19 January 2020
23 Jumada al-Ula 1441
  • Recent publication: The Theory of 'The Revolving of Provisions' in Islamic Jurisprudence Read more...
  • Latest symposium: “The Arts in Light of the Objectives of Islamic Law” (2) Read more...
  • Upcoming publication: Arts and Maqāṣid.
  • Recent publication: Perspectives on the Methodologies of Critical Editing of Arabic Manuscripts. Read more...
  • Recent publication: Objectives of the Noble Qurʾān (3) Read more...

The World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts

The great bulk of the Islamic cultural heritage is to be found in the three million or so manuscripts that have come down to us through fourteen centuries of Islamic history. They range in subject from Qur’anic tafsir and fiq’h to history, from astronomy to geology, from rhetoric to the ethics of war.

Yet any gathering that has to do with manuscripts abounds in tales of past and present horror: of manuscripts rotting in boxes without ventilation, of damp seeping through walls and eating away at the paper and, more dramatically, of burning and looting in the world's many and proliferating trouble-spots. The irony, of course, is that even the most inadequately stored manuscripts tend to be jealously guarded so that access to them is not possible without a prohibitive amount of bureaucracy. What we seem to have, therefore, is a formula for the destruction and suppression of our manuscripts and, hence, our heritage.

Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation was set up with two goals in mind: to participate in the preservation of the Islamic cultural heritage and to attempt to render it more accessible both to scholars and to the interested public in general.

Achieving these overall objectives was seen as contingent upon the accomplishment of several specific tasks among which priority was given to two: cataloguing previously uncatalogued collections of Islamic manuscripts, and compiling as extensive a visual record of these manuscripts as possible using the most efficient technology available.

To ensure, however, the economic and efficient deployment of our necessarily finite resources, these tasks could not be embarked upon before answers were found to certain questions: Where should our priorities lie? Which manuscripts should be copied first?

Obviously an important manuscript, existing only in a unique copy and under unsafe conditions would be the ideal candidate for copying. Also, any time, money or effort spent in 'preserving' a manuscript or a collection on which work had already been done was, in a sense, wasted, as it would not be spent where it was most urgently needed.

Checking existing bibliographic works did not yield the information we needed as these mostly gave details of collections that were or had become well-known or had at least been catalogued. Where a collection had been only partly catalogued, the tendency was for information to be available on the catalogued section even if the uncatalogued section was the larger or potentially the more significant.

The Foundation therefore became engaged in what we saw as Step One of our overall project: commissioning a world-wide survey of collections of Islamic manuscripts, a survey that we hoped would include private as well as public collections, collections which are unknown and uncatalogued as well as the ones which are mentioned in previously published surveys of this area.

Therefore, in 1989, the Foundation set up a research project to investigate as comprehensively as possible the collections of Islamic manuscripts existing worldwide.

Scholars were identified and commissioned to carry out the survey in 105 countries which hold collections of Islamic manuscripts. Some of them, such as Albania, Benin, Brunei, Cyprus, Japan, Kenya, Sierra Leone, the Philippines, Thailand, had never been surveyed before.

In establishing the format of our survey, our aim was to collect as much information as possible to help us draw up our list of priorities for further stages of the project: the cataloguing and copying.

After four years of tireless work and effort, the project resulted in The World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts in 4 volumes, which is the most wide-ranging survey to date, both in terms of the countries and the languages covered. By successfully completing the Survey, the Foundation made history in the field of Islamic manuscripts.

The al-Furqān's World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts is a collective bibliographical work which brings together the work of scholars specialising in manuscripts, from all parts of the world (105 countries). The Survey seeks to fill the gaps left by previous bibliographies and similar works, and at the same time to bring together and update most of the information contained in them. It offers a guide to collections of Islamic manuscripts, details of access to these collections and their holdings, and information about particularly significant manuscripts which they contain.

