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What is an Encyclopedia?

An encyclopedia is a concise and systematic work in a specific field of study, including a collection of articles written by experts and scholars in that subject and in the most authentic and technical form.

Today, encyclopedias are specialized and valid sources for researchers and scholars, and present the most significant output in certain subjects and in the research form. Hence, compiling encyclopedias in research centers – especially in Humanities and Islamic Sciences – play a notable role in developing and strengthening Islamic and Iranian thought and culture.

Considering the importance of such a mission, IICT began the project of "Encyclopedia Center" in 2000 and expanded it to "The Research Center of Islamic Encyclopedias" in 2008 in order to become the pioneer and to produce eternal and authentic works with scientific and technical standards.

The Research Center of Encyclopedias has the burden of national plan for "Religious Encyclopedias" on its shoulder and works in the framework of IICT major policies and goals to produce, program and manage religious encyclopedias.

Vision:

The available encyclopedias in Iran cannot be categorized under specific definitions. Nevertheless, IICT has defined "encyclopedia" as "a vast work in alphabetical order or subject-based structure, written by a group of qualified scholars and experts according to a certain method and scientific and technical considerations, that presents systematic and detailed data in a specific or major subject.

IICT has defined seven qualifications for encyclopedias to be achieved:

* The data being systematic and concise

* The level being appropriate and scientific

* The theories and attitudes being up-to-date

* The claims being authentic and defendable and presenting adequate references

* The articles being concise and short

* The texts and style being standard

* The form and context being prepared with technical foundations

Mission:

Since encyclopedias with subject-based structures are more concise and avoid unnecessary data flow, IICT presents all encyclopedias in subject-based structure. We believe that the first aim for compiling an encyclopedia is to inform. However, it can present creativity in form and context. In other words, the researcher may collect and bring available theories and attitudes, but he can present a new analysis, critique or theory on the subject as well which is welcomed by IICT. Therefore, writing articles for encyclopedias of IICT are considered as highly valued works of research, and the innovative aspect of the work is totally highlighted. We emphasize on avoiding imitative and repetitive works and common analysis, performing creative works and new subjects, working on certain subjects, and paying attention to contemporary problems, and we know that these considerations make our works unique among all other encyclopedias.

 

The Major Plan of "Religious Encyclopedias"

The major plan of "Religious Encyclopedias" is a national plan beyond the missions and attitudes of certain organizations and with short term and long term goals as follow:

* Presenting creativity and developing solutions for social and religious problems

* Organizing, researching, and coordinating religious thoughts due to current issues and necessities

* Preparing suitable grounds for developed religious thoughts

* Developing national thought and culture through compilation of great works and resources

* Initiating the effort to develop group working in compilation of encyclopedias and researches to improve the quality of the works

This plan has been designed with consideration of priorities in subjects and resources in several steps. The first step was the encyclopedia of "Imam Ali (A.S.)" which was begun in 2001 and published in early 2003 (in less than 20 months). "Encyclopedia of Imam Ali (A.S.)" was the first experience of IICT in compilation of encyclopedias although there were lots of obstacles and problems. However, many scholars, experts, and scientific centers declared it has been a significant work of research. Numerous prizes and admirations that this encyclopedia has received prove its uniqueness and all these made it be published three times in four years. The six-thousand-page encyclopedia received the Prize "Islamic Republic of Iran Book of the Year", "Top Religious Research", "Hawzah Book of the Year", "Book of Velayat Year", etc.

Then, as the second step, we began compilation of two encyclopedias in 2003: Encyclopedia of Qur'anology and Encyclopedia of Fatima (A.S.). The Encyclopedia of Qur'anology comprises two parts, Inside Quran and Outside Quran; the former has been begun in 2003 and would be finished by 2010 and the latter in 2006 (as the third step of the major plan of religious encyclopedias).

In late 2007, the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution ordered the compilation of "Encyclopedia of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.)". The forthcoming plans include the second edition and the software version of "Encyclopedia of Imam Ali (A.S.)", and "the Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Religion".

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Encyclopedia of Imam Ali (A.S.):

 Introduction:

The encyclopedia of Imam Ali (A.S.) is a subject-based encyclopedia on Imam Ali (A.S.) life, character, doctrine and events of his time and after him that somehow refer to his character or school of thought. It covers more than 6000 pages in 12 volumes, including 130 main entries and around 3000 subentries.

More than 200 scholars, experts and clerics cooperated in compilation of this encyclopedia to make it suitable for a vast range of readers including students, clerics, and Hawzah and universities graduates.

Many scholars, experts, and scientific centers declared it has been a significant work of research, and numerous prizes and admirations given to this masterpiece prove its uniqueness. The six-thousand-page encyclopedia received the Prize "Islamic Republic of Iran; Book of the Year", "Top Religious Research", "Hawzah Book of the Year", "Book of Velayat Year", etc.

It has been published three times and its software version is being produced.

