Arabizi, the Arabic Chat Language Changing the Way Young People Write & Speak

On social media sites and in chat rooms, Arabic-speaking populations could suddenly speak to and entertain each other in their own dialects. But bringing Arabic online wasn’t easy: not only were these dialects spoken, not written, many websites weren’t able to accommodate Arabic script (most social media sites only added Arabic-supported versions in the late 2000s). The solution Arabic-speaking youth developed was Arabizi, a method of transliterating Arabic with Latin letters and numerals to represent letters not present in English.

5 Things to Know About Aladdin

Aladdin film poster comparison. Screen capture from YouTube. In May 2019, Disney released a live-action version of Aladdin, which tells the story of an affable street-urchin who accepts the services of a trickster genie to win over the sultan's daughter, Jasmine. The film is an adaptation of a folktale from the 18th-century, Arabic-language collection, A [...]

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar used by Muslims around the world to determine the timing of important religious observations such as Ramadan and Hajj. It is called the Hijri calendar, because it begins with the year of the Prophet’s migration (in Arabic, Hijra) from Mecca, his birthplace, to Medina, a city where he […]

Where do Muslims live? According to data from 2010, the vast majority of Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region. Pew Research reports 986,420,00 Muslims in the area, compared to 317,070,000 in the Middle East and North Africa, 248,420,000 in Sub-Saharan Africa, 43,470,000 in Europe, 3,480,000 in North America, and 840,000 in Latin-America and the Caribbean. […]

The Quran is the Muslim holy book. Along with the traditions of the Prophet, called the sunnah, it is the most important source for how to practice Islam. Muslims believe that the Quran remains unchanged from the time of the Prophet. It contains 114 chapters that vary wildly in length. The Quran is written in […]

The First Caliphs of Islam: Power, Corruption and War in the Rashidun Caliphate

Written by Caleb Strom, Ancient Origins The first caliphs of the Islamic World were the Rashidun, or “rightly guided,” caliphs and they controlled a vast empire. According to the Sunni Muslims, the Rashidun caliphs were chosen by Muhammad’s followers and all four were legitimate caliphs. To Shiite Muslims, on the other hand, the first three […]

What Happened with the Middle East in 2018?

Everyone appreciates a good list! TeachMideast presents nine significant developments in the region from 2018. What did we miss? The War in Yemen Part 1 In 208, the United Nations called the war in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The facts are sobering: 75 percent of the population is in need of some form […]

The Islamic tradition of Ashoura is celebrated on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram. According to Islamic tradition, it was on that day that Moses and his people escaped from the Egyptian Pharoah. They celebrated the exodus by fasting. Many Muslims around the world also commemorate that victory by fasting. Institute for […]

Islamophobia in the Margins — It’s Bad for Everybody

The 2018 Institute for Social Policy and Understanding American Muslim Poll showed most Americans overwhelmingly support civil rights for Muslims. But Islamophobia does exist in the margins of our society — and it isn’t just a problem for Americans who are Muslim. Watch the video below to learn more about the negative impact of discriminatory actions […]

Opinion: American Muslim Women Don’t Need You to Save Them from Islam

Dalia Mogahed, Opinion Contributor USA Today The latest iteration of the so-called “Muslim ban” was upheld by the Supreme Court (on July 26th) in a 5-4 ruling, leading many critics to call the decision a triumph of legal technicalities over principle. In this third version of the Trump administration’s attempt to ban citizens of several Muslim-majority countries from entering […]

One Year of the Qatar Blockade

June 5th marked one year since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed relations with Qatar over its alleged support of terrorist organisations and close links to Iran. This included cutting off all air, sea, and land routes with Qatar. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar maintains that there is "no legitimate justification" for [...]

Report Documents the Effects of Islamophobia and Negative Stereotypes on Muslims

Rowaida Abdelaziz, Huffington Post May 2018 Unprecedented levels of Islamophobia and heightened anti-Muslim rhetoric are so rampant that some Muslims are internalizing and accepting problematic stereotypes about themselves, according to a newly released report by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. The study found that Muslims are more likely than members of other faiths to […]

Responses to the Supreme Court’s Executive Order “Muslim Ban” Decision

June 26, 2018 – The Supreme Court has upheld the Trump administration’s third “Muslim Ban” in a 5-4 ruling on the case of Trump v. Hawaii, which challenges the ban’s constitutionality. The case questions whether or not Trump’s proclamation restricting travel and immigration to the United States from certain countries violates the Establishment Clause, which […]

Muslims in America: Public Perceptions in the Trump Era

The Voter Study Group report analyzes how most Americans perceive American Muslims vs. how American Muslims see themselves. Their survey discovered that almost 20 percent of Americans would deny Muslims who are American citizens the right to vote.

