A treasure house of manuscripts, Darul Uloom busy restoring them
To woo research scholars from across the world, Islamic seminary Darul Uloom of Deoband is working on restoring over 1500 rare manuscripts, some as old as 800 years, placed in its 150-year-old library.
These manuscripts are on various topics such as Unani medicines, law, history, religion, culture and Sufism.
“They are very rare. A few are perhaps so rare that one will not be able to find another copy of them anywhere in the world. They can be a treasure trove for research scholars,” said librarian Mohammad Shafeeq Qasmi.
“The collection includes more than 100 manuscripts on Sufism, a handwritten Quran by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, a huge Quran and a 750-year-old Manuscript written by author Imauddin Zakaria about animals,” said Qasmi, who took the degree of Fazil from Darul Uloom before joining as librarian here in 2015.
He said the idea of restoration of these manuscripts came from seminary’s deputy vice chancellor Maulana Abdul Khalik Madrasi.
“These were our heritage and a treasure for research scholars who could serve the society and the religion by incorporating knowledge of our forefathers and great visionaries in their research work,” Maulana Khalik had said while ordering the restoration process.
Shafeeq and Maulana Madrasi then visited the National Archives of India to seek their assistance in restoring the manuscripts.
It was followed by Shafeeq and three other members of the library attending a seminar on conservation and restoration in Jammu.
The seminary then approached the Iran Culture House in Delhi, which is considered as an expert on restoration of such manuscripts.
“They agreed to extend help but we refused to accept their condition of taking one copy of the restored manuscripts,” said Shafeeq.
Seminary then hired some professionals to speed up restoration work and till now 50,000 pages have been restored.
“A dedicated team is engaged in the process of restoring 150 to 200 pages every day,” said seminary’s vice chancellor Mufti Abul Qasim Nomani.
Seminary’s media incharge Ashraf Usmani said more than 300 manuscripts got damaged over the period of time and we are hopeful that all these valuable manuscripts would be available for research scholars after restoration.
“There are many libraries across the world with great collection of books but they rarely match the unique collection of books that we have. Research scholars come here from different countries, including England, middle east countries and almost every nook and corner of India because they can get valuable references from our unique collection of books and manuscripts,” said Usmani while hoping the restoration of manuscripts would indeed be a great help for such scholars.