Approaches and Specifications:

This work is highlighted with the following specifications that make it distinct among other encyclopedias:

* Analyzing and elaborating contemporary phenomenon and schools of thought considering Imam Ali (A.S.) manner and behavior

* Reviewing some contemporary theories comparatively

* Presenting diverse and comprehensive subjects and entries in various aspects of Imam Ali (A.S.) character and thought

* Keeping the subjects in certain essays homogenous and coherent

* Avoiding imitative and repetitive works, and daring to present new conclusions and analysis

* Researching and presenting concepts of the lectures, letters and tradition of Imam Ali (A.S.) inside the entries

* Considering unanimous form and concept in compiling the encyclopedia

* Referring to authentic historical and traditional sources

* Using scientific and standard text and writing and avoiding equivocation

* Performing rich collection of indexes

Authors and Researchers:

The essays that formed the entries of encyclopedia are written by a variety of senior and young scholars and clerics with different expertise and approaches. Every certain entry has been written by certain expert in the subject and then rewritten and edited by some other scholars. Some of scholars who cooperated with the project are: Ayatollah A. Javadi Amoli, M. Askari, J. Shahidi, R. Ostadi, J. M. Ameli, R. Davari, J, Seyedan, A. Rabani Golpaigani, M. R. Modaresi, M. H. Marefat, M. Sorosh, R. Jafarian, M. Mohaghegh Damad, A. Davani, M. A. Sadat, M. Mahrizi, M. A. Javdan, and many others.

Structure:

The structure of encyclopedia is based on ten major subjects, each one divided into some subdivisions wherever needed.  The 12-volume encyclopedia is preceded by an introductory volume that includes the main preface to the work, detailed and subjective indexes, abstracts, and introducing the writers and researchers of encyclopedia. The work comprises the following volumes:

* Philosophy and Epistemology

* The Origin and the Return

* Prophecy and Imamate

* Morality and Conduct

* Rights and Responsibilities

* Politics

* Economy

* History

* Life

* References

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Encyclopedia of Fatima (A.S.):

 The subject-based encyclopedia of Fatima (A.S.) includes 6 volumes and 118 main entries. It is divided into two major parts:

* Illustrating the life and teachings of Fatima (A.S.) as the significant Muslim woman icon, and

* Developing the topics in women rights, identity of the family, and related topics due to current issues and necessities

Goals:

* Elaborating life and significance of Fatima (A.S.) to respond to historical questions and dubieties, and analyzing wrong attitudes on her life

* Describing and analyzing her life, doctrine and conduct to present a true model of Muslim woman

* Explaining nature, place, rights and responsibilities of women, identity of the family and its rights and responsibilities according to Islam and due to current issues and necessities

* Criticizing opponent ideas and theories, and dogmatic or liberal attitudes which are against women and family in Muslim communities

Structure:

The encyclopedia covers 118 main entries and about 2000 subentries which include three major topics. The first part is "Fatima (A.S.) Character" that discovers life and conduct of Fatima (A.S.), her divine specifications, attitudes toward her life, and works and books on her. The second part is " Fatima (A.S.) Knowledge" that explains and analyzes her thought and doctrine and her attitude toward Islamic knowledge. The last part is "Woman and the Family" explaining the nature, place, rights and responsibilities of women, identity of the family and its rights and responsibilities.

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Encyclopedia of Qur'anology:

 

The subject-based encyclopedia of Qur'anology includes two major parts, Outside Quran topics (Quran Knowledge) and Inside Quran topics (Quran Sciences) being prepared with around 850 main entries.

Goals:

* Giving a true and exact definition of Quran and presenting its evidences and truth

* Elaborating practical and perfect aspects of Quran

* Analyzing Quran aspects due to a systematic and up-to-date attitude and current issues ad necessities

* Criticizing opponent and wrong ideas and responding to questions and dubieties in Quran sciences

Structure:

The first part of this encyclopedia, Quran topics (Quran Knowledge) is divided into two chapters. "The logic of comprehending Quran", the first one, covers the principles and methodology of comprehending Quran and examining interpretational comprehension of divine word, Quran. The second chapter, "Knowing Quran", is on Quran history and sciences.

The second part, Inside Quran topics (Quran Sciences), is divided into thirteen chapters each one being produced by certain research groups of IICT.

Certain experts and scholars work on each part and chapter of this project and a scientific council supervises the activity and decides on the essays.

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Encyclopedia of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.):

This encyclopedia comprises around 850 main entries that elaborate appropriate behaviors and conducts according to life and character of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h). Being initiated in 2007, the encyclopedia of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) is considered to become a comprehensive resource in elaboration of suitable Islamic systems and a collection of solutions for current issues and problems. Such encyclopedia needed the following specifications:

* Being authentic and referring to tradition of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h)

* Being practical for all Muslims

* Using new achievements of modern sciences

* Presenting an up-to-date language

* Responding to the current dubieties

Goals:

Major goals:

* Extracting, elaborating and analyzing suitable conducts due to the tradition and life of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h)

* Extracting, elaborating and analyzing methods of utilizing suitable conducts due to the tradition and life of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h)

Minor goals:

* Studying and reviewing conducts and behavioral systems fulfilled at the time of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h)

* Analyzing the ways to systemize utilizing suitable conducts due to the tradition and life of the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h)

Structure:

The work comprises two major parts: the principles and general points, and the behavioral systems. The first part includes the philosophy of his tradition and conduct, the topics about his tradition and conduct, and the philosophy of his behavioral systems. The second part is divided into two major parts, legal and moral, each one including nine chapters: the ritual, educational, legal, social, political, environmental, economic, managing, and researching.

Target Group:

This encyclopedia targets experts, scholars and even ordinary readers. It presents reports, analysis, and theories in mentioned topics, and creates social systems in certain subjects.

 

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