Digitalisierung jemenitischer Handschriftenbestände
The private manuscript libraries of Yemen comprise one of the world’s largest and most important collections of Arabic manuscripts. Collectively, these 6,000 private libraries possess some 50,000 codices, many of which are unique. These sources record a rich cultural legacy of Arabic and Islamic literature from the eighth century to the present. Because Yemen is relatively remote from the central lands of Islam, it has preserved many extremely rare sources, including some of the earliest extant Qur’an fragments and theological tracts, and works of great importance for the study of classical Islam, Arabic literature, science, and history. Ready access to these largely neglected sources would generate a tremendous amount of new knowledge and provide new perspectives on the political, intellectual, and literary history of Islamic civilization.
But this irreplaceable trove of manuscripts is threatened. In recent years, Yemen’s private libraries have suffered great losses, in part due to sectarian extremists who are ideologically opposed to the Zaydi Shiite school of Islam and have targeted Zaydi manuscripts for destruction. In the past ten years, over 10,000 manuscripts, including several entire libraries, have been destroyed.