bina is the digital collection of the Bibliothèque Universitaire des Langues et Civilisations (BULAC), an academic library established in 2001 to centralize the “Oriental” collections of nine parisian academic and research libraries. The wide-range of geographical areas covered by BULAC go from the Balkans, to Oceania passing by the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Asia. BULAC’s mission revolves around three axis: gathering these “Oriental” collections in a single location, promoting and supporting open access, and facilitating worldwide scholars’ access to the materials.
The Middle Eastern, North African and Central Asian collections of BULAC include 235,000 monographs and over 800 periodicals. In addition, the library owns approximately 4,000 “Oriental” manucripts and rare books dating from the 16th to the 19th century. The online cataloguing of these rare collections started in 2013 and the digitization in 2016. At the time of our visit (June 2021), 248 Ottoman Turkish, 150 Persian and 61 Arabic manuscripts and archival documents had been scanned and were available in bina.
The XML-EAD standard initally used to describe these rare materials was not fit to reflect the linguistic and paleographical variety of the collection and the multiple transliteration systems used to transcribe non-roman scripts. Therefore, BULAC worked in collaboration with the Agence bibliographique de l’enseignement supérieur (ABES) to develop bibliographic descriptions and authority records matching the codicological and onomastical specificities of these collections. Those interested in learning more about this cataloguing project can read the following articles (in French):
Navigating bina digital collections can be done in three different ways. The simple search available from the top-right corner of the page will search simultaneaously the title, author, date, description, format and subject fields. The advanced search available either by clicking on the “Rechercher” tab or opening the drop-down menu in the simple search will allow to target specific fields and cross-search them. The Index search allows to browse materials by author, language, type of document and call number.
The metadata is divided in four categories: Notice (bibliographic data), Matérialité (physical description), Contenu (content) and Conservation (location).
The online viewer allows to browse volumes, jump to a specific page, display a single page, double pages or a gallery. It is also possible to save pages either as image of PDF (one page at a time), share (with a permalink) or embed the image elsewhere. Unless otherwise stated, all materials are out of copyright and free of use. For more technical and legal information, you may visit this page.
The Aga Khan Library, London houses invaluable resources for Islamic studies produced in different regions and different periods of the Islamic world. The collection of rare materials consists of manuscripts, artworks, out-of-print publications, photographs, and maps, a wide range of research materials on the history, politics, customs, and beliefs. In addition to these materials, the Aga Khan Library is a current custodian of several research collections and personal archives donated by acclaimed scholars in the field of Islamic studies.
Aga Khan Library Digital Collections offers a digitized copy of some of the rare books in the Aga Khan Library, London. Therefore, becoming a member of the library will grant members a full access to the library collection. It is also possible to create a personal account for nonmembers, which will allow users to save books, chapters, images or other items to view later, organize saved items into folders, email and export citations and save searches.
There are 109 items available for browsing, mainly in Ottoman Turkish Language and mostly published in Turkey. Disciplines include history, archeology, linguistics, literature, law, religion and mythology. Highlights of the collection include Osmanlı Tarihi, an encyclopaedia of Ottoman History; and Türkçülüğün Esasları, Principles of Turkism, a work published in 1923 by Ziya Gökalp.
There are 62 items available for browsing, chiefly in Arabic and some in Gujarati and other languages, mostly published in India. Disciplines include Religions, Mythology, History, Archeology and Literature. One of the highlights of the collection include works by the renowned Persian poet and traveller, Nasir-i Khusraw (d. 1088), and a large holdings of devotional hymns known as ginans attributed to Ismaili Pirs in the Indian sub-continent.
Professor Avery (1923–2008) was an eminent scholar of Persian history and literature. His collection contains thousands of volumes including manuscripts, lithographs, and many rare and out-of-print titles in Persian, English, and Arabic, some dating back to the early 18th century. There are 2 items available for browsing at the moment.
A collection of books and holograph manuscripts casts a light on Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905) will be available soon. He was a crucial figure in the intellectual history of Egypt and the Muslim countries.
