Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam

 The Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam deals with the teachings of Islam and the civilization and culture of the Muslim nations from the advent of Islam till date. Arranged on an alphabetic order – for the time being beginning with the letter B – the articles of the Encyclopaedia cover a wide range of Islamic teachings and sciences. Attempts have been made to provide the readers with the first-hand information in various fields in an organized manner. Some of the materials that can be accessed from the Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam are: history, geography, terms of Quranic sciences, tradition (hadith), jurisprudence, theology, Islamic mysticism and philosophy, literature and art, the mode of conduct (sirah) of the Prophet, Companion and the Imams, hagiology and viewpoints of a number of exegetes, jurisprudents, theologians, philosophers, mystics, historians, and artists of the world of Islam. For more information about the detailed contents of the Encyclopaedia you may click on the list of entries or search the subjects on the homepage of this site. However, it should be noted that now all articles are in Persian language.
 
The move to compile the Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam began in the early years after the victory of the Islamic Revolution. Although during the course of the present century a number of academic institutions and orientalists have been continuously working for the compilation of an encyclopaedia about Islam, it is a necessary and valuable move by the Muslims to prepare an encyclopaedia on their own initiative and under their own supervision on the basis of modern methodologies and in the prevailing languages of the world of Islam. The encyclopaedias prepared in the West about the past and present situation of the Islamic world are naturally influenced by the Western approach to Islam and Islamic culture and civilization. Hence the said approach inevitably leaves its impact on the selection, omission, and retention of the entries as well as the quality and quantity of the articles. 
 
It was in the light of the said point and in response to the demands of the Iranian and non-Iranian scientific, cultural community as well as the expectations created in the world in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution of Iran – the greatest cultural and political development of the world of Islam in contemporary era – for the introduction of Islamic teachings and different aspects of the Islamic culture and civilization and epistemological aspects of the invaluable heritage of the Islamic world that the Encyclopaedia Islamica Foundation was established in 1983, focusing on the compilation and publication of the Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam on the basis of an Islamic and scientific method, containing different Islamic issues as well as the history, civilization and culture of the Islamic nations, particularly Iran and the Persian language. The history of attempts to write encyclopaedias in the Islamic civilization can be traced back to one millennium ago. The Muslims have written a number of works in this field. During the great scientific movement that began from the second century (hegira) and reached its apogee in the third and fourth centuries (hegira), the Muslim scholars conducted profound and wide-ranging studies in all branches of science and knowledge. They created new branches of science and improved the sciences of their time. In fact, they wrote many books and treatises on different branches of human knowledge. In order to facilitate access and also to classify and organize sciences – an outcome of the growth of sciences in the fourth century and the diversity and multiplication of scientific subjects – the need to two kinds of writings arose: first, preparation of a list of the books and treatises to provide information about the contents of various disciplines as well as the biography and hagiology of scholars and authors in each discipline. The Al-Fihrest of Ibn Nadim (d. 385 h.) is an outstanding example of these works. Second, the other need that arose at this stage was compilation of some works about the definition and division of different disciplines and crafts as well as the concise definition of their concepts. The oldest examples of such works are Ihsa al-Ulum of Abu Nasr Farabi (260-339 h.) and Mafatih al-Ulum of Kharazmi (d. 387 h.). Ever since the acquaintance of the Muslims with the modern methods of preparation of encyclopaedia during the recent century, several encyclopaedias have been published in the Muslim countries. Many of those have been prepared on the style of Western encyclopaedias and many of them have borrowed and incorporated some materials from them after translating them into the related languages.
 
Attempts had been made in Iran since 1948 to translate the Encyclopaedia of Islam (published by Brill) into Persian, but the attempts did not bear fruit. In 1969 a publishers undertook to translate the said encyclopaedia, whose first volume, entitled Encyclopaedia of Iran and Islam, was published in 1975. Later nine other volumes of the same work were gradually published up to 1981. The Persian Encyclopaedia (under the supervision of late Dr. Gholamhossein Mosahab) too contains a number of the articles of Encyclopedia of Islam that have been translated and published.
 
Although the word da`irat al-Ma’arif (Encyclopaedia) is used in Persian, Arabic and Urdu languages, the Encyclopaedia Islamica Foundation has chosen the word Daneshname in Persian because the word had already been used in the works of the antecedents such as Daneshname Ala’ee of Avicenna and Daneshname Shahi of Muhammad Amin Astarabadi. Since the word Daneshmane is simple and expressive, the foundation preferred this word to da`irat al-ma’arif. Since the Encyclopaedia deals with the world of Islam, its proper name is Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam. Some of the articles of the present Encyclopaedia, particularly those about Islam, Iran and Persian literature, have been specifically written for the Encyclopaedia by the Iranian researchers and scholars of the Muslim countries. Regarding the articles that are not within the field of specialization of Iranian researchers, their translations from foreign sources and references have been incorporated into the Encyclopaedia. Contrary to the Encyclopaedia of Islam and Iran and the Turkish, Arabic and Urdu encyclopaedias that have confined their articles to the translation of one source, i.e., the Encyclopedia of Islam (Brill), the Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam without confining itself to such a limitation, through research and study of various Encyclopaedias has translated the more scholarly articles of these Encyclopaedias and adopted them. At times, through combination of two or more authentic articles a more comprehensive article with a better structure has been prepared.
 