Who Thinks Muslim Leaders Should Condemn Terrorism? (Guest Column)

Following a terror attack bearing the hallmarks of ISIS or other such groups, it is now customary for Muslim leaders to issue public condemnations. Should that be the case? On the one hand, immediately condemning such acts preempts (and, ideally, prevents) any accusations of terrorist sympathies on the part of individual leaders and communities. On […]

Women’s Empowerment is an Effective Way to Drive Progress in Saudi Arabia

On March 3rd, Alwaleed Philanthropies and several partners held the 2nd Women’s Empowerment and Integration Forum in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Princess Lamia Bint Majid AlSaud, the secretary general of the Alwaleed Philanthropies, discussed the role of women in the kingdom and their capacity to shape the country’s future. She stated that “we know that women’s empowerment and […]

View PBS Documentary: American Arab

Watch PBS documentary from its World Channel initiative now for a limited time. American Arab looks at what it’s like to straddle two cultures in the contemporary United States. In American Arab, Iraqi-American Director Usama Alshaibi asks “Why is being an Arab suddenly the opposite of being a decent man?” Throughout the documentary, Alshaibi explores what it’s […]

All the Single Ladies: American Muslims & Marriage (partner content)

What are the marriage trends among American Muslims? Marriage is a constant topic in American Muslim circles. Islamic texts encourage marriage. But, given that a majority of American Muslims are first-, second-, or third-generation immigrants, the concept of marriage can take on heightened significance as the community continues to establish itself in the US while […]

Muslims for American Progress Looks at Muslim Contributions to the United States

To fill the widespread gaps in knowledge about Muslim American citizens, including their positive effect on the country, the Muslims for American Progress project quantified the contributions of Muslim Americans, first in the state of Michigan, and in 2018, in New York City — where over 22% of America’s Muslims live. Muslims for American Progress […]

Washington Post Profiles Wasted Generation of Gaza Stifled by Lack of Opportunity, Employment

In this republished article by journalists William Booth and Hazem Balousha, educated and unemployed Palestinians in their 20s discuss lives bereft of opportunity and hope. Nearly 60 percent of young Gazans are unemployed and most would leave if it were possible. With few stable job prospects and no escape, many have resorted to occasional odd […]

Arab and Muslim Ban 3.0: What You Need to Know (Re-post)

ADC (The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee) has released valuable practical information on the details of the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban targeting six Muslim majority countries. Notably, they offer resources to those, including students, who are or might be affected by the executive order. If you or a loved one will be traveling to […]

A Closer Look at the Presidential Election in Iran

On May 19th, Iranians return to the polls to select their next president. The much anticipated event has received a great deal of scrutiny from journalists and analysts who have been closely monitoring the candidates and their campaigns. Iran continues to play center stage in global politics due to concerns about its compliance with the [...]

The Light in Her Eyes: Video Profile of Girls’ School in Damascus

Filmmakers Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix profiled Houda al-Kabash and her Qur’an school for women and girls in Damascus, Syria, for the New York Times. Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded the Qur’an school 30 years ago. Every summer, her female students immerse themselves in a rigorous study of Islam. A surprising cultural shift […]

Guest Article: Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Is Out of Step with Reality in the United States

Matthew La Corte is a Research Associate at the Niskanen Center, is a Washington, D.C.-based public policy think tank. Mr. La Corte recently wrote a valuable perspective on the increase in anti-Muslim American rhetoric and crime. His insightful exploration of the issue uses statistical information to counter many of the troubling arguments being made about the […]

Overview of the Turkey Referendum (Washington Post)

A poster of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the upcoming referendum, in Istanbul on March 27. (Emrah Gurel/AP) Learn more about Turkey’s constitutional vote taking place on Sunday that will shape this regional power’s future in this informative background guide. Leader Erdogan has been at the forefront of a global trend toward reactionary nationalism that […]

FAQ on the Islamic Veil and Women’s Dress

A general lack of knowledge about how some Muslim girls and women dress sometimes leads to instances of anti-Islam rhetoric, harmful stereotypes and social barriers. This is not a black-and-white issue as women's attire everywhere is influenced by family, culture and national norms, religious beliefs, personal preference, fashion trends, political views and so much more. [...]

The Arab Folk Art of Hand Clapping Experiences a Resurgence in Egypt

Before the emergence of musical instruments, humans clapped their hands to define and create the rhythm of music. Actually, hand clapping was an art of its own. Dating back to the days of the pharaohs, the art of kaff — Arabic for palm clapping — flourished in the Arabian Peninsula. Improvisational poetry is considered part and parcel of this art. With […]

Resource Highlight: “Arab American Stories” Documentary Series with Classroom Tools

Arab American Stories is an Emmy Award-winning 13-part series presented by Detroit Public Television that explores the diversity of the Arab-American experience. Each half hour features three short, character-driven documentaries produced by a variety of independent filmmakers which profile Arab Americans making an impact in their community, their profession, their family or the world at […]

