Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

All NYPL locations will close at 3 PM on December 24 and will be closed on December 25.

Your Library Needs You!

Blog Posts by Subject: History of the Middle East

Meet the Scholar: Melissa Forstrom

Melissa ForstromMuseums. They are great. From Museum of Mathematics to Museum of Glass, there's so much to see and to learn about these topics in our shared history. Whenever I visit a new town or country, I am always eager to check out their local or national museums; they offer a glimpse of their cultural histories, identities and accomplishments.

However, some exhibitions can also showcase contested and controversial materials. Take for example the

... Read More ›

Meet the Scholar: Nerina Rustomji

Nerina Rustomji and her book, "The Garden and the Fire: Heaven and Hell in Islamic Culture."About 6 years ago, I was taking an undergraduate class on the history of the Modern Middle East taught by Professor Nerina Rustomji of St. John's University. The class opened my eyes to the complexity of the region. She challenged us to look differently at the historic and ongoing conflicts in the area and America's intricate relationships with Middle Eastern countries before September 11th. 

... Read More ›

My Favorite North African Vegetarian Recipes

The cuisine of North Africa Viktor Vasnetsov. The Flying Carpet (1880)(Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) was influenced by the many peoples who settled there: African, Islamic, Arab, Berber, Ottoman, French, Italian and Spanish. It has its roots in the beginning of civilization itself.

In addition to use in bread and pastry dough, wheat, an important staple in North African cooking, is made into bulgur and couscous. Bulgur, or cracked wheat, is made by partially cooking the wheat grains 

... Read More ›

Finding Jesus at NYPL: A Research Guide

Perhaps no person in human history is more controversial than Jesus of Nazareth. The parable above (among many other well known ones) came from Jesus in the New Testament of the Christian

... Read More ›

Islam in Europe: A Resource Guide at NYPL

According 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 

... Read More ›

The Book of Khalid Turns 100!

Deep inside the NYPL’s Bryant Park Stack Extension (known as BPSE to insiders — pronounced as “Bip-See”) lay many literary treasures and secrets; some are academically obscure and rare while others are widely known and read. The Book of Khalid by Ameen Rihani fits in 

... Read More ›

Words of Wisdom: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

What initially drew me into reading The Dressmaker of Khair Khana was the beautiful book cover and title. Call me superficial but yes, I am indeed guilty of judging many a book by its cover. But as I went on to read the summary on the inside of the book jacket, I found myself even more interested and so I began reading what is now one of the most memorable books I've ever read. The best part is, this is actually based on a true story.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana takes you on the 

... Read More ›

April in the Reader's Den: The Poetry of Rumi, Persian Mystic

April 2011 marks the 16th anniversary of National Poetry Month, and we shall embark on this sweet 16 with an appreciation of everyone's favorite Sufi mystical poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, otherwise known as Rumi (1207 - 1273 AD). Born in a remote Persian village in the region now known as Tajikistan, Rumi wrote poems of longing and ecstacy that made sweeping parallels between romantic and spiritual love. He was particularly fascinated with the use 

... Read More ›

Can One Person Change History? A Soldier's Dream

William Doyle, a writer in residence in the Library's Allen Room, thinks so.  His new book A Soldier's Dream explores the question of whether one young American soldier helped change the course of the Iraq War? 

For six months in 2006, a charismatic U.S. Army captain and Arabic linguist named Travis Patriquin unleashed a diplomatic and cultural charm offensive upon the Sunni sheiks of Anbar province, the heart of darkness of the Iraqi insurgency. Through his striking personality and passion 

... Read More ›

Languages of God: The Word as Decoration

The First Polyglot Psalter, Psalter, in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, and Aramaic; Genoa: Petrus Paulus Porrus, 1516The New York Public Library, Rare Book DivisionJews and Muslims have a particular attachment to languages as expressions of the Word of God. Hebrew and Arabic are both sacred languages since both are in a sense the language of God Himself.

But there is an important difference. The Jews lost their Hebrew as a living language while the Bible was still 

... Read More ›

Reader's Den: More Discussion Questions for "A Thousand Splendid Suns"

Rasheed symbolizes the oppression of women. At first his oppression seems benign but soon he is a danger to Mariam, Laila and Aziza. What might the three women symbolize?

What point is made by the description of the Bamiyan trip? What may the two Buddhas symbolize? (Consider the reality of what happened to the statues in 2001).

"One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls."

What does this quotation from Saib-e-Tabrizi's poem tell us about the characters and / or situations in the book? 

... Read More ›

A Thousand Splendid Suns: Questions for Discussion

A Thousand Splendid Suns starts with a term of abuse thrown at one of the protagonists — Mariam — by her mother: "harami." The word means illegitimate and would be deeply hurtful to someone from a culture that prizes patriarchy. To be without her father's name and patronage is Mariam's curse. It shapes her character and her destiny. What is interesting is that despite Jalil Khan's rejection and Nana's warnings, Mariam worships her father. Her 

... Read More ›

A Thousand Splendid Suns

The Reader's Den book discussion for June will be A Thousand Splendid Suns.

According to the book jacket and his website, Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. He moved to the United States in 1980 with his family. He earned a medical 

... Read More ›

Chat with a librarian now