Reading Muslims Project

Reading Muslim is an inter-and multi disciplinary project funded through the university of Toronto’s Connaught Global Challenge Grants Program.

Reading Muslim project is a Network of academics, scholars and researchers, and is re-examining the place of textuality in the Islamic Studies. This project is aiming to “elevate the understanding of Islam, Muslims and society”, by examining a set of methodological and political questions about the Islam today through the lens of textuality.

  • “Who are the privileged readers of Muslim texts?
  • What is the relationship between texts and Islamic tradition?
  • Who gets to decide the relationship between textuality and orthodoxy?
  • How do texts support the legal and bureaucratic institutions of the modern state in its project of governance?

This project provides access to three different types of content such as articles, podcasts and videos. Each item provides an introduction about the author along with the full access to the content.

“Reading Muslims begins from the premise that consideration of texts and textual methods are indispensable to the study of Islam. Islam began with a book : al-Kitāb, the Qur’anic revelations. From this first textual experience came others: Qur’anic exegesis, the Law, Sufism, etc. Islamic studies scholars, whether Muslim or not, read Muslim texts to understand the Islamic tradition. But they also read Muslim bodies and practices through an ethnographic lens. And, to make things more complicated, they read Muslims as readers of their texts, paying attention to various interpretations within Muslim communities.”

This platform is comprised of four research hubs. Hub 1: Muslims as Readers, Hub, 2: National Security and Anti-Muslim Racism, Hub 3: Reading Practices, Hub 4: Anthropology of Islam. Under each hub researchers and community partners are looking “textuality in Islamic studies and its place in the formation of community identities in dynamic societies.”

Each hub provides a brief introduction to the aspects that will be examined, name of the researchers and community partners as well as access to the various available contents through the Reading Muslims platform.

Moreover, Reading Muslims provides information about their upcoming events on their website.

Digital Ottoman Studies

Digital Ottoman Studies (DOS) is a hub contributing to growing field of Digital Humanities by presenting projects, publications, tools, and events through the lens of Ottoman and Turkish studies.

This website seeks to create a digital network for future projects by bringing together diverse platforms, institutions, studies, and individuals. Thus, DOS provides access to projects and data bases that are created by other organization which includes Ottoman Archives, maps, manuscripts and etc.

Information on DOS is classified into 6 categories of Projects, publications, Tools, Databases, Platforms and under each category, there are sub-categories that direct the users to the respective projects which are encompassing “600-year-old Ottoman Empire’s archival heritage, diverse ethnics and geographical regions., etc.”

The Project category brings together variety of works in GIS, Network Analysis, Text Analysis, Databases, and 3D-AR-VR, each provides access to a wide range of research and academic projects form historical urban and industrial comparative analysis to Mapping Ottoman empire and region, or a digital history research project on Travels in the 19th century Ottoman empire.

Also, users can browse different database projects like Ottoman Inscriptions, Digital History, The Open Islamicate Text Initiative, etc. When possible, the DOS has provided the name of the project managers and then directs the user to the project’s main website.

Moreover, in the Publication tab users can have access a list of published articles, books and dissertations that are classified based on the topic/subject and some are accessible as an open access publication. 

The tab of Databases has organized a list of various type of databases such as Archives, Map collections, manuscripts collections, dictionaries, E-resources, Photo collections, calendar convertors and Gazetteers.

https://www.getty.edu/research/tools/digital_collections/notable/gigord.html

The Platform tab introduces the users to wide range of websites and podcasts including Hazine, Hajj Trail (Game), Ottoman History Podcast, Digital Humanities Turkey

“DOS is founded by Fatma Aladağ and she is coordinating the platform, whilst Assoc. Prof. Yunus Uğur is leading the project.”

Collection of Persian, Mughul and Indian Traditions Miniature Paintings

The Minassian collection consists of numerous precious miniature paintings from the Persian, Mughul and Indian traditions. The manuscripts and miniature paintings of this collection are housed in John Hay Library at Brown University.