15 English Words Derived from Arabic

You have zero interest in algebra, so you grab some alcohol — or maybe a coffee with extra sugar — sit on the sofa or mattress, eat an orange or some candy, and read a magazine or surf the web with Safari and Adobe. And just like that, you’ve used a dozen words that came […]

Middle Eastern Youth Build Bridges Through Arts, Sports and Dialogue

The Middle East is often characterized by perpetual conflict, religious extremism, poor governance, and people torn apart by sectarian, ethnic and national differences. However, there are a variety of initiatives whose goal is to promote dialogue and peaceful coexistence between groups of diverse backgrounds, demonstrating that divisions and enmity are man-made problems that can be […]

Turkish President Further Consolidates Power

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced his resignation on Thursday, May 6, 2016. Davutoglu’s resignation is the most recent in a string of concerted efforts by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to consolidate power in the Turkish presidency. Various internal and external factors, such as security threats from the PKK and ISIS, a refugee crisis from […]

Islamic State’s Gruesome Muslim Death Toll

Journalist and comedian, Dean Obeidallah, reaches beyond the headlines detailing the horrific treatment by the Islamic State of ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. Here he discusses the Islamic State's impact on fellow Muslims in response to a September report drafted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the [...]

Class Dismissed, Behind the Scenes with Malala Yousafzai (Video)

In 2012, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was 15 and an outspoken advocate for children's and girls' access to education when she was shot by fundamentalist Taliban fighters opposed to her public stance and to gender equality. She fought for her life and subsequently resumed her work which eventually earned her a Nobel Peace prize in [...]

Op-Ed: Muslims are Critical to American Progress (with Guiding Questions)

While the world mourned the savage and senseless loss of innocent life, some capitalized on the attacks in Paris to score political points. Within hours, Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., tweeted: “How’s that Syrian refugee resettlement look now? How about that mass migration into Europe? Terrorism is alive & well in the world. #No” Such refrains […]

Voices of the Egyptian Revolution

This in-depth profile looks at key participants in the 2011 Egyptian uprisings as well as the first post-Mubarak presidential election candidates. In addition, you will find a few contemporaneous articles that demonstrate the impassioned atmosphere at that time. Asmaa Mahfouz Asmaa Mahfouz was born on February 1st, 1985. She graduated from Cairo University with a BA [...]

Op-Ed: Zionism and the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The following is an edited transcript of remarks by Henry Siegman to the Middle East Policy Council’s 72nd conference on Capitol Hill about expanding the debate on U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine.  Mr. Siegman is the president of the U.S. Middle East Project. I am a Zionist. I am not only not opposed to a Jewish [...]

Learn About the Negotiations that Led to the Iran Nuclear Agreement

The highly contested negotiation talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) over the former's nuclear program resulted in a tentative framework for an eventual agreement. These discussions have been on the center stage of the global community whose concerns over regional security have elicited a [...]

Primer on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The Middle East Research and Information Project provides a detailed chronicle of the unrest between the Arabs and the Israelis, tracing this conflict over land and recognition to its origins in the late nineteenth century. This primer looks at the core developments and issues that have led to the current impasse, equipping the reader with context and [...]

Conflict and the Environment

News outlets and educational resources recently reported on a surprising environmental impact of civil unrest in the Middle East. Certainly, we know that people are displaced and that critical infrastructure is damaged during conflict, but another byproduct of war is the disruption of economy. Transportation is less accessible and safe, resources become scarce, and demand [...]

Middle Eastern Women Gain Recognition in Surprising Places

Arab and Muslim women are the subjects of many erroneous stereotypes and delegitimizing generalizations. You may be familiar with some of the common tropes: women are subservient, forced to marry young, take care of the home and many children, and cover themselves in oppressive garments. Women who contradict these assumptions and defy dictators and religious [...]

Picturing Palestinians Through New Lenses

In a New York Times article, “Palestinian Pleasures”, James Estrin looks at how one woman is trying to change the image of Palestinians. He writes: Since the mid-1980s, the visual narrative of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has been predictable: photographs of stone-throwing teenagers confronting Israeli soldiers, refugee camps, mothers mourning children killed [...]

Malala Yousafzai Wins 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Two years and a day after being shot by Taliban gunmen for defying their proscription of girls' education in the Swat Valley of northern Pakistan, 16-year old Malala Yousafzai has been awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy of educational access for all, regardless of gender or religion. She shares the award with [...]

Introduction to Women and Gender Roles in the Middle East

Many people hold a rather bleak view of girls' and women's lives in the Middle East and Muslim world; constrictive stereotypes and judgments about social practices create a one dimensional depiction of women that doesn't reflect their true depth and variety. Some common refrains might refer to the freedom, or lack thereof, of dress; to [...]

