My encyclopedia entries are out

Well, judging by the fact that Shabana and I just got our modest checks for our respective entries, I’m guessing that Jocelyn Cesari’s two-volume Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States might soon be in a library near you. Encyclopedia_of_islam_in_the_united

I contributed 6 entries, which could’ve been a big headache, but fortunately I picked simple easy, uncontroversial topics about which there is broad consensus across the political, academic and confessional spectra. They were:

  • Jihad
  • Democracy
  • Wahhabism
  • Salafiyya
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Headscarf *

* With Shabana.

Yeah, easy topics…

Thank God that’s over. I thought the revisions would never end. Next time, I’m grabbing "Halal meat" and "Wudu".

A reference work, it’s priced at $199. So, it probably won’t be gracing many people’s night tables.

But those of you who are students or academics, please tell your library to order it. Not just because I have something in it–though I personally find that a very compelling reason–but because it deals with extremely topical yet poorly understood issues. It’s also refreshing in that it looks at Islam and Muslims from a North American perspective.

Unless you count the surreal stint in Ethiopia a decade ago–where my remuneration was basically the trip itself–I think this might be the first time I’ve been paid for something I wrote.  Of course, academic journals, leftist publications and e-zines aren’t known for fat checks.

And I should probably count myself fortunate in this case, as I think most academic publications pay nothing at all.

BTW, Islamicate put me to shame, writing a whopping 10 entries.

I wonder who else in the Islamophere contributed to this project.

Perhaps I should shop around a proposal for a book on how not to write encyclopedia entries. I really think that in terms of process I did wrong everything that could be done wrong. Here are two exmples:

Rule #1 of  writing encyclopedia articles for fun & profit: If it’s a topic about which you believe many serious misconceptions reign and one about which you have strong opinions, run away as fast as you can. Switch to something like "wudu" and retain your sanity.

Rule #2: When tasked with compressing an impossibly huge subject into a short piece, ignore length completely until you’ve established the it covers everything that needs to be addressed.  Do not begin the agonizing process of pruning, until your editor confirms that all essential elements are present.

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