sharjah public library rare books-1674624698442
Sharjah Public Library has a dedicated section that houses 3,102 rare books. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Ancient manuscripts and some of the world’s rarest books, providing insights into the cultural and historical records of the past, are on display at the Sharjah Public Library (SPL).

The library has a dedicated section that houses 3,102 rare books under 912 titles that, SPL said, are considered as the rarest Arabic, English, French, Persian and German books and manuscripts in the world. They cover a broad range of topics such as language, grammar, shrines, medicine, interpretations, astronomy, and other subjects.

The manuscripts are also used by researchers to study literature, history, art and science. SPL provides full digital access to visitors interested in reviewing the “invaluable” titles.

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 Topkapı 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, SPL said, is not only the date they were published or their edition, but also their subject matter. An 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

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.