“Figure lying on bed in outdoor setting is watched by four other figures. Possible funeral scene. The text that is second from the top, encased in the peachish area, says, in Arabic, “Bismillah e rehman i rahim”.
“Leaf” Minassian Collection of Persian, Mughal, and Indian Miniature Paintings. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:80654/

This collection is from the estate of Mrs. Adrienne Minassian the daughter of an active art collector and dealer of Islamic and Near-Eastern antiquities, Kirkor Minassian (1874-1944), he was based in New York and Paris in the early 20th century. Mrs. Minassian continued her father’s legacy and she too was one of the few dealers of Islamic art in America. After her passing in a serries of bequests her collection was given to Brown University. To read more about Mrs. Minassian and her Father click here.

This collection is accessible online through the Brown University Center for Digital Scholarship.

The paintings often include text from Persian and Indian tales. Many of the illustrations within the Minassian Collection are depictions of stories from the classical Persian text, Shahnama of Ferdowsi.

Black ink drawing of male bust in profile. Fine line quality, no color used.
“Leaf” Minassian Collection of Persian, Mughal, and Indian Miniature Paintings. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:80739/

Physical Description: Excellent workmanship on miniature. Image in excellent condition, slight damage to surrounding paper. Paper is rather heavy, but not coarse. Water stain evident on verso. Beautiful specimen. Colors appear as brilliant as inlay. Leaf is very similar to a depiction of Yusof published in Soudavir which is identified as Bukhara style.
“Leaf” Minassian Collection of Persian, Mughal, and Indian Miniature Paintings. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library. https://repository.library.brown.edu/studio/item/bdr:80651/

the collection can be browsed based on 3 Thematic Categories of Image and content, Material and Technique and Style and Type. Under each category there are more sub-categories. On the item level a description consisting of an abstract of the item and a note is provided, which present more detailed technical and historic information about the paintings style and content .

From Pen to Printing Press: Ten Centuries of Islamic Book Arts

Is a permanent online exhibit*. This online exhibit is showcasing materials and tools of Islamic literate culture housed in Indiana University collections. It explores various categories of items including Pens, Inks, Modern calligraphies and Marbled papers, Persian and Mughal illustrated manuscripts, Miniature manuscripts and Scroll, Ottoman devotional works.

These various items/topics are presented in five main categories of Writing Implements and Materials, Manuscripts, Paintings and Illustrations, Miniature Manuscripts and Scrolls, Early Printed Books and Modern Revivals. Each category begins with a historical or background information on the topic and its various aspects and continues to introduce some of the significant sample/item in that category. Also, each item comes with detailed information regarding the physical description of the item, content, date and location.  

“This Arabic-Turkish dictionary is the first printed book from the Müteferrika press. This book includes as front matter many of the legal documents the publisher acquired in order to receive permission to produce his printed books. These legal documents have been reproduced as front matter in each copy of this particular book.”

Miniature Qur’an, 19th century, Iran. Available at Lilly Library, Adomeit Miniature Islamic Manuscripts C3.

This online exhibit has also dedicated a section called “Explore Manuscript” to six manuscripts specifically, in order to provide a visual overview of Islamic manuscripts, manuscripts illumination. Some of these six item are religious text some are literary work and they showcase artistic and thematic forms of Islamic book art traditions.

These selected manuscripts are consists of Shamshir Khani (Near Eastern mss Firdawsi Shahnama), Jami’s “Haft Awrang”, a Miniature Qur’an, an Illustrated Prayer Book (Duʿaname), Fragment of Kufic Quran and Qur’an (Juz’ 9 of 30) and their formal and decorative elements such as bindings, illuminated frontispieces, chapter headings, and illustrations have been highlighted.

A Mughal Nobleman

“This single folio painting, extracted from a manuscript or album, depicts a kneeling man in half-profile. The sitter is wearing a highly embroidered robe and bears a dagger upon which his right hand rests. The embroidered robe and ornamented dagger both help identify this person as a high ranking Mughal official. The sitter’s clothing and jewelry are rendered with great detail, as is the bowl and the fabric of the pillow. The background consists of a green hill with scattered trees and a grey cloudy sky. This portrait probably dates from the Jahangir (1605-27) period or the early Shah Jahan (1627-58) period. Jahangir period paintings are recognizable by their forest green backgrounds. Likewise, many albums were made which include the portraits of court officials.”

