Novel Reading Excercise–Tilka al-Ra’iha

Drew’s Historical Cultural Resources

Dear Reader,

Now that you’ve learned a little Arabic you might be interested in the broader cultural, historical and of the Arab World. I have listed a few below that I’ve greatly enjoyed!


  1. So often when we think about the “Arab World” we focus on the Levant or the Gulf and shirk the important history of the language in Africa. This recent scholarly book discusses the ways that that the Arabic language language and iconography was used during the Mahdia Movement during the 19th century. An excellent read for those interested in this often romanticized event in colonial history!
  2. Practicing Diplomacy in the Mamluk Sultanate: Gifts and Material Culture in the Mamluk Sultanate: Gifts and Material Culture  in the Medieval Islamic World by: Doris Behrens-Abouseif

Are you curious about Materiality in the Medieval Mediterranean World? This book investigates the Mamluk Sultanate, a thoroughly Arabized Turkic (and later Circassian) dynasty of slave soldiers and how they interacted with Latin Christian, Byzantine, Mongolian, and other Islamic polities. This book is instructional in providing transliterations of more archaic Arabic words.


  1. Khallina

An excellent website that guides you through Arabic culture via different modules. You can find topics ranging from “Tea Culture” to “Rock Bands.” You can even select you level for language and read about new topics in the language (with the inclusion of “advanced organizers as well). This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Arab culture while actually practicing the language!

  2. What is “Islamic Art:” Between Religion and Perception by Wendy Shaw

Islam art is so frequently misunderstood as abstracted and aniconic. Shaw invites the reader to shed their Western approaches to art history and consider “seeing” from an Islamic perspective Given the centrality of Arabic in Islam and the semiotic use of text in Islamic iconography the book analyzes the relationship between script, meaning, decoration and religion.


  1. Arabian Cuisine by Anne Marie Weiss-Armush

What to cook some Arabic Food and practice some vocabulary?  This book, written by a Fulbright Scholar who spent time in Saudi Arabia includes numerous dishes alongside their Arabic names! A nice way to review food words and make new food with very simple directions (not to mention the beautiful illustrations included).

2. Arabic Food Recipes

If you don’t want to spend the $60 for Arabian Cuisine, the Arabic Food Recipes blogpost is full of excellent recipes. Try making some falafels or kebab and inviting your Arabic speaking friends to a meal. Unfortunately the website does not have the Arabic recipes included but this doesn’t stop you from putting your Arabic skills to the test as you try to remember the Arabic equivalents for individual ingredients. Imagine, you can host your own “Arabic Table” at home!





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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.