by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on DECEMBER 17, 2015: 

We at the Duke Islamic Studies Center are pleased to announce that the work of the Carnegie Corporation of New York-supported Transcultural Islam Project (ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN) has been highlighted in a new report by the Social Science Research Council — “Religion, Media and the Digital Turn.” The report surveyed 160 digital projects and documents the effects that digital modes of research and publication have on the study of religion.

“While our primary goal is to chronicle emerging forms of intellectual production shaping the study of religion, we hope that a greater awareness of this new work will generate more recognition of the high quality and innovative work that already exists,” report authors Chris Cantwell (University of Missouri) and Hussein Rashid (New York University) write, explaining that “the most innovative digital projects are often those that creatively combine a number of these models or genres.”

ISLAMiCommentary was mentioned at the top of several subsections, for this reason, and a lengthy case study of ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN has been included in the report (in Appendix 1) because, as the report authors told us, they find the project “exemplary.” Other projects highlighted with lengthy case studies (in Appendix 1) include the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (MAVCOR) at Yale, the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project at the University of Loyola; and Mapping Ararat — a project of York University, the University of Toronto and Emerson College.

Appendix 2 lists the 160 projects surveyed.

The report can be downloaded HERE.

Professor Mark R. Cohen delivering a lecture to a seminar room full of professors and graduate students at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (December 2014) Cohen gave two lectures there: “What is the Geniza and What does it tell us”  and “The Importance of the Geniza for Islamic History”
Professor Mark R. Cohen delivering a lecture to a seminar room full of professors and graduate students at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (December 2014)
Cohen gave two lectures there: “What is the Geniza and What Does it Tell Us?” and “The Importance of the Geniza for Islamic History”

Column » ‘By the Book’ with Joseph Preville

by JOSEPH RICHARD PREVILLE for ISLAMiCommentary on JANUARY 13, 2015: 

j8050(Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) History is a witness to the close relationship between Muslims and Jews. That was the message Profesor Mark R. Cohen delivered in two lectures at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last month on the Cairo Geniza and its importance for Islamic and Jewish history. The Geniza is a treasure trove of medieval Jewish documents housed in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, Egypt.

Cohen is Emeritus Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East, Emeritus at Princeton University. He was a visiting professor at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus during the Fall 2014 semester.

A professor at Princeton University from 1973-2013, Cohen is the author of Poverty and Charity in the Jewish Community of Medieval Egypt (Princeton University Press, 2005), The Voice of the Poor in the Middle Ages: An Anthology of Documents from the Cairo Geniza (Princeton University Press, 2005), and Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages (Princeton University Press, 1994; revised edition, 2008). He was awarded the first Goldziher Prize in 2010 for his scholarship promoting a better understanding between Muslims and Jews.

In this exclusive interview conducted in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Mark R. Cohen discusses his visit to Saudi Arabia, his career at Princeton, and his views on Muslim-Jewish coexistence. While the interview was conducted in December, its publication closely following the attacks in Paris is particularly timely.

Joseph Preville (l) and Mark Cohen (r) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Joseph Preville (l) and Mark Cohen (r) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Welcome to Riyadh. You’ve been writing about Islam and in particular the Jews of the Islamic world for many decades. What is it like to come to Saudi Arabia for the first time?

Here and also in Abu Dhabi, where I’ve been a visiting professor at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus this past semester, it’s been an eye-opening experience. It’s one thing to study Islam and the Arab world from far away, and, while I’ve visited Egypt and Jordan, I’ve never lived in an Arab country before. Here in Riyadh I’m the guest of King Saud University, particularly the Department of History. I was invited by the wing of the department that teaches Islamic history. They’ve welcomed me with open arms. They know my work.

My host is Dr. Torki Fahad Abdullah Al Saud. He finished his Ph.D. in Jewish Studies at Boston University in 2008 and wrote his dissertation on Maimonides and one other Jewish thinker from that time peiod. We’ve been in correspondence over the years, and he sends me his publications in Arabic. He’s an excellent scholar and one of the very few historians in the Arab world writing about the Jews under Islam. Continue reading

CALL FOR PAPERS | SYMPOSIA IRANICA
SECOND BIENNIAL IRANIAN STUDIES CONFERENCE

Hosted by the University of Cambridge, 8-9 April 2015

***Deadline: 15 November 2014***

Applications are warmly invited for papers that relate to any aspect of Iranian studies in any discipline within the humanities and social sciences. This includes but is by no means limited to: ancient through to contemporary history and historiography; anthropology; archaeology; cultural heritage and conservation; social and political theory; Diaspora and area studies; ecology and the environment; economics; historical geography; history of medicine; art and architecture history; education; international relations and political science; epigraphy, languages, literature, linguistics and philology; new media and communication studies; philosophy; religions and theology; classical studies; sociology; film studies and the performing arts. Comparative themes and interdisciplinary approaches are also very welcome. Continue reading

