Encyclopaedia of Islam

The Encyclopaedia of Islam (EI) is an encyclopaedia of the academic discipline of Islamic studies published by Brill. It is considered to be the standard reference work in the field of Islamic studies.[1] The first edition was published in 1913–1938, the second in 1954–2005, and the third was begun in 2007.

Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition


According to Brill, the EI includes "articles on distinguished Muslims of every age and land, on tribes and dynasties, on the crafts and sciences, on political and religious institutions, on the geography, ethnography, flora and fauna of the various countries and on the history, topography and monuments of the major towns and cities. In its geographical and historical scope it encompasses the old Arabo-Islamic empire, the Islamic countries of Iran, Central Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Indonesia, the Ottoman Empire and all other Islamic countries".[2]


EI is considered to be the standard reference work in the field of Islamic studies.[1] Each article was written by a recognized specialist on the relevant topic. However, unsurprisingly for a work spanning 40 years until completion, not every one of them reflects recent research.

The most important, authoritative reference work in English on Islam and Islamic subjects. Includes long, signed articles, with bibliographies. Special emphasis is given in this (EI2) edition to economic and social topics, but it remains the standard encyclopedic reference on the Islamic religion in English.[3]

The most important and comprehensive reference tool for Islamic studies is the Encyclopaedia of Islam, an immense effort to deal with every aspect of Islamic civilization, conceived in the widest sense, from its origins down to the present day... EI is no anonymous digest of received wisdom. Most of the articles are signed, and while some are hardly more than dictionary entries, others are true research pieces – in many cases the best available treatment of their subject.[4]

This reference work is of fundamental importance on topics dealing with the geography, ethnography and biography of Muslim peoples.[5]


The first edition (EI1) was modeled on the Pauly-Wissowa Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft. EI1 was created under the aegis of the International Union of Academies, and coordinated by Leiden University. It was published by Brill in four volumes plus supplement from 1913 to 1938 in English, German, and French editions.

An abridged version was published in 1953 as the Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam (SEI), covering mainly law and religion. Excerpts of the SEI have been translated and published in Turkish, Arabic, and Urdu.

The second edition of Encyclopaedia of Islam (EI2) was begun in 1954 and completed in 2005 (several indexes to be published until 2007); it is published by the Dutch academic publisher Brill and is available in English and French. Since 1999, (EI2) has been available in electronic form, in both CD-ROM and web-accessible versions. Besides a great expansion in content, the second edition of EI differs from the first mainly in incorporating the work of scholars of Muslim and Middle Eastern background among its many hundreds of contributors:

EI1 and SEI were produced almost entirely by European scholars, and they represent a specifically European interpretation of Islamic civilization. The point is not that this interpretation is "wrong", but that the questions addressed in these volumes often differ sharply from those which Muslims have traditionally asked about themselves. EI2 is a somewhat different matter. It began in much the same way as its predecessor, but a growing proportion of the articles now come from scholars of Muslim background. The persons do not represent the traditional learning of Qom and al-Azhar, to be sure; they have been trained in Western-style universities, and they share the methodology if not always the cultural values and attitudes of their Western colleagues. Even so, the change in tone is perceptible and significant.[4]

Publication of the Third Edition of EI (EI3) started in 2007. It is available online, printed "Parts" appearing four times per year. The editorial team consists of twenty 'Sectional Editors' and five 'Executive Editors' (i.e. editors-in-chief). The Executive Editors are Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer (Free University, Berlin), Everett Rowson (New York University), John Nawas (Catholic University of Leuven), and Denis Matringe (EHESS, CNRS). The scope of EI3 includes comprehensive coverage of Islam in the twentieth century; expansion of geographical focus to include all areas where Islam has been or is a prominent or dominant aspect of society; attention to Muslim minorities all over the world; and full attention to social science as well as humanistic perspectives.[6][7]

1st edition, EI1Edit

  • M. Th. Houtsma; et al. (eds.). The Encyclopædia of Islam: A Dictionary of the Geography, Ethnography and Biography of the Muhammadan Peoples. Leiden: E.J. Brill. 1913–38. 4 vols. and Suppl.
    • Vol.1. A–D, M. Th. Houtsma, T. W. Arnold, R. Basset eds., 1913.
    • Vol.2. E–K, M. Th. Houtsma, A. J. Wensinck, T. W. Arnold eds., 1927.
    • Vol.3. L–R, M. Th. Houtsma, A. J. Wensinck, E. Levi-Provençal eds., 1934.
    • Vol.4. S–Z, M. Th. Houtsma, A. J. Wensinck, H. A. R. Gibb, eds., 1936.
      • Reprint S, T-Z, Supplement
      • Suppl. No.1. Ab-Djughrafiya, 1934.
      • Suppl. No.2. Djughrafiya-Kassala, 1936.
      • Suppl. No.3. Kassala-Musha'sha', 1937.
      • Suppl. No.4. Musha'sha'-Taghlib, 1937.
      • Suppl. No.5. Taghlib-Ziryab, 1938.
  • M. Th. Houtsma, R. Basset et T. W. Arnold, eds., Encyclopédie de l'Islam: Dictionnaire géographique, ethnographique et biographique des peuples musulmans. Publié avec le concours des principaux orientalistes, 4 vols. avec Suppl., Leyde: Brill et Paris: Picard, 1913–1938. (French)
  • M. Th. Houtsma, R. Basset und T. W. Arnold, herausgegeben von, Enzyklopaedie des Islām : Geographisches, ethnographisches und biographisches Wörterbuch der muhammedanischen Völker, 5 vols., Leiden: Brill und Leipzig : O. Harrassowitz, 1913–1938. (German) – vol. 1, vol. 3, vol. 4
  • M. Th. Houtsma et al., eds., E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 8 vols. with Supplement (vol. 9), 1993. ISBN 90-04-09796-1


