SeekersGuidance Launches Global Project to Build a Digital Library of 500,000 Islamic Manuscripts
If our historical manuscripts were a kingdom, without a doubt, Istanbul would be its capital. Between the city’s two most famous historical sites, lies a small building, which will house the Dar al Makhtutat (House of Manuscripts) project.
From its inception, The House of Manuscripts will have seven important projects the two most important being (1) An Encyclopedia of Arabic Manuscripts and (2) The building of a digital library with over half a million manuscripts.
This spectacular effort will be led by manuscript experts Dr Faisal al-Hafian, Dr Idham Hanash and Dr Hasan Osman under the guidance and assistance of Dr Mahmud Masri.
Sultan Ahmet and a Promising Space
In the early 1600s, after a somber defeat, Sultan Ahmet I commissioned the building of the Sultan Ahmet complex in hopes to reassert the power of the Ottomans. Four-hundred years later, as we gaze upon its magnificence, one cannot help but reflect on the sources of strength of the Muslims of the past.
Was it a fleeting militaristic or economic might – or a spiritual strength that transcended buildings, borders, and even centuries?
Nestled between two of Istanbul’s jewels, the Sultan Ahmet mosque, and the Aya Sofia, lies a quaint madrasa building. A place that was commissioned to be the Dar al-Hadith. It was shut down in 1924 only to be reopened years later, under the guardianship of the Sultan Ahmet Vakf.
The Birth of the Project: Dar al Makhtutat (House of Manuscripts)
While restoring the beautiful spiritual structure of the madrasa, the leaders of the endowment (waqf) recognized the need to breathe life into it by hosting programs and projects that restore our rich intellectual and spiritual heritage.
It came as no surprise when the president of the waqf welcomed, with open arms, the idea of hosting SeekersGuidance, Dar al Makhtutat and the Dar al Fuqaha projects at the madrasa. A partnership that transcends borders and the effects of which, we pray will transcend centuries.
SeekersGuidance and Dar al Makhtutat
The manuscript is the main pillar that supports the civilizational existence and cultural identity of a nation.
This ambitious project will work towards spreading the culture of Islamic manuscripts and teach its various sciences related to cataloging, classification, investigation, publishing, restoration, digitization, and aesthetic preservation.
In addition to these important objectives, the House of Manuscripts will also hold monthly seminars and annual conferences and produce a yearly publication in the science of manuscripts. The program will contribute to the revival of Islamic scholarship, by training scholars and academics to properly edit and publicize our great heritage of manuscripts.
A New Year Begins at the Dar Al Fuqaha Seminary
The Dar al Fuqaha Seminary program continues to build on the Specialization in Islamic Law program launched last year at the Fatih Sultan Mehmet University at the Mevlavihane in Istanbul.
A partnership which gave fruit to 660 lessons in various Islamic sciences in 2020.
The program, now housed at the Sultan Ahmet Madrasa connects leading mainstream, traditionally-trained senior scholars with students of Islamic knowledge from around the world, completely free.
The program is meant to revive the classical system of scholarly authorization (ijaza) in a meaningful way: students who complete a text, or level of study, or program with understanding and mastery will receive specific scholarly authorization (ijaza) in what they have completed.
New Beginnings – The Revival
Distinct and harmonious calls to prayer from the Aya Sofia and Sultan Ahmet reverberate through the madrasa building five times a day.
A spiritual energy emanates from the hearts and minds of a dedicated group of people, working together with one goal – to revive the Islamic Sciences.
We pray this endeavor serves a noble purpose – to connect the creation to its Creator.
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