There are multiple ways of navigating the content: The main Search box in the header or the advanced Search; search by keyword with date range; search using combinations of author name, title, category, date range, or identifier.
Users can print and download individual images. All use of the site content is subject to Terms and Conditions, printing and saving should be for personal use, and standard copyright restrictions apply regarding unauthorized copying and distribution.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Islams Ibadites is a research blog dedicated to French research on Ibadism in medieval and contemporary Muslim societies. Over the past ten years, the uncovering and discovery of important sets of primary sources in Arabic resulted in a growing interest from researchers and students in this school of Islam. Cyrille Aillet, a French researcher, is the creator and moderator of this blog. He started working on Ibadism in medieval North Africa around 2010, in particular in an oasis (named Ourgla) located in contemporary Algeria.
Islams Ibadites aims at centralizing the scholarship on Ibadi communities in both Middle Eastern and Western societies, from the Middle Ages to the contemporary period, produced by numerous researchers and students. Its contents are categorized as follow:
Within each category, visitors will find interesting information like a list of researchers specializing on the topic, international conferences, summer schools, lectures, and publications announcements, book reviews, etc:
Despite focusing on the same topic, Islams Ibadites offers a very different perspective than that proposed on the Ibadi Studies research blog we had reviewed in January 2020.
Both the blog content and the interface are in French.
“We can not fight for our rights and our history as well as future until we are armed with weapons of criticism and dedicated consciousness.” ― Edward W. Said
In this blog post, we will highlight resources on Palestine, and Palestinians to support students and researchers focusing on this area and seeking to understand the Palestinian Question in its national, Arab, and international contexts. Our list of resources includes digital initiatives, projects, archives, NGOs, academic centers, etc. all which have in common to document Palestine’s history and Palestinians’ lives and preserve the Palestinian heritage. Gratefully, these various collaborative efforts between institutions make materials available in Open Access to scholars, students, and the wider public.
The project is a collaborative project of the Palestinian Museum and the Institute for Palestine Studies. To promote a dynamic vision of Palestinian culture engaged with new perspectives on history, society and culture.
Presents a series of anonymous but intimate portraits of Palestinian families living under the Israeli Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. This Law, passed in 2003, prevents Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) married to Israeli citizens from obtaining a legal status in Israel, violating their right to a family life in Israel.
The archive is an oral history collective established in Lebanon in 2002. Since it’s inception, the Archive has recorded over 650 video interviews with first generation Palestinian refugees in Lebanon about their recollections of life in Palestine and the events that led to their displacement. These eyewitness narratives, with refugees from more than 150 Palestinian villages and towns, recall social and cultural life in Palestine before 1948, relations with neighboring Jewish communities and the British Mandate, the 1948 expulsion, and the early years of exile. The aim has been to document this critical period through the voices and experiences of those who lived through it, and to bear witness in a way shaped not by political symbolism but rather by the rhythms of personal memory.*
The Birzeit University Palestinian Archive Project (BZUPAP) is dedicated to documenting the life of Palestinians (persons, families and organizations) over the past century. Documents collected include the most diverse types of written and audiovisual materials (texts, photographs, videos, recordings). This growing, largely open archive is being preserved at the university. Incoming documents are organized, categorized, and uploaded on the electronic website http://awraq.birzeit.edu with a clear indication of the donor. The website constitutes an excellent resource for all interested persons and a primary source for researchers around the world, with its easy access and its Arabic and English language materials.*
The Palestine poster tradition offers an exceptional perspective on the history of modern Palestine and is, simultaneously, a much under-valued component of its cultural heritage. The posters themselves are important repositories of primary data. They provide a unique lens through which audiences can gain insight into the attitudes and aspirations of people directly involved in the contemporary history of Palestine, as they have experienced it and recorded it in graphic art.
Al-Quds open archive is the result of a collaboration between the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University (CPS) and the Institute for Palestine Studies in Ramallah. Al-Quds open archive includes 392 issues published between 1908 and 1914. The significance of al-Quds, aside from it being the first newspaper in Palestine, was its timing. It both celebrated and tested the new freedom of publication proclaimed by the Ottoman Constitutional Revolution of 1908.