  • H. A. R. Gibb and J. H. Kramers eds. on behalf of the Royal Netherlands Academy, Shorter Encyclopäedia of Islam, Leiden: Brill, 1953. ISBN 90-04-00681-8
  • M. Th. Houtsma et al. eds., İslâm Ansiklopedisi : İslâm âlemi coğrafya, etnografya ve biyografya lûgati, 13 in 15 vols., İstanbul: Maarif Matbaası, 1940–1988. (Turkish)
  • أحمد الشنتناوي، إبراهيم زكي خورشيد، عبد الحميد يونس، دائرة المعارف الإسلامية: اصدر بالألمانية والإنجليزية والفرنسية واعتمد في الترجمة العربية على الأصلين الإنجليزي والفرنسي، الطبعة ٢، القاهرة: دار الشعب، -۱۹٦۹‎ (Arabic)
  • محمود ‌الحسن عارف، مختصر اردو دائرۀ معارف اسلامیه، لاهور: دانشگاه پنجاب، ۲۵ ج.ها، ۱۹۵۹-۱۹۹۳‎ (Urdu)

2nd edition, EI2Edit

Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.)
  • Edited by P. J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W. P. Heinrichs et al., Encyclopædia of Islam, 2nd Edition., 12 vols. with indexes, etc., Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1960–2005
    • Vol. 1, A – l–B, Edited by an Editorial Committee Consisting of H. A. R. Gibb, J. H. Kramers, E. Lévi-Provençal, J. Schacht, Assisted by S. M. Stern (pp. 1–320); – B. Lewis, Ch. Pellat and J. Schacht, Assisted by C. Dumont and R. M. Savory (pp. 321–1359). 1960. ISBN 90-04-08114-3
    • Vol. 2, C–G, Edited by B. Lewis, Ch. Pellat and J. Schacht. Assisted by J. Burton-Page, C. Dumont and V.L. Ménage., 1965. ISBN 90-04-07026-5
    • Vol. 3, H–Iram Edited by B. Lewis, V.L. Ménage, Ch. Pellat and J. Schacht, Assisted by C. Dumont, E. van Donzel and G.R. Hawting eds., 1971. ISBN 90-04-08118-6
    • Vol. 4, Iran–Kha, Edited by E. van Donzel, B. Lewis and Ch. Pellat, Assisted by C. Dumont, G.R. Hawting and M. Paterson (pp. 1–256); – C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, B. Lewis and Ch. Pellat, Assisted by C. Dumont and M. Paterson (pp. 257–768); – Assisted by F. Th. Dijkema, M., 1978. ISBN 90-04-05745-5
    • Vol. 5, Khe–Mahi, Edited by C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, B. Lewis and Ch. Pellat, Assisted by F.Th. Dijkema and S. Nurit., 1986. ISBN 90-04-07819-3
    • Vol. 6, Mahk–Mid, Edited by C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and Ch. Pellat, Assisted by F.Th. Dijkema and S. Nurit. With B. Lewis (pp. 1–512) and W.P. Heinrichs (pp. 513–1044)., 1991. ISBN 90-04-08112-7
    • Vol. 7, Mif–Naz, Edited by C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs and Ch. Pellat, Assisted by F.Th. Dijkema (pp. 1–384), P. J. Bearman (pp. 385–1058) and Mme S. Nurit, 1993. ISBN 90-04-09419-9
    • Vol. 8, Ned–Sam, Edited by C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W. P. Heinrichs and G. Lecomte, Assisted by P.J. Bearman and Mme S. Nurit., 1995. ISBN 90-04-09834-8
    • Vol. 9, San–Sze, Edited by C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W. P. Heinrichs and the late G. Lecomte, 1997. ISBN 90-04-10422-4
    • Vol. 10, Tā'–U[..], Edited by P. J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W. P. Heinrichs, 2000. ISBN 90-04-11211-1
    • Vol. 11, V–Z, Edited by P. J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W. P. Heinrichs, 2002. ISBN 90-04-12756-9
    • Vol. 12, Supplement, Edited by P. J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W. P. Heinrichs, 2004. ISBN 90-04-13974-5
    • Glossary and index of terms to v. 1–9, 1999. ISBN 90-04-11635-4
    • Index of proper names v. 1–10, 2002. ISBN 90-04-12107-2
    • Index of subjects, fasc. 1, compiled by P. J. Bearman, 2005. ISBN 90-04-14361-0
    • Glossary and index of terms to v. 1–12, 2006. ISBN 90-04-15610-0
    • An Historical Atlas of Islam, ed., William C. Brice, 1981. ISBN 90-04-06116-9
  • E. van Donzel, Islamic desk reference: compiled from The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994. ISBN 90-04-09738-4 (an abridged selection)

