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Grand Mosque Library offers pilgrims a rare peek into history

A view of artifacts and manuscripts in the Grand Mosque Library in Makkah. (AN photo)

Source : Badea Abu Al-Naja | Arab News
MAKKAH | 25 Aug 2011

The Grand Mosque library is considered one of the most important libraries in the world, its manager Muhammad Bajoudah said.

He did not know when exactly the library was established but he believed it to be before the year 160 AH, over 1,270 years ago.

“It is difficult to say when exactly the library was established but there are indications that the library existed during the era of Abbasid Caliph Al-Mahdi in the year 160 AH,” he said.

Bajoudah said Muslim caliphs, thinkers and rich men kept books that they had written in the library as well as copies of the Holy Qur'an that they had donated as wakf (endowment).

He recalled that there were two domes in the library during that historical era used for storing water and books, which were mostly copies of the Holy Qur'an and religious books.

Bajoudah said the library now has more than 100,000 books, 5,000 original manuscripts, 2,000 manuscripts in the form of photocopies and 3,000 manuscripts on microfilm.

He added that the library has 16 sections including an audio-visual department responsible for recording sermons and religious lessons delivered in the Grand Mosque. “We have a total of 101,958 CDs in various languages containing these lectures and lessons,” he said.

He said the library has a microfilm section that contains all rare manuscripts and these can be reproduced in a hard copy format for anyone interested in reading them.

Bajoudah said the library has a special section on the two holy mosques containing old and new photos, maps, books and documents. “Everything concerning the two holy mosques is found in this section,” he said.

The chief librarian said there is a special section for women that is open in the morning and evening, allowing women readers to easily obtain any data they may be looking for.

He said the library has an electronic division especially established for people with special needs to enable them to read rare books and manuscripts on CDs.

“There are more than 2,300 audio tapes and 700 readings of rare books for use by the visually impaired. Books are also produced for them in Braille,” he said.

He invited people of all nationalities to visit the library.


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