Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

A Research Guide to Middle Eastern Studies: Digitized Manuscript Collections

An introduction to resources both at Penn Libraries and freely available elsewhere online.

Introduction

A brief list of digitized collections of Middle Eastern sources, with attention to manuscripts. The sections pertaining to global collections outside of Penn was adapted and expanded from Evyn Kropf's guide to Islamic manuscript studies at UMich, Ann Arbor. For periodicals, see our separate page.

Middle Eastern Manuscripts at Penn

For most of the digitized Arabic, Persian, Turkish mss online right now, visit Penn in Hand:
Arabic Manuscripts 
Persian Manuscripts
Printed Ottoman Turkish books
Fez lithographs collection (also see here for an intro and handlist)
A handlist exists for the inventory of Katz Center manuscripts; please consult the Judaica Curator (Arthur Kiron) for further details.
Unique MSS of Interest
Ladino from Morocco
Judeo-Arabic Medical Manuscript from Sicily:
A sample of one of our European printed books in Arabic
MICROFORM MANUSCRIPTS:
There are a number of microfilmed Middle East manuscripts obtained from other library collections worldwide as part of Penn’s greater holdings. For a handlist, which is only in hardcopy, please contact the librarian.

Middle East and North Africa

Egypt
National Library and Archives of Egypt 
Hosted by World Digital Library. Largely Arabic manuscripts
Jerusalem
Al-Aqsa Mosque Library, Jerusalem (119 of 2000 MSS)
“The main goal of this [Endangered Archives Programme] project is to preserve the historical manuscript collection housed at the Al-aqsa Mosque Library in Jerusalem. The Al-aqsa Library located at the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem serves as a primary research center for Islamic studies and as a reference library for scholars and students from Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities. The library’s rare and most valuable collection consists of approximately 2000 manuscripts. The manuscripts were acquired by the Al-aqsa Library from prominent scholars, private collections, and from libraries in Palestine that have ceased to exist. The materials selected for this project represent 119 manuscript titles in the most immediate need of preservation.”
Palestine and Israel
Al-Jazzar Mosque Library (Acre)
“The main goal of this [Endangered Archives Programme] project is to digitise the historical manuscript collection from the holdings of the Al-Jazzar Mosque Library (Al-Ahmadiyya), located in the city of Acre in northern Israel. Digitisation is planned primarily as a preservation activity in order to create archival digital copies of the original materials that are at risk of deterioration. The materials selected for digitisation include a collection of 50 Arabic language manuscripts, dating back to the 14th century. These unique materials are of extreme historical importance, documenting the history and cultural heritage of Palestine. Digitisation will help to preserve these historical materials for current and future generations...The materials selected for this project are housed at Al-Jazzar Mosque Library in Acre that at one point was considered one of the best libraries for Islamic literature in the region. The manuscript collection contains 50 Arabic language titles that span over several Islamic periods from the 14th century A.D. to the end of the Ottoman rule in Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century. Most of the manuscripts relate to aspects of the Islamic religion, but also cover Arabic literature, the Arabic language, logic, math, and Sufism and provide a unique insight into centuries of Arabic culture in Palestine.”
Manuscripts of An-Najah National University (Nablus)
المخطوطات | جامعة النجاح الوطنية
"تحوي مكتبات جامعة النجاح الوطنية مجموعة كبيرة من المخطوطات القديمة الهامة التي تم جمعها من البيوت النابلسية العريقة التي تميزت بعلمائها وادبائها وشعرائها المشهورين، وقد قامت الجامعة بترميم هذه المخطوطات للحفاظ على هذه الثروة العلمية الهامة من التلف والاندثار. وقد شملت المجموعة كذلك بعض المخطوطات التي وصلت من مساجد يافا وعكا الجزار وغيرها، والتي تم تحقيق بعضها من قبل أساتذة الجامعة وتعرض على موقع الجامعة الإلكتروني للتعرف على هذا التراث العلمي النادر والفريد وإتاحة الفرصة بالقيام بتحقيقها."
Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts in Digital Collections, National Library of Israel (Jerusalem)
Fully digitized manuscripts (mainly Arabic) from the collections of the National Library of Israel. Interface is in Hebrew. In order to use, filter for "online access," "manuscripts" then the language of your choice.
See also their online collection dedicated to Hebrew Manuscripts
Oman
Electronic Library | المكتبة الالكترونية
Portal of digitized Ibadi manuscripts and serials from several important collections in Oman, Zanzibar and the Mzab (Algeria), including the Levitsky Library in Morocco (in progress) and publications from the Mara Library.
Qatar 
Manuscripts from the British Library appearing in the Qatar Digital Library 
Saudi Arabia
Manuscripts of King Saud University
المخطوطات | جامعة الملك سعود
"المخطوطات هي مؤلفات العلماء ومصنفاتهم وهي عبارة عن وثائق مكتوبة بخط اليد قبل عصر الطباعة وتقادم مع مرور الزمن.
وتعتبر المخطوطات من الثروات الإنسانية المهمة التي يجب المحافظة عليها من التلف.
ولذلك قامت جامعة الملك سعود بإنشاء موقع المخطوطات التي تحتوي على أكثر من احدى عشر ألف مخطوطة بحيث يستطيع الزائر تصفح المخطوطات وقرائتها.
وتحتوي المخطوطات على أحكام الشريعة وتفسير القرآن الكريم وغيرها من العلوم أخرى، كما أنها تحتوي على أبيات شعر بعدة لغات كالتركية والفارسية."
Yemen
Digital Bab al-Yemen
See also the International Treasury of Islamic Manuscripts
“...Reuniting the Yemeni manuscripts scattered around the globe...The project has attracted strong interest and participation from several public libraries in three European countries, including the State Libraries in Berlin and Munich, the Austrian National Library in Vienna and the University Library in Leiden.
Aside from the inclusion of the holdings in Yemen and the collections of the previously mentioned libraries, the project is cooperating with the Google Cultural Institute (GCI) and uses Google's excellent online infrastructure and storage space to provide thousands of manuscript pages in high resolution.
Starting in September 2014, “The Digital Bab al-Yemen” project at Freie Universität Berlin reunites the digitised scans of the Glaser collections from the libraries of Berlin, Vienna and Munich. "The Glaser Collections" is a universal online digital library hosted by the Google Cultural Institute and will contain 108 manuscripts -- almost every Glaser manuscript digitised in high resolution so far....
In the near future, we are aiming to re-unite all available catalogue data of Yemeni manuscripts in close cooperation with TIMA as well as the respective manuscript holding institutions inside and outside of Yemen.”
Iran
Manuscripts of Malek National Library and Museum (Kitābkhānah va Mūzih-i Millī-i Malik)
کتابخانه کتابخانه و موزه ملی ملک
Manuscripts of the Majlis (Parliament) Library
مجموعه نسخ خطی کتابخانه مجلس
See also, their digital library
Manuscripts in the Digital Library of the National Library of Iran 
Morocco
Bibliothèque Nationale du Royaume du Maroc :  Catalogue des manuscrits
La recherche permet de sélectionner ‘Manuscrits’ et donne accès à 1652 notices. Search “manuscrits” results in over 1650 manuscript records
L’accès aux catalogues de manuscrits imprimés numérisés.  Access to digitised version of printed manuscript catalogues at the Bibliothèque nationale du Royaume du Maroc.
Uzbekistan
Manuscripts from Kokand Khanate (1710-1876)
Manuscripts originally held in the palace library of the Khanate of Kokand (1710-1876). After the establishment of the Turkestan governorship by the Russian Empire in 1876, many manuscripts of the Kokand court library were taken away to Russian collections or to small collections in the Fergana Valley.... The Kokand literary museum has about 14,000 exhibits, of which more than 1,500 are hand-written books dating back to the 15th century in Arabic, Persian and Turkic (chaghatay) languages. In addition, the museum has more than two thousand printed books. The oldest manuscript in the museum is the work copied in 1434 of 'Abdallakh ibn' Abd al- Rahman Husayni – the commentary on khadis «Me‘radj al-a‘mal». The manuscripts cover subjects such as poetry, musicology, astronomy, geography, medicine, logic, Sufism, the Muslim right and the Arab grammar, and also comments on the Koran and khadis."