The Jerusalem Quarterly is the only journal focused on the city of Jerusalem’s history, political status, and future. It addresses debates about the city and its predicament, as well as future scenarios for solving the problems of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Quarterly has a prestigious board of advisors selected from leading Palestinian universities and research institutes and an editorial staff. It has been published continuously since 1998 by the Institute of Jerusalem Studies, an IPS affiliate, in Jerusalem and since 2003, in Ramallah. This journal is made available to readers and researchers by special arrangement with the Institute for Palestine Studies.*
The main goal of this project is to digitize the historical periodical collection located at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Library in order to create archival quality digital copies of the deteriorating newspapers and magazines. In addition, the project intends to create multiple derivative copies to extend access of these rare materials to scholars, students and the public.*
The Maps and Cartography section contains two kind of documents: original maps of Jerusalem reproduced here as a tool for researchers, and links to existing sets of Jerusalem maps—both historical and contemporary.
Palestine Open Maps is a platform for map-based exploration and immersive storytelling. This alpha version of the platform allows users to navigate and search the historic map sheets, and to view basic data about present and erased localities.*
In these text-maps by Palestinian writers, you will find a fusion of voices. Writers were asked to write a portrait of the city or town their families come from—experienced or imagined. They were to draw from family members, stories, dreams, or other channels. The contributors are listed under their city of origin; those who come from two different cities are placed under the city they wrote about. This map is an architectural metaphor. It’s a construction site, where readers can watch the map being built with every feature.*
More than 120 village memorial books, about the over 400 Palestinian villages that were depopulated and largely destroyed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War have been published. Compiled as documentary histories and based on the accounts of those who remember their villages, they are presented as dossiers of evidence that these villages existed and were more than just “a place once on a map.” *
Hanna Safieh collection consist of black and white photo of Palestine and the Holy Land dating back to 1927 and featuring historic and biblical locations such as Jerusalem and the Old City, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho and more.*
Started in the 1990’s, Dreams of a Nation is a Columbia University based archival project aiming at preserving and promoting Palestinian cinema. Dreams of a Nation resulted in the organization of two Palestinian film festivals held in 2003 and 2204, and the publication of a book entitled Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema authored by Dr. Hamid Dabashi (Verso, 2006).
The Palestinian Museum – Non-Governmental Association dedicated to supporting an open and dynamic Palestinian culture nationally and internationally. The Museum presents and engages with new perspectives on Palestinian history, society and culture. It also offers spaces for creative ventures, educational programmes and innovative research.*
PASSIA seeks to present the Palestinian Question in its national, Arab and international contexts through academic research, dialogue, education and publication. In order to facilitate understanding of Palestinian positions, it endeavors to analyze current policy issues, provide a constructive forum for open discussion, conduct high quality, independent research and publish studies and information papers. In addition, PASSIA aims to empower young Palestinians through training programs and seminars that build capacity, skills and expertise.*
The Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) was established in Beirut in 1963 as an independent non-profit research institution, unaffiliated with any political organization or government. The creation of the institute, the first of its kind in the Arab world, occurred at a time when the Palestine Question was regaining its central place in inter-Arab politics and when Palestinian identity was regaining its vitality.*
The Center for Palestine Studies promotes the academic study of Palestine by supporting research, teaching, and intellectual collaboration among scholars within Columbia University and beyond. CPS provides an institutional home for faculty, post-doctoral researchers, and students at Columbia in fields that include history, literary studies, the social sciences, religion, philosophy, law, archaeology, architecture, and the arts. CPS also builds connections with other institutions and scholars to strengthen the academic study of Palestine and Palestinians throughout the United States and the world.*
