Types of Sources
Primary sources are original materials. In the study of history as an academic discipline, a primary source (also called original source or evidence) is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under study. It serves as an original source of information about the topic. A primary source can be a person with direct knowledge of a situation, or a document created by such a person. In an article about a book (e.g. the Qur'an) it would be the book itself. In the case of a person, it would be the subject itself; e.g. if Prophet Muhammad said something about himself, his statement would be a primary source.
In scholarship, a secondary source is a document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere. For example, a statement by a scholar about a certain battle in the history of Islam would be a secondary source. The news articles "Productivity suffers during holy month" and "Outcry over Malaysian child marriages" that report on a development or an incident are also secondary sources. Secondary sources involve generalization, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of the original information. Primary and secondary are relative terms, and some sources may be classified as primary or secondary, depending on how it is used.
Tertiary sources are sources that rely upon primary and secondary sources. Unlike secondary sources, they attempt to provide a broad introductory overview of a topic. As tertiary sources, encyclopedias and textbooks attempt to summarize and consolidate the source materials, but may also present commentary and analysis. The New Encyclopedia of Islam would be an example of a tertiary source. There are a variety of encyclopedias available.
Identifying Reliable Sources
The primary religious sources for Islam include the Qur'an and Hadith collections. WikiIslam uses the University of Southern California Muslim Students Association's Compendium of Muslim Texts. This includes the respected and widely accepted Qur'an translations of Yusuf Ali, Marmaduke Pickthal and M. H. Shakir. Hadith translations available from the Compendium of Muslim Texts are the translation of Sahih Al-Bukhari by Muhsin Khan, the translation of Sahih Muslim by Abd-al-Hamid Siddiqui, the translation of Sunan Abu Dawud by Ahmad Hasan, and the translation of Malik's Muwatta by A'isha Abd-al-Rahman al-Tarjumana and Ya'qub Johnson.
Other useful resources concerning primary religious sources are the Master Ayat (Verse) Index from IslamAwakened.com which provides 34 compared English translations, and the iKnowledge Qur'an from IslamicNature.com which provides the English literal translation. The hadith collection at SearchTruth.com is also useful due to including a few narrations that have oddly been misplaced/removed from the Compendium.
Ibn Ishaq's sira, and those of Ibn Hisham, Tabari, and Ibn Saa'd are also important religious sources, second only to the Qur'an and hadith (although in practice, the hadith and sira literature's contribution to mainstream Islam far out-way the Qur'an's). The edition of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah that is generally used is translated by A. Guillaume and published by the Oxford University Press. The various volumes of The History of al-Tabari that is generally use is published by the State University of New York Press (SUNY Press).
Secular academic sources are welcome. So are secular mainstream news sources such as the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. If editors find news and information from these types of sources that are quoted and linked in blogs or polemic sites, rather than citing the blog or polemic site, they should go straight to the source.
Sources to Avoid
Generally any translation of the Qur'an not included in the Compendium of Muslim Texts (other than the literal translation) should be avoided. In particular, the translations by orientalists (e.g. Arthur John Arberry, Edward Henry Palmer, George Sale, John Medows Rodwell and N J Dawood) or obscure translations by "progressives" that are not accepted by mainstream Muslims (e.g. Rashad Khalifa, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Laleh Bakhtiar).
Apologetic or "dialogue" sites should also be avoided due to not being reliable sources concerning mainstream Islamic thought. By their very nature, they are there to defend Islam from criticism, they are not there to reflect current Muslim thought on anything. They are just as guilty of the type of bias that sites such as Jihad Watch or Faith Freedom International are accused of. However, on the rare occasions they may actually agree with the views of scholarly Muslim sources, they may be used as a supplementary source.
Statements of fact concerning Islam from polemic sources such as books, articles or commentaries by individuals such as Robert Spencer, Pamela Gellar, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Mark A. Gabriel, Wafa Sultan, Ali Sina, Walid Shoebat, Brigitte Gabriel etc. are not to be used under any circumstances as references on WikiIslam. If editors come across any such statements, they must remove them immediately.
Excluding the Islam in the News section, news sources that could be considered "right-wing" or "Jewish/Zionist" should also be avoided when possible (e.g. Fox News, WorldNetDaily, FrontPage Magazine, National Review, Daily Caller or the Daily Mail). In the majority of cases, news sources such as the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse or Reuters would have also covered the story.
Only published and recognized translations of primary sources are to be used, and they must be quoted exactly as they appear in the cited reference. Furthermore, references that are cited must explicitly support any claims being made. Both of these points are crucial to the integrity of the site, and editors ignoring them will not be tolerated.
WikiIslam's criticism of Islam is based on its own sources, the Qur'an, hadith and Islamic scholars. So primary sources are not limited and may be freely used in articles. More importance is placed on pro-Islamic, religious Muslim sources over neutral secular sources. However, multiple references from both types of sources are preferred. Although polemic sources are not allowed to be used as references, they can be provided as supplementary external links.
- WikiIslam:Citing Sources
- How is WikiIslam different from Wikipedia? (Differences concerning "non-notable/reliable" sources)