North America

Princeton (roughly 11,000 volumes)
“The Manuscripts Division holds nearly 10,000 volumes of Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and other manuscripts of the predominantly Islamic world, written in Arabic script. This is the largest such collection in North America and one of the finest in the Western world....Voyager has bibliographical records for nearly all Islamic manuscripts at Princeton. Digitized manuscripts are accessible through the Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts.”
UCLA, Minasian Library (roughly 7,000 manuscripts)
“The University of California, Los Angeles Library holds one of the two largest collections of Near Eastern manuscripts in the United States. The UCLA collections include approximately 7,000 manuscripts written in Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Armenian, primarily in the fields of medicine, literature, philology, theology, law, and history, and ranging from the 11th through the 19th centuries. These collections rank among the most important in North America, both in extent and scholarly interest. Inquiries about the collections come from around the globe and in a variety of fields, even though the collections are little known and lack adequate bibliographic access.”
“The collections include approximately 15,000 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, primarily in the fields of medicine, literature, philology, theology, law, and history, and ranging from the 11th through the 19th centuries. These collections comprise the second largest collection of Near Eastern manuscripts in the United States.”
Yale, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and other collections on campus (roughly 4000 manuscripts)
“The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds over 3,500 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish in various subject areas, including language and literature, theology, biography, philosophy, and natural and social sciences." 
Click above for a full listing of manuscripts and other sources on campus.
Library of Congress (ca. 1400 manuscripts)
“Important Arabic, Armenian, Persian, Georgian, and Turkish manuscripts, along with their choicest illuminations from the imposing Greek monastic establishments at Mount Athos, from the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai, and from the Armenian and Greek Patriarchates of Jerusalem, were microfilmed as sets by the Library of Congress in the early 1950s and continue to be heavily used resources in the Microform Reading Room.”
“The international renown of the section's Arabic manuscript collection has also grown in the time since 1945, when the collection of approximately 1,300 manuscripts and 3,700 books assembled by Shaykh Mahmud al-Imam al- Mansuri, professor of religion at the al-Azhar University in Cairo, was purchased by the Library of Congress. These supplemented the manuscripts and other precious items that had been acquired in the 1920s and 1930s from the New York art dealer and authority on Near Eastern manuscripts, Kirkor Minassian, whose collection was especially rich in Islamic materials, prized among which are a Koran written in Kufi, the earliest of Arabic scripts, from the eleventh century and an extraordinarily executed manuscript cautiously attributed by some scholars to the father of Turkish calligraphy, Shaykh Hamdullah (A.D. 1437- 1520). Nor is the Minassian collection restricted to things religious. Arab intellectuals, inheritors of the ancient received tradition, were responsible for the translation of, commentary on, and cultural transmission of innumerable classics of antiquity, many of which exist thanks only to their efforts. The collection thus consists of valuable historical, scientific, and literary manuscripts as well, some with exquisite illuminations.”
“By the end of the twentieth century, the Library had acquired approximately one hundred Turkish manuscripts, most of which serve researchers of religion. Among these is the section's earliest Turkish manuscript, Muhammed Haravi's Tezkiretul-Evliya (History of the saints) (1526), one of only three copies known to exist. Yazcioglu Mehmed's Muhammediyye (1583) and Zakariya Qazwini's Ajaib al-Makhluqat (The wonders of creation) also from the sixteenth century, are other notable examples.”
“Islamic Manuscripts from Mali features 32 manuscripts from the Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library and the Library of Cheick Zayni Baye of Boujbeha, both in Timbuktu, Mali. The manuscripts presented online are displayed in their entirety and are an exemplary grouping that showcase the wide variety of subjects covered by the written traditions of Timbuktu, Mali, and West Africa.”
“The section possesses many Persian manuscripts, comprising all disciplines, but dominated by the historical. Many of these are exquisitely illuminated in the peculiarly beautiful amalgam which is identifiably Iranian, especially copies of the previously mentioned Shahnamah of Firdawsi. The collection also includes numerous anthologies of poets that are remarkable for the beauty of their calligraphy and miniatures as well as for their exquisite Persian bindings. Indeed, a great number of the Islamic book bindings acquired from Kirkor Minassian are Persian. These are both treats for the eyes and important for what they tell us about early book and manuscript production in the Islamic world.”
“During the late 1920s, early 1930s, and 1990s the Library of Congress acquired a large collection of Arabic script calligraphy sheets. This presentation exhibits 373 Arabic calligraphy sheets, ranging from the 9th to the 19th centuries. A majority of the calligraphy sheets were written on paper, however, a group of Qur’anic fragments from the 9th and 10th centuries were executed on parchment.”
Northwestern University, Herskovitz Library (roughly 3000 manuscripts)
Arabic Manuscripts from West Africa: A Catalog of the Herskovitz Library Collection
“The Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University houses an important collection of Arabic script materials from West Africa. It contains over 5,000 items collected from Africa and donated to the library by several Northwestern professors. Original, hand-written manuscripts make up more than 60 percent of the content, which also includes ‘market’ editions (photocopies of handwritten works that are often sold in African marketplaces), printed editions, and photocopies. Most are in Arabic, though some are in ajami—African languages such as Hausa, Fulfulde, and Wolof written in the Arabic script.”
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Houghton Library (roughly 1200 volumes)
"Harvard’s rich holdings of Islamic materials are distributed among several libraries, as well as the Harvard Art Museum/Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Houghton Library alone holds over 1,200 volumes of Islamic manuscripts representing 2,000 works, and Widener Library’s Middle Eastern Collection includes hundreds of thousands of published works."
"The IHP collection now includes over 280 manuscripts, selected from Houghton Library and the Harvard Art Museum/Arthur M. Sackler Museum. Dating from the 10th to the 20th centuries CE, these Islamic manuscripts constitute a record of the diverse artistic traditions, literary cultures, learning traditions, and religious interpretations of the pre-modern Islamic world."