The New Directions in Palestinian Studies research initiative of Brown University’s Center for Middle East Studies, launched in 2012. Over the past generation, the field of Palestine and Palestinian studies has grown rapidly, attracting some of the best and brightest scholars. Launched as a research initiative of Brown University’s Middle East Studies program in 2012, New Directions in Palestinian Studies (NDPS) has built an international community of scholars dedicated to decolonizing and globalizing this field of study New Directions in . Palestinian Studies brings together emerging and established scholars to shape the agenda of knowledge production on Palestine and the Palestinians.*
Cognizant of the Palestine Studies Trust adjacent to the University of Exeter initiated by Dr Uri Davis in the early 1980s, Professor Ilan Pappé and Dr Ghada Karmi founded the European Centre for Palestinian Studies (ECPS) in 2009. It is dedicated to producing interdisciplinary on the history of Palestine and the Palestine/Israel conflict.*
Maydan complements and benefits from the flourishing academic blogosphere and the rise in digital scholarship, amplified by social media and the diversification of academic production venues. It aims to contribute to the developments in digital scholarship by bringing peer-reviewed academic research to the attention of the broader public and providing original resources and databases for scholars, students and the public to facilitate research, discussion, and pedagogy in Islamic Studies across all disciplines. In response to a growing need for a broadly-focused online resource for academic scholarship and critique, Maydan offers its readers multidisciplinary perspectives on the historical, intellectual, and global patterns and developments influencing the Muslim world.
While drawing on the expertise of the scholars and faculty associated with the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, Maydan aims to widen academic and public discourse, stimulate intra and inter-disciplinary debate and inspire researchers from all levels to undertake new projects and engage with new issues. It features original pieces and compiles academic resources for the advancement of a sound and nuanced understanding of Muslim societies and the Islamic faith, its role in world history, and its current patterns of globalization.
In addition, Maydan includes a Resources page centralizing news from the Islamic Studies scholarly community, a Journal Roundup page making available quarterly lists of the latest articles in Islamic Studies, a Book display page offers monthly lists of new publications in the field, and a Podcast page (Soundcloud) giving access to recorded lectures by, and interviews with, renowned Islamic Studies scholars.
Last, the weekly Media Roundups propose an overview of Islam in the media.
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.
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.
Located in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, St. Catherine’s Monastery is “one of the world’s oldest monasteries and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” The site has been occupied by monks since the 4th century, but the monastery was formally established in 6th century the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Thanks to its remote location, the Monastery has been able to preserve one of the world’s most important libraries holding 4,559 manuscripts dating from the 4th to the 19th century in 13 languages, covering a wide range of topics (Bible, liturgy, hagiography, patristics, spirituality, and history, classical poetic, scientific and philosophical texts). Widely recognized as “the world’s oldest continually operating library, the manuscript holdings of St. Catherine’s Monastery represent an unparalleled resource to study the history and literature of the Eastern Mediterranean from late antiquity until early modernity.”
Started in February 2018, the digitization of 1,172 Arabic and Syriac (400,000 pages) should be completed in March 2022. The second phase of the project will focus on digitizing Greek, Georgian, Slavonic and other languages 3,387 codices (1.1 million pages).
At the time of our visit, a total of 660 manuscripts in Arabic, Syriac, Greek, Aramaic, Turkish, Coptic and Latin were accessible via the following categories:
Within each category, holdings can be filtered by genre (the majority of the manuscripts fall into the liturgical and biblical texts genres), date (ranging from 501 to 1900), writing system (the large majority of manuscripts are written in Arabic and Syriac), script (Naskh being the most used calligraphy in this collection), codicological features (colophon, decorations, marginal notes, etc.), support (paper or parchment), form (all of them are codices), and names. Results are displayed either in list or gallery view:
Please note that access to digital versions of manuscripts is conditioned to the creation of a free account. Once logged in, you may open records and view the manuscripts in the custom-made viewer:
Records include bibliographical and codicological information on the codex as well as references. A good variety of reading options are available as shown below:
Preservation and documentation of written Islamic Heritage was the initial goal of the Al-Furqan, but it has expanded beyond its initial aim and has three centers active in the field of Islamic studies. Also Al-Furqan has published many different publications in the field of Islamic manuscripts, one of which is “World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts” and is known as a pioneering work that catalogues manuscripts in various countries from all over the world.
