Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Medieval Damascus: Plurality and Diversity in an Arabic LibraryThe Ashrafiya Library Catalogue$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Konrad Hirschler

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474408776

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474408776.001.0001

Show Summary Details

Organising the Library: The Books on the Shelves

Organising the Library: The Books on the Shelves

(p.60) 2 Organising the Library: The Books on the Shelves
Medieval Damascus: Plurality and Diversity in an Arabic Library

Konrad Hirschler

Edinburgh University Press

The second chapter discusses the thematic profile of the books held in the Ashrafiya. The teaching in this institution was focused on Koran recitation and its patron al-Ashraf has been depicted in modern scholarship as a rather narrow-minded Sunni ruler. Consequently, one might expect a run-off-the-mill diet of books emanating from a small number of disciplines. The chapter challenges such assumptions and shows that books relating to disciplines such as Koran, ḥadīth and even law are small in number. Rather we find a broad range of topics covered, including the antique knowledge (e.g. Aristotle and Galen), medicine, pharmacology, pre-Islamic poetry, theology and mirror for princes. This is also reflected in the content of those works that were held in multiple copies: the library’s most popular book were the Maqāmāt by al-Ḥarīrī with 15 copies. The chapter is also challenge dominating assumptions about madrasa-libraries with regard to sectarian issues (the library had many Shiite works) and issues of high culture vs low culture (it contained many ‘low-culture’ works).

Keywords:   library, Ayyubid, Mamluk, Damascus, madrasa, Islam

Edinburgh Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.