Houghton Arabic MS (ca. 450 volumes)
“Holdings include religious material, such as manuscripts (some fragments) of the Bible and Koran with commentaries, prayers and prayer books, poems, sermons, works on mysticism, and writings on the life and teachings of Muhammed. Some of the items date from the 9th century but most of the material in this grouping is from the 15th to the 19th century. Also historical accounts about Egypt, Syria, Jerusalem, and related topics; legal works and commentaries on canon law; love poems and literary anthologies; and treatises on grammar, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, and calligraphy. Other items include dictionaries, grammars, and collections of proverbs.”
See also: Islamic Heritage Project, Harvard University
For the IHP, Harvard’s Open Collections Program (OCP) has produced digital copies of over 280 manuscripts, 275 printed texts, and 50 maps, totaling over 156,000 pages. Users can search or browse online materials that date from the 10th to the 20th centuries CE and represent many languages, regions, and subjects.
Michigan, University Library, Special Collections Research Center (roughly 1800 texts in 1,103 volumes)
“The Islamic Manuscripts Collection at the University of Michigan consists of 1,103 volumes (codices and rolls) and a small number of single leaves, dating from the 8th to the 20th century CE and carrying roughly 1,800 titles chiefly in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish.”
Freer and Sackler Galleries (roughly 1200 manuscripts and folios)
“Together, the Freer and Sackler have the finest collections of illustrated manuscripts from the Islamic world in the U. S. The collections contain extremely rare illustrated texts, tremendous depth in certain formative periods, such as fourteenth-century and sixteenth century Iran, and thematic depth in illustrated copies of the Shanama. These rare texts have no searchable or comprehensive catalogue, yet they could offer an incomparable resource for inter-disciplinary research. The challenge is to produce catalogue records for a museum collection compatible with description standards used by libraries. Comprising 1,200 manuscripts and folios of paintings and calligraphy, the collections include Korans from the late eighth to the late nineteenth centuries, but are especially celebrated for illustrated literary works from Iran. These works include Balami’s Tarikhnama (ca. 1300), probably the earliest extant illustrated world history from the Islamic world, and one of two extant copies in the world of the Divan (collected works) of Sultan Husayn Jalayir (1402), containing the earliest examples of ink drawings from West Asia. The Freer and Sackler also hold the largest repositories in the United States of illustrated texts and individual paintings of the Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi (d. 1020), the Khamsa (Quintet) by Nizami (d.1209) and the Haft Awrang (Seven thrones) by the fifteenth-century poet Jami (d. 1492).”
Metropolitan Museum of Art (ca. 1100 leaves, fragments, bindings, etc.)
Columbia University (ca. 600 codices)
http://library.columbia.edu/locations/rbml/findingmaterials/codex_manuscripts/details.html
cf. Dagmar Riedel's "Finding Aids for Manuscripts in Arabic Script in the Columbia Libraries"
https://researchblogs.cul.columbia.edu/islamicbooks/resources/culfindingaids/
McGill University (ca. 380 codices and leaves)
“The Islamic manuscripts fall into three groups: Arabic, Persian and Turkish. The Arabic manuscripts, some thirty-three codices, are mostly Qurans and tracts on Sufism and Shi’ite sects. In addition, there is a collection of over two hundred pieces of Arabic calligraphy. There are some thirty-five Persian codices, primarily poetry, and about a hundred separate leaves, many containing miniature paintings. Among the latter is one leaf dated to the thirteenth century and a leaf from the Demotte "Shahnama", c. 1350. There are also four Turkish manuscripts, two Malay manuscripts as well as a small number of Urdu and Hindustani manuscripts.”
http://libraryguides.mcgill.ca/Islamicmanuscripts
National Library of Medicine (ca. 300 manuscripts)
“For advanced scholars, the site provides a catalogue raisonné (including images) from the 300 or so Persian and Arabic manuscripts in the National Library of Medicine. Most of these manuscripts deal with medieval medicine and science and were written for learned physicians and scientists. Some of the manuscripts are richly illuminated and illustrated.”
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/arabic/arabichome.html
Brown University (ca. 40 Qur'anic codices and 168 illustrated leaves +)
“THE MINASSIAN COLLECTION AND ITS HOLDINGS OF EARLY QUR’AN FOLIOS This database catalogues the holdings of over 200 Qur’anic manuscript folios dating from the 9th to the 16th centuries housed within the special collections of the Brown University libraries. These items were acquired as part of a treasury of rich artistic and textual items donated in 1998 to Brown by Adrienne Minassian, the daughter of Kirkor Minassian (1874–1944), who was an active art collector and dealer based in New York and Paris in the early 20th century. In addition to the forty distinct manuscripts of the Qur’an represented here, the collection includes numerous Persian manuscripts, calligraphic panels, Persian and Central Asian ceramics and other art objects, as well as an impressive selection of miniature paintings from the Persian, Mughul and Indian traditions.”
http://library.brown.edu/quran/
http://library.brown.edu/cds/minassian/index.html
Walters Art Museum (ca. 168 manuscripts, both codices and individual leaves)
“The Walters’ collection of Islamic Manuscripts showcases masterpieces of illuminated and illustrated manuscripts. The sacred, devotional and non-religious manuscripts presented here were created across the breadth of the Islamic world and date from the 9th through the 19th century. In the Islamic book, the primary vehicle for literary and artistic expression, the powers of poetry, prayer and visual form collide. They bear witness to remarkable achievements in literature and the book arts. Examples include a 15th-century Koran from northern India, executed at the height of the Timurid empire; a luxurious 16th-century copy of the Khamsa by Amir Khusraw, illustrated by a number of famous artists for the emperor Akbar; and a Turkish calligraphy album by Sheik Handullah al Amasi, one of the greatest calligraphers. All images of Islamic manuscripts were created and are provided through a Preservation and Access grant awarded to The Walters Art Museum by the National Endowment for the Humanities, 2008-2010.”
https://art.thewalters.org/browse/category/islamic-manuscripts/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/medmss/collections/72157625873839711/
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (ca. 250 leaves, codices, etc.)
http://collections.lacma.org/search/site/?f[0]=bm_field_has_image%3Atrue&f[1]=im_field_classification%3A20&f[2]=im_field_curatorial_area%3A45
 
