A request to establish a national archive for manuscripts and rare books
On Sunday night, during the Ramadan literary evening held by the Bin Huwairb Cultural Council in Dubai, a number of cultural and literary events called for the necessary to work on founding a national center for manuscripts and rare books published by the first generation of authors in the UAE. The aim is to save these books from loss and provide them for research, because many of these books have been lost due to the absence of their owners, and as the result of negligence and lack of awareness of the importance of these books.
Many cultural and literary meetings have called the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development and appealed to the need to carry out this task. Moreover, they called to adopt a national campaign to contribute to the awareness of community members who own old manuscripts and books that need to be preserved and dealing with it as a national literary heritage that must be saved from damage and loss.
Establishment of a national archive in the Rehab Bin Huwairb Cultural Council
Yesterday evening, the Council of Bin Huwairb Cultural hosted the writer Abdul Ghaffar Hussein and the researcher Bilal Al-Baddour, the Assistant Secretary of Culture in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development. Abdul Ghaffar Hussein spoke about his interest in reading and acquisition of rare books and his own library, which he has founded over decades and was and still his source of knowledge. Al-Baddour also talked about the idea of his new book, which deals with the early UAE authors. This book seeks to document the efforts made by these early writers and the importance of what they documented in a time when dealing with writing and script was difficult.
The ceremony was attended by his excellency Mohammed Al Qarqawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Ali Obaid, Director of Dubai News and Literature Center Mohammed Saleh Al Qarq, Dr. Salah Al Qassim, Advisor to the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dr. Jamal Al Muhairi, former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education, Dr, Mohammed Al Madani, Head of Jum’ah Al Majid College for Islamic and Arabic Studies, Sayid Al Nabudah, Executive Manager for projects in the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dr. Shehab Ghanem, Dr. Omar Abdulaziz, Ahmed Al-Sarkal, and a number of researchers and those who are interested in the cultural affairs.
Gamal bin Huwairb had presented the Ramadan literary evening, pointing out that the reading and the book contributed to the formation of the knowledge of the writer Abdul Ghaffar Hussein, who is currently considered one of the important historians and symbols in the history of many of the important stages in the history of the UAE. He lived, witnessed and watched these events and had a knowledge ability that made him a genuine well-educated person. He pointed to the need to search for the roots of the first writings of the first UAE authors and the publications they produced, which was done by the researcher Bilal al-Budur in the project of documenting and research on these rare writings.
Abdul Ghaffar Hussein began his speech about his journey with the book. He stressed that his experience with the book and reading books is no different from the experience of many intellectuals and researchers. He said: “I see here in our meeting a number of senior intellectuals in the country, who own culture gained through reading and produced by the books they read. It is true that academic education has opened the doors of knowledge. However, they did not gain culture unless after they gained knowledge through books.
Abdul Ghaffar Hussain added; “If I may put myself among those who have some knowledge here in the UAE, this is entirely due to the books and to reading. My culture is free of the formal academic education and all this is due to reading.”
As for his experience with reading, he said: “In the era of childhood and growing up here in the UAE and in Dubai in particular, reading was not easy because the books were unavailable. At that time, if you wanted to see a book or books you should go to the council of one of the scholars or the sheikhs of religion to find some books. The library of this scholar or Sheikh was bigger than the library of the teacher of the Qur’an, because the teacher of the Qur’an knowledge was not more than reading the Holy Qur’an. These teachers had only separate parts of the Qur’an.
The First book
“The first book I remember I owned and admired is the book of the Arabian Nights, printed in Calcutta in India in the early 13th century AH, 1310 years ago. Two days ago, I searched for that book between my scattered books, but I did not find. I wanted to bring it with me here to show it to you. This event took place when I was a young boy who was only 14 years old, in the late 1940s. There was a small library in Bandar Talib market in Deira, it owned by a man named Ahmed Al Helou. I bought this book from this library.
Abdul Ghaffar said that the illiteracy environment did not encourage boys to read books other than the Qur’an. My mother, May Allah have mercy on her soul, was afraid of reading. She was not comfortable if she found me reading a book and believed that reading leads to insanity. My mother used to give example of people we knew, they were crazy, or possessed by the jinn, and my mother and her friends believed that this madness came to them from reading books!
Abdul Ghaffar continued talking about his passion for books and reading. He said; “My reading passion has led me to the acquisition of books in the past sixty years. I think h have become one of those who buys books. I have a library of books that may be more than four thousand books, but unfortunately my library is not an organized one and it is scattered in more than one place.
he added; “I do not think I read all my books. I do not think anyone read all his books. It was said that the great writer Abbas Al Akkad read every book in his library, but a great and famous international writer, William Somerset Maugham, the English writer, was asked on his last days, what did he wish and did not achieve, he said I wish I could read all my books.