* “This permanent online exhibit is an adaptation of the Indiana University Art Museum special exhibition, From Pen to Printing Press: Ten Centuries of Islamic Book Arts on display March 7-May 10, 2009.” https://web.archive.org/web/20180521060600/http://www.iub.edu/~iuam/online_modules/islamic_book_arts/exhibit/index.html

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.

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

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 3.jpg
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Encyclopaedia_Islamica-farsi.jpg
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   .

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4-1024x419.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is home-top-05.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is home-top-06.jpg

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.

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.  

Open access Islamic-Iranian manuscripts database: گنجینه باز نسخ خطی اسلامی – ایرانی

Open access Islamic-Iranian manuscripts database has been established with the aim of providing access to resources for researchers and scholars with the focus on the manuscripts of the Islamic world and Iran. This site, in order to promote the values of Iranian culture, with the help of group of dedicated partners tried to make available manuscripts and develop techniques of accessing the manuscripts of the Islamic world and Iran. And recently they have run their pilot version of their website.

قرآن، ایران کتابخانه حائري – قم

It is possible to read manuscripts electronically and, on the web, as well as access other resources provided in this database such as books and articles related to the field of manuscripts.

This initiative consists of various departments such as cataloging, graphic editing, image development, public and international relations, and IT.

رسالة، ایران کتابخانه حضرت ولیعصر – خوانسار

Development of their archive relies on collaboration of private collection owners, personal collections, national libraries, or other entities who are willing to share their manuscripts, books, or their resources with them to be digitized and to be made available for public use.  

قرآن، عراق منشا نامشخص

The image of manuscripts is accessible for everyone; however, the website interface is only available in Persian language. Each manuscript can be browsed, and bibliographic information is presented consisting of language of the item, subject and author. Also, when available more details about the manuscript is shared such as title, author or manuscript’s transcriber as well as where the item is kept, and it also indicates if the manuscript is not complete.

A Page on Iranian History

Iranologie.com is created by Khodadad Rezakhani, a scholar of late antiquity and the early medieval period, mostly in West and Central Asia. He created this site with a focus on Iranian history and is aiming to provide information about history and culture of Iran as well as about “Iran as a modern nation-state”.

The main feature of the website is “The History Page” which is the access point to the main content on the site about Iranian history categorized in three eras of: 1. From the Ancient Times to 650 CE, 2. From Islam to the Safavids, 3. From the Safavids to Modern Iran.

Khodadad Rezakhani, the creator of the site, has a PhD form UCLA in late antique Near East and he is a professional academic dedicated to teaching , researching and writing. He describes the reason for initiating this project as :

“However, I have a deep interest in bringing academic research to the public and find producing knowledge for purely academic audiences to be undemocratic and against the spirit of knowledge. As such, I try to engage in anyway I can, giving interviews to TV and Radio programmes and appearing on various segments dedicated to history. But more than anything, I try to use the internet, and have done so since 1996 (!) to engage, through my podcasts and my weblog, and make sure that what me and my colleagues are working on does not remain behind the locked doors of academic journals.”

Iranologie.com is host for the History of Iran podcast and history Podcast in Persian. Both podcasts cover Iranian history fro pre-Islamic to Islamic and modern ear, one in English and the latter in Persian language. Moreover, all sources and additional materials that were referenced in the podcasts can are listed on Podcast section of the site.

Iranologie: the History of Iran Podcast

In addition to the History and two valuable podcasts, recently, the author of Iranologie.com also created a new project on Twitter, “ @historianofIran, which is a rotating weekly account where different scholars of Iranian history, culture, and languages write about their work for a week at a time”.

last but not least, historical issues are discussed mostly by the author both in English and Persian in the form of a blog and can be accessed on Iranologie.com here.