Cleveland Museum of Art 
The Digital Walters links to complete sets of high-resolution archival images of entire manuscripts from the collection of the Walters Art Museum, along with detailed catalog descriptions. 
Indiana University, Lilly Library (ca. 53 manuscripts)
(see Krek, Miroslav. "Union List of Arabic Script Manuscripts in American Institutions Part 12:3. The Lilly Library, Indiana University Libraries." MELA Notes no.69/70 (Fall 1999-Spring 2000): 43-59, accessible via https://www.jstor.org/stable/29785709?seq=1)
Some of the manuscripts appeared in the exhibition "From Pen to Printing Press" (see http://www.iub.edu/~iuam/online_modules/islamic_book_arts/)
University of Victoria, McPherson Library (ca. 6 items)
“The collection consists of six items: 1) En'am-i Serif [Turkish calligraphic manuscript].- consists of several chapters of the Qur'an, Arabic and Ottoman and Turkish prayers, calligraphic rondels and seals, hilyes, and miniature paintings of the Kaba, the Prophet's Mosque at Medina, his personal belongings such as his cloak, prayer beads etc., his hand and foot print and similar images. Special Collections had slides made of this manuscript. A second set of these slides is available in the Slide Library (History in Art Dept.). 2) al-Jazri, Mohammed. - consists of a single leaf from an 18th century religious manuscript, "Hassi Hasin" (Prayer and Contemplation). It is written in Arabic (probably in Turkey) in the Nashki hand. It may be an Ishmaeli text. It is illuminated, gilded and decorated with a floral motif. 3) Firdawsi. Shah Nameh. consists of a single leaf from an 18th century copy. 4) Koran. India. 17th -18th century? 5) Koran. China. 17th -18th century? 6) Maghribi Qur'an (Koran) Bifolium. Late 10th or 11th century. Kufic script.”
http://library.uvic.ca/spcoll/guides/sc119.html
(see Witkam, Jan Just. "The Islamic Manuscripts in the McPherson Library, University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C." Journal of Islamic Manuscripts 1, 1 (2010): 101-142, accessible  http://www.islamicmanuscripts.info/files/Witkam-2010-McPherson-read-only.pdf )