William Quandt: U.S. Foreign Policy & the Arab-Israeli Conflicct

William Quandt, former member of the National Security Council, speaks about the on U.S. Foreign Policy on the Arab-Israeli Issue The following is an edited transcript of remarks by William Quandt to the Middle East Policy Council’s 71st conference on Capitol Hill about U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine.  Dr. Quandt is a professor at [...]

Books to Prisoners Project Offers Alternative to Religious Literature That Feeds Militancy

Inspired by the story of her own father’s imprisonment, Tunisian blogger and activist Lina Ben Mhenni is bringing thousands of books to prisoners across Tunisia to in an effort to stem the radicalization of petty criminals from religious literature and Islamist convicts. Excerpts from a profile shed light on the social and political environment in […]

American Muslims and the Flint Water Crisis: A Case Study

The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, based in Washington, D.C., has taken a closer look at Michigan’s Muslim community response to the public health crisis that emerged from unsafe levels of lead in the working class town’s water. Below you will find a graphic that highlights their involvement in alleviating suffering in the aftermath, […]

The Algerian Exception to the 2011 Uprisings

How Did Algeria Differ in the Arab Spring Revolts? In 2011, starting with the self-immolation of Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, a wave of revolutions and protests swept across the Arab world. This series of protests and revolutions are popularly referred to as the “Arab Spring.” Almost every single Arab country participated in the Arab […]

Nearly Half of Refugees in United States Were Muslim in 2016

The Middle East Monitor reports on a new study by the Pew Research Center that found that nearly half of all refugees admitted to the U.S. in 2016 are Muslims. Released on Wednesday the study indicated that a a total of 38,901 Muslim refugees entered the U.S. in fiscal year 2016, making up almost half (46%) of […]

What’s Missing in the Teaching of Islam

There has been much misinformation about Islam. Reports in Western media tend to perpetuate stereotypes that Islam is a violent religion and Muslim women are oppressed. Popular films like “American Sniper” reduce places like Iraq to dusty war zones, devoid of any culture or history. Fears and anxiety manifest themselves in Islamophobic actions such as […]

An Historical and Contemporary View of Palmyra (The New York Review of Books)

This compelling overview of the ancient ruins of Palmyra, located in central Syria, recounts the many conquests that took place here, uses 150-year-old photographs of the area, and provides an understated but powerful chronicle of the devastation enacted by players (not only the Islamic State) in the Syrian Civil War to convey the human burden […]

Islamic Science and Mathematics: The Astrolabe

One particular achievement of the Golden Age of Islam is the Astrolabe, an astronomical instrument from the 12th century; let’s learn more about it! Using the Astrolobe from Muslim Heritage by Emily Winterburn* Al Sufi, one of the most famous astronomers of the Islamic world, was writing in Isfahan (in modern day Iran) in the 10th […]

Maps and Digital Geography Applications

Maps are an excellent introductory tool for taking students on meaningful adventures through geography, cultures, history, and current events.  We often think of maps as neutral documents that give us an unmediated snapshot of political borders and cities, or terrain, or resources. However, maps are human documents, and they therefore reflect their creators’ point of […]

Who Are the Taliban?

The Taliban, a powerful Islamist political movement, has been active in Afghanistan since the 1990s. They were able to wrest control of the country and impose several years of strict, fundamentalist rule for several years. Among other measures, they forbade girls from attending school and women from working outside of the house; banned music and […]

A Review of Relations Between Israel and Egypt

Egypt’s relationship with Israel is complex and has changed considerably over the years. Like all other Arab countries, Egypt protested Israel’s creation at the expense of Palestine. Egypt refused to recognize the state of Israel until 1979. Egypt and Israel have engaged in four wars, the instigators varying from war-to-war. Today, they cooperate extensively, mainly […]

A Closer Look: The Origins and Evolution of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwayn al-Muslimun) is the oldest and most influential Islamist organization in Egypt, most recently in the news when party member, Mohammed Morsi, became Egypt’s first democratically elected president. The Brotherhood’s legacy reaches back to 1928 when it was founded by Hasan al-Banna. Banna, an imam, (Muslim religious officiant or leader) formed the […]

A History of Islamist Movements in Algeria

Algeria’s history and identity is rooted in Islam. Cultural practices, even under French rule, were strongly Islamic. In fact, though Algeria established a secular state following its independence, much of its resistance was couched in Islamic rhetoric and ideals. Revolutionaries would often refer to their struggle against the French as a “jihad,” and those fallen […]

Race and Identity in Iran

‘We are Iranians’: Rediscovering the history of African slavery in Iran Iranian-Canadian scholar Behnaz Mirzai has spent 20 years researching the African diaspora in Iran, a little-known slice of Iranian history. This story is re-posted from the original publication at Middle East Eye. Jillian D’Amours May 9, 2016 ST CATHARINES, Canada – Behnaz Mirzai’s students […]

Regional Spotlight and Explainer: the Western Sahara Dispute

Spotlight on the Western Sahara Dispute The ongoing conflict discussed here between the Kingdom of Morocco and the people of the little known Western Sahara is not mentioned in high school textbooks and is not a prominent story mentioned in media, if it is even addressed at all. On occasion the dispute will gain attention, […]

Jewish and Arab Women Embody Peaceful Coexistence with Choir Ensemble

In Israeli Choir, Arab and Jewish Women Put Aside Politics to Sing with One Voice Published online at Israeli media outlet, Haaretz, this moving story of an all-female choir in Jaffa known as Rana (“song” in Arabic). This rare example of a successful coexistence project, sings in Arabic, English and Hebrew, as well as in […]

From BBC Magazine: Why does China have Women-Only Mosques?

