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The Khalidi Library’s collection of manuscripts is the largest in Palestine and one of the largest family-owned collections of Islamic manuscripts in the world. The total number of manuscripts (MSS) in the Library, and in various languages, is 1263. There are 1209 MSS in Arabic containing a large number of collectanea (majâmî`) which include some 2000 titles, in addition to 18 Persian MSS and 36 Ottoman Turkish MSS. Each MS has been placed in an acid-free container and temperature and humidity appliances have been installed. Accordingly, it may be stated that the MSS are being preserved in accordance with internationally agreed standards. 

The collection as a whole reflects what must have been the exceeding care and awareness by its collectors to choose only the finest kinds of MSS as to their rarity, fine script, paper and accuracy. The MSS were collected from diverse places indicating the diverse regions to which family scholars had travelled and worked.              

 Using the latest in digitization technology, the catalogued manuscripts, documents, and printed books of the Khalidi library have been digitized, conserved, and made available to both scholars and the public in a searchable, attractive, and user-friendly format on-line. In April 2014, the Khalidi Library entered a partnership with a world leader in the photographic preservation of manuscripts, Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) in Minnesota, USA. This partnership resulted in the digitization of some 600,000 manuscript pages using up-to-date specifications and international standards, to guarantee the permanent preservation of digital content. Meanwhile, the Library has established its own manuscript conservation facility to address the digitization and restoration needs of its own collection and other private Libraries in Jerusalem and to build local capacity in such rare and specialist crafts.

The Manuscripts’ Catalogue 

The catalogue of the Khalidiyya MSS was prepared by Professor Nazmi al-Ju`beh of Birzeit University: see Catalogue of Manuscripts in al-Khalidiyya Library-Jerusalem, edited by Dr. Khader Salameh (London: Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, 2006). 

The Catalogue may be purchased online from the publisher, Al-Furqan

The total number of titles published in the Library’s Catalogue exceeds 2000 titles, of which 1448 manuscripts constitute a single copy. The rest are recurrent titles or several parts of a single title.

Of note is the fact that family scholars studied at al-Azhar University in Cairo and in Istanbul, consorted with teachers and students drawn from all over the Muslim world, and collected MSS from al-Azhar or made copies of them, then brought them back to Jerusalem. In addition, numerous family members joined government service as officials, teachers and judges in various regions of the Ottoman empire and acquired MSS which they brought back to enrich their private libraries in Jerusalem, contributing to the advancement of cultural life beneath the shadow of the sacred al-Aqsa mosque.

Although only a few MSS carry the names of the places in which they were copied, the catalogue nevertheless notes that these include most cities of al-Sham (Greater Syria), Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, the Jazira, Iraq, and diverse localities in Turkey and Eastern Europe. If a map is drawn it would pinpoint the cultural links between Jerusalem, the Khalidi family and the wider Ottoman empire. 

The collection covers most Arabic and Islamic fields of knowledge as well as other sciences. Hanafi jurisprudence accounts for about a quarter of the collection, due to the large number of Khalidi judges and jurists and their belonging to the Hanafi rite (madhhab).

The earliest dated MS is dated 418 A.H./1027 A.D. while the latest is dated 1351/1932. The dated MSS will thus allow scholars to study the evolution of the Arabic script, their ink, paper and binding, from the eleventh to the twentieth century A.D. This is because no era is unrepresented, and some eras are heavily represented, throughout these nine centuries. 

There are many rare MSS. The catalogue has an Index of rare MSS which includes unique MSS held by the Library or copies thereof, added to which are autograph MSS (i.e. written in the author’s hand), bringing the total to 288 titles. This bestows upon the Library an exceptional importance.