Abdul Ghaffar confirms that reading made him a writer. He is proud that he was one of the first writers in the UAE: “I wrote in politics, in economics, in social studies and in literature. I am the first literary critic in the UAE, I think, and I am the first author of an organized biography, I am the first book reviewer, I have written a review of more than sixty books so far, and I issued a book on this subject, and I want to re-print that book again after increasing it. I am ready to give up any or all of these claims if I came to contrary evidence. You should try to get this evidence or you have to approve my claims so I will not continue these claims. If there is no actual evidence, the historians of literature in the UAE have to admit my claims.
The writer Abdul Ghaffar Hussein concluded his statement about his relationship with reading and books by saying: “Reading and books are the best teacher and the best source of knowledge, and the best tool for the expansion of thought in people and in our contemporary history there is evidence that books and reading create great unrepeatable thinkers, such as Abbas Mahmoud Al-Akkad, who did not receive an academic education and became one of the world’s greatest writers thanks to the book and reading.
Ahmad ibn Sulaym, May Allah have mercy on his soul, was whom I used to have the most discussions about the books of the region in English and Arabic. I used to discover that he had read the book and he had general information about it. We also give an example of another scholar, Imran Al Owais, who read books that were not read by others, thus, he gained information that made him distinguished among our early intellectuals.
After that, the researcher Bilal Al-Badur presented the most important chapters of his book, on the early Emirati authors. Al-Badour pointed out that in the pre-1950s; the UAE was suffering from a scarcity of readers, books and authors. However, a number of Emirati authors have exerted effort to write down many aspects of knowledge, some of these rare writings were lost while other of these writings was found and some are being searched for. Some of these writings exist but without a date of writing or printing. However, the history of literature and writing in the UAE has many names for significant authors. These authors have left clear marks in the writing and presence of writing. Then Al-Badur began to narrate a brief account of books written by Emirati authors on multiple fields.
Book of the Pious
Al-Badoor said that the first book recorded by history of a writer in the UAE is the book (Tariqat Al-Mutakin Men Kalam Sayed Al-Mursalyn) “Method of the Pious from the words of the master of Messengers” written by Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hafez, this book is a Hadith book in which the author discussed some legitimate issues in the doctrine. The author started writing this book in 1931 and finished it in 1938. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs printed the book after reviewing it by a committee of scholars of the ministry. Also Bin Hafez wrote another book entitled (Kholasat Al-Fiqh) “Compendium of jurisprudence”, a book in the jurisprudence on the doctrine of Imam Shafi’i. the author started writing his book on 20 Dhu al-Hijjah in 1369 AH (1949 AD). The book was printed at Mohammed Ali Subaih And Children Printing House in Cairo in 1964.
of the first writers also we should mention Muhammad bin Saeed bin Ghobash, born in Ras Al Khaimah. He was famous for his works. He was interested in following up the news and events, and recorded them either through a reliable source or through oral interviews. Ibn Ghabash has several manuscripts, including: Islam, History of the Arab tribes in the UAE, the Arabian Peninsula, Oman and the Science of Sailing. The historical writing that can be proven to Sheikh Ben Ghbash is the manuscript (Reviewing the footnote, the so-called Achieving the goals).
Al-Badour assures that the research proves that the early UAE writers were very interested in writing history. Of the historians and intellectuals of the UAE is the historian writer Abdullah bin Saleh Al-Mutawa (1898-1958) who was born in Sharjah. He worked as a teacher and his book “Gems and Pearls in the History of Northern Oman”. In this book, the author documented the history of land and men, in which he mentions the dynasties and ruling families and the dates of the transfer of power between rulers and the political and social relations in the different emirates. He also has a book titled “Al-Juman in the history of the Saudi family in Oman”, where he records the Saudi relations with the region of Oman, the Emirates, the messengers and the campaigns that arrived in the region. Also, the author has a book titled, “Pearl and Coral on the days of the Saudis in Oman”. Dr. Faleh Hantal stated that there are several papers attributed to Abdullah Bin Saleh, dated on 10 Rabi’ Al-Thani, 1372 AH corresponding to the year 1952. Moreover, the author has a manuscript entitled (Explanation of the proud of Qawasm), which is a poem written by Ibrahim bin Mohammed Medfaa on the history of Qawasm and the events that took place in their era in various places.
