2,500 rare texts from Islamic world to go online for free

National Library of Israel is digitising collection of manuscripts and books dating back to ninth century

More than 2,500 rare manuscripts and books from the Islamic world covering a period of more than a thousand years are to be made freely available online.

The National Library of Israel (NLI) in Jerusalem is digitising its world-class collection of items in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, dating from the ninth to the 20th centuries, including spectacularly beautiful Qur’ans and literary works decorated with gold leaf and lapis lazuli.

The NLI’s treasures include an exquisite Iranian copy of Gift to the Noble (Tuhfat al-Ahrar), created barely three years after the completion of a 1484 collection of verse on religious and moral themes by the great Persian mystical poet Nur al-Din Jami.

Each page is illuminated in gold leaf, with illustrations that include a polo game and a garden scene featuring beautiful medieval calligraphy.

Dr Raquel Ukeles, curator of the NLI’s Islam and Middle East collection, said: “It’s exquisite. Each border is decorated in gold leaf [and] very delicate paintings. Every page is different. You’ll have pictures of gazelles, flowers or plants.”


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