How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity

How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity
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King Fahad National Library has been playing a key role in ensuring that present and future generations continue to benefit from Islam’s contributions to civilization. (Supplied)
How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity
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King Fahad National Library has been playing a key role in ensuring that present and future generations continue to benefit from Islam’s contributions to civilization. (Supplied)
How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity
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King Fahad National Library has been playing a key role in ensuring that present and future generations continue to benefit from Islam’s contributions to civilization. (Supplied)
How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity
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King Fahad National Library has been playing a key role in ensuring that present and future generations continue to benefit from Islam’s contributions to civilization. (Supplied)
How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity
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A view of the King Fahad National Library in Riyadh. (Supplied)
How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity
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King Fahad National Library has been playing a key role in ensuring that present and future generations continue to benefit from Islam’s contributions to civilization. (Supplied)
How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity
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Updated 15 May 2020

How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity

How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity
  • Institution in Riyadh holds more than 6,000 rare and original manuscripts and over 73,000 transcripts
  • Kufic Qur’an, written on deer skin and dating to the 9th century CE, is among the library’s collection

RIYADH: The big truth about history is that it inevitably fades into the past, but history can also be captured and preserved for posterity.

In fact, it can be housed and lovingly nourished and tended to withstand the onslaught of time.

Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library has been undertaking this endeavor for the past three decades, playing a seminal role in the preservation of Islamic heritage and ensuring that present and future generations continue to benefit from Islam’s contributions to civilization.

Established in 1990 in Riyadh, the library is home to more than 6,000 original manuscripts — many of them rare and ancient, including the exquisite Kufic Qur’an, dating to the 9th century CE — and a total of 73,000 paper and electronic transcripts.

“The King Fahad National Library has been interested in preserving manuscripts and heritage since its establishment in 1989, to a point where a royal decree has been issued to the library for the preservation of manuscripts,” Abdulaziz Nasif, the head of the manuscript department, told Arab News.

“The library estimates the manuscript’s value and sets its price when we receive it. Regarding the possession of manuscripts, we welcome everything that is presented to us and everything that is worth owning.”

FASTFACT

  • King Fahad National Library has 6,000 original manuscripts and nearly 73,000 photocopied transcripts, with 7,000 of them digitized for online readers.

The Kufic Qur’an at the library, distinguished by its Kufic calligraphy, has one of the oldest scripts in Arabic, a highly angular form of the Arabic alphabet used in the earliest copies of the Qur’an. 

It originated in Kufa, a city in southern Iraq, an intellectual hub during the early Islamic period, now known as Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.

“It’s not written on paper but on deer skin,” Nasif said. “Having holy verses written on leather is a form of honoring the text. But the cover is new.”

The Kufic Qur’an was bought from the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula almost 20 years ago and recently rebound to increase its longevity.


AL IGNAA LITALI AL INTIFAA 
Written by Moussa bin Ahmad bin Al-Hijjawi in 968 AH. 
Transcriber: Abdullah bin Suleiman bin Ahmad. 
Font type and transcription date: Naskh, Friday 16 Shawwal 1901 AH 
Observation: An important copy in two volumes, on the sidelines of which are many clarifications. The edges of its first pages are damaged and restored with adhesive tape. ​​​Black ink was used for writing and red was used for the heads of chapters. It has a modern binding. 
Number of sheets: 177+149 Sizes: 30.5x20 cm
Number of lines: 29
Saved under: 699/ Al-Ifnaa

The library has other Qur’an manuscripts written in ancient script, besides special books such as the poetic works of Al-Ahnaf Al-Akbari, a famous poet in Baghdad who died in 995 CE.

It also has a copy of Ibn Daqiq Al-Eid’s book “Ahkam Al-Ahkam,” written in the late-14th century. Al-Eid is counted among Islam’s great scholars in the fundamentals of Islamic law and belief.

In addition, the library also owns “Yatimat Al-Dahr,” a book by Abu Mansur Al-Thaalibi, a writer of Persian or Arab origin famous for his anthologies and collection of epigrams.

Once the library acquires a manuscript, a rigorous and exacting approach to its conservation and maintenance is adopted.

“Each manuscript is first sent to the restoration and sanitization department and then returned to our department to be indexed,” Nasif said.


HOLY QUR’AN WRITTEN IN KUFIC SCRIPT IN THE 3RD CENTURY HEJIRA
Holy Qur’an, written on vellum (the skin of animals). Its writer took care to present it in a delicate and beautiful manner. The Qur’an manuscripts were produced on horizontally oriented vellum, a common form for such Qur’ans and eras.
It was written in black ink. Short vowels are marked in red ink. The letter
Hamza is written is yellow ink and the shaddah in green ink.
This Qur’an begins with verse 50 of Surah Al Imran and ends with
the end of Surah Abasa.
The two existing binding covers date back to a later time.
Number of papers: 165 Dimension: 25 x 17.5 cm Number of lines: 17 Archive No: 2500/library

However, not every manuscript is sent for restoration “because, sometimes, it can ruin (it),” he said.

The restoration is followed by the indexing process, which is a thorough exercise.

Nasif explained: “To fill the index card, we use information that is listed on the first page, starting with the title, the author’s name, the manuscript’s sizes (height and length), the transcriber’s name (the person who wrote it), and what is written at the end of the manuscript, so that we are able recognize one manuscript from the other having the same specifications.”


AL-MUWATTA
Al-Muwatta narrated by Mohammed ibn Al-Hasan, compiled by the Imam Malik ibn Anas
Date: 179 Hijri
Name of the reproducer: Abdulqader bin Mohammed Al-Qurashi Place of Reproduction: Al-Azhar Mosque
Type of script and the history of reproduction: Naskh, Thursday 10 Rabih Al-Thani, 719 Hijri
A precious copy written by the modern Hanafi jurist, Abdulqader Al-Qurashi, author of the book “Tabaqat Al Hanafiyah.” There is an interview on the original audio and the date of the transcription is the date of the interview. The copy is internally divided into ten parts, written in black ink.
Number of papers: 123 Dimension: 17.5 x 26 cm Number of lines: 21 Archive No: 193/Fatwa

Given the age and pricelessness of the manuscripts, their preservation methodology — which is at the core of library’s mission — is equally critical.

“Manuscripts should be kept in cold temperatures, to prevent insects and bacteria from surviving, because they can damage the paper and even the animal skin that was used in some manuscripts,” Nasif said.

The manuscripts are sterilized every year or every six months to prevent their deterioration.

The age of digitization places its own demands on repositories of knowledge such as libraries with their physical wealth of history, and the King Fahad National Library is keeping pace with these demands.


HOLY QUR’AN
Copy of Sherif Al- Mu’min bin Mohammed Naseer Al-Qummi, Naskh Al-Majood script, Shaaban 122. 
Decorated with intense adornment of geometric and floral motifs. Gold roundel verse markers, text panels within gold and polychrome rules. Surah headings in red ink over a golden background.
It is decorated in a colorful botanical form surrounded by a gilded frame and decorated with a repeated plant unit. 
Number of papers: 270 Dimension: 17 x 26.5 cm 
Number of lines: 14 
Archive No: 369/Library

It is working to complete the digitization of all its manuscripts. “Most of the transcriptions are still on microfilm but we are working on digitizing them on CDs and hard disks,” Nasif said.

The library also enables researchers, history lovers and general readers to access its precious collection though a range of electronic services.

Users can log in and browse through the vast collection and place their requirements. Researchers can request a specific manuscript, a rare book or a photograph to aid in their work.



DIWAN ABI TAMMAM
For Habib Ibn Aws Al-Ta’i, known as Abi Tammam, Type of script and the history of reproduction: Accurate vowelized naskh, 7 Ramadan 1065. 
A similar and corrected copy written by Mohammed Jalabi bin Mohammed Agha, alias Qazdaghly, on which colophon has attribution to Mohammed bin Omar Al-Ardi Al-Halabi.
There are some comments in his handwriting. There is another colophon with attribution to Yahya Khaled, a teacher at Ared school. It was written is black ink and the poems with red ink.
Number of papers: 175 
Dimension: 13 x 20.4 cm 
Number of lines: 29 
Archive No: 382/Library Diwan Abi Tammam
Gift from King Salman

The service is available to all members of the community from within and outside the Kingdom.

King Fahad National Library has also obtained microfilm photographs of one of the most important Arabic manuscript collections in US libraries, the Princeton University Library.

It also possesses 1,140 photocopied manuscripts on film slides from the Library of the Jewish University.

Last but not least, the manuscripts of the Riyadh Library “Dar Al-Iftaa” — a total of 792 documents — were transferred to the King Fahad National Library on the orders of King Salman when he was the governor of Riyadh and general supervisor of the library.

Decoder

Kufic Script

Kufic script is one of the most recognizable and exquisite scripts of Arabic calligraphy. Developed between the seventh and 10th centuries, it was preferred by early Muslims to record the Qurʾan and for architectural decoration.

FASTFACTS

King Fahad National Library

It has 6,000 original manuscripts and nearly 73,000 photocopied transcripts, with 7,000 of them digitized for online readers.


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia
Updated 13 min 17 sec ago

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The Arab coalition has destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia, news channel Al-Arabiya has reported.

The coalition said the attack is a continuation of the Houthi’s “systematic and intentional hostile attempts to target civilians.”

It said the drone was fired towards Jazan in the south of the kingdom.  

The bloc said it was taking all necessary operational measures to protect civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law. 


Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
  • Due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, MoH provided more room for first timers

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) said it has postponed second dose appointments for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in order to ensure more of the Kingdom’s residents can receive their first dose.

According to the MoH, all second dose reservations will be rescheduled as of Sunday April 11 and will resume at a later time. The ministry added that due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, they’ve provided more room for first timers, especially those in high risk categories, to receive theirs.
Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom so far, at a rate of 175,000 daily doses, which means 17.5 percent of the Kingdom has received at least one dose.
Municipalities coordinating with relevant authorities continue to inspect commercial establishments, especially in areas known to be overcrowded across the Kingdom. Jeddah municipality, with the participation of a number of relevant authorities, closed 81 shops in Al-Sawarikh International Market in the south of the governorate, after finding multiple violations, including failure to adhere to precautionary and preventive measures among visitors, and a lack of commitment to social distancing measures.

FASTFACT

Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom.

The MoH reported 878 new cases of COVID-19 in the Kingdom on Saturday, meaning 397,636 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
The top three most infected regions were Riyadh with 410 infections, Makkah with 149 cases, and the Eastern Province with 141, while the lowest reported number of cases were in Baha, with just seven cases.
The number of active cases also rose, to 8,113 active cases in the Kingdom, 914 of them critical — a rise of 16 in the past 24 hours.
The ministry announced 578 new recovered cases, taking the total number of recoveries to 382,776. Saudi Arabia’s recovery rate has decreased to 96.2 percent.
For the first time in nearly four months, the number of deaths reported in the Kingdom rose to double digits, as 10 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Saturday, raising the death toll to 6,747. A total of 61,640 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to 15,738,545.


Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
Shalimar Sharbatly will paint a new set of vehicles for the Draw a Nation initiative. (Supplied)
Updated 10 April 2021

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
  • Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes

RIYADH: A Saudi abstract artist who won global recognition for her hand-painted and customized cars will paint a new set of vehicles for an extended edition of the Draw a Nation initiative after signing an agreement with the Jeddah municipality.
Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the “Moving Art” school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as “La Torq,” which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.
Both vehicles were also exhibited at the Louvre museum in Paris as part of a “Moving Art” exhibition in 2017.
However, within the Kingdom, Sharbatly is best known for the Draw a Nation initiative, which saw her showcase several of her hand-painted vehicles during last year’s Saudi National Day celebrations.
Sharbatly was inspired to upcycle old cars after witnessing an accident while driving along the beach in Jeddah. She told Arab News that painting the vehicles helped her regain a sense of purpose.

BACKGROUND

Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the ‘Moving Art’ school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as ‘La Torq,’ which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

“I had become disillusioned with art and was lacking passion. I started painting these cars, turning abandoned vehicles that were deemed useless into vibrant and beautiful works of art that could gain a second life. I hope that when others view these pieces, they will feel the same joy I felt when I was painting them,” she said.
Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes. The goal is to paint a number of old and abandoned cars and vehicles, turning them into works of art that enrich the city.
Ayed Al-Zahrani, undersecretary for the mayor of Jeddah for community service, said: “The community will benefit from recycling cars and turning them into artistic masterpieces displayed in public for Jeddah residents and visitors.”
The Jeddah municipality also previously launched the “Yalla Jeddah” platform, which invites innovators in all fields to address challenges facing Jeddah’s art scene.


Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims. (Photo/Twitter)
Updated 11 April 2021

Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
  • The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan

JEDDAH: Reconstruction and renovation projects are underway in six Islamic historical sites and museums in Makkah.
The Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites hosted a field visit from the Executive Committee for the Path of the Islamic Historical Sites and Museums.
The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan.
They also visited Bir Tuwa (the Well of Tuwa), Jabal Thawr, the 1,200-year-old water well and canal Ayn Zubaydah, the Mina site where the Al-Aqaba Pledge took place and Jabal Al-Nour, the Cave of Hira.
One of the most important projects is the Jabal Al-Nour Cultural Center.
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims because it is where the prophet is said to have had his first revelation and received the first verses of the Holy Qur’an. 


Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families. (SPA)
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
  • These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world

MARIB: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has launched in Marib a project to distribute 9,880 Ramadan food baskets, benefiting thousands of needy and displaced families in six Yemeni governorates.
The director of the executive unit of the management of displaced people camps in Marib governorate, Saif Muthanna, said that he valued the humanitarian aid provided by Saudi Arabia, represented by KSrelief.
The center has also distributed 662 Ramadan food baskets in villages in Chad.
KSrelief, in cooperation with Mauritanian Red Crescent, launched the Ramadan food baskets distribution project.
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families.
The center also delivered Saudi Arabia’s gift to Mali, included 50 tons of dates.
On behalf of KSrelief, the aid was delivered by the Saudi ambassador to Mali, Khaled bin Mabrouk Al-Khaled. These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world.