Europe

Bulgaria
St. Cyril and Methodius National Library 
 Arabic, Turkish, Persian manuscripts, Oriental documents, defters, sicils, Oriental printed books, and more. 
Denmark
The Royal Library, National Library of Denmark and Copenhagen University Library
“Digital editions from the Oriental Collection - chose for their beauty, rarity, calligraphy, bindings etc. - are available on different platforms. They are available through these links (in all cases, use the left hand menues for navigation)”
France
Gallica (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris)
Persian manuscripts in Gallica 
Arabic manuscripts in Gallica
Turkish manuscripts in Gallica 
Mandragore, base des manuscrits enluminés de la BnF (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris)
Online catalogue of illuminations and illustrations from manuscripts held at the BnF with descriptions and color images available for viewing and download.
Germany
Orientalische Handschriften, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin
“At present, the database provides detailed descriptions of more than 6,000 texts in several languages and from different regions, giving supplementary information in both, the original script and a Roman transliteration. About 4,200 texts are completely digitised. The amount of detailed descriptions and digitised objects increases steadily. Among the already digitised collections are precious and rare Arabic manuscripts, all illustrated Islamic manuscripts (among which the Jahangir and Diez albums are the most famous), Hebrew manuscripts, Armenian manuscripts, and many from other regions such as Central, South, and South East Asia.”
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (BSB i.e. Bavarian State Library), Munich
“The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek preserves an extensive collection of manuscripts, which will be made available step by step to the interested public on the Internet. The offer of works available in digitised form is expanded continuously. The digital copies produced from the originals are full colour copies, those produced from microfilms are available in a bitonal or grey-scale quality.”
Refaiya Library, Leipzig University (Universität Leipzig)
“The project aims at the historical and codicological research on, database development and digital presentation of the private Arabic-Islamic library of the Damascene Rifā'ī family. This library, called "Refaiya" (Rifā'īya) - comprising 488 carefully preserved volumes and handed down over several centuries until the 19th century - is the precious core of the approximately 3,200 Oriental manuscripts kept at Leipzig University Library. It is probably a unique example of a cohesive, traditional Arabic-Islamic family library. The preservation of its historical formation is due to the direct acquisition by the Prussian Consul and Arabist Johann Gottfried Wetzstein from its last owner, 'Umar Efendi al-Rifā'ī al-Ḥamawī, in 1853....
The trilingual database (English, German and Arabic) and the digitization will facilitate the presentation of a cohesive pre-modern Damascene family library on the Internet and, thereby, make the manuscripts accessible internationally - including the Islamic world - for further research. The digital recording of the Refaiya manuscripts is based on the DFG-funded database, "Pilot Project for a database-supported indexing and digital presentation of the recently acquired Arab, Turkish and Persian manuscripts at the University of Leipzig" ( www.islamic-manuscripts.net ).”
Oriental Manuscripts, Saxon State and University Library (SLUB), Dresden 
An expanding selection of Oriental manuscripts from Dresden University Library digitized and available for viewing. Click above for the full inventory of digitized manuscripts or here for the highlights and description of the colleciton.
Orientalischen Handschriften der Forschungsbibliothek Gotha der Universität Erfurt
"The research library Gotha harbors one of the largest Oriental manuscript collections in Germany comprising about 3,500 codices, primarily in Arabic, Turkish and Persian. The collection covers more than 800 years of Islamicate scholarship and features manuscripts from all disciplines, amongst them history, theology, jurisprudence, medicine, science, grammar, lexicography and literature." 
Currently 650 indexed, 500 digitized)
Orientalische Handschriften, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg
http://www.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/helios/digi/codheidor.html
An Image Database of Persian Historical Documents from Iran and Central Asia up to the 20th Century, Philipps-Universität Marburg
“The Project aims at facilitating access to the growing number of available Persian historical deeds and documents, both published and unpublished. It shall allow work on archival material with the help of incorporated facsimiles without recourse to the original - often remote - place of publication or storage.
The Database includes "public" and "private" documents: royal decrees and orders, official correspondence, and shari'a court documents, such as contracts of sale and lease, vaqf deeds, marriage contracts, and court orders. It also serves as a bibliographic reference tool, being a continually updated repertoire of published historical documents.”
Digital Bab al-Yemen
“The European Research Council (ERC) funded project aims to develop a digital online library assembling all manuscripts of Yemeni provenance from around the world...”
“The main goal of the project is to establish a digital online platform containing all Yemeni manuscripts from around the globe. For this reason, the project has gained institutional and private manuscript holders as new partners. The project has attracted strong interest and participation from several public libraries in three European countries, including the State Libraries in Berlin and Munich, the Austrian National Library in Vienna and the University Library in Leiden.
Aside from the inclusion of the holdings in Yemen and the collections of the previously mentioned libraries, the project is cooperating with the Google Cultural Institute (GCI) and uses Google's excellent online infrastructure and storage space to provide thousands of manuscript pages in high resolution.