The Islamic world is wide and various, its points of view almost as numerous as its people. And Islam in China, with its long tradition of women-only mosques, provides a good illustration of the unique traditions that are practiced in the world's 2nd most practiced religion. In the middle of the plain of the Yellow [...]

What Does Donald Trump’s Rise in US Politics Mean for the Middle East?

From the Middle East Policy Council comes this exploration of opinions of the effects of a potential Trump presidency on the Middle East. How realistic are his proposed policies? U.S. presidential elections have consequences beyond the borders of the United States of America, making the campaign season a focus for observers and commentators abroad. In […]

President Obama’s First Visit to an American Mosque

On February 3rd, President Obama visited the Islamic Society of Baltimore. Following a meeting with Muslim community leaders, the president talked about the contributions of Muslim Americans in the United States.?He also spoke about the history of the religion in the U.S. and how groups such as the Islamic State* distort the Muslim faith.?His remarks at […]

New preservation project in Haifa, Israel, seeks to keep historical Arab foods from disappearing

From Haaretz.com comes a story on Haifa’s hottest new preservation project which focuses on near-forgotten Levantine Arab culinary traditions. Haaretz.com, is the online edition of Haaretz Newspaper in Israel, and offers analysis from Israel and the Middle East. Haaretz.com provides extensive and in-depth coverage of Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East, including defense, […]

Sounds from Arabia: Arab Music from the Saudi Ensemble

Enjoy a 2012 performance by the Saudi Ensemble at the Freer and Sackler galleries, the Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art, Washington, D.C. The Saudi Ensemble Khalid Al-Barak, director Abo Al-Hashmi Khaleafah, nay (flute) Abdeen Shareef, semsemyah (lyre) and Mohammad Sultan, ‘ud (lute) Abdullah Khateri, qanun (plucked zither) Adel Adbul Dayem, violin Mosa Al-Rofai, tabla (drum) […]

Timeline of the Middle East in the 20th Century

A printable version of this timeline is available for download at the bottom of this page. 1901 Oil is discovered in Iran. 1905 Death of the great Muslim reformer, Muhammad Abdu. 1906 The Algeciras Conference, organized with the help of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, prevents war between France and Germany over colonial rights in Morocco. Control of [...]

Explore the Epic Poem, Shahnama

The Smithsonian’s Museums of Asian Art website contains a fascinating feature on the 1,005-year old literary masterpiece, the Shahnama, also called the Book of Kings. The feature, with in-depth details of a number of stories in the poem along with selections of art from the Safavid and other eras, is based on an exhibit at the museum in 2011 that celebrated the 1000-year anniversary of the completion of the captivating epic poem.

Films on the Middle East and Muslims

Powerpoint resource on learning about culture through cinema and documentary.

Arabic Contributions to the Spanish Language and Culture

From the desert they came - men filled with religious zeal and riding under banners inscribed with the motto "There is no god but God and Muhammad is His messenger".  After establishing the Middle East and North Africa as the foundation of their new Arab/Islamic Empire, the Arabs in the 8th century landed on the [...]

Doorways to Islamic Art

Downloadable powerpoint resource on Islamic art.

The Real Story of Representational Art in Islam

It is a common belief that Islam forbids art that shows the human figure, but the issue is more nuanced. Depictions of the Prophet Mohammed are taboo and socially unacceptable. A proliferation of images of the prophet in comics, newspapers, contests and other media has created extensive controversy in the United States and beyond in [...]

Sacco Conveys the Everyday Experiences of Palestinians

Graphic artist Joe Sacco conveys the everyday experiences of Palestinians in Palestine and Footnotes in Gaza Joe Sacco, a cartoonist, “grew up thinking of Palestinians as terrorists” (Khalifa). He eventually did his own research to fill in the gaps and decided he wanted to share his new awareness with others through his art. Sacco launched [...]

History Resource List

History Resources for EducatorsClassroom ResourcesGeneral Middle Eastern HistoryIsraeli-Palestinian ConflictIslamic HistorySpecific Periods, People and PlacesClassroom Resources Best of History Websites With links to over 1000 sites that have lesson plans, activities, games, quizzes and solid information, Best of History is a rich resource of tools and information. This is a project of the Center for Teaching [...]

