The Institute of Arabic Manuscripts—an affiliate of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), organised a function celebrating Arabic Manuscript Day in its 6th year, under the slogan “Jerusalem: when heritage is held captive”.
The function was held at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday 4 April 2018. In attendance were Dr Saud Hilal al-Harbi - ALECSO Director-General, Dr Abdullah al-Ghoneim - former Kuwaiti Minister of Education and Higher Education, Mr Diab al-Louh - Ambassador of the State of Palestine, Dr Tarek Nabulsi - Adviser to the Arab League, Dr Khaled Azab - representing the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and Dr Faisal Hafyan - Director of the Institute of Arabic Manuscripts.
The event included an exhibition of photography, posters, and books related to Jerusalem, as well as instruments and materials used in manuscript conservation.
Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation participated with an exhibition of its publications, principally books with al-Quds as subject matter; for example, the Arabic language titles: Tārīkh al-Quds wa al-Khalīl (History of Jerusalem and al-Khalil), Ţābū liwā’ al-Quds (Registry of the Jerusalem administrative area), al-Mā’ wa maṣādiruh fī madīnat al-Quds (Water and its sources in the City of Jerusalem), Fihris makhṭūṭāt Maktabat al-Jāmi‘ al-‘Umarī al-Kabīr bi madīnat Ghaza Falaṣṭīn (Catalogue of manuscripts in Al-Umari Grand Mosque Library in Gaza City, Palestine), Fihris al-Maktabah al-Khālidiyyah bi al-Quds (Catalogue of Al-Khalidiyyah Library in Jerusalem), Fihris al-makhṭūṭāt al-‘Uthmāniyyah bi al-Maktabah al-Khālidiyyah (Catalogue of Ottoman manuscripts in Al-Khalidiyyah Library). The exhibition also included a selection from the Foundation’s extensive catalogue designed to inform about the Foundation’s work in publishing diverse books. Guests were also introduced to al-Furqān Foundation and informed of its history and role.
A documentary film was then screened, shedding light on Jerusalem, extant manuscripts in the city, and the attempts to expunge its identity and history. The documentary also highlighted the theft of a large number of records and Arabic and Islamic manuscripts. Subsequently, invited guests delivered speeches on Palestine and its heritage.
The function included an awards ceremony celebrating the Heritage Personality of the Year. The award recipient, Dr Abdul Aziz Nasir al-Mani, had critically edited over 15 heritage texts and published numerous researches and articles in local and international scientific journals, as well as participating in international seminars and conferences. Similarly, the award for Heritage Book of the Year, was conferred on “Dhayl al-a‘lām” authored by Ahmad al-Alawneh from Jordan. In turn, Al-Furqān was named Heritage Organisation of the Year, and a commemorative shield was received by Mr Amjad Mohammad, the Foundation’s Cairo office coordinator. The function concluded with photographs taken of the participants.
The following day, Thursday, 5 April, the Institute of Arabic Manuscripts held its own celebration with a small exhibition of books, manuscripts, and photography relating to Jerusalem. This was graced by Dr Faisal al-Hafyan (Director of the Institute of Arabic Manuscripts), Dr Ayman Fouad Sayyid, Dr Abdul Aziz Nasir al-Mani (Heritage Personality of the Year), Mr Ahmad al-Alawneh (author of Heritage Book of the Year), Dr Mohammad Salim al-Awwa and a large number of guests and persons concerned with manuscript heritage.
The celebratory function commenced with a scholarly session, comprising a speech by Dr Faisal Hafyan, and Dr Ayman Fouad Sayyid speaking on the rarities and virtues of Jerusalem. This was followed by the screening of a documentary on Jerusalem. Subsequently, Dr Abdul Aziz Nasir al-Mani (Heritage Personality of the Year) reflected on his personal scholarly journey, and Mr Ahmad al-Alawneh spoke about the Heritage Book of the Year. In turn, Dr Mohammad Salim al-Awwa presented on behalf al-Furqān Foundation, details its origins, role in serving heritage, its diverse publications, and different Centres, namely the Centre for the Study of Islamic Manuscripts, Centre for Compiling the Encyclopaedia of Makkah and Madinah, and Centre for the Study of the Philosophy of Islamic Law.
The event closed with commemorative photographs being taken.