The digital and online resources for research in Islamic and Arabic studies are now enormous. It would be a shame if these resources, most of which are free, are not utilized. The main advantages of these databases are that they are accessible from anywhere and they are searchable. There are many many sites that can be included here, but I have restricted the listing here to sites which I believe students and researchers in this field must know about. It is quite likely that these sites combined, will have more primary sources than the SOAS library! Of course I will not dare to suggest that it replaces the library, rather, they are an indispensible complement to library research.
- alwaraq.com with an extensive list of full-text, searchable and printable library of turath literature. This site even has an onscreen keyboard. This is one of the richest sources online. Well worth getting familiar with. You can search names of authors, names of books and even full text. Each digital page of any full text book is assigned a non-dynamic page number, which is very useful for citing the online version of the text. You can also copy-paste and save the text you want. This site works best in Internet Explorer (may not work in firefox). The main drawback is that the texts are not always edited to academic standards and not typo-free.
- http://www.waqfeya.com/ — المكتبة الوقفية – where you can download nice editions of medieval Arabic sources free of charge. The downloaded texts are in .pdf format so you can cite page numbers of “real” edited versions of the text. Their database is searchable (name of author, text and subject) and there is also a very useful category menu if you simply want to browse. Excellent resource.
- http://www.al-hakawati.net/ is a mine of Arabic novels, short stories and prose literature in general. It has an Arabic and an English section. The Arabic section includes .pdf and even .doc versions of stories such as alf laylā wa laylạ and by authors such as ͨAbbās al- ͨaqqād, Najīb Maḥfūẓ to name just a few. The English section has many of these stories and others translated into English. There are also some original contemporary contributions. Apart from the collection of stories, the site boasts itself as a site that “tells the story of Arab culture through folktales and fairy tales from the Arab and Islamic heritage, through biographies of personalities ancient to modern, artists and their arts, architecture, the environment and religions”. Among other things, it includes sections on biographies, cities (with texts such as mu ͨjam al-buldān), the arts, traditions, and architecture. A very well designed site that is sure to grow. (doesn’t work well in google chrome; use IE or firefox for this site)
- http://www.islamport.com/ – الموسوعة الشاملة- seems great for finding scholarly articles on medieval thinkers in Arabic.
- http://www.shamela.ws/download.php — المكتبة الشاملة – allows you to download all kinds of texts free of charge. The downloaded texts are in .rar format.
- Shī ͨah Resources- http://shialibrary.blogspot.com – pdf collection of Shia works in Urdu and English. Also check out http://www.shiaweb.org/books/index.html (this website was down when I last checked).
- There are also portals for classical poetry which include the text, shuruh and sometimes even oral recitations. One such site is by Sakhr and includes al-Mutanabbi’s entire dīwān with commentary: http://thaqafa.sakhr.com/motanaby/?sec_id=3&Index=3&Main=Motanaby&Sub_Menu=0 .
- http://www.uga.edu/islam/#islam – An excellent site- created by Prof. Alan Godlas and hosted by the University of Georgia- that gives links to many many useful sites and sources on Isla. The links it provides are too many to list here. The webshot below gives an idea of the subject areas covered. Each link opens up in another tab giving a list of external links. I have not replicated all the links in this website here, as some of them lead to very specific sources. Well worth exploring!
- al-tafsir.com is an excellent site that provides full-text and searchable Qur’an related resources. This includes the whole text of the Qur’an, a large collection of tafsirs from various schools, a large collection of translations of the Qur’an, collection of ‘ulūm al-Qur’ān and a large collection of recitations. This site works best in Internet Explorer (may not work in firefox).
- http://quran.muslim-web.com/ tafsir of verses in Arabic. You highlight the verse and the tafsir www.altafsir.com is much more academically sound and provides many more tafsirs, but for a quick reference you might find the interface here more appealing.
- http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/search.html — searchable English translation of the Qur’an. Searches translations by Yusufali, Pickthal and Shakir. Very fast but search options limited.
- If you are using your own laptop an excellent free software called ‘zekr’ is also very useful. For searching Qur’anic verses it is much faster than altafsir.com and also has advanced search features that the aforementioned website doesn’t have. You can download the software from www.zekr.com .
- http://hadith.al-islam.com is an excellent site that provides full-text and searchable hadith related resources. This includes a full text of canonical hadith You need to play around with the search functions to get used to it. Rule of thumb is to start initially with ‘muṭābiq’ and also ticking the ‘kull al-kutub’ button. Note: the encoding on this page is a little funny, if you see only gibberish then right-click and go on encoding, from the list that shows up select Arabic (windows). This site works best in Internet Explorer (may not work in firefox).
- http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/search.html — searchable English translation of hadith compendiums: Sahih Muslim, Sahih Bukhari, Sunan Abu Dawud and Malik’s Muwatta. Very fast but search options limited.
- The most important of these is the dictionary site: http://dictionary.sakhr.com which has Arabic-English-German-French-Spanish word searchable (even without the root) dictionaries.
- Its sister site is http://lexicons.sakhr.com which provides searchable ma’ājim such as lisān al-‘Arab, al-Muḥīṭ, al-Waṣīṭ
- http://www.baheth.info/ It allows you to simultaneously search several lexicons and view the entire results with the search word highlighted. So it’s faster and more convenient than the sakhr website. lso, it may be helpful for some in the class who aren’t comfortable typing Arabic (or who are using a public computer). It allows you to type in Arabic and it simultaneously converts the text to Arabic script.
- There are also language learning resources that are starting to turn up.
- http://www.maqrizi.com – (webmasters description) “a new website dedicated to the Cairo of al-Maqrizi. The site has only been up for a few weeks and reflects the first stage of an ongoing project to translate what al-Maqrizi has to say about the mosques and other medieval structures in Cairo. Those who have read parts of the Khitat of al-Maqrizi know that one difficulty with it is the way it makes casual references to long gone geographic features of Cairo. By marking on an interactive map the places that al-Maqrizi is referring to.. and by providing pictures of the site as it looks today.. readers are given a better chance of following and appreciating the points made by him. As of now there are 19 sections of the khitat translated and provided here on the website. In the next couple of summers more sections will be added and the translations present now updated. This site is meant to be both an aid to researchers who may not have had access to the Khitat, as well as for use by students. Please view the site and send any comments about possible improvements or other notes.
- http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ – describes itself as “ premier Islamic philosophy resource on the Web… dedicated to the study of the philosophical output of the Muslim world”.