Starting in September 2014, “The Digital Bab al-Yemen" project at Freie Universität Berlin reunites the digitised scans of the Glaser collections from the libraries of Berlin, Vienna and Munich. “The Glaser Collections" is a universal online digital library hosted by the Google Cultural Institute and will contain 108 manuscripts -- almost every Glaser manuscript digitised in high resolution so far.
But reuniting the Glaser collections will only be the first step. Scattered in European and Yemeni libraries there are thousands of Yemeni manuscripts, some of them of inestimable value, that are not captured yet -- a scientific treasure that only waits to be discovered.
In the near future, we are aiming to re-unite all available catalogue data of Yemeni manuscripts in close cooperation with TIMA as well as the respective manuscript holding institutions inside and outside of Yemen.”
Orientalische Handschriften, Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen
Links to a selection of digitized manuscripts from the Oriental Manuscript holdings of the Tübingen University Library, as well as descriptive details on the complete holdings.
“Einen Schwerpunkt des Handschriftenbestandes der Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen bilden die orientalischen Handschriften, die im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert als Sammlungen in die Bibliothek gelangten. Die zahlenmäßig stärkste Gruppe stellen die indischen Handschriften mit inzwischen über 850 Stücken dar, gefolgt von den etwa 400 arabischen und 300 türkischen Handschriften. Unter den im Jahre 1903 erworbenen 107 armenischen Handschriften sind hervorragende Beispiele zur armenischen Buchmalerei des 12. bis 19. Jahrhunderts enthalten. Die orientalischen Handschriften sind nach Sprachgruppen geordnet, z.B. Ma I: Indische Handschriften, Ma IV: Hebräische Handschriften, Ma VI: Arabische Handschriften, Ma XIII: Armenische Handschriften oder Ma X: Tibetische Handschriften. Eine genauere Aufschlüsselung der Signaturen finden Sie hier. Für weitere Informationen stehen Ihnen unser handschriftliches Inventar und ältere gedruckte Kataloge zur Verfügung.”
Hungary
Vámbéry Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest)
Digital mages of the 60 MSS (68 Turkish, 10 Persian, 2 Arabic) donated by the noted scholar Ármin Vámbéry (1832-1913)
Turkish: Török O.38, O.171, O.176, O.196, O.329, O.370–388, Török Qu.39, Qu.60, Qu.63–78, Török F.23, F.57, F.66–67, F.70–71;
Persian: Perzsa O.43–47, O.49–50, O.52–53, Perzsa F.14;
Arabic: Arab O.4, Arab F.4.
Ireland
Chester Beatty Image Gallery "Islamic"
Images of select manuscript pages from the Chester Beatty holdings with detailed commentary.
Italy 
Arabic Manuscripts from the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (Florence)
Digital images of the manuscripts available for browse by shelfmark ; search by descriptive metadata coming soon.
For shelf marks, see published catalogues of the collection:
  • L. Buonazia, Catalogo dei codici arabi della Biblioteca Nazionale di Firenze, Firenze 1885 .
  • O. Pinto, Manoscritti arabi delle biblioteche governative di Firenze non ancora catalogati, in “La Bibliofilia”, 37 (1935), pp. 234-246, in part. 237-238
  • S. Fani, Censimento conservativo dei manoscritti arabi presso la Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Tesi per il conseguimento del Master di I livello in Conservazione e restauro delle raccolte librarie e documentarie, Spoleto-Perugia, a.a. 2008/9
Russia
Early Qur’ans from the J. J. Marcel Collection, National Library of Russia
“The printed Report of the Imperial Public Library for the year 1864 (St.Petersburg, 1865. Pp. 22-24) informs its readers that the Library has acquired ‘the collection of ancient Kufic Qur'ans on parchment bought from Mme Desnoyer, heiress of Arabist Marcel who was among the members of the learned French expedition to Egypt equipped by Bonapart.’”
Select images and exhibition catalogue.
Serbia
Selection of Arabic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts in PHAIDRA (Digital Repository of the University of Belgrade), Belgrade
Orijentalni rukopisi, DIGITALNI REPOZITORIJUM, Univerzitetska biblioteka "Svetozar Marković", Belgrade
Digitized Oriental manuscripts available for view and download as pdf files.
Spain
Manuscript@CSIC portal
“The Manuscript@CSIC portal presents the collections of manuscripts in Hebrew, Arabic, Aljamiado, Persian and Turkish preserved and stored in the network of CSIC libraries, and includes information on their cataloging and digitalization. The Portal is the result of a joint project carried out by the Institute of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (ILC),the School of Arabic Studies in Granada (EEA) and the Unit of Information Resources for Research. The project intends to make the collections of manuscripts stored in their libraries accessible to the public (Tomás Navarro Tomás Library  and School of Arabic Studies Library).”
Colección de manuscritos árabes en la Biblioteca Municipal de Córdoba
Digitized photographic reproductions (mainly black and white) of Arabic manuscripts (those known as "Códices de Tetuán") held at the Municipal Library of Cordoba, available for online viewing and pdf download. Digitized catalogues and publications pertaining to the manuscripts also available:
Sweden 
Turkish, Turkic (esp. Uyghur), Persian, and Arabic manuscripts from Uppsala University Library (Uppsala universitetsbibliotek) 
Click on “Books & Manuscript” under Resource Type, then select language from the “Refine search result” options
Annotated Turki Manuscripts from the Jarring Collection Online 
Links to digital facsimiles, transcripts, translations, etc of manuscripts in the Jarring Collection provided by the ATMO project.
Switzerland
e-manuscripta (Universitätsbibliothek Basel
Search on “Orientalische Handschriften” to retrieve a small selection of manuscripts from Handschriften-Signaturen / Abteilung M: Orientalische Handschriften
Turkey
Kitap Sanatları ve Hat Koleksiyonu, Sakıp Sabancı Müzesi, Sabancı Üniversitesi,  İstanbul 
Manuscripts (including several types of calligraphic specimens) and writing implements of the Book Arts and Calligraphy Collection at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum now digitized and available for viewing online. Possible to browse by format, script, calligrapher, title, etc. and to keyword search descriptions (in Turkish).
“Sabancı Üniversitesi Sakıp Sabancı Müzesi Kitap Sanatları ve Hat Koleksiyonu'nda, 14. yüzyıl sonlarından 20. yüzyıla kadarki bir zaman diliminde ünlü hattatların elinden çıkma Kuran-ı Kerim nüshaları ve dua kitapları, kıt’alar, murakkalar, levha ve hilyeler, tuğralı ferman ve beratlar, hattatların yazı araçları yer alıyor.”