Autographed MSS amount to 112 titles, a number rarely found in any library collection, indicating the care taken in selecting MSS. Among the most famous of these autographs are the following:

  1. A collection of short works (majmû`) written by the celebrated scholar Taqi al-Din al-Subki (1284-1355) copied in the years 741-749/1340-1348. 
  2. Qisas al-Anbiyâ’(Stories of the Prophets)  by Ibn Abi `Adasa al-Qudsi, copied in the year 856/1452. 
  3. Jala’ al-Afkar fi Sirat al-Mukhtar (Clarification of Minds regarding the Biography of the Chosen One [Muhammad]) by al-Bilbisi, copiedt in the year 986/1578. 
  4. Al-Ashbâh wa’l Nazâ’ir (Analogies Clear and Unclear in Legal Judgments) by Ibn Nujaym al-Misri, copiedin 969/1562. 
  5. Bast al-Maqâl (A Clear Exposition) by al-Sharnablali, copiedin 1029/1620. 
  6. Fatâwâ of Ibn Qadi `Ajlun (Legal Opinions)

In the author index, names are listed in abbreviated form but without detriment to the more common names, but these names are more fully set out in the text itself.

In the Index of copyists are listed 536 names, a large proportion of whom were Jerusalemites. The best known copyists were Shahadah Mahmud al-Shafi`i, `Umar ibn `Uthman Bali al-Maqdisi and Muhammad Amin al-Danaf al-Ansari. The Index also includes a fairly large number of copyists from the Khalidi and Dawudi families. 

In the Index of commentaries are included the names of people who appear under the subject of commentaries. These are the names that were gathered of the MSS owners and the changes of ownership, in addition to those who had read or heard these MSS or noted down their personal comments. This index contributes in no small measure to clarifying the dates and places where the MSS were acquired and how they ended up in the possession of the Khalidi family. In the catalogue, care was taken to include each personal name mentioned on the first or last page of a MS or sometimes inside the MS itself. This Index further helps to determine the progress of ownership within the Khalidi family prior to the Library becoming public.

The margins of the MSS contain personal comments relating to the Khalidis such as dates of death, birth, inheritances, buying and selling, and studies at al-Azhar. Some family members were careful to record their full lineage in some MSS as was done for instance by Musa Shafiq son of Muhammad Tahir al-Khalidi. Most MSS designated as waqf by a family ancestor such as Muhammad Sun`allah al-Khalidi, included the text of the waqf itself which was to descend to his male issue, or else referred to the waqf document registered in the Shari`a Court of Jerusalem. 

The oldest MS specified as family waqf was created by Taha al-Khalidi (D. 1660), after whom came Muhammad Sun`allah al-Khalidi (D.    ) Further waqfs by him or and his descendants follow, especially by his son Muhammad Sun`allah, who wrote out an extensive waqf document that probably dates to the year 1200/1785-86 and included a number of additional MSS. 

The catalogue is arranged according to subjects and not MSS, whereby each title was given the same space and effort irrespective of size or importance. A ms made up of several parts was treated as several titles. 

The titles of this Catalogue are divided along the following subjects:

  1. Qur’an: 11 titles.
  2. Qur’anic exegesis: 61 titles.
  3. Qur’anic studies: 40 titles.
  4. Hadith studies: 152 titles.
  5. Principles of religion: 156 titles.
  6. Principles of jurisprudence: 70 titles.
  7. Jurisprudence: 533 titles.
  8. Sufism: 103 titles.
  9. Prophet’s panegyrics: 46 titles.
  10. Religious ethics: 164 titles.
  11. Prophet’s biographies: 22 titles.
  12. Biography: 25 titles.
  13. History: 12 titles.
  14. Virtues: 6 titles.
  15. Arabic literature: 146 titles.
  16. Arabic language: 167 titles.
  17. Logic: 97 titles.
  18. Astronomy: 70 titles.
  19. Mathematics: 12 titles.
  20. Medicine: 9 titles.
  21. Music: 3 titles.
  22. Animal life: 6 titles.
  23. Political thought: 4 titles.
  24. Licenses: 7 titles.
  25. Miscellaneous: 40 titles.

TOTAL: 1962 titles.