Major Online Reference Sources -- Accessible

Cornell University Library Logo

Islamic Studies Research Databases & Online Reference Sources

(Access may require CU log-in and is restricted to the CU community)

arabian bar

Research Tools & Methods 

Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and indexes 

  • Encyclopaedia of Islam [Online] Current—    (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. 
  • Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World 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.
  • Encyclopaedia Islamica 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.)
  • Index Islamicus 1906- present- 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.
  • Oxford Bibliographies Online: Islamic Studies 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.]

Qur’an Research Sources

  • Blackwell Companion to the Qur'an [Online] 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 contextualized 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.”
    • Early Western Korans Online This collection contains all Arabic Koran editions printed in Europe before 1850, as well as all complete translations directly from the Arabic (until about 1860). Among the secondary translations, only those into German and Dutch are offered completely. Of the partial editions, only the typographically or academically most interesting ones are presented here. This collection includes Korans and Koran translations in eight languages.
    • Encyclopedia of Canonical Ḥadīth Online Work on the earliest development of the religion and cultures of Islam comprises English translations of all canonical ḥadīths (oral traditions of or about the Prophet Muhammad), complete with their respective chains of transmission (isnāds). The work is organized in alphabetical order based on the names of the transmitters. Each of them is listed with the tradition(s) for the wording of which he can be held accountable, or with which he can at least be associated.
    • Concordance et Indices de la Tradition Musulmane Online Wensinck’s Condordance is an essential research tool for those who are interested in Islam’s Tradition (ḥadīth) literature. This body of texts is a major source for Islamic theology and law and forms an important source for historians of early Islam. The Concordance offers an index of all words found in traditions included in the six canonical ḥadīth collections of Sunni Islam, complemented by Mālik ibn Anas’s Muwaṭṭaʾ and the Musnads of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal and al-Dārimī.

Subject Reference & Research Guides

  • Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology [Olin Library BP166.1 .C36 2008. (PRINT)]. Critical reflections on the evolution and major themes of pre-modern Muslim theology begins with the revelation of the Koran, and extends to the beginnings of modernity in the eighteenth century. Devoting especial attention to questions of rationality, scriptural fidelity, and the construction of 'orthodoxy', this volume introduces key Muslim theories of revelation, creation, ethics, scriptural interpretation, law, mysticism, and eschatology.
  • Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Islamic Thought 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.
  • Conflict and conquest in the Islamic world : a historical encyclopedia 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.
  • Twentieth century religious thought : Volume II, IslamMultivolume, 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.
  • World Almanac of Islamism 2014-- American Foreign Policy Council. 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.  
  • Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures [Online] [Print: Olin Library Reference (Non-Circ.) HQ1170 .E53 2003+] 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.

Online Collections & Aggregated Sources

BRILL Collections:  Middle East and Islamic Studies E-Books Online, Collection

Series in Islam - Oxford University Press:

arabian bar

More Resources for Research from the Cornell University Library

  Middle East & Islamic Studies: a Research Guide


 Islam in Southeast Asia

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].

Access our Library Anywhere -- Accessible

Looking for an easier way to access Cornell resources from off campus? Try  Access Anywhere can be installed on the web browser of your choice. You must have your bookmarks bar visible in your browser to use. This guide includes the basic installation instructions for the Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Safari web browsers. Instructions may vary depending on what version of the browser you are using


Middle East & Islamic Studies Curator

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

Spotlight -- General Interest Sources

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.

Link to Maydan page introducing a new initiative highlighting digital resources and projects in the field of Islamic Studies.

Manuscripts | Digital Resources and Projects in Islamic Studies

 The Maydan is proud to introduce a new initiative highlighting digital resources and projects in the field of Islamic Studies. Included in this roundup are manuscripts collections, digitized manuscripts, and manuscripts catalogues from universities and libraries around the world. *This is an ongoing project*