Mauritania’s Manuscripts

Lee Hadden writes “There is an interesting article on Arabic language manuscripts held in Mauritania in the December 2003 issue of Saudi Aramco world. “Mauritania’s Manuscripts” is written by Louis Werner and photographed by Lorraine Chittock. There is a wonderful slide show available that shows the uses of these antique manuscripts in Mauritania’s libraries.

“Mauritania is known throughout the Arab world-but hardly at all in the West-for its enormously rich heritage of Arabic manuscripts, many brought from the Arab East by pilgrims returning from Makkah, some recopied from those imported sources by students in the Qur’an schools that once flourished throughout the country, and others composed by Mauritania’s own jurists, poets and historians.”

‘”The traditions of scholarship in Mauritania during the past three centuries, albeit profoundly linked to the medieval epoch, are probably the richest in West Africa,” says Charles Stewart of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, an expert on the country’s early modern history. “They compare favorably with [those of] Maghribi societies of an earlier date.” Adds Muhammad Shahab Ahmed, a historian of Arab philosophy and a fellow at Harvard University, “The fact that the only existing copy of a work by Averroës has been preserved in Mauritania is a remarkable illustration of the southern migration of the scholarly corpus of al-Andalus and the Maghrib”-Muslim Spain and North Africa.”

Read more about it at: tania.s.manuscripts.htm