Skip to main content

Islamic manuscripts

Welcome - Merhaba - أهلا وسهلا - Hoşgeldiniz - خوش آمدید ! This guide details useful sources for the study of Islamic rare books and manuscripts. It focuses primarily on materials held at McGill, and projects realized by the Islamic Studies Library.

McGill digital exhibtions & collections

Beautiful calligraphy ensures entrance to Paradise, is an Islamic calligraphy exhibition held in the Islamic Studies Library in 2011.

Islamic lithographs is a digital collection that resulted from an exhibition held in the Islamic Studies library in 2014. It is a continually updated resource.

Never hence would I die for I am alive/ having sown the seeds of poetry, is a Shahnameh exhibition held in the Islamic Studies Library in 2011.

The Persianate Literary Heritage, is an exhibition held in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library in 2014.

Strokes and Hairlines: Elegant Writing and its Place in Muslim Book Culture, is an exhibition held in the Humanities and Social Sciences Library in 2013.

MS RBD Persian 0024

MS RBD Persian 0024


Arabic Papyrus, Parchment and Paper Collection, University of Utah, includes a significant number of documents from the pre-Ottoman period offering unique source material on the political, economic, religious and intellectual life of Egypt during the first two centuries of Islamic rule and the period up to Ottoman domination.

The Book of Curiosities or Kitāb Gharāʾib al-funūn wa-mulaḥ al-ʿuyūn, Oxford University, is a treatise extraordinarily important for the history of science, especially for astronomy and cartography, and contains an unparalleled series of diagrams of the heavens and maps of the earth.

The Chester Beatty Library Islamic collection located in Dublin, Ireland, maintains an excellent Islamic collection including a notable Ibn al Bawwab Qur'an.

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas: Digital Manuscripta is a digital collection of Arabic, Hebrew and Aljamiados manuscripts. The website is predominantly in Spanish.

A catalog of Arabic manuscripts in the Oriental Institute of Chicago is a listing of the University of Chicago Library Middle East Department's holdings of manuscript copies on microfilm and microfiche.

Daiber Collection Database includes the Arabic Manuscripts in the Daiber Collection Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo.

Digitized Arabic Manuscripts at the American University of Beirut gives access to a number of valuable Arabic Manuscripts.

Durham University Library Oriental Manuscripts provides access to a miscellaneous group of documents originally collected by Durham University Oriental Library.

European Cultural Heritage Online (ECHO) holds a collection of scientific Islamic Manuscripts as well as many other types of manuscripts.

Fihrist: Oxford and Cambridge Islamic Manuscripts Catalogue Online is an catalogue of manuscripts held at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, U.K.

Filāḥa Texts Project: The Arabic Books of Husbandry aims at publicizing and elucidatinge the written works collectively known as the Kutub al-Filāḥa or ‘Books of Husbandry’ compiled by Arab, especially Andalusi, agronomists mainly between the 10th and 14th centuries

Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation aims to document and preserve the Islamic written heritage principally by surveying, imaging, cataloguing, editing and publishing Islamic manuscripts.

The Ghafiqi Project, McGill University houses one of the most remarkable medieval Arabic manuscripts on simple drugs, popularly known as the “Herbal of al-Ghafiqi.”

Garden of Islamic Manuscripts links to catalogs and digitized Arabic and Persian manuscripts, mostly held in Iran.

Illuminated Islamic Manuscripts, Yale University, contains a listing of new acquisitions and links to some of the exhibitions held at Yale.

Islamic Scientific Manuscripts Initiative (ISMI) aims at making accessible information on all Islamic manuscripts in the exact sciences (astronomy, mathematics, optics, mathematical geography, music, mechanics, and related disciplines), whether in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, or other languages.

Indiana University's From Pen to Printing Press is a permanent exhibition illustrating Indiana's Islamic Manuscripts collection as well as offering a nice overview of the history of Islamic printing.

Islamic Art Collection of the David Collection in Copenhagen, Denmark, spans from the 8th century to the 18th. The Islamic works of art are elucidated from three different perspectives: Islamic art organized chronologically and geographically, Islamic art grouped according to material, and Islamic art presented in its cultural context. .

Harvard University Islamic Heritage Project digitized hundreds of Islamic manuscripts, maps, and published texts. These rare and frequently unique materials are freely available to Internet users worldwide.

Islamic Manuscripts, University of Leiden aims to provide students, scholars, librarians, collectors, and more, with a professional and functional platform of their own.

Islamic Manuscripts Collection, University of Michigan Library gives access to the digital surrogates and catalog records for 1,250 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish dating from the 8th century AD to the 20th. With over half of the contents dating from before 1800, the collection contains historical manuscripts of rich textual significance, many of which are also very beautiful in their decoration and bindings.

Islamic Manuscripts Collection at Princeton University Library includes 200 digitized Islamic manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish and other languages of the Muslim world written in Arabic script dating from the 9th to the 19th centuries.

King Saud University (KSU) Digitized Islamic Manuscripts offers a number of digitized Islamic manuscripts, primarily Hanafi Islamic law texts.

München, Staatsbibliothek, arabische Handschriften website has a wonderful selection of fully digitized Arabic manuscripts all of which can be downloaded in pdf.

U.S. National Library of Medicine Islamic Manuscripts offers access to a copious amount of manuscripts on and about medicine. The site also includes a detailed glossary.

Rational Sciences in Islam: An Initiative for the Study of Philosophy and the Mathematical Sciences in Islam is a McGill University project investigating the philosophical, scientific, and theological traditions of Islam in a holistic manner. The primary goal is to increase our understanding of how Muslim scholars and the various publics making up Islamic societies explored the world through rational means, and the products and consequences of those explorations.

Sabancı University Sakıp Sabancı Museum's Arts of Book and Calligraphy collection includes copies of the Koran, prayer books, calligraphic compositions in the kıt'a form, calligraphic albums, calligraphic panels, hilyes, imperial firmans and berats bearing the royal tuğra (imperial cipher) by renowned calligraphers dating from the late 14th to 20th centuries, and calligraphy tools and equipment.

Sanskrit and Persian Literary Cultures Online (compiled by Audrey Truschke) contains numerous links to manuscript digital surrogates around the world.

Shaykh  Āghā Buzurg al-Ṭihrānī: Bānk-i ṭṭilāʻāt-i nuskhah-i khaṭṭī Named after the famous bibliographer, the site provides access to digitized manuscripts in Iran

Sultan Baybar’s Qur’an is one of the most magnificent Qur'ans in the British Library.

University of Birmingham, Mingana Virtual Collection covers various languages including Arabic, Persian, Greek and Syriac, as well as a number of religious, Christian and Islamic, disciplines.

The Qatar Digital Library (QDL) makes a vast archive featuring the cultural and historical heritage of the Gulf and wider region freely available online for the first time. It includes archives, maps, manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs and much more, complete with contextualised explanatory notes and links, in both English and Arabic.

The Walters Museum in Baltimore's Poetry and Prayer virtual exhibition illustrates various facets of Islamic rituals as preserved on paper.

World Digital Library The World Digital Library (WDL) makes freely available on the Internet significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world. Libraries, archives, or other institutions that have collections of cultural content contribute to the WDL. Partners may also include institutions, foundations, and private companies that contribute to the project in other ways, for example by sharing technology, convening or co-sponsoring meetings of working groups, or contributing financially. The "Middle-East and North Africa" corpus includes 3,629 documents.


Anaïs Salamon's picture
Anaïs Salamon
3485 McTavish Street
Montreal, QC
H3A 0E1

RBD MS Persian 0017

McGill LibraryQuestions? Ask us!
Privacy notice