Map of EuropeAccording to the BBC News, "Islam is widely considered Europe's fastest growing religion, with immigration and above average birth rates leading to a rapid increase in the Muslim population." There are currently over 15 million Muslims (Sunni and Shiite) living in Europe and Islam is currently the second largest religion in the world after Christianity.
This blog post will focus on NYPL’s rich collection on the history of Islam in Europe: past and present; the historical, political, cultural, and economic relationships between the states of Europe and the Middle East concerning multiculturalism, integration, segregation, gender and democracy.
Reading The KoranThe Islamic faith arrived in the European continent from the Arabian Peninsula as early as the 12th century through religious migrations and trades from the Silk Road, an ancient route that connected to Asia.
During the Middle Ages, European-Christian armies and Muslims waged a series of religious warfare against each other. Known as the "Crusades," these holy wars were fought throughout Europe and the Middle East to liberate Jerusalem from Muslim rule. Some countries such as Spain and Malta were also ruled by Muslims. From the 7th to the 13th century, this period was also known as the "Golden Age" because of the scientific advancements, cultural achievements and literary contributions that greatly shaped the history and civilization of Spain and beyond.
In 15th century Spain, some people, particularly Jewish people spoke a unique Sephardic language called "Ladino" - a mix of Hebrew, Spanish and Arabic. During this time, the Spanish Inquisition under the order of Ferdinand II and Isabella I took place; this national policy forced Muslims and Jews to leave Spain or covert to Catholicism.
During the late 19th century, the Ottoman Empire slowly lost influence and power in the Middle East; it had dominated the region for five centuries. As a result of the decline, the European powers took the opportunity to access these territories. By the end of World War I, the empire dissolved (1923) and the British and French forces took over the Middle East. This caused further political strife which inevitably created and formed new (and revived old) nation states from the shackles of imperialism such as present-day Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, (north) Yemen, Qatar, and Turkey.
Today as the political conflicts and revolutions in the Middle East emerge, scholars, journalists and politicians have been discussing these external concerns affecting the world. As many Africans and Middle Easterners are migrating to Europe, the issues of immigration and discrimination, multiculturalism, and gender and religious rights in Europe are being also discussed and analyzed. From Turkey's attempt to be part of the European Union to the Chechen communities in Eastern Europe and Russia, the NYPL has an extensive research collection to get you started.
To find basic resources at NYPL, search the Library's catalog under keyword for "Islam and Europe" or type in a specific country: "Islam and France" and this should narrow down your search results. For a more advanced search, switch keyword to subject and type in "Islam -- (Country of your Choice)." This may give you other sources not listed in the keyword search. You can also narrow down your search by format, location, language or time period. For a brief bibliography, check the list below.
Courtesy of Live from the NYPL: Shamil IDRISS, Her Majesty Queen NOOR, Emanuele CASTANO, Mohamed EL-FATATRY & Andrea ter AVEST DAHM
In May 2009, for one week, LIVE from The NYPL hosted a series of academic and cultural discussions entitled, "Islam in Europe: Insult: Fractured States?" on the impact of Islam in Europe in the 21st century. Notable speakers included the Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan as well as prominent journalists, politicians and scholars; subjects of discussions included immigration, religion and society, religious, civil and women’s rights.
Selected Primary Sources at NYPL
- al-Sharq al-Awsat: "The international daily newspaper of the Arabs" published in London in Arabic.
- PressDisplay: Provides access to current newspapers from around the world in full-color, full-page format. Includes over 1,000 U.S. and international titles. Read this NYPL blog entry for details about this resourceful database. (Also available from home).
- British Newspapers: 1600-1900: Offers researchers with the most comprehensive collection of national and regional newspapers of Victorian Britain. For those conducting research on the British Empire or Victorian culture, they will find this database to be useful.
- Historical International Newspapers from Europe and the Middle East available in the Microform Reading Room: for a list, check this page. (Please note that most historical international newspapers must be requested in advance, see here.)
- To read current international newspapers such as The Independent (U.K.), The Times (England), Le Monde (France), El Pais (Spain), Frankfurter Allgemeine (Germany), Corriere Della Sera (Italy), please go to the DeWitt Wallace Periodicals Reading Room in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
- For more digital newspapers from Europe or the Middle East, check out this list. To learn more about researching historical newspapers, read this NYPL blog entry.
- Le Monde des Religions is a French bimonthly periodical that focuses on religious traditions and spiritualities in the European continent.
- Arab Historian Crusades / selected and translated from the Arabic sources by Francesco Gabrieli; translated from the italian by E.J. Costello - offers the perspectives and accounts of Arab historians viewing and documenting the Crusades.
- Napoleon in Egypt chronicles the French invasion in Egypt through the eyes of a French officer and an Arab historian.
- For maps, prints and images of Europe and the Middle East, check out NYPL's Digital Gallery and also check out the Map Division.
- Learn more about the Islamic faith through NYPL's Three Faiths Online Exhibition>>
Selected Secondary Sources at NYPL
- Why the French don't like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space by John Bowen examines the controversy behind the French government's banning of the veil and other religious symbols in public schools as it infringes on religious freedom.
- Politics of The Veil by Joan Wallach Scott - Similar to Bowen's work, Scott explores "the long history of racism behind the law as well as the ideological barriers thrown up against Muslim assimilation in France."
- What I Believe by Tariq Ramadan - Ramadan is "among the leading Islamic thinkers in the West, with a large following around world. In this work, he calls on Western Muslims to escape the mental, social, cultural, and religious ghettos they have created for themselves and become full partners in the democratic societies in which they live. At the same time, he calls for the rest to recognize our Muslim neighbors as citizens with rights and responsibilities the same as ours ..."
- White Teeth by Zadie Smith - a novel that explores the issues of multiculturalism in London through the lens of two families. Smith also spoke at LIVE from the NYPL on Speaking in Tongues.
- Muslims in the West: From Sojourners to Citizens edited by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad is a collection of essays that "studies the impact of the growing Muslim population on Western societies, and how Muslims are adapting to life in the West."
- Heretic and Hero: Muhammad and the Victorians by Phillip C. Almond examines the Victorian impressions and images of the Prophet Muhammad.
- For more on Islamic Spain >>
- For more on the Ottoman Empire>>
- For more on Medieval Europe >>
- For a more in-depth list of academic titles on this subject >>
- For a current index of scholarly articles on Islam in World History, consider Index Islamicus>>
- For scholarly articles on the contemporary and historical research on Islam and Europe, check out the following databases: JSTOR, Project Muse, ATLA Religion and Academic Search Premier. For more databases>>