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Islam in Europe: A Resource Guide at NYPL


Europe, Digital ID 1584672, New York Public LibraryMap 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.  

A Moslem Reading The Koran., Digital ID 833727, New York Public LibraryReading 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. 

Mosque of Omar from s., Jerusalem, Digital ID 112587, New York Public LibraryDuring 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, PalestineEgypt, 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. 

 Shamil IDRISS, Her Majesty Queen NOOR, Emanuele CASTANO, Mohamed EL-FATATRY & Andrea ter AVEST DAHMCourtesy 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.

[Muezzin And A Boy Standing On A Minaret Giving The Call To Prayer.], Digital ID 833751, New York Public Library

Selected Primary Sources at NYPL

Selected Secondary Sources at NYPL


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