A few months ago, while browsng the website of Darul ‘Uloom Karachi, I came across an extremely interesting section concerning it’s library and ‘Ashraful-‘Uloom’ Department. I have reproduced these sections below for the benefit of the readers.
May Allah preserve and reward the guardians of sacred knowledge.
The scholarly library of Darul-‘Uloom is, with the grace of Allah Ta’ala, one of the most distinguished scholarly libraries of the country, in fact, this is perhaps the most comprehensive library specializing in Islamic sciences, a library which has a collection of more than seventy thousand books on its shelves. Though, it does have books relating to classical and modern sciences and arts in different languages, but books of Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh, Tarikh, Rijal, ‘Aqa’id, Kalam and the sciences of the Arabic language are the hallmark of this library.
The great founder of Darul-‘Uloom, Mufti A’zam Hadrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi Sahib had a special taste for books and, right from the beginning, despite paucity of resources, tried his best to make this library as beneficial for scholars, teachers and students as was possible. Alhamdulillah, the addition of books in the library is increasing every day and it can be said that this library has become ideal in terms of its comprehensiveness.
At the initial stage, the library was miserably cramped for space. Racks too were insufficient and the attack of white ants was also causing losses. Hadrat Mufti Sahib, during the latter years of his life, had the blueprint of a huge and spacious library building prepared with his heart behind it and lost no time when he laid its foundation stone and gave the signal for the construction of the building within his life time. But, while this building was still in the preliminary stages of construction, he departed from this mortal world. (…)
With trust in Allah, the construction work was kept continuing bit by bit and it is nothing but the blessing of Allah Ta’ala that this gorgeous building stood ready for use within a few years. It has three storied corridors into which open racks filled with books and it has a holding capacity of more than two hundred thousand books. To offset the danger of white ants, special anti-rust, steel racks have been commissioned which are, perhaps, unmatched in the libraries of the country.
At the time of shifting the library into the new building, proper attention was paid to towards a new system of the arrangement of books in the library. For this purpose, most comprehensive and elaborate catalogs were made. A totally new system of classification was adopted. Reliance has been placed on a brand new scheme that helps unlimited sub-classification of Islamic sciences, a scheme that is most comprehensive, convenient and all-encompassing of all those available to date. Generally, libraries follow the Dewey Decimal System, but it has assigned only one number for all Islamic sciences, that is, 297, which discourages sub-classifications and results only in the proliferation of numbers.
At the time this Scheme was being put together, schemes in use at the King Abd al-‘Aziz University, Makkah al-Mukarramah, Hamdard Research Institute, Dehli as well as all schemes indigenously drawn up in Pakistan were fully consulted for applicability. And it was then that an Scheme entirely different from all these was laid down as the ultimate answer to the needs of Islamic sciences, and it is in accordance with it that books have been arranged.
Based on the name of the book, name of the author and the name of subjects arranged alphabetically, three detailed catalogs have been prepared through which book search has become very easy and quick. In addition to that, books relating to all sciences can be seen as arranged on the shelves in their natural order – a virtual gift of the new Scheme.
The Library has a standing section devoted to periodicals and newspapers where files of major religious periodicals dating back to so many past years lie preserved. Also available there is an age-old record of major newspapers.
The following are particularly worth mentioning:
1. The manuscript of ‘Allama Tarablusi’s famous book: “…”.
2. Manuscripts of all books of Hakim al-Ummah Hadrat Maulana Thanavi.
3. “Tahdhib al-Kamal” by Hafiz Mizzi.
4. Hafiz ibn Hajar’s Introduction to “Fath al-Bari” with marginal notes personally written by the author.
5. Manuscript of “Al-Jawahir al-Mukallalah” written by the author, Hafiz al-Dhahabi, in his own handwriting.
6. The Rasa’il of ‘Allamah Qasim ibn Qatlubagha.
7. Manuscript of “Al-Qawl al-Jamil” by Hadrat Shah Waliyyullah in his own handwriting.
8. Handwritten notes book (bayad) of Hadrat Maulana Ahmad Ali Sahib Saharanpuri; and many books similar to these.
The founder of Darul-‘Uloom Hadrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi Sahib had endowed his personal library which was the outcome of his life long labour of love for Darul-‘Uloom. Thus, this personal library too is now a part of the books Darul-‘Uloom has and it remains, certainly, as a source of two-fold blessings.
In addition to that, the most precious possession of this library is a collection of virtually all published books, mawa’iz and malfuzat of Hakim al-Ummah Hadrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanavi, in fact, even the manuscripts of all his books written in his own handwriting lies preserved here. Originally, all these manuscripts were kept safely by the library of Majlis al-Khair in Thana Bhawan. Hadrat Maulana Shabbir Ali Sahib Thanavi, their custodian, while in the later years of his life, had appointed Darul-‘Uloom as the next Custodian for it. Consequently, this unique treasure now, bihamdulillah, lies fully preserved in Darul-‘Uloom where it has been listed and arranged in a manner which has made it easy to use and benefit from. Praised is Allah for that.
This Department has been created to publish the writings, sermons and discourses of Hadrat Maulana Shah Ashraf Ali Thanavi by making special arrangements for it. This Department is self-supporting and its aims and objects are as follows:
1. To publish unpublished or out of print works of Hadrat Thanavi on a priority basis.
2. Also to publish works the need for which becomes pronounced, and to continue the search for other untapped collections of Hadrat Thanavi’s writings, sermons and discourses, and to arrange for their conservation and proper catalogs.
3. To make arrangements for the safe keeping of Hadrat Thanavi’s manuscripts as well as making copies through scanning, microfilm or photo-copy. To ensure standard proofing when reprinting original compilations, and to have selected books, mawa’iz and malfuzat translated and published in other languages. The Fund and Account of this Department is separate as a self-supporting unit – and to run this Department, donations are also received.
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