3rd edition, EI3Edit

  • Edited by Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson, Encyclopædia of Islam, 3rd Edition., available online, printed "Parts" appearing four times per year, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2007–. ISSN 1873-9830

Urdu translationEdit

The Urdu Encyclopaedia of Islam is the project of translating the Encyclopedia of Islam into Urdu. It was started in the 1950s at University of the Punjab, as a project led by Muhammad Shafi.[8] The editorial board worked on translating the Leiden Encyclopaedia into Urdu, amending, correcting, and adding to the Leiden text themselves.[9] The original plan for publication, as laid out by Shafi and others, was for the Encyclopaedia (which was to be entitled Urdu Da’ira Ma’arif-i-Islamiya) to span between 20 and 22 volumes, with roughly a hundred illustrations per volume, published at a rate of four volumes per year.[10] At the time of Shafi's death in 1963, one volume of the encyclopaedia had been published (in February 1954), and a second volume was in press.[9][11] Because of Shafi's death, and lack of funding, work on the Encyclopaedia stalled until 1971, when a grant from the Asia Foundation enabled it to resume.[12] Volumes 10 and 12 were completed by 1973.[13] By 1985, 21 out of a planned 25 volumes had been published.[14]


Historian Richard Eaton criticised the Encyclopaedia of Islam in the book India's Islamic Traditions, 711-1750, published in 2003. He writes that in attempting to describe and define Islam, the project subscribes to the Orientalist, monolithic notion that Islam is a "bounded, self-contained entity".[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Encyclopaedia of Islam". Brill Publishers. Archived from the original on 2016-01-11. Retrieved 2016-01-11. It is the standard international reference for all fields of 'Islam' (Es ist das internationale Standardwerk für alle Bereiche 'des Islams'. Martin Greskowiak, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung, 1990).
  2. ^ "Encyclopaedia of Islam". Brill Publishers. Archived from the original on 2016-01-11. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
  3. ^ "Yale University Library Research Guide: Islam". Yale University. Archived from the original on August 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  4. ^ a b Humphreys, R. Stephen (1991). Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-691-00856-6.
  5. ^ Elton L. Daniel, "Encyclopedia of Islam" in Encyclopædia Iranica
  6. ^ "Encyclopaedia of Islam Three". Brill Publishers. Retrieved 2008-04-02. Serial. ISSN 1873-9830.
  7. ^ "IE3 Preview" (PDF). Brill Publishers. Spring 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-02.
  8. ^ Abdur Rauf (1975). "The Urdu Encyclopaedia of Islam". Islamic culture & civilization in Pakistan. Ferozsons. p. 139. Shigeo Minowa and Amadio Antonio Arboleda, ed. (1973). "Urdu Encyclopaedia of Islam". Scholarly publishing in Asia: proceedings. University of Tokyo Press. pp. 70 et seq."Encyclopaedia of Islam Pakistan's Venture". Asia: Asian quarterly of culture and synthesis. 4. Imprimerie d'Extrême-Orient. 1954. p. 633. "Department of Urdu Encyclopaedia of Islam at the University of the Punjab".
  9. ^ a b Islamic studies. 2. Central Institute of Islamic Research (Pakistan). 1963. p. 141.
  10. ^ UNESCO bulletin for libraries. 8. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. 1954. p. 62.
  11. ^ Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society. 11–12. Pakistan Historical Society. 1963. p. 264.
  12. ^ Islamic Culture Board (1971). "Urdu Encyclopaedia of Islam". Islamic Culture: The Hyderabad Quarterly Review. 36. Deccan. p. 79.
  13. ^ Year Book. Pakistan Education Division. 1973. p. 22.
  14. ^ World Muslim Conference (1985). "Urdu Encyclopaedia of Islam". The Muslim World. 23. Motamar al-Alam al-Islami; World Muslim Congress. p. 32.
  15. ^ Eaton, Richard M., ed. (2003). India' Islamic Traditions, 711-1750. Oxford University Press. p. 11. ISBN 9780195659740.

External linksEdit