Manuscripts: Arabic

Just over 1,200 manuscripts (out of nearly 1,700) in the Library are in Arabic, and a substantial portion of these (nearly 900 volumes) relate to Ismaili studies. This makes the Library’s Arabic manuscripts’ collection a very significant corpus of original Ismaili textual sources located anywhere in the Western world.

Four catalogues describing the Arabic manuscripts in the Institute’s Library have been published to date. A union catalogue of the Arabic manuscripts is currently under preparation (for a complete listing see here) and this will be available as a searchable resource.


The Ismaili Arabic manuscripts reflect the Fatimid and post-Fatimid literary traditions. The majority of these manuscripts were copied in India. Numerous texts by prominent Fatimid authors such as al-Qadiinfo-icon al-Nu‘man, Ja‘far b. Mansur al-Yaman, Abu Ya‘qub al-Sijistani, Hamid al-Dininfo-icon al-Kirmani, and al-Mu’ayyad fi al-Din al-Shirazi are represented in this collection. Texts of post-Fatimid Tayyibi authors such as Hatim b. Ibrahim al-Hamidi and Idris ‘Imad al-Din, as well as Syrian Nizari authors are also present.


The general Arabic manuscripts comprise 295 volumes. A common feature of these is that they were copied in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and, irrespective of the subject, were composed and transcribed by individuals of Shiainfo-icon persuasion.

Among the manuscripts described in these catalogues are: