Islamic Africa is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary, academic journal published online and in print. Incorporating the journal Sudanic Africa, Islamic Africa publishes original research concerning Islam in Africa from the social sciences and the humanities, as well as primary source material and commentary essays related to Islamic Studies in Africa. The journal’s geographic scope includes the entire African continent and adjacent islands. Islamic Africa encourages intellectual excellence and seeks to promote scholarly interaction between Africa-based scholars and those located institutionally outside the continent.

For anyone doing research on the Middle East for the past two centuries, there is an incredible archive online. Details below:

Alphabetical List of Open Access Historical Newspapers and Other Periodicals in Middle East & Islamic Studies

Below is a list of Open Access historical newspapers and other periodicals in Middle Eastern Studies.
Most titles on the list have been digitized by independent projects across the globe and may not have been fully cataloged. It is often difficult to find and access them on the web or through catalogs such as HathiTrust, AMEEL, Gallica, Revues, WorldCat, etc.
We welcome your comments and suggestions of additional titles to include. Please use the comment feature at the bottom of the page.

For the list of active Open Access journals follow this link:
Alphabetical List of Open Access Journals in Middle Eastern Studies

132 titles as of May 14, 2015.

For my post on the Arab youth views of democracy, click here.

The photograph illustrates Luce Ben Aben, Moorish women preparing couscous, Algiers, Algeria.

There is a trove of old photographs from around the Middle East at the website

Kurds in national costumes

Young girl of Bethlehem. This color photochrome print was made between 1890 and 1900.

There is an extraordinary collection of 47 Magic Lantern slides from the 1930 Beloit College Logan Museum Expedition to Algeria by George L. Waite, the photographer and cinematographer. This is available in an online collection at the website of the Smithsonian Institution. Click here to access the collection.


Given all the unhappiness, it is refreshing to find a little happiness in the Middle East, even if it is musical. Enjoy the following:

Happy in Yemen (

Happy in Abu Dhabi (

Happy in Algeria (

Happy in Egypt (

Happy In Kuwait (

Happy in Jerusalem (

Happy in Jordan (

Happy in Lebanon (

Happy from Morocco (

Happy in Qatar (

Happy from Saudi Arabia (

Happy in Turkey (

As the month of Ramadan draws to a close, the ethical dissonance that now overshadows just about everything else in the Middle East is evident in the daily news. Muslims are dying daily from suicide bombs strapped to the waists of fellow Muslims, military bullets in Egypt and Syria, as well as sectarian violence just about everywhere. The focus during this month of Ramadan is on fasting, a temporary denial of the basic necessities (food water and sex) for a period of time under the sun. But it would be much better if the fasting extended to a moratorium on all violence.

Islam did not invent the idea of fasting, which was once a major ritual in both Judaism and Christianity. One might argue that contemporary Catholic Lent is a watered-down version, playing fast and loose with the more rigorous traditions of the past. In Islam fasting is one of the so-called five pillars, a ritual that most Muslims believe is essential for the believer. The Quran is quite clear on this:

Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful. Surat al-Baqara (2:185)

The fact that there are exceptions (while traveling, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or menstruating, taking necessary medicine, etc.) indicates that there has always been flexibility built into the ritual. In these cases the rule is that the fast be made up at another time in the year. Some individuals (a child before puberty, or someone who is insane or even a person who has a terminal illness) are not obliged to fast at all, nor to make up any fasting days.

But how much flexibility? What if a Muslim chooses not to fast for a reason other than those laid out in centuries of Islamic fiqh? (more…)

The most recent (April) issue of IMES (Issues in Middle East Studies), the new digital version of the former bulletin of MESA, features an article by Jonathan Casey on posters and old photographs in the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Among theses are two early 20th century era French posters on Algeria, as shown above. The poster on the left is a prime example of the Eurocentric colonialist gaze. Not only is the Algerian pressed into service, but he has a proper nuclear family of wife and child. Of course, as the donkey in the background serves to remind, Algeria is a backward country in need of being civilized. The poster on the right needs no ethnographic context; come to Algeria and be as free as the wind, where the Algerians ride their steeds resplendent in flowing robes. This right one could easily serve as a poster for the 1921 Valentino film, The Sheik.

Of the various photographs, the one that struck my attention was of a British soldier named George Mackenzie. This shows the young Lieutenant with his “chums” on the train from Beirut to Damascus. Once again the “Orient” is civilized via the gun. A world war (that did not unfortunately end all wars) that was not caused by anything in the Middle East would change the shape of the region in a dramatic way that is still playing out. To talk of an “Arab Spring,” it is important not to forget the wintry blast that carved up the Ottoman Empire into colonial pieces before oil and the modern state of Israel entered the mix.

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