Koç University Manuscript Collection, Istanbul  
Digitized manuscripts (mainly in Ottoman Turkish) from the rare book / special collections of Koç University. May be browsed or searched and viewed online.
Digitized manuscripts from the rare books collection of Marmara University Library (Marmara Üniversitesi Nadir Eserler Koleksiyonu), Istanbul
Select “El yazısı” from the “Şekil” dropdown menu to browse a listing of manuscript descriptions. Create account and log in to download and view digitized manuscripts. 
United Kingdom (UK)
Islamic Manuscripts, Cambridge Digital Library, University of Cambridge
Selection of digitized manuscripts from the Cambridge University Library’s holdings of Islamic manuscripts.
“In this selection, we present several examples of Qur'anic manuscripts, including a complete and beautifully illustrated Qur'an and a number of very early fragments dating back to the first centuries of the Islamic calendar. From the rich literature encompassing the Islamic tradition we have chosen the only extant copy of Kitāb al-tawḥīd, the famous theological work by by al-Maturidi, alongside works on science and some richly illustrated examples of Persian Literature.”
Selection of digitized manuscripts from the Bodleian Library, Oxford 
“Oriental Manuscripts” University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
Highlights of the Oriental Manuscript Collection at Edinburgh University Library (http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb237-coll-102).
“The Library has over 650 manuscripts in oriental languages. A large part of the Oriental Manuscript Collection consists of Arabic and Persian manuscripts, of which there are 429 in the Special Collections in the Main Library, and 102 in the New College Library.
Arabic manuscripts include commentaries on the Koran; traditions of the Prophet and Imam; prayers; law, general history and biography; medicine, mathematics, philosophy and ethics; and, grammar, rhetoric, poetry, prose, tales, dictionary, and controversy.
Persian manuscripts include theology, history, biography, and travel; mathematics and astronomy; ethics, poetry, music, composition and proverbs, tales and romances; grammar and dictionary; and, agriculture and war.
The Collection includes two of the significant treasures of the Library, namely the World history of the Mongol vizier Rashid Al-Din, which illustrates parts of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and the chronology of ancient nations of Al-Biruni, both of which were written in Arabic in Tabriz in Persian circa 1307 A.D.
A detailed description of the Arabic and Persian manuscripts is found in Hukk, Mohammed Ashraful, et al., A descriptive catalogue of the Arabic and Persian manuscripts in Edinburgh University Library (Hertford: Printed for the University of Edinburgh by S. Austin & sons, Ltd, 1925. viii, 454p ; 23 cm, while R. R. Serjeant’s A handlist of the Arabic, Persian and Hindustani MSS. Of New College, Edinburgh (London: Luzac & Co., 1942) contains a detailed list of the manuscript holdings in the New College Library.”
Wellcome Arabic Manuscripts Online, Wellcome Library, London
“The Arabic manuscripts collection of the Wellcome Library (London) comprises around 1000 manuscript books and fragments relating to the history of medicine. For the first time this website enables a substantial proportion of this collection to be consulted online via high-quality digital images of entire manuscripts and associated rich metadata.
This has been made possible by a pioneering partnership between the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Wellcome Library, and King's College London, with funding from the JISC Islamic studies programme.
These manuscripts are part of the Wellcome Library's Asian Collection, which comprises some 12,000 manuscripts and 4,000 printed books in 43 different languages. The Islamic holdings include Arabic and Persian manuscripts and printed books, and a small collection of Ottoman manuscripts and Turkish books. The core of these collections relates to the great heritage of classical medicine, preserved, enlarged and commentated on throughout the Islamic world, stretching from Southern Spain to South and South-east Asia.”
John Rylands University Library, Manchester
Digitized manuscripts in the John Rylands University Library Image Collections. Search by language in order to pull up Mid East results.
Digital Access to Persian Manuscripts, British Library
"The British Library is currently engaged in a program to enable digital access to the Persian collections and has now reached the end of the second year of a planned three-year partnership project with the Iran Heritage Foundation and other supporters. The project involves creating catalogue records for manuscripts which are uncatalogued, standardizing the existing print records and creating digital files to make them available online. At the same time we aim to digitise 50 of the most significant manuscripts within the three year period. By the end of the initial three-year partnership, records of nearly all acquisitions made after 1903 will be available online. Currently, details of over 2,500 works are searchable on Fihrist, a union catalogue of some of the major Arabic script manuscript collections in the UK, and will also be available within the Library's own manuscripts' catalogue.
At the present time we have digitised 27 manuscripts which are available in entirety at British Library's Digitised Manuscripts."
Manuscripts from the British Library appearing in the Qatar Digital Library 
Digitised Arabic texts from the University of Leeds
"We have digitised as scans and backlights a sample of the rich collection of Arabic texts held by the Library of the University of Leeds, and its Special Collections. We have scanned comprehensively at high resolution to reveal of the text, paper texture and manufacture, and watermarks. We believe this product will be of interest to papyrologists, arabists, digital archivists and others. The Leeds project is interested in developing techniques to examine the watermark in such documents, together with other concealed properties of the paper.
Texts currently available are
Vatican
Vatican Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana)
A number of Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and other manuscripts available in full. Listed by shelfmark. 

