Ancient manuscripts and rare books can be an important resource for libraries as they provide valuable insight into the cultural and historical records made by those of the past. They also track the development of replicating knowledge and processes used over the years, becoming a primary source for researchers studying subjects such as literature, history, art, and science.
Sharjah Public Library has been a preferred archive of numerous important historical texts for many years and has dedicated a special section that houses 3102 rare books under 912 titles that are considered the rarest Arabic, English, French, Persian, and German books and manuscripts in the world, covering a broad range of topics such as language, grammar, shrines, medicine, interpretations, astronomy, and many other important subjects.
Uthman’s Copy of the Quran
Among the rarest texts in SPL’s collection are manuscripts referred to as ‘Uthman’s copy of the Quran’, identical to a copy kept in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Turkey. The copy has great significance to Muslims because it was put together, copied and distributed to regions and territories of the Islamic Caliphate State under the directive of the Third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan.
What makes these works invaluable is not only the date they were published on or their edition but also in their subject matter. A great example of this priceless knowledge is the ‘Antidote’ book by an unknown Arab author. In the book, the author explains how to prepare an antitoxin consisting of plant compounds, which clearly indicates the early Arab contribution to the evolution of modern medicine.
Among the irreplaceable titles in the library is a copy of the famous manuscript known as Maqamat Al Hariri (also known as the ”Assemblies of Hariri”), who’s author died in 1122 AD, and another manuscript titled Sharh Qasedat Ibn Abdoun, by author Abdul Malik bin Abdullah Ibn Bedurun from the sixth century Hijri (era).
Among the rare manuscripts in the field of Fiqh (Muslim jurisprudence) is a manuscript entitled Sharh Al Muntakhab Al Hussami, written by Muhammad bin Muhammad Umar Al Akhsikthi, who died in 1247. For those looking for rare books on grammar, SPL has a manuscript titled Ketab Kashf Al Neqab An Mukhadarat Malahat Al Araab by Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Fakihi, who died in 1565.
Rare Magazines and Periodicals
SPL is also showcasing rare Arabic magazines and periodicals released at the beginning of the last century, such as one published in 1921 by the Arabic Language Academy in Damascus and a copy of the Al Risala magazine published by writer Ahmed Hassan Al Zayyat from 1933, as well as copies of the Al Arabi magazine, which began publishing in 1958 in Kuwait.
Among the thousands of publications and rare books on display, readers and researchers can access the 1894 print of Aja’eb Al Makhloqat Wa Ghra’eb Al Mawjodat and Al Alaq Al Nafisa, by Ahmed bin Omar Ibn Rustah, printed in 1891, in addition to Tareekh Al Shoara Al Hadrameyeen, by the author Abdullah bin Muhammad Al Saqqaf, printed in 1923, as well as many other rare books.
SPL provides full digital access to its visitors interested in reviewing and searching the invaluable titles found in the rare books section, which gives readers access to thousands of titles, manuscripts, magazines and periodicals that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.