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RELG 394a: Early Islamic History (Prof. Cyrus Zargar)

This Web guide centers around two of the assigned projects for this class: the Bibliographical ("Wikipedia") Project and the Final Research Paper. These are the two assignments for which you will be relying on al-Tabari's History.

Encyclopedias: Islam and Iranica - Books - Scholarly Articles - Where's the Full-Text?Citing SourcesQuestions?

Encyclopedias: Islam and Iranica

These two scholarly encyclopedias are excellent places to begin your research. Unlike many encyclopedias, both are suitable for citing in a researched paper.

Encyclopaedia of Islam (Go to: Library website --> Databases --> History, Religion, & Philosophy --> Religion)
The EI, which is the most important, comprehensive, and scholarly reference resource about Islam, is an absolute must-use for your research in this class! We have access to the 2nd edition, which is complete, and the 3rd edition, which is in progress. Use the 3rd edition if the topic you are researching is available there; otherwise, use the 2nd.

  • Consulting bibliographies in the Encyclopaedia of Islam. The EI entry on your topic will likely offer an excellent starting-point for developing a high-quality bibliography. You will need to sort through titles in different languages, often French or German, as well as some books that are dated (the first edition of the EI was completed in the early 20th century). It's worth it, though, for the sources you will find as a result of your efforts.

The EI uses abbreviated titles for periodicals and many books in its bibliography. To locate the full title:

1. Double-check which edition of the EI the article you are using comes from. It will either come from Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, or Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE.

2. Go to the main webpage for that edition. The easiest way to find this is to look at the breadcrumbs above the search box. They will look something like this: Home > Middle East and Islamic Studies > Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition or THREE > etc. Click the title of the encyclopedia to get to the main page.

3. On the main page, click the "Prelims" tab underneath the alphabet.

4. If you are in the second edition: Click "Periodicals" to find the full title of an abbreviated journal. Click "Abbreviations" to find the full title of an abbreviated book.

   If you are in the third edition: Click "List of Abbreviations" to find the full title. Journals are listed under "a. Periodicals." Everything else is listed under "b. Other."

Encyclopaedia Iranica (
Peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary Internet encyclopedia devoted to Iranian civilization. The Encyclopaedia Iranica also has good bibliographies.


First and most importantly, al-Tabari's History is here: stacks, 3rd floor - DS38.2 .T313 1985

In addition to Tabari, you will need books of secondary source scholarship.

Augustana owns several such books, listed here, that will be valuable for this project. Prof. Zargar is likely to recommend one or more of them to you as you work on your research. All of these books are on 3-day reserve** at the circulation desk on the library's 2nd floor.

**Remember to return your reserve books on time, or late fees will pile up! For a book on 3-day reserve, there's a $5 charge for every day the book is late.**

Jonathan A. C. Brown, Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. Oneworld, 2009.

---, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld, 2015.

Fred M. Donner, Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam. Belknap, 2012.

Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization. Chicago, 1974.

Wilferd Madelung, The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. Cambridge, 1997.

John A. Morrow, The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. Sophia Perennis, 2013.

Chase F. Robinson, Islamic Historiography. Cambridge, 2002.

Scholarship in Islamic history, like many humanistic areas of study, relies heavily on books. You will need to do book research beyond the titles listed above. You are also likely to need books from other libraries for your research, so order them early to ensure you get the materials in time.

These are your main resources for finding and obtaining books:

ALiCat and I-Share
Augustana's collection of books on Islam is solid and growing, but it's not enormous. For that reason, you will definitely need I-Share for this project. Set up your I-Share account if you do not yet have one; ask a librarian for help, if necessary.

WorldCat (linked underneath the ALiCat search box on the library website)
As you search through the bibliographies of good sources (such as entries from the encyclopedias), you may find citations to useful books that are not in I-Share. If that happens, use WorldCat to place an interlibrary loan request: find the book you need, click the title in the result list, and follow the link to interlibrary loan.

  • If you do not yet have an interlibrary loan account, click "First Time Users" to set one up.
  • Order from I-Share if at all possible, because books from WorldCat take longer to arrive.

Scholarly Articles

Find the library's religion databases via this path:

  • Library website --> Databases --> History, Religion, & Philosophy --> Religion

Index Islamicus, which is the most comprehensive database about Islam and the Islamic world, will be your single most important source of scholarly articles for this project. You can search it in much the same way that you would an Ebsco database: combine search terms with "AND" in-between. Index Islamicus is somewhat less reliable than our Ebsco databases, though, in identifying what the library does or does not have in full text. Follow the steps below to obtain the full-text of articles as needed.

At the top of the list of religion databases you will see a link to Ebsco Databases in Religion. This allows you to select among several of the library's religion resources, or search two or more at once. For this class, I recommend you use ATLA Religion Index, which is the library's most important general religion database.

Further up on the History, Religion, & Philosophy page you will see a list of more general databases suitable to "All Humanities." The database I recommend from this list is JSTOR, a full-text journal archive that covers a large variety of subjects. Start at the Advanced Search, where you can limit your results to particular subject areas.

Where's the Full-Text?

**Help! My article isn't available in full-text!**

An article that is not full-text in one database may be available elsewhere in Augustana's collection. If not, you can order it from another library. Follow these steps to obtain a copy of the article:

  1. On the library website, click "Journals and Magazines." Search the title of the journal in which the article you want was published. The results will tell you whether Augustana has access to the publication, what date range we have, and what format so you can obtain your article.

    If you see here that Augustana does not have access to the journal and/or the date of the journal that you need, go to step 2.

  2. On the library website, click "Interlibrary Loan." Login (or create an account if you don't yet have one), choose "Article" from the menu, and fill out the form. You can also use your interlibrary loan account to order book chapters or entire books if they are not available through I-Share.

    In some of the library's databases, including ATLA, there is a direct link to ILL within the article record.

Citing Sources

Use either Chicago Manual of Style (the notes and bibliography version) or MLA in your researched paper. Online guides to citation styles, as well as call numbers for the print style guides, may be found here:

Libarary website --> Citing Sources (under "Research Tools")


You are welcome to contact me with questions about your research. My email address is, and I work at the research help desk off and on during the week.

Or approach anyone you find on duty at the research help desk: in-person, or via phone (309-794-7206), email (, or the "Ask an Augustana Librarian" chat box on the main library webpage.

Page created by Stefanie Bluemle, librarian for history, religion, and philosophy. Updated March 2017.