printed books.

Ajam Media Collective

We aim to re-imagine publishing, telling new stories of West Asia and its diasporas through essays and emerging research.

Launched in 2011, Ajam Media Collective is an online forum designed to highlight representations of West Asia within Western media.

Ajam started as a blog for graduate students with an interest in West Asia. This is the collective effort of five people from different fields, ranging from academia to filmmaking, music and journalism. By employing diverse skills and knowledge, they provide greater access to the more complex and nuanced discussions and debates within in the academy in the region, which they refer to as Ajamistan. The underlining premise is that this region, while part of the Middle East, is under-represented in Western and online media.

Ajam in Arabic means ‘otherness’ and for this reason the term ‘Ajamistan’ was coined to refer to a geographical area from Turkey in the West and to Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Afghanistan and South Asia in the East. A common thread among these countries is the influence of Persianate culture and heritage present during the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal eras until the 18th to 19th centuries. In addition, since Persian was the language of culture and literature, these countries were influenced and continue to reflect various elements of Persianate culture.

 

“Ajam Media Collective is committed to uniting authors from various backgrounds and disciplines to promote diverse critical views on culture, politics, and society, emphasizing the region’s importance as a thriving cultural center whose multiple realities are too often obscured by the popular Western and global media.”

 

Therefore, this online platform focusses on covering cultural and society related matters in this region, as well as shedding light on contemporary and historical issues via informed analysis, by offering semi-scholarly resources from academics, activists and student input. Ajam also provides access to contemporary research and debates in various topics, such as, Urban Geography, Cinema, Gender Studies, literature, history and others.

Moreover, in order to offer a holistic insight and to cover the respective topics comprehensively, a diverse range of formats are used to present various topics and insights, such as podcasts, longer essays of film analysis, photo essays, blog articles and music. This vast range of information can be accessed by region as well.

Iran and Persian Studies Dissertation

Iran and Persian Studies @ Dissertation Reviews, highlight the latest researches that have been done in the form of doctoral dissertation which are not published yet from all across the world in the field of Iranian and Persian studies.

Dissertation Reviews, provides over 1000 overviews of recently defended but unpublished doctoral dissertation in Humanities and Social Sciences. The goal is to help readers have access to and stay informed about the latest research that has been done in a wide variety of topics.

Dissertation Reviews consists of advisory board of reviewers form universities from all over the world, which contribute reviews to doctoral dissertation in various topics of Iran and Persian Studies, Islamic Studies, South Asian Studies, Southeast Asian Studies and etc.

“Each review provides a summary of the author’s main arguments, the historiographic genealogy in which the author operates, and the main source bases for his or her research. The reviews are also anticipatory, making educated assessments of how the research will advance or challenge our understanding of major issues in the field when it is revised and published in the future.”

This platform provides a great support for academic community not only by publishing non-critical reviews of the recently defended dissertation, but also authors often receive private critical reviews which helps them revising their work before publishing their books.

Dissertation Reviews is a great resource to follow the most recent research topics from all corner of the world. It can be find on social media via: Facebook and Twitter