Monday, September 12, 2011

Notable E-Book: Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World

We have just added a very useful new online encyclopedia to our Oxford Reference Online Premium (OROP) platform. It is the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World, and it is designed to provide a "broad, comparative, and multidisciplinary approach in dealing with issues that span across a multitude of countries and centuries."

This encyclopedia "presents students, researchers, political analysts, journalists, and common readers with accurate, comprehensive, and balanced scholarship on all aspects of the world's fastest-growing religion and the areas it affects: society, politics, economics, everyday life, culture, and thought."

A six-volume work (first published in print in 2009 but recently released online) constitutes a major revision and massive expansion of the 1995 Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (which is also still available here on our Reference shelves). "In addition to covering Islamic societies in the modern world from the eighteenth century to the present, as the earlier four-volume set did, it will add a depth of historical background going back to the pre-Islamic era. The new reference also covers the full geographical extent of Islam by focusing not only on the countries in which Islam is dominant, but also on regions in which Muslims live as minorities, such as Europe and the Americas."

A bit of use advice: the search engine at OROP is a bit awkward, at best. So when you do a search, and click on a promising result, pay attention to the "See Also" suggestions in the left frame, which may well be more appropriate to your research.

Quirky search engine or not, this resource is well-respected, and covers more than you might expect. A Choice review, recommending it, said "Although the primary focus of this encyclopedia is not theological, the topic of sin receives more than passing notice, as does the literary phenomenon of the Hadith; the Qur'an and its interpretation deservedly receive their due. As for modern sociological phenomena, anti-Muslim prejudice is extensively discussed...."

And what about 9/11? Yes, there is an entry. But this encyclopedia goes far beyond events and issues of the last decade. It is a worthwhile starting point for many topics, when followed up with additional books and scholarly journal articles.

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