In his introduction to the first of the early authors, al-Badur refers to Yusuf bin Muhammad al-Sharif, a native of Ras al-Khaimah. He was a writer working for the qawasim princes and he was interested in history and genealogical sciences. Sheikh Mohammed bin Said ibn Ghubash mentions him three times in his manuscript on tribal history. Al-Badour added that he has previously received a rare manuscript, which is likely to be for the honorable man because it was found in the legacy of his son Saleh.
Al-Badur said that many of the rare manuscripts were lost or not obtained for various reasons. The author, Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Shamsi, one of the scholars of the town of Al-Hira of the Sharjah, recalls that he was interested in history And genealogy, and his works included: (manuscript in history), which is either to have been written by himself or he had dictated it to his minister; Mohammed bin Saif bin Ibrahim al-Shuahey. Shamsi also has a poem on the history of the Bukhams, consisting of 400 verses. Al-Badour also referred to the author Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Madfa, a man of Sharjah interested in culture and writing in the field of history, but there is no work until today attributed to him, but the historian Abdullah bin Saleh Al-Mutawa has noted his efforts, such as collecting the history of the coast of Oman. He was the first to think of collecting and writing down the history of the Omani coast and the events that took place. He traveled in order to collect these tales and summoned the experienced individuals to consult them. Al-Badur mentioned Munjiz Rashid bin Abdullah bin Huzayr, who was one of the Emirati reformers and a member of the Council of 1938, which headed the public affairs in Dubai under the chairmanship of Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum. He was a national poet. The writer Abdul Ghaffar Bin Hussein said that the author has written in the history of the region. In his famous manuscript (History of Incidents), the author focused on Dubai but this manuscript has not yet been reviewed or printed.
Al-Baddour also spoke about Rashid bin Sultan Al-Kitoub, who died in 1958 and was a writer working for Sheikh Humaid bin Abdul Aziz Al-Nuaimi, former ruler of Ajman. He was also interested in recording historical events, but there is no complete copy of his manuscript circulated among people. As well as the writer Ali bin Rashid Alkitoub who was a writer working for Sheikh Sultan bin Salem Al Qasimi and has draft letters rulers with English officials, as well as a poetry anthology.
Al-Baddour talked about the concerns of the early writers with the specialized maritime writings, which recorded the details of the sea travels, pearl fishing, prices and oysters at sea, headed by Sheikh Mana bin Rashid Al Maktoum who was a poet. One of his important poems is the “Oath”, also, he was interested in writing where he drew a map on the places where you can find pearl. This map was important for the pearl business where divers, and merchants have benefited from this map that was printed in Bombay. He also made a literary effort to develop the first book on pearls and their weights.
Mohammed Al-Qarqawi: Manuscripts must be archived electronically
His Excellency Mohammed Al Qarqawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs said that it is necessary to seek a plan to collect this literary treasure for the early writers in the UAE, and there must be a body concerned in this regard and to be archiving this legacy of literature and make it available to people through electronic documentation because it is a public right and the national treasure. As soon as Al-Badur had finished his paper about the existence of rare manuscripts, Al-Qarqawi asked about the places of these rare scripts and how to reach them, especially the original manuscripts written in their owners’ handwriting. Al-Badur replied that there is a part available, some were copied on typewriter and some are missing and unknown. Al- Qarqawi also stressed the importance of encouraging this discussion and these talks on an important topic related to the literary heritage of the early Emirati writers and praised the Council of Bin Huirib, which provided this opportunity for this debate.
First writings in literature
In the framework of literary writings, Al-Badour mentioned the existence of prominent names that contributed to the history of literary creativity, including the author Mohammed bin Ali Al-Shurafa, who has written two books in describing the local and humanitarian reality and thoughts in counseling and guidance and discussed various social and literary issues and his writings: (Nayl Al-Rutab Fi Jawami’ Al-Adab) About thoughts, ideas and visions about reality and the future. He wrote this book in 1917 and included twenty-nine articles in prose and poetry.
Al-Badur also spoke about the achievements of Ahmed bin Ali Al Owais, one of the first to write stories in 1951. He spoke about the achievements of Salem Al Owais in the field of poetry, and Mubarak Al-Aqili, who visited the UAE and lived in it, and wrote (Kifayat Al-Gharim An Al-Madamah wa Al-Nadim).
The debate of Al-Badour has raised many questions about the achievements of the Emirati authors who were the first to record literary or scientific achievements of their ages. Al-Badur pointed out that there is great suffering by the researcher in reaching the original manuscript, which can no longer be reached without great effort and exhaustion.