The names of the authors of the articles have been given at the end of each article. In case the article has been translated from other sources, the references have been given after the name of the authors. If the article has been prepared by several researchers (faculty members) of the Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam, instead of mentioning the names of the researchers, the acronym EWI (Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam) or the Scientific Group has been mentioned. There are two kinds of complementary additions and explanations added to the translated articles: sometimes they have been given at the end of the main translated articles or sometimes they have been added within brackets {} in the body of the article. In order to control the quality of the articles, a workflow has been defined and a strict discipline enforced to achieve the result. According to the envisaged plan it is stipulated that the Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam, in forty volumes, will be completed by 2021. Ten volumes of the Encyclopaedia have been published thus far and in the future some entries of this collection will be selected for translation into Arabic and English languages.
 
It is pertinent here to give some explanations about the scope of the articles:
A)       With regard to the subjects related to the geography of the World of Islam and the language of the center for the publication of the Encyclopaedia, as far as Iran is concerned besides the provinces and provincial capitals, the cities are also introduced. The villages with outstanding cultural background or where an important event had taken place are also mentioned. With regard to other countries, their capitals and cities with historical events during the Islamic period are mentioned. Regarding the territories that had already been Islamic but are no more Islamic (like Spain), or the territories whose Islamic identity is not certain (like Indian subcontinent, Bosnia Herzegovina, and some of the Central Asian countries that have a longstanding history of Islamic culture and civilization and attained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union), attempts have been made to choose the entries through a broader outlook so that the background of Islamic culture in these regions is elaborated better. Some of the geographical names have had different names (designations) at different stages of history, which underline some of their characteristics. If the said historical stages are to be separately discussed, the said designations (names) will appear under the different names, each of which has an independent entry – like Bab al Abwab and Darband or Mehrjanqazaq, Badreh and Darehshahr or the Persian Sea or the Persian Gulf.
 
B)       Regarding the selection of the books, only the most outstanding ones have been selected. By the most outstanding ones we mean the books that have drawn the attention of the scholars for centuries and a number of commentaries or critiques have been written on them, have been selected or have been text books for a long time, or are considered the oldest Persian source in a specific subject, or have played a great role in the transfer of knowledge from the Islamic field to other fields or vise versa. Other books and scientific works are introduced while discussing the biographies of their authors.
 
C)       The scope of selection is broader regarding the individuals. For instance, the individuals of up to third rank or lower in different fields of science of the Islamic civilization are introduced and in this regard the main criteria for selection are chronological priority, sociopolitical influence and scientific works. Among other criteria for selection of books and individuals are: Iranian nationality and Shiism, for the present Encyclopaedia is expected to pay more attention to the works and individuals of this territory. In fact the biography of a number of dignitaries of the world of Islam are found in other Encyclopaedias. But probably more readers will refer to this source for the issues related to Iran and Shiism.
 
D)       The sciences of the Islamic world may be divided into four categories: 
 
1) The sciences that are originally and merely Islamic, such as jurisprudence, exegesis, hadith (tradition) and theology.
2) The sciences that grew and blossomed during the Islamic period such as mathematics, astronomy, philosophy and medicine.
3) The sciences that are considered prerequisite to knowledge of Islam such as the Arabic language and literature.
 
4) The sciences and arts prevailing in the Islamic territories such as music and painting.
 
Evidently the volume of the articles of the Encyclopaedia is directly connected to the their relations with Islam, that is, more space is given to the issues related to the Islamic sciences compared to the issues pertaining to the sciences prevailing in the Islamic territories.
 
E) In the field of some sciences such as philosophy, a number of non-Muslim philosophers and thinkers who have influenced the Muslims or have been influenced by the Muslims are introduced.
 
F) Some of the entries of the Encyclopaedia are related to the issues that due to their impact on the politics, economy and culture have left a longstanding, profound effect on the collective fate and public life of the Muslims as well as on the Islamic culture and civilization, including the activities of the groups, associations and parties. More attention has been paid to the events, developments and figures of the recent century – the era of the awakening of the Muslims and age of emergence of Islamic movements against colonialism. The realities of the Islamic Revolution are discussed not only because they constitute a significant, fateful part of the Iranian history, but also because they are a sign of the tendency of the Muslims towards independence and return to their cultural and civilizational origins. The scientific principles and norms will be strictly followed in the preparation of the articles of the encyclopaedia. The foreigners who have had an outstanding presence and role in Iran and in the Islamic countries, such as Shirley brothers, Lord Balfour, Howard Burkesville, and Morgan Schuster, are mentioned in the Encyclopaedia.
 
   F) In the selection of the entries of the Encyclopaedia, attention has been paid to the issues that have some sort of longstanding presence in Muslim societies or Islamic history or have had a positive or negative role in the Islamic culture and civilization such as ethnic and religious customs and norms, festivals and feasts; trees and objects that have had a civilizational or cultural value such as Christmas tree, walnut tree and kilim (mat); edibles mentioned in the holy scriptures, such as fig and pomegranate; herbs and the names of the trees mentioned in the Muslim books. Of course, the critical and other aspects are taken into consideration regarding all these entries.
Specific rules and regulations have been defined for the selection and arrangement of the entries. In order to have more information in this regard, just click on About entries.
 
G) In writing the articles, the authors and faculty members follow the Editing Stylebook of the Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam. The stylebook of the Encyclopaedia has been prepared by Professor Ahmad Sami’i Gilani and improved through employing the experiences gained in the process of its application.