A Selection of Viewpoints on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The Middle East Policy Council has tackled numerous subjects from defense cooperation and foreign policy in the Middle East to humanitarian crises and hot topic issues like the Iranian nuclear negotiations at its quarterly Capitol Hill Briefings series and in the Middle East Policy Journal. One frequently addressed interest is the Arab-Israeli conflict, which continues to fester without much prospect of a resolution, though not for lack of trying. Here are some transcripts of talks given at MEPC Capitol Hill forums on the Arab-Israeli conflict to show how the climate and conversation differs among specialists and continues to evolve over time.

Explore the Global Security Matrix Tool

Global Security Matrix Tool What makes us feel safe?  Is the definition of security universal or does it differ from country to country?  These are some of the questions the new online Global Security Matrix tries to answer. Developed by the well-respected Choices Program, an education program about history and current issues based at Brown University, the Global [...]

Persian Miniature Paintings Visual Tour

Let’s take a visual tour of two exquisite sixteenth-century Persian paintings, “A Camp Scene” and “Nighttime in a Palace,” from the collection of the Harvard University Art Museums. These two paintings not only are examples of incredible artistic virtuosity but also contain a wealth of social detail that illuminates urban and rural life, and, indeed, some [...]

A Global Guide to Islamic Art

Written by Jonathan M. Bloom and Sheila S. Blair Reprinted from Saudi Aramco World (January/February 2009) Access the digital version of this article with an array of images, interactive maps, and other multimedia tools! Visiting an exhibition of Islamic art for the first time? Viewers familiar with western art traditions should be prepared for a [...]

Persian Music Podcast from the Smithsonian

A Podcast Master of Persian Music: Hossein Alizadeh with tar and sitar. Listen to a podcast from the Freer Gallery at the Smithsonian featuring the ancient improvisational tradition of Persian classical music played masterfully by one of Iran's greatest musical legends. Hossein Alizadeh is a two-time Grammy nominee, once for his solo album Endless Vision and again as a member of [...]

Marcel Khalife: Cultural Icon in the Arab World

Though born in Lebanon, Marcel Khalife is a cultural icon throughout the Arab world. Perhaps no other contemporary artist has so changed the face of Arab music. Classically trained on the Oud (lute) at the National Academy of Music in Beirut, Khalife refused to be limited by the rigidity of tradition, thus significantly expanding the [...]

Ave Maria Performance Accompanied by the Islamic Call to Prayer

An example of religious plurualism in Lebanon, this Youtube video features Lebanese diva Tania Kassis singing an inspired arrangement of the Christian Ave Maria accompanied by the Islamic call to prayer, or adhan, performed by Mhammad Shaar and Maen Zakaria. Tania Kassis is very interested in religious and cultural dialogue, and in this song celebrates both [...]

Afghanistan’s First Female Rapper

The BBC reports that Afghanistan's first female rapper is upbeat about the future.  Visit here for access to a video clip and the original article. Afghanistan's First Female Rapper Upbeat on Future By Caroline Wyatt, BBC News, Kabul 29 October 2012 In a country where women's' rights are still fiercely contested, Soosan Firooz has added a strong new [...]

The Kurds and Kurdistan

This is a continuation of original article Communal Identities and Ethnic Groups Daniel G. Bates, Amal Rassam From Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East © 2000 Pearson Education Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. In this chapter Daniel Bates of Istanbul Bilgi University and Amal Rassam of [...]

Muslim-Derived Sectarian Communitites

This is a continuation of original article Communal Identities and Ethnic Groups Daniel G. Bates, Amal Rassam From Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East © 2000 Pearson Education Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. In this chapter Daniel Bates of Istanbul Bilgi University and Amal Rassam of [...]

The Armenians in the Middle East

This is a continuation of original article Communal Identities and Ethnic Groups Daniel G. Bates, Amal Rassam From Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East © 2000 Pearson Education Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. In this chapter Daniel Bates of Istanbul Bilgi University and Amal Rassam of [...]

The Maronites of Lebanon

This is a continuation of original article Communal Identities and Ethnic Groups Daniel G. Bates, Amal Rassam From Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East © 2000 Pearson Education Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. In this chapter Daniel Bates of Istanbul Bilgi University and Amal Rassam of Queens [...]

Christians in the Middle East

This is a continuation of the original article Communal Identities and Ethnic Groups Daniel G. Bates, Amal Rassam From Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East © 2000 Pearson Education Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. In this chapter Daniel Bates of Istanbul Bilgi University and Amal Rassam of [...]

Jewish Communities of the Middle East

This is a continuation of the original article Communal Identities and Ethnic Groups Daniel G. Bates, Amal Rassam From Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East © 2000 Pearson Education Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. In this chapter Daniel Bates of Istanbul Bilgi University and Amal Rassam of [...]

