Major Online Reference Sources -- Accessible

Islamic Studies Databases & Reference Sources

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(EI Online) sets out the present state of knowledge of the Islamic World and is a unique reference tool, an essential key to understanding the world of Islam. It includes biographical articles on distinguished Muslims of every age and land, on tribes and dynasties, on the crafts and sciences, on political and religious institutions, on the geography, ethnography, flora and fauna of the various countries and on the history, topography and monuments of the major towns and cities. In its geographical and historical scope it encompasses the old Arabo-Islamic empire, the Islamic countries of Iran, Central Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Indonesia, the Ottoman Empire and all other Islamic countries.

Looks at Islam's role in the modern world, doing so in context of the religion's history and development over the last 13 centuries. Contains thematic articles, biographies of key figures, definitions, illustrations, maps and more.

Based on the abridged and edited translation of the Persian Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i Buzurg-i Islāmī, one of the most comprehensive sources on Islam and the Muslim world. A unique feature of the Encyclopaedia lies in the attention given to Shiʿi Islam and its rich and diverse heritage; offers the Western reader an opportunity to appreciate the various dimensions of Shiʿi Islam, the Persian contribution to Islamic civilization, and the spiritual dimensions of the Islamic tradition. (Projected 16-volume. New content will be added every year in alphabetical order, with an expected completion in 2023.)

  • Encyclopædia Iranica Online   The most renowned reference work in the field of Iran studies. Founded by the late Professor Ehsan Yarshater and edited at the Ehsan Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University, this monumental international project brings together the scholarship about Iran of thousands of authors around the world.
  • eShia Library A large digital library of religious, historical and legal texts focused primarily on Shia Islam. It contains over six thousand titles with  information and extracts from quite recent or contemporary scholars and theologians which may not be seen elsewhere.  Individual titles have have been transcribed not digitized but a random check on few titles seem to indicate that the publication and edition information is retained.  Download is limited to 30 pages only.


An international bibliography of publications in European languages covering all aspects of Islam and the Muslim world, including history, beliefs, societies, cultures, languages, and literature. The database includes material published by Western orientalists, social scientists and Muslims.

Offers peer-reviewed annotated bibliographies on the range of lived experiences and textual traditions of Muslims as they are articulated in various countries and regions throughout the world. Bibliographies are browseable by subject area and keyword searchable. Contains a "My OBO" function that allows users to create personalized bibliographies of individual citations from different bibliographies. [In Persian, Arabic, Urdu, English, Turkish English, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu.]

Subject Reference Guides & Handbooks

A reference guide covering important aspects of study of Islam. An accessible source of information to the wide range of methodologies and theoretical principles involved. Presenting Islam as a variegated tradition, key essays demonstrate how it is subject to different interpretations, with no single version privileged. Islam is treated as a lived experience, not only as theoretical ideal or textual tradition. Featuring a series of indispensable research tools, including a substantial A-Z of key terms and concepts, chronology and a detailed list of resources.

Reflects the variety of trends, voices, and opinions in the contemporary Muslim intellectual scene. It challenges Western misconceptions about the modern Muslim world, demonstrating that it is far from being a monolithic religious, cultural and intellectual phenomenon. The companion consists of 36 essays written by contemporary Muslim writers and scholars. These essays revolve around such issues as Islamic tradition, modernity, globalization, feminism, the West, the USA, reform, and secularism. They explore the history, range, and future of these issues in contemporary Muslim societies. Furthermore, they help readers to situate Islamic intellectual history in the context of Western intellectual trends and issues.

A reader’s guide to read and understand the Qur’an as a text and as a vital piece of Muslim life. Comprises over 30 original essays by leading scholars. Provides exceptionally broad coverage - considering the structure, content and rhetoric of the Qur’an; how Muslims have interpreted the text and how they interact with it; and the Qur’an’s place in Islam. Features notes, an extensive bibliography, indexes of names, Qur’an citations, topics, and technical terms.

  • Qurʾānic Studies Online [Brill] Qur'anic Studies Online gives access to:
    • Dictionary of Qurʾanic Usage is the first comprehensive, fully-researched and contextualised Arabic-English dictionary of Qur'anic usage. The work is based on Classical Arabic dictionaries and Qur'an commentaries with cross-references. This online version full-text searchable in Arabic and English.
    • Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān is an encyclopaedic dictionary of Qur’ānic terms, concepts, personalities, place names, cultural history and exegesis extended with essays on the most important themes and subjects within qur’ānic studies.

    • Qurʾān Concordance is a unique finding aid which allows users to identify and localize text fragments, or even snippets, of the Qurʾān. The use of the Qurʾān Concordance (QC) requires some understanding of its underlying concepts, as described in the “How To.”

An interdisciplinary, trans-historical, and global project embracing women and Islamic cultures in every region where there have been significant Muslim populations. It aims to cover every topic for which there is significant research, examining these regions from the period just before the rise of Islam to the present. The Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures Online crosses history, geographic borders and disciplines to create a groundbreaking reference work reflecting the very latest research on gender studies and the Islamic world. v. 1. Methodologies, paradigms and sources for studying women and Islamic cultures. v. 2. Family, law, and politics. v. 3. Family, body, sexuality, and health. v. 4. Economics, education, mobility, and space.

