When a place has been besieged for years and hunger stalks the streets, you might have thought people would have little interest in books. But enthusiasts have stocked an underground library in Syria with volumes rescued from bombed buildings - and users dodge shells and bullets to reach it.
Down a flight of steep steps, as far as it’s possible to go from the flying shrapnel, shelling and snipers’ bullets above, is a large dimly lit room. Buried beneath a bomb-damaged building, it’s home to a secret library that provides learning, hope and inspiration to many in the besieged Damascus suburb of Darayya.
Founded by a Muslim woman, the University of Al Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, opened its doors in 859. Its library has been restored during the last three years by another woman, Canadian-Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni. A wing will be open to the general public later this year.
The library houses a collection of 4,000 rare books and ancient arabic manuscripts written by renowned scholars of the region. According to the AP, the manuscripts include a 9th century version of the Quran and a manuscript on Islamic jurisprudence written by philosopher Averroes.
Al-Andalus, that golden era of the Islamic arts and sciences, would never have reached its full splendour were it not for the role played by Andalusi calligraphy. Its bold, graphic elegance belie its simplicity, which enabled Andalusi Muslims to reproduce millions of books, creating some of the most impressive libraries of the era.
Lessane Arabi Center for Arabic Studies is an institution with a reputation for excellence in providing a comprehensive program for the study of Arabic as a foreign language to students from around the world. Specializing in both Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Colloquial Moroccan Arabic (CMA), Lessane Arabi Center’s intensive immersion courses give students the opportunity to learn the Arabic language rapidly and with greater retention.
The French Institute of South Africa and the Institute for Humanities in Africa are convening an international conference on the links established between Cuba and several African countries in the 20th century. Military and medical engagements, training and cultural cooperation: the objective of this first meeting is to start measuring the scale of a multifaceted Cuban engagement in Africa. Gathering scholars from three continents and open to the public, the conference will take place at the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA), based at the University of Cape Town, on May the 23rd and the 24th.