Non-Muslim Confessional Communities: Christians and Jews

This is a continuation of original article Communal Identities and Ethnic Groups Daniel G. Bates, Amal Rassam From Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East © 2000 Pearson Education Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. In this chapter Daniel Bates of Istanbul Bilgi University and Amal Rassam of Queens [...]

Communal Identities and Ethnic Groups

Daniel G. Bates, Amal Rassam From Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East © 2000 Pearson Education Electronically reproduced by permission of Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. In this chapter Daniel Bates of Istanbul Bilgi University and Amal Rassam of Queens College of the City University of New York consider communal identities [...]

Deportivo Palestino: Arab Identity and Sports in Chile

A soccer team in Chile's top league ignited controversy in January, 2014, with its uniforms depicting the entire map of Israel as Palestine. Palestinian issues are not unfamiliar in Chile; the country has an estimated 300,000 Palestinian refugees, possibly the largest number of refugees outside of the Middle East. Despite protests and pushback from Chile’s Jewish community, Deportivo [...]

What is the Middle East?

The Middle East is the common term for a region consisting of countries in southwest Asia and, usually, at least part of North Africa. It is an interesting term - middle of what? east of what? While the term is now widespread both inside and outside the region, it is in fact relatively new. It [...]

Timeline of the Ottoman Empire

A printable version of this timeline is available for download at the bottom of this page. 1469 Death of Aztec leader Montezuma I in modern-day Mexico. 1492 Muslims and Jews are expelled from Spain at the behest of the Catholic Inquisition. The Muslims return to North Africa. The Spanish Jews, known as the Sephardim, scatter throughout [...]

Timeline of Islamic Dynasties

A printable version of this timeline is available for download at the bottom of this page. 661 Ali is murdered, presumably by a Kharijite extremist. His son Hassan loses a battle for succession to Mu'awiyah and retires to Medina. Mu'awiyah establishes the Umayyad dynasty and transfers the imperial capital to Damascus. 680 Caliph Mu'awiyah dies. His [...]

Timeline of Early Islamic History

A printable version of this timeline is available for download at the bottom of this page. 822 BCE The Phoenicians establish the historic city of Carthage (in present-day Tunisia) and set up trading posts along the North African coast. c. 208 BCE Massinisa becomes king of Eastern Numidian Massyli (east of current Algeria), succeeding his father [...]

Women in Muslim History

Women in Muslim History: Traditional Perspectives and New Strategies This short essay by sociologist Fatima Mernissi, a prominent sociologist from Morocco, is a survey of Islamic texts on women. Mernissi argues that the authors of these texts “did not, as might be expected, talk about them only as the mothers and daughters of powerful men. [...]

Understanding Middle Eastern History: An Interview with William Cleveland

An interview with William Cleveland, Professor of History at Simon Fraser University and author of the widely used textbook A History of the Modern Middle East, on the importance of understanding the historical context of the Middle East. A Teacher’s Guide to the interview is included at the end. Interview conducted by Michael A. Toler. This [...]

Lebanon’s Forgotten Space Program

There is a universal fascination with space and Manoug Manougian of Lebanon was one of those youngsters with space exploration on his mind. The BBC spoke with Manougian about the 1960s Rocket Society he began at Haigazian College.

Photographs Tell a History of Palestinian Refugees

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) unearthed an archive of haunting photos documenting the Palestinian refugee experience. The photographs capture the Palestinian refugee experience from the 1948 war onward, giving form to a seminal chapter in Palestinian history, identity and collective memory. The article is shared in its entirety here but you can [...]

Caravan Kingdoms

Caravan Kingdoms: Yemen and the Ancient Incense Trade This online exhibition provides an intriguing and informative look at some of the most fascinating kingdoms of ancient Yemen, including the country’s ancient incense trade. Caravan Kingdoms Interactive provides an intriguing and informative look at some of the most fascinating kingdoms of ancient Yemen, including the country’s ancient [...]

Thomas Jeffererson and the Qu’ran

In 2006, Keith Ellison became the first Muslim elected to Congress. He took the oath of office on a Qu’ran from Thomas Jefferson’s personal library. This prompted Denise A. Spellburg to write a book on the subject titled Thomas Jefferson’s Qu’ran: Islam and the Founders, published in 2013. In a podcast hosted by Joan Neuberg at the University of Texas at Austin, Neuberg and Spellburg delve into how Thomas Jefferson’s interest in the Qu’ran began and the different ways in which it influenced him.

Ted Talk on Fighting Extremism

Anti-extremist activist Maajid Nawaz was once, in fact, an Islamist extremist himself. This TED talk looks at why transnational extremist organizations succeed where democratic movements have a harder time taking hold. He calls for new grassroots stories and global social activism to spread democracy in the face of nationalism and xenophobia.

Arab Youth & Social Change in the Middle East

Prolific author, Middle East expert, and history professor at the University of Michigan, Juan Cole argues that despite the upheaval resulting from the Arab Spring, youth movements on the street and through social media across the Arab world have demonstrated a true surge in political awareness and civic engagement.