Outside view of Aurangzeb's tomb: During his rule, 1658 to 1707 C.E., Aurangzeb expanded the Mughal empire through prolonged wars of conquest, mostly in the Deccan. In 1707, at the age of 88, Aurangzeb was buried in the Deccan town of Khuldabad in a simple tomb. A staunchly religious man who disavowed the more tolerant policies of his ancestors (see below), Aurangzeb enforced Sharia law for all, forbade drinking and gambling, and reinstated the hated jizya tax on all non-Muslims.(photo and description courtesy library.lakeforest.edu)
Outside view of Aurangzeb’s tomb: During his rule, 1658 to 1707 C.E., Aurangzeb expanded
the Mughal empire through
prolonged wars of conquest, mostly in the Deccan. In 1707, at the age of 88, Aurangzeb was buried in the Deccan town of Khuldabad in a simple tomb. A staunchly religious man who disavowed the more tolerant policies of his ancestors (see below), Aurangzeb enforced Sharia law for all, forbade drinking and gambling, and reinstated the hated jizya tax on all non-Muslims.(photo and description courtesy library.lakeforest.edu)

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, TIRN, on AUGUST 19, 2014: 

Carl Ernst
Carl Ernst

UNC-Chapel Hill Islamic Studies Professor Carl Ernst was in India this summer as principal academic organizer of an international *workshop on “Practice, Performance, and Politics of Sufi Shrines in South Asia and Beyond,” held August 1-4, 2014 in Ellora-Khuldabad, Maharashtra State. Dr. Ernst has shared with TIRN the following write-up (below) on this workshop by Prof. Philip Lutgendorf  (President of the American Institute of Indian Studies), as well as details on a series of lectures Ernst delivered at Indian universities subsequent to the workshop.

AIIS (American Institute of Indian Studies) and Five Centers Join for “Sufi Shrines” Workshop by Philip Lutgendorf

On August 1-4 2014, fourteen scholars from eight countries met near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, in a workshop sponsored by six American Overseas Research Centers (AORCs), organized and hosted by AIIS. The theme of the workshop, “The Practice, Performance, and Politics of Sufi Shrines in South Asia and Beyond,” was collaboratively conceived by four South Asian AORCs (the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies, American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and American Institute of Sri Lanka Studies, together with AIIS), and its proposal was written by Carl Ernst, noted Islamic studies scholar at UNC Chapel Hill. The Centers provided modest seed money from their Council of American Overseas Research Centers programming budgets, which was then supplemented by a generous grant from the Cultural Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Delhi, whose Cultural Counselor, David Mees, took enthusiastic interest in the workshop, eventually attending it in its entirety.

Aurangzeb's tomb: (photo and description courtesy: library.lakeforest.edu)
Aurangzeb’s tomb: (photo and description courtesy: library.lakeforest.edu)

In planning the workshop and inviting presenters, Prof. Ernst was assisted by two other organizing committee members, Dennis McGilvray (University of Colorado, Boulder) and Scott Kugle (Emory University). Participants included scholars from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, as well as five South Asia specialists based in the US and Canada. A welcome comparative perspective was offered by scholars from Morocco and Senegal, whose participation was sponsored by two other AORCs, the American Institute of Maghrib Studies and the West African Research Association. Conceived as an intimate workshop for the exchange of new research, the event was held at the small Hotel Kailas, a group of cottages set in a garden and located near the entrance to the Ellora Caves, one of India’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the workshop schedule offered time for attendees to visit its extraordinary Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain rock-cut shrines created between the sixth and twelfth centuries. (As a generous gesture, the Archaeological Survey of India waived the foreigner’s admission fee for all workshop participants during the four days.)

But equally important, the ridge into which these shrines are carved is topped by hundreds of Sufi tombs, hospices, and mosques that constitute Khuldabad, also known as the “valley of the saints,” for the reputedly fourteen hundred Sufis who came here in the early fourteenth century. Their shrines represent a number of spiritual lineages, but particularly document the spread of the Chishtis, India’s most influential order, into the Deccan and South.

Ellora Caves-- UNESCO World Heritage Site These 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000, brings the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India. (photo: courtesy UNESCO)
Ellora Caves- UNESCO World Heritage Site
These 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000, brings the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance that was characteristic of ancient India. (photo: courtesy UNESCO)

Continue reading

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, TIRN, on NOVEMBER 15, 2013: 

Hazine coverHere is the Summary about Hazine from the site’s “About” page: 

In the Ottoman Empire, the hazine was the treasury, a storehouse in which courtiers found books to read, scribes deposited documents, and clerks stowed away precious objects that arrived from around the empire.

We started HAZİNE in the hopes of creating a similar storehouse of information for scholars researching the Middle East and the Islamic world at large. There are so many archives, libraries, museums, and other research centers with material on the Middle East that it is often hard to know where to begin one’s research. At the same time, many smaller archives and collections are overshadowed by the massive resources of state institutions. Instead of each researcher beginning on his or her own, acquiring a few tricks of the trade from more seasoned researchers, we hope researchers will use HAZİNE to acquaint themselves with these collections, large and small, and jump directly into the research. Continue reading