Asia and Australia

Australia
Middle Eastern Manuscripts, University of Melbourne (Australia)
Selection of digitized manuscripts from the University of Melbourne.
“The core of the Middle Eastern Studies Collection was given to the University of Melbourne Library in 1972 by the then Department of Middle Eastern Studies. The collection consisted chiefly of microfilms, but included more than 100 original manuscripts housed from that time onwards in the Special Collections. Over time this has grown to 183 manuscripts, many of which are beautiful works of art with interesting calligraphy and decoration.The manuscripts are written mostly in Persian and Arabic, with a few in Urdu, Syriac Turkish and other languages. Most manuscripts in the collection were written in the nineteenth century, but some may date back to the fifteenth century. There are a number of Qurans, but the collection is not exclusively Islamic: it also includes a Maronite Christian prayerbook in Arabic and a Syriac Christian commentary on the Gospels. There are also grammars, dictionaries and a few fictional and poetic works.”
Japan
Daiber Collection Database, The Arabic Manuscripts in the Daiber Collection, Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo 
“This searching system is released for using the original catalogue attached (including titles, author and additional bibliographical information) and the digitized images of Daiber collection at the same time. The corresponding images are linked from the bibliographical information written in the catalogue.
This collection is the corpus of manuscripts mainly focused on Arabic, collected by Dr. Hans Daiber, a professor of Islamic studies in Germany, over many years. Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo purchased the collection, its first part in 1986-1987 and its second part in 1994.”

Menu

Find Digitized Mid East Manuscripts in: 
MSS at Penn
Middle East
North America
Europe
Asia