Saudi Arabia’s Cultural Heritage Uncovered

For hundreds of years, popular perceptions of Arab culture have been dominated by Islam. But recent excavations in what is now modern-day Saudi Arabia are revealing evidence of sophisticated and ancient civilizations that are redefining the pre-Islamic era. This basalt tombstone is from Mecca, 9th Century A lucrative trade in spices - particularly incense - [...]

Ottoman History with Resources

Ottoman History: New Questions, New AnswersTEACHING OTTOMAN HISTORY: A PRIMER (with updates and adaptations)Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies, The Outreach Center, 2003. Why Study the Ottomans? The Ottoman Empire was an innovative and multicultural state that lasted for over 600 years. In its heyday, its economic power and military successes made it feared [...]

The Hajj

Completion of the pilgrimage to Mecca during the prescribed month (Dhu'l Hijjah, or Hajj Month) is an obligation for all Muslims around the world at least once in their lifetime, if they are physically able and can afford to go. Since the Muslim calendar is lunar and the lunar year of twelve months has 354 [...]

Soundscapes of Islam

Soundscapes of Islam: The Call to Prayer and Qur'an Recitation Sound is an intrinsic part of all our lives, an important component of what we consider home. Our "audio" lives are comprised of the noises that surround us in our home and social environments, as well as an array of musical sounds created by many [...]

Resources on Religion

General Background Information on Islam 10 Things everyone should know about Islam – John Esposito. Katie Couric discusses the difference between Sunni & Shia Muslims in this instructive video clip Muslim top ten populations Websites Access Islam: Funded by the United States Dept. of Education, this site gives students and teachers access to Internet-based videos, lesson [...]

10 Things to Know About Islam

John Esposito delivers 10 essential "things" to know about Islam that can give any reader a basic understanding and history of a complex religion that is often misunderstood. Esposito looks at many parts of Islam such as, core beliefs, differences between Sunni and Shii, and  gender roles, amongst other topics. These are fundamental concepts that [...]

Yemeni Woman Wins 2011 Nobel Peace Prize

In 2011, three women shared that year’s Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” The first Arab woman and the youngest Nobel Laureate ever, Yemen’s Tawakkul Karman was recognized for her prominent leadership in the peaceful movement to dismantle the dictatorship of President Saleh.

The Evolution of Rai Music

This article, influenced by an essay by Louis Werner begins with a very brief discussion of the development of “World Music” as a genre, then moves on to survey the phenomenon of Rai music which originated in Algeria. This article is adapted from a 1999 essay from Aramco World magazine on Arab pop music’s global [...]

Proverbs from the Middle East and South Asia

The son of a duck is a swimmer. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; or Like father, like son. Open one eye when you sell, and both eyes when you buy. Buyer beware. Do not open a door which you cannot close Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Whatever is brought [...]

Arabic Script Proverbs

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Arabic Alphabet Chart with Highlights

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Arabic 101

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An Introduction to Arabic

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Facets of Arab Identity Halim Barakat

Halim Barakat, an Arab novelist and sociologist, taught at a variety of institutions including the University of Texas at Austin, Georgetown University, and Harvard University. Mr. Barakat is of Greek Orthodox heritage, was born in Syria, and grew up in Beirut where he received his education.  His publications center on the difficulties facing modern Arab societies [...]

Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim? What’s the Difference?!

Many Americans have a hard time distinguishing between the terms Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim. Here we break down the various terms to help you distinguish between these three categories. Who is an Arab? Arab is an ethno-linguistic category, identifying people who speak the Arabic language as their mother tongue (or, in the case of [...]

Water in the Middle East

Water security has always been an issue in the arid environment that characterizes most of the Middle East. Not until recently, however, has it been so serious. Although the Nile, Euphrates, Tigris and Jordan Rivers provide substantial agricultural, industrial and commercial support, the longevity of this scarce resource is being tested daily. The rich landscape [...]

Mountains of the Middle East

Why should we think so hard about geography? Why does geography matter? In addition to the intrinsic interest of the physical structures of the earth, geography is the canvas on which history—the lives of people over years, centuries, and millennia—is painted. The rivers, mountains, plains and valleys, oil deposits and rainfall patterns of the Middle [...]

U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East since the 19th Century

U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East since the 19th Century © 2004, Mohamed El Mansour In this article the influential Moroccan historian provides a history of the role of the United States in the Middle East and North Africa. The essay provides an excellent introductory survey, beginning with the recognition of the young American [...]

Amb. Chas W. Freeman, Jr. Talks about the U.S.’ Misaligned Objectives in the Middle East

The following is an edited transcript of remarks by Chas W. Freeman, Jr. to the Middle East Policy Council's 71st conference on Capitol Hill about U.S. policy towards Israel and Palestine.  Ambassador Freeman is the president of Projects International and the former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Over the past half-century or so, the United States [...]