This research guide covers the different disciplines that fall under the umbrella of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. Use the tabs above for information about specific types of resources. Please note that while some electronic resources are freely available, others are subscription services provided by the Cornell University Library, so remote access may be necessary when accessing from off-campus.

Disclaimer of Endorsement:  The University does not necessarily agree with assertions and opinions expressed in the resources listed in this guide. These are provided for the researcher to discover, contrast and compare.


For the purposes of Cornell Library's Middle East and Islamic Studies, the geographic areas covered include: Mauritania, Morocco and the Western Sahara, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, the Sudan, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel & Palestine (modern), Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Maps for browsing

Historians, political scientists, and others have defined world regions in terms such as race & ethnicity, culture, language & linguistics, religion, historical unity, climatic similarity, and / or geographic compactness. One of the first questions encountered by anyone who wants to study the region is what the "Middle East" is, specifically what countries it involves. There is, however, a lack of consensus on one single definition of a region that after all stretches over three different continents; and people even refer to it variously by such terms as "Near East," "Mideast" or "Middle East." In modern times, the designation "Middle East," was applied by Westerners who viewed the area as midway between Europe and East Asia, which they call the Far East. There is at least agreement over the view that the Middle East is more than a mere geographical concept and that there are compelling historical, cultural, religious, political, social, and economic reasons for considering it as an entity apart.

It is not, for example, the land of the Arabs (millions of Turkic, Indo-European, and other peoples live in the region). It is not even, as many presuppose, the land of Islam (in terms of population and territorial size, the largest Islamic countries are outside of the traditional boundaries of the Middle East. Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan all have larger Muslim populations than any country in what we call the Middle East). Historically,  most of Iberia was under Islamic control for the better part of 700 years, and most of the Balkans for almost as long.  Hence:

The Core

Bahrein; Egypt; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kuwait; Lebanon; Oman; Palestine; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Syria; Turkey ; United Arab Emirates (federation comprised of seven sheikdoms: Ajman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Qawain); Yemen

The Periphery

.The Caucusus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia;

.Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan


.Horn of Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania)

.Maghreb: Algeria, Libya, Morocco & the Western Sahara, Tunisia

.Sahel & Sudan: Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sudan

.South Asia: Afghanistan, Pakistan

*Demographics : Middle East & North Africa  /   Vienna: Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior, 2018. 

*How the Middle East Was Invented  /  

Teaching & Learning

Graduate Programs in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies | US & Canada

The Maydan team presents this mapping/database resource to help future applicants in the fields of Religious/Islamic Studies and Middle Eastern/Near Eastern Studies in their application process. [The database/map includes application deadlines for graduate programs, links to program pages and information for undergraduate programs as well].

Database of Middle East North Africa Social Policy Expertise

Quick Introductions

Was Lawrence of Arabia Good for the Arab World? Adapted from Mason’s LEFT-HANDED IN AN ISLAMIC WORLD: An Anthropologist’s Journey into the Middle East, New Academia Publishing, 2017.

Imperial History of the Middle East - 5,000 years in 90 seconds

Middle East & Islamic Studies * Cornell

Department of Near Eastern Studies

Offers courses in the archaeology, civilization, history, languages and literatures of the Near East from ancient times to the modern period and emphasizes ...




This blog by Ali Houissa, The Middle East & Islamic Studies Curator, highlights topics relevant to the study of the Middle East and Islam, and shares information regarding Cornell University Library’s programs and services.

BLOGS: a guide to researching the Middle East and beyond


Contact the Curator

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


Islam: Terms & Concepts

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: theguardian.com

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.

Ten Things Everyone Needs to Know about Islam -  Excerpts from Esposito, John L.  What Everyone Needs to  Know About Islam. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002.


The Arab world in seven charts: Are Arabs turning their backs on religion?

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 - faculty.fairfield.edu 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].