Countries and cataloguers

  1. Afghanistan: by Ahmed Javid
  2. Albania: by Gazmend Shpuza
  3. Algeria: by Mukhtar Hassani
  4. Armenia: by Oleg Akimushkin
  5. Australia: by G J Roper
  6. Austria: by Herbert Eisenstein
  7. Azerbaijan: by Oleg Akimushkin
  8. Bahrain: by Bakri Musa 'Abdul Karim
  9. Bangladesh: by Muhammad 'Abdul Haq
  10. Belarus: by Oleg Akimushkin
  11. Belgium: by Aubert Martin
  12. Benin: by Amidu Sanni
  13. Bosnia-Herzegovina: by Mohammed Zdralovic
  14. Brazil: by Roberto Bartholo
  15. Brunei: by Osman Bakar & Engku Ibrahim Ismail
  16. Bulgaria: by Stoyanka Kenderova
  17. Burkina Fasso: by Baba Yunus Muhammad
  18. Cameroon: by Peter Chateh
  19. Canada: by Yusuf Ibish
  20. Chad: by Khalil 'Alio
  21. China: by Mozafar Bakhtyar
  22. Comoros: by Ahmed Shaykh Nabhany and David C Sperling
  23. Croatia: by Mohamed Zdralovic
  24. Cyprus: by Hadi Sharifi
  25. Czechoslovakia: by Jakub Karfik
  26. Denmark: by Ellen Wulff
  27. Egypt: by Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyah
  28. Estonia: by Oleg Akimushkin
  29. Ethiopia: by Hussein Ahmed
  30. Finland: by Kaj Ohrnberg
  31. France: by Annie Berthier & Francis Richard
  32. Gambia: by Baba Yunus Muhammad
  33. Georgia: by Oleg Akimushkin
  34. Germany: by Anton Heinen
  35. Ghana: by B A R Braimah
  36. Greece: by Hassan Badawy
  37. Guinea: by Baba Yunus Muhammad
  38. Guinea-Bissau: by Baba Yunus Mohammad
  39. Hungary: by Alexander Fodor
  40. India: by M S Khan
  41. Indonesia: by Osman Bakar & Engku Ibrahim Ismail
  42. Indonesia: by Roger Tol
  43. Iran: by Hadi Sharifi
  44. Iraq: by Usama Nasir al-Naqshabandi
  45. Ireland (Republic): by Jan Knappert and David James
  46. Italy: by Paolo Orsatti Bartolomeo Pirone and Aldo 
  47. Ivory Coast: by Baba Yunus Muhammad
  48. Japan: by Toru Horikawa and others
  49. Jordan: by Ismail Amirah
  50. Kazakhstan: by Oleg Akimushkin and Anas B Khalidov
  51. Kenya: by Ahmed Shaykh Nabhany, Yahya 'Ali Omar and David Colton Sperling
  52. Kuwait: by Elham al-Mufti
  53. Kyrgyzstan: by Anas B Khalidov
  54. Latvia: by Oleg Akimushkin
  55. Lebanon: by Yusuf K Khoury
  56. Libya: by F M Shambesh
  57. Lithuania: by Hadi Sharifi
  58. Macedonia: by Mohammed Zdralovic
  59. Madagascar: by Hamid Haji
  60. Malawi: by Augustine Msiska
  61. Malaysia: by Osman Bakar and Engku Ibrahim Ismail
  62. Mali: by Baba Yunus Muhammad
  63. Malta: by Hadi Sharifi
  64. Mauritania: by Genevieve Simon-Khedis
  65. Morocco: by Al Mustafa Ben 'Abd Allah Boushouk
  66. Netherlands: by Jan Just Witkam
  67. Niger: by Djibrill Abu Bakr
  68. Nigeria: by 'Abdur Rahman I Doi
  69. Norway: by Eli Dib Wardini
  70. Oman: by Bakri Musa 'Abdul Karim
  71. Pakistan: by Muhammed Soheyl 'Umar
  72. Palestine: by Lawrence Conard and Khader I Salameh
  73. Philippines: by Osman Bakar and Engku Ibrahim Ismail
  74. Poland: by Janusz Danecki
  75. Portugal: by 'Adel Yussef Sidarus
  76. Qatar: by Bakri Musa 'Abdul Karim
  77. Romania: by Nadia Anghelescu
  78. Russian Federation: by Oleg Akimushkin
  79. Saudi Arabia: by 'Abd Allah 'Usaylan
  80. Senegal: by Ousmane Kane
  81. Sierra Leone: by Baba Yunus Muhammad
  82. Singapore: by G J Roper
  83. Somalia: by R S O’Fahey
  84. South Africa: by Muhammad Haroon
  85. Spain: by Nuria Torres
  86. Sri Lanka: by K M Sheriff
  87. Sudan: by Abu 'Agla El -Hussein Abu 'Agla, Albrecht Hofheinz and R S O’Fahery
  88. Sweden: by Bo Utas
  89. Switzerland: by Faika B Croisier
  90. Syria: by Yassin Muhammad as-Sawwas
  91. Tajikistan: by Oleg Akimushkin
  92. Tanzania: by Hamad Omar and T S Y Sengo
  93. Thailand: by Osman Bakar and Engku Ibrahim Isma'il
  94. Togo: by Baba Yunus Muhammad
  95. Tunisia: by Ibrahim Chabbouh
  96. Turkey:by Orhan Bilgin
  97. Turkmenistan: by Oleg Akimushkin
  98. Ukraine: by Oleg Akimushkin
  99. United Arab Emirates: by Bakri Musa 'Abdul Karim
  100. Unite Kingdom: by G J Roper and C H Bleaney
  101. United States of America: by Yusuf Ibish
  102. Uzbekistan:by Oleg Akimushkin
  103. Vatican City State: by Anton Heinen
  104. Yemen: by 'Abd al-Wahhab 'Ali al-Mu’ayyad
  105. Yugoslavia (Serbia Montengro): by Muhamed Zdralovic

Website updated on