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Islamic Empire: Official Document, Jewish Marriage Contract

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Within the context of patriarchal societies, women are dependent upon their male relatives to look out for their best interests. In both Jewish and Muslim marriages, contracts have traditionally been drawn up, illustrating that a marriage is as much a familial contract as a union between two people. In Fatimid Cairo, Jewish families took great pains to draw up ketubbot, or marriage contracts,... Read More »

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Islamic Empire: Poem, Abbasid-era

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The Abbasid period is known as a time during which women’s public roles became more restricted in the Muslim population (umma). With the conquest of Sasanian and Byzantine lands, Arabs incorporated ideals of cloistering females and eliminating them from political life, with many ramifications in women’s daily lives. Moreover, strong patriarchal urges already ran through Arabian society, as the... Read More »

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Islamic Empire: Poem, Rabi’a al-‘Adawiyya

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In these poetic lines by Rabi’a al-‘Adawiyya, one of the most important founders of the mystical element of Islam, known as Sufism, we see an essential element of Sufi thought, the creation of which is often attributed to her: the ideal of divine love. Using the language of romance, Rabi’a’s verses elevate the divinity of God, all the while evoking the most intense elements of human love.... Read More »

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Islamic Empire: Religious Text, Confederation Sura

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This Sura (or chapter) of the Qur’an, known as al-Ahzab, or the “Confederation,” is known for its many verses extolling modesty in women, as well as detailing aspects of ideal marriage. Because of its references directly to the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, there has been controversy over whether or not the restrictions it places on women’s movement in the public sphere are to be universally... Read More »

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Islamic Empire: Religious Text, Marriage Customs

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The Hadith, or ways of the Prophet Muhammad, were collected upon his death from those who were close to him in life. Known as the Companions, these people played a key role in filling in the sayings and practices of Muhammad and his behaviors, recording them for future generations. Many of the key Companions to relay Hadith were Muhammad’s wives, particularly ‘A’isha bint Abu Bakr. In this... Read More »

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Islamic Empire: Religious Text, Mosque Customs and Public Behavior

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The Hadith, or ways of the Prophet Muhammad, were collected upon his death from those who were close to him in life. Known as the Companions, these people played a key role in filling in the sayings and practices of Muhammad and his behaviors, recording them for future generations. Many of the Hadith collected from the female companions detailed the Prophet’s ways concerning proper public... Read More »

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Islamic Empire: Religious Text, Women Sura

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This Sura (or chapter) of the Qur’an, known as al-Nisa’, or “Women,” details a variety of legal rights and restrictions for Muslims in the realm of marriage, inheritance, and other male-female relationships. Containing verses on polygamy, property maintenance, and child custody, it is one of the foundation chapters for the development of sharia, or Islamic law, vis-à-vis women’s legal rights,... Read More »

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Italian accounts of the Black Death

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Several chroniclers wrote about the Black Death in their own town or region. They described the symptoms of the disease, which they generally called "the mortality," how it arrived with portents of warning from the East, and how many people it killed. Some accounts are long and embellished with the descriptions of townspeople's actions, but most are brief, providing little more than the dates... Read More »

Detail of "The Priest Saigyo" a painting of an older man in a flowing black robe underneath Japanese text

Japanese Text Initiative

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Perhaps the greatest contribution of this site is its search engine, which enables the reader to search multiple texts, in English, for common topics or phrases. This feature makes these literary texts very useful to historians locating references on specific topics.

Kuwera Relief Panel at Candi Mendut, Java

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The carved stone relief is from the interior of Candi Mendut, a Buddhist temple in Central Java. Mendut was built during the early Shailendra dynasty in about 824 CE. It may have been built on the site of a Hindu temple from a previous century. The rectangular, stone temple is 26.4 meters (86.6 feet) tall and is constructed on a 2 meter (6.5 feet) platform. The surrounding wall is covered with... Read More »

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