Blog

Syria’s secret library

11 August 2016

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.

The oldest library on Earth was started by a woman, and finally everyone can visit it

11 August 2016

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.

A Beginner’s Guide To Andalusi Calligraphy: A Documentary

14 May 2016

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.

Learn Arabic Online in Morocco

14 May 2016

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.

Swahili Manuscripts Project

25 April 2016

The library of the School of Oriental and African Studies holds the largest public collection of Swahili manuscripts in Britain. The collection includes more than 250 manuscripts dating from the 1790s to the 1970s, contained in the papers of William Taylor, Alice Werner, William Hichens, Wilfred Whiteley, Jan Knappert and Yahya Ali Omar. The library also holds microfilms of the manuscripts that were deposited by JWT Allen at the University of Dar es Salaam.

The SOAS manuscripts are an invaluable resource for the study of cultural and literary history. Many were scribed in Arabic script, and many contain poetry composed in northern Swahili dialects. Letters, stories, notes, essays on history and culture and drafts of published and unpublished books number among the collection’s offerings.