Documents the extensive military history of the Islamic world between the 7th century and the present (wars, revolutions, sieges, institutions, leaders, armies, weapons, and other aspects of wars and military life). Includes over 600 A–Z entries, many with accompanying images. Provides a convenient glossary of commonly used Islamic military terms. This reference work covers relevant historical information regarding Islam in Middle Eastern regions and countries, North Africa, Central Asia, Southeastern Asia, and Oceania.

Multivolume, cross-searchable online collection that brings together the seminal works and archival materials related to worldwide religious thinkers from the early 1900s until the first decade of the 21st century. Focuses on modern Islamic theology and tradition and details Islam's evolution from the late 19th century by examining printed works and rare documents by Muslim writers, both non-Western and Western voices.

The first comprehensive reference work to detail the current activities of radical Islamist movements worldwide. The contributions, written by subject experts, provide annual updates on the contemporary Islamist threat in all countries and regions where it exists.

A cartographic overview of the Islamic world. From linguistic regions of the Islamic world to Iran under the Caliphate and the Greater Delhi Sultanate, a broad variety of topics is covered. Maps include: Yemen and the Hadramaut, Central Arabia and the Wahhabi expansion, Iran in the era of the Il-Khans and Timurids, environmental regions of the Muslim world, the fertile crescent in early Ottoman times, the Caucasus in early Islamic times, the Maghrib in the age of Almoravids and Almohads and many other regional groups. A wide variety of new city maps including Sanaa, Damascus, Aleppo, Mosul, Baghdad, Cairo, Isfahan, Shiraz, Bukhara, Samarkand, Cordoba, Granada and Delhi.

The most comprehensive study of Islamic intellectual and religious history, focusing on Muslim theology. With its emphasis on the eighth and ninth centuries CE, it remains the most detailed study of scholarly networks in the early phase of the formation of Islam. Originally published in German between 1991 and 1995, Theology and Society is a monument of scholarship and a unique scholarly enterprise which has stood the test of the time as an unparalleled reference work.


Online Collections & Aggregated Sources

General Introductions and Terminology -- Accessible

What is Islam?  Check the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary for a definition and the Encyclopedia Britannica for information on the history, principles and practices of Islam.

Sunnis and Shia: Islam's ancient schism - BBC, UK.

Crescent (symbol of Islam) WHAT is the origin of the crescent moon symbol seen throughout Islamic cultures? Source:


Islam - Muslim - Moslem - Islamist

Islam vs Muslim: When and why do we use the different terms?   

Muslim vs Moslem: Why do people say Muslim now instead of Moslem?

'Muslim' vs 'Islamic' -  DAWN.COM

Muslims vs. Islamists Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Critical Concepts in Islamic Studies - Taylor & Francis Concepts in Islamic Studies series spans a number of subject areas that are closely linked to the religion.

More Concepts @ Cornell University Library

Intro to Islam Research Paper                 /  Lynette White,                   ....

Islam (religion) -- Encyclopedia Britannica

American Religion Data Archive The ARDA collection includes data on USA religious groups (individuals, congregations and denominations). The collection consists of individual surveys covering various groups and topics.

Religions of the book - Three world religious traditions have their origins in the Middle East-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-but there are also a number of more highly localized traditions. These include Zoroastrianism (primarily in Iran); the Druze of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel; and the Kurdish-speaking Yazidi-s of northern Iraq, each with their own traditions of religious identity and practice. [WORLD RELIGIONS -The Middle East and Central Asia: an anthropological approach].

Essential Readings on Political Islam (by Peter Mandaville)

As befits a topic that is global in scope, increasingly controversial in nature, and the focus of academic inquiry for more than half a century, the literature on political Islam is voluminous. The readings presented here represent some of the most important efforts to study contemporary Islamism using the tools, methodologies, and academic rigor associated with the humanities and social sciences. Though hardly exhaustive, this list will provide the reader with a sense of how the study of political Islam—in major publications either written or available in English—as an object of academic inquiry has evolved over the years.

Research Assistance

Middle East & Islamic Studies: a Research Guide


How To

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Subject & Keyword Searching

Sample Subject Headings
Start by searching the catalog by keyword. Use whatever terms you think best describe your topic. When you find a record that matches what you are looking for, view the record and see what subject headings were used. Then search again using that term as a subject search.

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Spotlight -- Accessible

Essential Readings on Political Islam (by Peter Mandaville)

As befits a topic that is global in scope, increasingly controversial in nature, and the focus of academic inquiry for more than half a century, the literature on political Islam is voluminous. The readings presented here represent some of the most important efforts to study contemporary Islamism using the tools, methodologies, and academic rigor associated with the humanities and social sciences. Though hardly exhaustive, this list will provide the reader with a sense of how the study of political Islam—in major publications either written or available in English—as an object of academic inquiry has evolved over the years.

Example of an Islamic painted pageIslamic Painted Page: A database of Islamic Arts of the Book

Islamic Painted Page database - a huge free database of references for Persian paintings, Ottoman paintings, Arab paintings and Mughal paintings. This site enables you to locate printed reproductions, commentaries and weblinks for thousands of Islamic paintings, including illuminated "carpet" pages, decorated Quran pages, and book bindings from over 230 collections all over the world.

Arabic Ontology الأنطولوجيا العربية

A new cross-search dictionary tool from Mustafa Jarrar of Birzeit University. "Linguistic Search Engine: The largest Arabic lexical database:Arabic Ontology + 150 Arabic dictionaries."

Middle East & Islamic Studies Curator

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Ali Houissa
174 Kroch Library
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY, 14853
(607) 254-1614