Professor Mahmood Ibrahim, who teaches Middle East and North African history, has received his fourth Fulbright award. He plans to pursue research on Muslim women during the Middle Ages, research spawned by a 14th century manuscript that he found in a library in Cairo, Egypt during a previous Fulbright fellowship.
“I was very delighted to know I received the award, of course. It is an exciting time in the Middle East,” Ibrahim says. “The Fulbright is a prestigious award for a scholar to get, and it gives me the time to do the research that I wanted to do.”
Ibrahim originally intended to travel to Damascus, Syria, where he hoped to study the collections of several libraries that have published and unpublished medieval manuscripts. But the ongoing upheaval in the country forced the State Department to issue a warning against travel there. Fulbright gave Ibrahim a choice to either postpone the award for a year or go somewhere else where he could do the research.
Ibrahim intends to go to Rabat, Morocco in December, where he will study the women who lived in Damascus in the 14th century. In particular, he wants to translate their obituaries into English, as well as provide a commentary on the texts and an introduction to the subject.
“I want to turn these obituaries into life histories by investigating social connections and household environments of these women,” Ibrahim says. “I want to give these women some substance rather than just who they were.”
Ibrahim chose Rabat because he takes Cal Poly Pomona students there on a study abroad program during the summer. He says, Rabat has several libraries that are repositories of Arabic manuscripts, and he plans to study them for his next publication.
The Fulbright is part of the Council for the Exchange of International Scholars. The program’s purpose is to fund American scholars to travel abroad to study different cultures and to encourage academic discourse. In addition, the program funds scholars from around the world to conduct research in the United States.