Moreover, after completion of the above mentioned publication the digitized outcome of the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts is called ‘World Collections’ databank and can be accessed through Al-Furqan digital library at this address: https://digitallibrary.al-furqan.com/world_library.
The three centers of Al-Furqan, with their publication, research and academic activates, are contributing in various ways to the goal of the foundation, which is conservation, promotion and study of Islamic manuscripts, these three centers are:
“The Manuscript Centre within Al-Furqan was established in 1988, aiming to preserve and study the Islamic manuscripts, which constitute a particularly important part of Islamic heritage…..” “[….] The Manuscript Centre within Al-Furqan is committed to mobilising all available expertise to preserve these manuscripts and to restore their content to the cultural mainstream.”
“In 1991, the late Sheikh Hamad al-Jasser, a member of Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, gave a keynote speech at the Foundation’s launch, in which he presented some of the most valuable manuscripts of Makkah and Madinah and urged the Foundation to undertake the task of producing an encyclopaedia of the two great cities.”
“The mission of the Centre is summarised in the revitalisation of the knowledge of al-maqasid (objectives, purposes), in order to develop the process of ijtihad (free reasoning) and the renewal of Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence), its fundamental theory (usul), and Islamic thought in general. The Centre also aims to broaden the horizons of knowledge for students of Islamic studies everywhere.”
Another important part of Al-Furqan Foundation is its Digital library which was established in 2013 with the aim of advancing and supporting research as well as raising awareness regarding Islamic written heritage especially Islamic manuscripts. To this end, Al-Furqan Digital Library has a valuable and large collection of references as well as primary resources and presents an increasing repository of bibliographic information about manuscripts and manuscript collections worldwide.
This Digital library is user-friendly and interactive and is available in Arabic and English. It also has a very well-designed guide that walks users through various aspects of the library and show them how to use and access material.
Al-Furqan has many publications which can be browsed here, also it worth mentioning that Islamic Studies Library of McGill has many of its publication which can be searched and found in the library catalogue.
The Ottoman History Podcast began in 2011 and March 2021 marks its 10 years anniversary that this initiative is recording interviews with academics researching or studying the Ottoman Empire.
It started with the goal of experimenting new form of academic production by using more accessible media and a more collaborative approach. Now it is one of the largest developed digital resources about Ottoman Empire and modern Middle East in the form of academic discussion.
“Our recorded interviews and lectures, while still largely academic in tone, provide scholarly conversation accessible to a wider public audience.”
Chris Gratien, Producer and Co-Creator of the podcast in an interview with Bosphorus Review of Books, in response to the question of “What is The Ottoman History Podcast?” says:
“Ottoman History Podcast is an internet radio program focused on the history and culture of the Ottoman Empire, modern Middle East, and Islamicate world. Since 2011, we’ve featured the work of over 300 contributors, mostly scholars and students of history and other academic disciplines. At any given time, we have more than a dozen team members equipped to record in different locations throughout the world. All of our interviews happen in person. And the project is completely independent and non-commercial. Over the years we’ve built quite a community that includes not only podcasters but also a few other web projects loosely-centered on the history of the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East”.
The Making of the Islamic World — conversations about the history of Muslim societies from the 7th to 17th centuries, and each episode offers suggestion for further listening and some primary and secondary reading.
Deporting Ottoman Americans : “How do you deport someone whose country no longer exists? This podcast addresses this question through the stories of Middle Eastern migrants subject to deportation from the United States during the 1930s”
The Yayla— is an internet radio program centered around various range of Turkey’s music. Each episode talks about a particular genre also covers a bit of cultural context.
Bibliographies — is a list of books and resources compiled by Heather Hughes the OHP librarian on select subject and time.
Chris Gratine in his above mentioned interview, for those who are new to this podcast, suggested to start with the episode called : Ottoman New York, where the forgotten shared history and connection between New York city and the Ottoman Empire is being discussed.